West Azerbaijan Province
|West Azerbaijan Province
استان آذربایجان غربی
|— Province —|
|• Total||37,437 km2 (14,455 sq mi)|
|• Density||79/km2 ( 200/sq mi)|
|Time zone||IRST (UTC+03:30)|
|• Summer (DST)||IRST (UTC+04:30)|
|Main language(s)||Persian (official)
West Azerbaijan Province (Persian: استان آذربایجان غربی, Ostān-e Āzarbāijān-e Gharbī) is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the northwest of the country, bordering Turkey, Iraq and Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, and the provinces of East Azerbaijan, Zanjan and Kurdistan.
The province of West Azerbaijan covers an area of 39,487 km², or 43,660 km² including Lake Urmia. In 2006 the province had a population of 3,015,361 . The capital city and largest city of the province is Urmia.
Permanent settlements were established in the province as early as the 6th millennium BC as excavation at sites such as Teppe Hasanlu establish. In Hasanlu, a famous Golden Vase was found in 1958. The province is the location of Tepe Hajji Firuz, site of some of the world's earliest evidence of wine production. Gooy Teppe is another significant site, where a metal plaque dating from 800 BC was found that depicts a scene from the epic of Gilgamesh.
Ruins such as these and the UNESCO world heritage site at the Sassanid compound of Takht-i-Suleiman illustrate the strategic importance and tumultuous history of the province through the millennia. Overall, the province enjoys a wealth of historical attractions, with 169 sites registered by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran.
The major known ancient civilization in the region was that of Mannaeans, a buffer state between Urartian and Assyrian sphere of influence. Mannaeans in turn spoke a language related to Urartian. After the fall of Assyria, the region was known as Mantiene (or Matiene) in Greek sources. Matiene bordered on Atropatene situated east of Lake Urmia. The region subsequently was known as Persarmenia from the second century BC. as late as 11th century AD.
In the late 4th century AD Sassanids incorporated the area into the neighbouring Adhurpadaghan satrapy to the east. The name Adhurpatagan, later Arabicized to Azerbaijan, derives from Atropates, an Iranian satrap of Media under the Achaemenid empire, who later was reinstated as the satrap of Media under Alexander of Macedonia.
Around the 10th century when the region of Persarmnia was under rule of Hadhabani Kurds, the medieval geographer Al-Muqaddasi described the area of what is today called West Azerbaijan province as part of Armenia:
|“||Arminiya is an important district. Its capital is Dabil and among its towns are Bidlis, Khilat, Arjish, Bargiri, Khuy, Salmas, Urmiya, Dakharraqan, Maragha, Ahar, Marand, Sinjar, Qaliqala, Qandariya, Qal'at, Yunus, Nurin.||”|
The battle of DimDim between Safavids and Kurds took place in this region. After a long and bloody siege led by the Safavid grand vizier Hatem Beg, which lasted from November 1609 to the summer of 1610, the Castle of Dimdim was captured. All the defenders were killed and Shah Abbas I ordered a general massacre in Bradost and Mukriyan (reported by Eskandar Beg, Safavid historian in the book Alam Aray-e Abbasi) and resettled the Turkish Afshar tribe in the region while deporting many Kurdish tribes to Khorasan region.
The Persarmneian districts of Mākū (Artaz), Ḵoy (Her), Salmās (Zarewand), and Arasbārān (Parspatunikʿ), and the region of Urmia (Parskahaykʿ), according to 19th century administrative division became a part of the northwestern Iranian province of Azerbaijan. In 1937 the province was renamed to Shomal-e gharb (northwestern province). Shortly after the province was divided into a western and eastern part which were renamed to Chaharom (fourth province) and sevom (third province), respectively. In 1961 Fourth province was renamed West Azerbaijan by the Iranian authoroties.
Significant events in the 19th and 20th centuries are:
- Shaikh Ubeidullah Revolts, west and south of Lake Urmia in 1880;
- Simko Insurrections, west of Lake Urmia from 1918 to 1922;
- the Soviet occupation in 1946;
- the foundation and destruction of the Republic of Mahabad in 1946; and
- periodic severe fighting from 1979 until 1990s (and even to the present, but on a smaller scale ) between Kurdish (nationalist and communist) forces and the Iranian government. At times, large parts of the province were without government control .
Geography and climate 
With an area of 43,660 square kilometers, including Lake Urmia, the province of West Azerbaijan is located on the northwest of Iran.
The climate of the province is largely influenced by the rainy winds of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean. Cold northern winds affect the province during winter and cause heavy snow.
According to meteorological data, local temperatures vary within the province. Average temperature differs from 9.4 °C in Piranshahr to 11.6 °C in Mahabad, while it is 9.8 °C in Urmia, 10.8 °C in Khoy, 9.4 °C in Piranshahr, and in Mahabad 11.6 °C. According to same data, the highest temperature in the province reaches 34 °C in July, and the lowest temperature is –16 °C in January. Maximum change of temperature in summer is 4 °C and in winter 15 °C. Average annual precipitation ranges from 870 millimetres (34 in) of rainfall equivalent in exposed southern areas down to around 300 millimetres (12 in) in Maku in the north, of which a substantial proportion is snow.
Administrative divisions 
|West Azerbaijan counties|
There are no official statistics or census figures on the ethnic makeup of Iran. The bulk of the population in West Azerbaijan Province are mainly Azeris and Kurds. There are three ethnic and religious groups who are native to the province but who have minority status: Assyrians, Armenians, and Jews. There are also immigrants from other parts of Iran in the major cities of the province.
Azeris are living alongside Kurds in Chaldoran, Maku, Khoy, Salmas, Urmia, Naghadeh and Miandoab counties. Kurds are a majority at least in Oshnaviyeh, Sardasht, Mahabad, Piranshahr and Bukan counties.
The diversity of religions in the province has been a major factor throughout the history of the province. The religions in the province are Shia and Sunni Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Yarasani. Both Azeris and Kurds follow Islam, the Kurds belonging mainly to the Sunni branch and the Azerbaijanis being Shias. There is a very small minority who follow Yarasani (or Ahl-e Haqq, اهل حق). Christianity is the only religion of the Assyrians and Armenians. The Jews follow Judaism. There are also Bahais and Zoroastrians in the province.
Some Muslim researchers have proclaimed that the birth of the prophet Zoroaster was in this area, in the vicinity of Lake Orumieh, Chichesht or Ganzak; recent scholarship, however, indicates that sites in Central Asia are more likely.
In this province, Islam (Sunni and Shiite) is the majority religion. However, there is also a large Assyrians Christian minority, who have historically lived on the west shore of Lake Urmia, as well as Armenians who are scattered throughout the province. Notably, the city of Maku in northern West Azerbaijan was the only city in Iran (before World War II) where Christians comprised the majority.
St. Thaddeus Cathedral is located on the outskirts of Chaldoran, near the village of Qara-Kelissa. Besides being a religious site with a particular significance among Christians, particularly Armenians, this large church (monastery) is also a rare and valuable monument in architectural and artistic terms.
St. Thaddeus, also known as Jude Thaddeus or Jude Labbeus, was one of the apostles of Jesus Christ who traveled to Armenia, where he was later killed and upon whose grave the locals erected a small chapel in AD 301. The cathedral is known as Qara-kelissa ('Black church' in Turkish) to the locals, owing to the appearance of its western section. In 1329, the church was reconstructed in its present form after an earthquake destroyed the structure in 1319.
|The Armenian Monastic Ensembles in Iran|
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
Saint Thaddeus Monastery (Qara Kelissa), Chaldoran. Believed by some to have been first built in AD 66 by Saint Jude. Local Armenians believe that he and Simon were both buried here.
|Country||Iran (Islamic Republic of)|
|Criteria||ii, iii, vi|
|Inscription||2008 (32nd Session)|
Churches in West Azerbaijan 
Thirty-one churches are registered by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran in the province. Many of these are historical landmarks and unusually rich in heritage. Some of the more famous ones are listed as follows:
- Monastery of St. Thaddeus (Surp Tade Vank) - Maku - Karakelisa - Early Christianity (Renovated in 1329 and 1820)
- St. Sandukht (Surp Sandukht) Church - Maku - Karakelisa - 14th century
- St. Vardan (Surp Vardan) Church - Maku - Shaveran - 18th century
- Monastery of Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin Vank) - Maku - Baron (Dzor Dzor) - 1324
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Khoy - 1120
- Holy Cross of Christ (Surp Khatch Kristosi) Church - Khoy - Mahlazan - 1656
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Khoy - Ghris - 16th century
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Khoy - Fanai - 16th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Khoy - Dizeh - 18th century
- St. Sarkis the Commander (Surp Sarkis Zoravar) Church - Khoy - Var - 18th century
- St. James (Surp Hakop) Church - Khoy - Saeedabad - 18th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Salmas - Akhtekhaneh - 18th century
- St. James (Surp Hakop) Church - Salmas - Aslanik - 1886
- St. George (Surp Gevorg) Church - Salmas - Charik - 1203
- St. Sarkis the Commander (Surp Sarkis Zoravar) Church - Salmas - Drishk - 1400
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Salmas - Qalasar - 1806
- Sts. Paul-Peter (Surp Poghos-Petros) Church - Salmas - Qezeljeh
- St. John (Surp Hovhannes) Church - Salmas - Qezeljeh - 1189
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Salmas - Haftvan - 18th century
- St. George (Surp Gevorg) Church - Salmas - Haftvan - 1652
- St. Thaddeus (Surp Tadevos) Church - Salmas - Haftvan - 13th century
- Sts. Paul-Peter (Surp Poghos-Petros) Church - Salmas - Haftvan
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Salmas - Khosrowabad - 1717
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Salmas - Goluzan - 18th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Salmas - Sheitanabad - 1708
- St. George (Surp Gevorg) Church - Salmas - Payajuk - 1751
- St. George (Surp Gevorg) Church - Salmas - Karabulagh
- St. George (Surp Gevorg) Church - Salmas - Hodar - 1813
- St. James (Surp Hakop) Church - Salmas - Kohneshahr - 1671
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Salmas - Kohneshahr - 1671
- St. John (Surp Hovhannes) Church - Salmas - Kohneshahr - 1825
- St. Sarkis the Commander (Surp Sarkis Zoravar) Church - Salmas - Malham - 1711
- St. Vardan (Surp Vardan) Church - Salmas - Malham - 1724
- Holy Monks (Surp Chknavorats) Church - Salmas - Malham - 1796
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Salmas - Saramolk - 1758
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Salmas - Sarna - 1625
- St. George (Surp Gevorg) Church - Salmas - Savera - 18th century
- All Saviour (Surp Amenaprgitch) Church - Salmas - Zivajik - 1892
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Salmas - Kojamish - 1348
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Salmas - Ula
- St. Stephen (Surp Stepanos) Church - Urmia - 18th century
- St. John (Surp Hovhannes) Church - Urmia - Balanej - 17th century
- St. John (Surp Hovhannes) Church - Urmia - Badelbo - 18th century
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Urmia - Surmanabad - 18th century
- Holy Sign (Surp Nshan) Church - Urmia - Jamalabad - 18th century
- St. John (Surp Hovhannes) Church - Urmia - Jamalabad - 18th century
- St. George (Surp Gevorg) Church - Urmia - Gardabad - 17th century
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Urmia - Ikiaghaj - 17th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Urmia - Isalu - 17th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Urmia - Karaguz - 18th century
- St. John (Surp Hovhannes) Church - Urmia - Karagiz - 18th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Urmia - Nakhichevan Tepe - 17th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Urmia - Reihanabad - 17th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Urmia - Sepurghan - 17th century
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Urmia - Sepurghan - 17th century
- St. Peter (Surp Petros) Church - Urmia - Karabagh - 1655
- St. John (Surp Hovhannes) Church - Urmia - Adeh - 17th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Urmia - Dizej Ala - 1820
- St. John (Surp Hovhannes) Church - Urmia - Khan Babakhan - 17th century
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Urmia - Kachilan - 17th century
- St. George (Surp Gevorg) Church - Urmia - Shirabad - 18th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Urmia - Charbakhsh - 1882
- Sts. Paul-Peter (Surp Poghos-Petros) Church - Urmia - ChaharGushan - 18th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Urmia - Rahava - 17th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Urmia - Ballu - 17th century
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Urmia - Darbarud - 18th century
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Urmia - Kukia - 18th century
- Holy Mary (Surp Asdvadzadzin) Church - Urmia - Babarud - 18th century
- St. Sarkis (Surp Sarkis) Church - Miandoab - Taqiabad
- Holy Mary (Mart Maryam) Church - Urmia - 1st century
- St. Cyriacus (Mar Kuryakus) Church - Urmia - 18th century
- Holy Mary (Mart Maryam) Church - Urmia - CharBakhsh - 5th century
- Holy Gabriel (Mar Gabriel) Church - Urmia - Ordushahi - 19th century
- St. Shalita (Mar Shalita) Church - Urmia - Shirabad - 19th century
- St. Joseph (Mar Yozef) Church - Urmia - Shirabad - 1897
- St. Sarkis (Mar Sargiz) Church - 5 km SW of Urmia - Seir - 5th century
- Holy Zion (Mar Sehyon) Church - 8 km E of Urmia - Golpashan
- St. George (Mar Gevargiz) Church - 8 km E of Urmia - Golpashan - 1905
- Holy Mary (Mart Maryam) Church - 8 km E of Urmia - Golpashan
- Sts. Peter-Paul (Mar Petros-Paulos) Church - 10 km E of Urmia - 8th century - believed to be built by Bukhtishu
- Holy Mary (Mart Maryam) Church - 32 km E of Urmia - Mavana
- St. Daniel (Mar Danial) Church - 25 km N of Urmia - Nazlu River - 5th century - destroyed in World War I, rebuilt
- St. John (Mar Yokhnah) Church - 45 km N of Urmia - Jamalabad - 5th century
- St. John (Mar Yokhnah) Church - 24 km N of Urmia - Adeh - 1901
- St. Sabrisho (Mar Sabrisho) Church - 30 km N of Urmia - Mushiabad - 1880
- St. George (Mar Gevargiz) Church - 35 km N of Urmia - Sepurghan - 1830
- St. John (Mar Yokhnah) Church - 40 km N of Urmia - Gavilan - 5th century
- St. John (Mar Yokhnah) Church - 40 km N of Urmia - Gavilan - 19th century
- St. Thomas (Mar Toma) Church - 30 km W of Urmia - Balulan - 7th century
- St. Cyriacus (Mar Kuryakus) Church - Salmas - Kohneshahr - 12th century
- St. James (Mar Yakob) Church - Salmas - Kohneshahr - 19th century
- St. Khinah (Mar Khinah) Church - Salmas - Sarna
- Holy Mary (Mart Maryam) Church - Salmas - Savera
- Vank - 2 km S of Salmas - Khosrowabad - 5th century - The Holy Cross of Jerusalem was kept here for a while.
- St. Sarkis (Mar Sargiz) Church - 2 km S of Salmas - Khosrowabad - 1869
- St. George (Mar Gevargiz) Church - 2 km S of Salmas - Khosrowabad - 1845
- Church - 12 km SW of Salmas - Akhtekhaneh - 1890
- St. Sarkis (Mar Sargiz) Church - 2 km S of Salmas - Khosrowabad - 1869
West Azerbaijan today 
The city of Urmia has a higher standard of living in comparison with the other cities of the province. There are plenty of parks, coffee shops, cinemas, and internet cafes throughout. There are hundreds of small villages in the province, most of which have running water and electricity as well as television, satellite, and telephone lines. Southern cities which economically are considered poor areas have always been the venue of Kurdish demonstrators against the Islamic regime.
West Azerbaijan Province is one of the most important provinces for Iran's agriculture.
West Azerbaijan possesses a rich culture, stemming from Azeri and Kurdish traditions. Many local traditions, such as music and dance, continue to survive among the peoples of the province. As a longstanding province of Persia, West Azerbaijan is mentioned favorably on many occasions in Persian literature by Iran's greatest authors and poets:
گزیده هر چه در ایران بزرگان
زآذربایگان و ری و گرگان
از آنجا بتدبیر آزادگان
بیامد سوی آذرآبادگان
From there the wise and the free,
set off to Azarbaijan
بیک ماه در آذرآبادگان
ببودند شاهان و آزادگان
For a month's time, The Kings and The Free,
Would choose in Azarbaijan to be
Colleges and universities 
Urmia University was first built by an American Presbyterian missionary in 1878. A medical faculty was also established there headed by Joseph Cochran and a team of American medical associates. Cochran and his colleagues were buried in an old cemetery in the vicinity of Urmia. Urmia University website says this about them:
- "There they lie in peace away from their homeland, and the testimonial epitaphs on their tombs signify their endeavor and devotion to humanity."
The province today has the following major institutes of higher education:
- Urmia University 
- Urmia University of Medical Sciences
- Urmia University of Technology
- Islamic Azad University of Urmia
- Islamic Azad University of Salmas
- Islamic Azad University of Khoi
- Islamic Azad University of Piranshahr
- Payame Noor University of Piranshahr
- Islamic Azad University of Mahabad
- "Geography: Turkic-speaking Groups" Iran: A Country Study, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, (2008)
- Minahan, James (2002) Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: S-Z (Volume 4 of Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups Around the World) Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, Connecticut, page 1765, ISBN 978-0-313-32384-3
- Price, Glanville (editor) (2000) Encyclopedia of the languages of Europe Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, England, page 21, ISBN 978-0-631-22039-8
- Shaffer, Brenda (2002) Borders and brethren: Iran and the challenge of Azarbaijani identity, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, page 1, ISBN 978-0-262-69277-9
- McLachlan, Keith Stanley (1994) The Boundaries of Modern Iran UCL Press, London, page 55, ISBN 978-1-85728-125-5
- Anderson, Bridget et al. (1997) World Directory of Minorities (2nd edition) Minority Rights Group International, London, page 338, ISBN 978-1-873194-36-2
- "World's Oldest Known Wine Jar" University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
- Voigt, Mary M. and Meadow, Richard H. (1983) Hajji Firuz Tepe, Iran: the neolithic settlement University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ISBN 0-934718-49-0
- Richard G. Hovannisian, 2004, The Armenian People From Ancient to Modern Times, Volume I: The Dynastic Periods: From Antiquity to the Fourteenth Century, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 1-4039-6421-1, ISBN 978-1-4039-6421-2, p. 92
- Minorsky, V.; Minorsky, V. Ādharbaydjān (Azerbāydjān). Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by P.Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill Online. 
- Encyclopædia Iranica, "Azerbaijan: Pre-Islamic History", K. Shippmann
- Historical Dictionary of Azerbaijan by Tadeusz Swietochowski and Brian C. Collins. The Scarecrow Press, Inc., Lanham, Maryland (1999), ISBN 0-8108-3550-9 (retrieved 7 June 2006)
- Al-Moqaddasi, Shams ad-Din Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Ahmad, Ahsan al-Taqasi fi Ma’rifa al-Aqalim, translated by Ali Naqi Vaziri, volume one, first edition, Mu’alifan and Mutarjiman Publishers, Iran, 1981, pg 377
- Ehsan Yar-Shater, 1982, Encyclopaedia iranica: publisher: Routledge & Kegan Paul, University of California, Volume 2, Issues 5-8, p. 476
- The Kurdish Question, by W. G. Elphinston, Journal of International Affairs, Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1946, p.94
- The Kurdish Question, by W. G. Elphinston, Journal of International Affairs, Royal Institute of International Affairs, 1946, p.97
- See Iranian Meteorological Agency
- Federal Research Division, 2004, Iran A Country Study, Kessinger Publishing, ISBN 1-4191-2670-9, ISBN 978-1-4191-2670-3, p. 121, "The Kurdish area of Iran includes most of West Azarbaijan"
- Youssef Courbage, Emmanuel Todd, 2011, A Convergence of Civilizations: The Transformation of Muslim Societies Around the World, p. 74 Columbia University Press, ISBN 0-231-15002-4, ISBN 978-0-231-15002-6, Kurds are also a majority of the population in the provinces of Kermanshah, West Azerbaijan, and Ilam
- William Eagleton, 1988, An introduction to Kurdish rugs and other weavings, University of California, Scorpion, 144 pages. ISBN 0-905906-50-0, ISBN 978-0-905906-50-8, "Iranian Kurdistan is relatively narrow where it touches the Soviet border in the north and is hemmed in on the east by the Azerbaijani Turks. Extending south along the border west of Lake Urmia is the tribal territory."
- گنجینه ای بنام آذربایجانغربی - سازمان تعزیرات حکومتی (The government suspended) Farsi
- معرفی آذربایجان غربی - پورتال جامع آذربایجان غربی (Farsi & English)
- آذربایجان غربی ؛ رنگین کمان اقوام و اقلیت ها در مسیر توسعه - مهر نیوز Mehr News (Farsi)
- گردشگری استان - سازمان نظام کاردانی ساختمان استان آذربایجان غربی (Farsi)
- استان آذربایجان غربی - سايت جامع گردشگري ايران (Farsi)
- Balādâorī and Ebn Kordādâbeh
- "As a matter of fact, only untrustworthy and late traditions place Zoroaster's birthplace at Urmia." Tarbiyat, Muḥammad Ali (1935) Dānishmandān-i Āzarbayjān Tehran, p. 162, reissued in 1999, ISBN 964-422-138-9
- Azarbaijan Gharbi, Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran publications, ISBN 964-7483-80-5
- Armenian monasteries in Iran added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List (July 6, 2008)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: West Azarbaijan province|
- Official website of West Azarbaijan Governor’s Office
- West Azarbaijan’s Government Portal
- Urmia sport news agency
- West Azarbaijan Provincial Management Organization
- West Azarbaijan Cultural Heritage Organization
- Recent photos from Azarbaijan
- Lake Urmia UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
- About Urmia
|Turkey||East Azerbaijan Province|
|Iraq||Kurdistan Province||Zanjan Province|