Mazandaran Province

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This article is about the Māzandarān Province of Iran. For the Historic Tabarestan region, see Tabaristan. For region mentioned in Shahnameh, see Mazandaran (Shahnameh).
Māzandarān Province
استان مازندران
Selected Mazandaran.JPG
Map of Iran with Mâzandarân highlighted
Location of Mâzandarân within Iran
Coordinates: 36°33′56″N 53°03′32″E / 36.5656°N 53.0588°E / 36.5656; 53.0588Coordinates: 36°33′56″N 53°03′32″E / 36.5656°N 53.0588°E / 36.5656; 53.0588
Country  Iran
Region ONE 1 [1]
Capital Sari
Counties 22
 • Total 23,842 km2 (9,205 sq mi)
Population (2011)[2]
 • Total 3,073,943
 • Density 130/km2 (330/sq mi)
Time zone IRST (UTC+03:30)
 • Summer (DST) IRST (UTC+04:30)
Main language(s)

Mazandarani (Tabari)[3]


Mazandaran Province About this sound pronunciation , (Persian: استان مازندران‎‎ Ostān-e Māzandarān/Ostâne Mâzandarân), is an Iranian province located along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea and in the adjacent Central Alborz mountain range, in central-northern Iran.[4]


Mazandaran Province is one of the most densely populated provinces in Iran[5] and has diverse natural resources, notably large reservoirs of oil and natural gas.[6] The province's four largest counties are Sari, Amol, Nur, and Tonekabon .[7] It was founded in 1937.[citation needed]

The diverse nature of the province features plains, prairies, forests and rainforest [8] stretching from the sandy beaches of the Caspian Sea to the rugged and snowcapped Alborz sierra,[9] including Mount Damavand, one of the highest peaks and volcanos in Asia,[10] which at the narrowest point (Nowshahr County) narrows to 5 miles.

Mazandaran is a major producer of farmed fish,[11] and aquaculture provides an important economic addition to traditional dominance of agriculture.[12] Another important contributor to the economy is the tourism industry, as people from all of Iran enjoy visiting the area.[13] Mazandaran is also a fast-growing centre for biotechnology[6] and civil engineering.

Administrative divisions[edit]

The province covers an area of 23,842 km².[14] According to the census of 2006, the population of the province was 2,922,432 of which 53.18% were urban dwellers, 46.82% villagers, and remaining were non-residents.[citation needed] Sari is the capital city of the province.

Mazandaran is divided into 15 counties (shahrestan in Persian). All the shahrestans are named after their administrative center, except Savadkooh.


Human habitation in the area dates back at least 75,000 years.[15] Recent excavations in Goher Tippe provide proof that the area has been urbanized for more than 5,000 years, and the area is considered one of the most important historical sites of Iran.[16] It has played an important role in cultural and urban development of the region.[17]

Indigenous peoples of the region include the ethnic Mazanderanis,[18] who speak an Iranian language which most closely resembles Gilaki and Sangiseri language, but also has phono-typical similarities to several Caucasian languages, reflecting the history of the region and its peoples.

In the early 20th century, Reza Shah connected northern Elbourz to the southern slopes by constructing seven new roads and railways, the provinces of Mazandaran and Gilan became known as Shomal by all Iranians (meaning "the North" in Persian). Mazandaran is a Caspian province in the north of Iran.[19] Located on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, it is bordered clockwise by Russia (across the sea), Golestan, Semnan, Tehran, Alborz, Qazvin, and Gilan provinces. Sari is the largest city and the capital of Mazandaran province.

Mazandaran Province was made part of the First Region upon the division of the provinces into five regions solely for coordination and development purposes on June 22, 2014.[1]

Central Alborz mountain range in Mazandaran Province.
Daryasar Weald & Siyalan Alps in Tonekabon City.


See also: Tabaristan
Map of the Median Empire (600 BCE) showing the relative locations of the Amardian tribe.

Pre-Islamic history[edit]

Before the arrival of the Iranian-speakers to Iran, native people of this area were subsistence hunters and cattle herders. Archaeological studies in caves belt and Hutu man in Behshahr in the Mazandaran date to approximately 9500 BC. Aryan migration from the north-eastern borders of modern Iran began around the third millennium BC, mixed with the natives. Amardids were a tribe living along the mountainous region bordering the Caspian Sea, including current day Amol, The Aryan people and Scythian tribes before the arrival of the next group, the Aryans, Medes, Persians, and Parthians lived in a part of the current Caspian. The region is known to have been populated from early antiquity, and Mazandaran has changed hands among various dynasties from early in its history. There are several fortresses remaining from Parthian and Sassanid times, and many older cemeteries scattered throughout the province. During this era, Mazandaran was part of Hyrcania Province which was one of the important provinces.[citation needed]

The Hyrcanian Golden Cup. Dated first half of the first millennium. Excavated at Kalardasht in Mazandaran.

With the advent of the Sassanid dynasty, the King of Mazandaran (Tabaristan and Padashkhwargar) was Gushnasp,[20] whose ancestors had reigned in the area (under the Parthian empire) since the time of Alexander. In 529–536, Mazandarn was ruled by the Sassanid prince Kawus, son of Kawadh.[20] Anushirawan, the Sassanid king, defeated Zarmihr, who claimed his ancestry from the legendary blacksmith Kaveh.[20] This dynasty ruled till 645 A.D., when Gil Gilanshah (a descendant of the Sassanid king Jamasp and a son of Piruz) joined Mazandaran to Gilan.[20] These families had descendants who ruled during the Islamic period.

Now called Mazanderan, comprehends the largest and widest portion of the low plain along the shores of the Caspian Sea. It is one of the most fertile provinces of the Persian empire, whether the mountains or the plains are considered. Travellers passing through the forests of Mazandaran pass through thickets of sweetbriar and honeysuckle; and are surrounded with acacias, oaks, lindens, and chestnut trees. The summits of the mountains are crowned with cedars, cypresses, and various species of pines. So beautiful is this district, that in the hyperbolical language of the orientals it is styled, Belad-al-Irem, or, the Land of the Terrestrial Paradise. Sir W. Ouseley relates, that Kaikus, the Persian king, was fired with ambition to conquer so fine a country, through the influence of a minstrel, who exhausted all his powers of music and poetry in the praise of its beauties: his strains read thus:

"Let the king consider the delights of Mazanderan, and may that country flourish during all eternity; for in its gardens roses ever blow, and even its mountains are covered with hyacinths and tulips. Its land abounds in all the beauties of nature; its climate is salubrious and temperate, neither too warm nor too cold; it is a region of perpetual spring: there, in shady bowers, the nightingale ever sings; there the fawn and antelope incessantly wander among the valleys; every spot, throughout the whole year, is embellished and perfumed with flowers; the very brooks of that country seem to be rivulets of rose water, so much does this exquisite fragrance delight the soul. During the winter months, as at all other seasons, the ground is enamelled, and the banks of murmuring streams smile with variegated flowers; everywhere the pleasures of the chase may be enjoyed; all places abound with money, fine stuffs for garments, and every other article necessary for comfort or luxury. There all the attendants are lovely damsels, wearing golden coronets; and all the men illustrious warriors, whose girdles are studded with gold; and nothing but a wilful perversity of mind, or corporeal infirmity, can hinder a person from being cheerful and happy in Mazanderan."

Such were the delights the oriental poet held out to his rulers in Mazanderan, in all the force of oriental exaggeration. The province of Mazanderan was doubtless a delightful province; but there appear to have been some drawbacks upon its loveliness. Sir W. Ouseley states that on entering Mazanderan, he was informed that he would find a babr, tiger; a guraz, boar; rubah, foxes; shegkal, jackals; and a gurg, or wolf. Accordingly, the very first thing that he saw, on entering a village of Hyrcania, was the carcase of a, large wolf, which had been shofjust half an hour before his arrival, and which looked terrible in death, "grinning horribly a ghastly grin;" thus proving the truth of the poet, that, "every where the pleasures of the chase may be enjoyed," if such may be termed pleasures. In ancient times, Hyrcania was infested with panthers and tigers, so fierce and cruel, as to give rise to a proverb concerning fierce and unrelenting men, that they had sucked Caspian tigers. The poet Virgil refers to this in his Aeneid. Representing Dido chiding iEneas, he puts into her mouth these words:

"False as thou art, and more than false, forsworn, Not sprung from noble blood, nor goddess born, But hewn from harden'd entrails of a rock! And rough Caspian tigers gave thee suck!"

Mazanderan Sea

Strabo, who extends Hyrcania as far north as the river Ochus, says from Aristobulus that was a woody region, producing oaks and pines, but not the pitch pine, which abounded in India. It has been mentioned as a curious circumstance, that in Mazanderan an axe used for cutting is called tabr. Now the Tapyri, or Tabari, inhabited a district in Hyrcania, and if this name be derived from tabr, an axe, it will signify hatchet-men, or wood-cutters, a name very appropriate to the inhabitants of a country covered with forests like Mazanderan and, though restricted by the Greeks to the western inhabitants of that province, is equally applicable to those of the eastern part. According to Sir W. Ouseley, the name of the part in which the Tabari. lived, namely, Tabristan, or Tabaristan, signifies the country of wood.[citation needed]

According to Morier, Mazanderan is a modern Persian phrase, signifying, "Within the boundary or limit of the mountain." This is confirmed by Sir W. Ouseley, who says, from Hamdallah, an eminent Persian geographer, that Mazanderan was originally named Mawz-anderan, or within the mountain Mawz. He says, " The Coh-Alburz is an immense mountain adjacent to Bab-al-abwab, (Derbend), and many mountains are connected with Alburz; so that from Turkestan to Hejas, it forms a range extending in length 1000 farsangs, about 130 miles, more or less; and on this account some regard it as the mountain of Kaf, (Caucasus.) Its western side, connected with the mountains of Gurjestan, (Georgia,) is called the Coh Lagzi, (Daghestan,) and the Sur a lakaeim relates, that in the Coh Lagzi there are various races of people; so that about seventy different languages or dialects are used among them; and in that mountain are many wonderful objects; and when it reaches Shemshat and Malatiah, (Samosata Melitene,) it is called Kali Kala. At Antakia and Sakeliah, (Antioch and Seleucia,) it is called Lekam; there it divides Sham (Syria) from Room, (Asia Minor.) When it reaches between Hems (Emesa) and Demishk, (Damascus,) it is called Lebnan, (Lebanon,) and near Mecca and Medina it is called Arish. Its eastern side, connected with the mountains of Arran (Eastern Armenia) and Aderbijan, it is called Keik, and when it reaches to Ghilan, (the Gelae and Cadusians,) and Iraq, (Media,) it takes the name of Terkel-diz-cuh; it is called Mauz when it reaches Kurnish and Mazanderan; and originally Mazanderan was named Mawz-enderan; and when Alburz reaches Khorassan, it is called Lurry."

Mazandaran was among the last parts of Persia standing against Muslim conquests

Unlike the rest of Persia, Mazanderan is watered by numerous rivers, or mountain torrents, all running from the mountains to the sea. The German traveller Gmelin, who visited this country a. d. 1771, says that in the space of eight miles, on the road from Resht to Amot, 250 of such streams are to be seen, many of them being so exceedingly broad and deep, that the passage across is sometimes impracticable for weeks together. In this respect Mazanderan furnishes a striking contrast to the waste and barren shores of southern Persia, where for many hundred miles there is not a stream to be met with deep enough to take a horse above the knee. Hence arises the fertility of Mazanderan. So mild and humid, indeed, is the climate of Mazanderan, that it permits the growth of the sugar cane, and the production of good sugar, and that in perfection four months earlier than in the West Indies. From the lack of art and care, however, this gift of nature is not turned to account by the inhabitants of that province.[21]

Post-Islamic history[edit]

Sayed Haydar Amoli (Seyyed Se Tan) shrine in Amol, 15th century
Map of the Mazandaran Alavid emirate (864-929 AD)

During the post-Islamic period the local dynasties fall into three classes: 1. local families of pre-Islamic origin, 2. the ʿAlid sayyid s, and 3. local families of secondary importance.[20]

The Bawandids who claimed descent from Kawus provided three dynasties.[20] The first dynasty (665–1007) was overthrown on the conquest of Tabaristan by the Ziyarid Kabus b. Wushmgir.[20] The second dynasty reigned from 466/1073 to 606/1210 when Mazandaran was conquered by 'Ala al-Din Muhammad Khwarzamshah.[20] The third ruled from 635/1237 to 750/1349 as vassals of the Mongols.[20] The last representative of the Bawandids was killed by Afrasiyab Chulawi.[20]

The Karinids claimed descent from Karin, brother of Zarmihr who was the pre-Islamic ruler under the Sassanids.[20] Their last representative Mazyar was put to death in 224/839.[20]

The Paduspanids claimed descent from the Dabyuids of Gilan.[20] They came to the front about 40/660 and during the rule of the ʿAlids were their vassals. Later, they were vassals of the Buyids and Bawandids, who deposed them in 586/1190.[20] The dynasty, restored in 606/1209-10, survived till the time of Timur; the branch descended from Kawus the son of Kayumarth reigned till 975/1567 and the other, that of Iskandar the son of Kayumarth, till 984/1574.[20]

In the 9th-11th century AD, there were repetitively military raids undertaken by the Rus' between 864 and 1041 on the Caspian Sea shores of Iran, Azerbaijan, and Dagestan as part of the Caspian expeditions of the Rus'.[22] Initially, the Rus' appeared in Serkland in the 9th century traveling as merchants along the Volga trade route, selling furs, honey, and slaves. The first small-scale raids took place in the late 9th and early 10th century. The Rus' undertook the first large-scale expedition in 913; having arrived on 500 ships, they pillaged the westernmost parts of Gorgan as well as Mazandaran and Gilan, taking slaves and goods.

In the Safavid era Mazandaran was settled by very large amounts of Georgians, Circassians, Armenians, and other Peoples of the Caucasus, whose descendants still live or linger across Mazandaran. Towns, villages and neighbourhoods in Mazandaran still bear the name "Gorji" (i.e., Georgian) in them, although most of the large amounts of Georgians, and Circassians are already assimilated into the mainstream Mazandaranis. The history of Georgian settlement is described by Iskandar Beg Munshi, the author of the 17th century Tarikh-e Alam-Ara-ye Abbasi, and both the Circassian and Georgian settlements by Pietro Della Valle, among other authors.[23]

Geography and population[edit]


Relief map of Mazandaran area

Mazandaran is located on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. It is bordered clockwise by Golestan, Semnan and Tehran provinces.[24] This province also borders Qazvin and Gilan to the west. Mazandaran province is geographically divided into two parts: the coastal plains, and the mountainous areas. The Alborz Mountain Range surrounds the coastal strip and plains of the Caspian Sea.[citation needed]

There is often snowfall in the Alborz regions, which run parallel to the Caspian Sea's southern coast, dividing the province into many isolated valleys. The province enjoys a moderate, subtropical climate with an average temperature of 25 °C in summer and about 8 °C in winter. Although snow may fall heavily in the mountains in winter, it rarely falls at sea level.[citation needed]



It has a variety of climates, including the mild and humid climate of Caspian shoreline and the moderate and cold climate of mountainous regions. The western and central plains of the province, up to the northern foothills of Alborz Mountain Range, experience the mild climate of the Caspian region. In the 1,500- to 3,000-meter altitudes, there is a moderate mountainous climate, with long, cold winters, and short, mild summers. In this region, snow covers parts of the province even up to the middle of the warm season. In fact, snow can be observed in this region even in the warmest months of the year.[citation needed]

Rivers Babol - Babolsar


Mazandaran Population history chart.gif

The population of the province has been steadily growing during the last 50 years. The following table shows the approximate province population, excluding the Golestan province, which has separated as an independent province in 1998.[citation needed]

The population is overwhelmingly Mazandarani, with a minority of Azerbaijanis, Georgians, Armenians, Circassians, Turkmen and others.

In recent years the region has seen an influx of Iranians from other regions of Iran, many of them attracted by its nature and seaside.

Year 1956 1966 1976 1986 1996 2006 2011[2]
Approximate population 835,000 1,250,000 1,596,000 2,275,000 2,602,000 2,922,000 3,073,943


Main transport routes in Mazandaran (Click to see a larger version)


Mazandaran is connected to Tehran by Haraz road (Amol-Rudehen), Kandovan road (Chalus-Karaj), and Firoozkooh road (Qaem Shahr-Rudehen).[citation needed]


Dasht-e Naz Airport, serving the capital Sari, Noshahr Airport, and Ramsar Airport are the domestic airports that connect the province to the other parts of the country.[citation needed]


Iran North Railway Dept.
Bandar Torkaman
Bandar Gaz
Amir Abad
Gooni Bafi
Pol Sefid
Sorkh Abad
Zarrin Dasht
Simin Dasht
Kabootar Darreh
To Tehran Dept.

Mazandaran is served by the North Railway Dept. of the Iranian Railways. The department connects the province to Tehran to the south and Gorgan to the east. The cities of Sari, Qaemshahr, and Pol Sefid are major stations of the department.


View of the Caspian coast from the Namak Abrood tourist resort.

The peoples of the two provinces are largely secular, and consequently women have had greater social freedom and independence than their Persian cousins.[25]


Main article: Mazandarani Language

Mazanderani or Tabarian is a Northwestern Iranian language. Various Mazandarani dialects exist which are spoken in Mazandaran province and the neighbor province Golestan such as Mazanderani, and Gorgani and possibly Qadikolahi (Ghadikolahi) and Palani. Today, Mazandaranis also use Persian (Western Persian). The educated can communicate and read Persian well.[26]

A dialect of Azeri is spoken in the town of Galoogah.[27]

In literature[edit]

The Battle History Of Mazandaran

In the Persian epic, Shahnameh, Mazandaran is mentioned in two different sections. The first mention is implicit, when Fereydun sets its capital in a city called Tamishe near Amol:

بیاراست گیتی بسان بهشت.................... به جای گیا سرو گلبن بکشت

از آمل گذر سوی تمیشه کرد .............. نشست اندر آن نامور بیشه کرد

under the title "فریدون چو شد بر جهان کامگار", and when Manuchehr is returning to Fereydun's capital, Tamisheh in Mazandaran (known as Tabarestan), after his victory over Salm and Tur:[28]

ز دريای گيلان چون ابر سياه.............. دمادم به ساری رسيد آن سپاه

چو آمد بنزدیک شاه آن سپاه.................. فریدون پذیره بیامد براه

In the second section, a region called Mazandaran is mentioned in the Kai Kavoos era; it is an area which is mostly inhabited by Div (demons). The legendary Iranian Shah Kaykavoos, as well as the Iranian hero Rostam, each take turn to go to Mazandaran in order to battle the demons.

A famous verse from Shahnameh is when Zal tells Kai Kavoos:

شنیدم یکی نو سخن بس گران ..........که شه دارد آهنگ مازندران

"I heard troubling news that the king is planning to go to Mazandaran"

Forest in Mazandaran

However, this Mazandaran is not considered identical to the modern province of Mazandaran, and is instead a land to the west of Iran. The current province was simply considered a part of Tabaristan; the name Mazandaran is a later development, perhaps based upon local terminology.[29]

In Gaston Leroux's 'The Phantom of the Opera,' one of the characters was formerly the daroga (chief of police) of Mazanderan.

Arash story of the Shahnameh: از آن خوانند آرش را کمانگیر ..........که از آمل بمرو انداخت یک تیر

Caspian Sea coast in Mazandaran.
Hutu Cave
Lake Miyansheh
Baladeh castle
Clock Tower
Sangeno Waterfall
Sunset in Nowshahr
Gorji Mahaleh Beheshahr
Danial Cave

Notable people[edit]

Notable people from and/or active in Mazandaran Province or its historical region include:




Poets in the Persian and/or Mazandarani languages

Cinema artists[edit]

Mazandaran University of Medical Sciences


  • Abu'l Tayyeb Tabari − professor of legal sciences, judge, and a leading Shafeʿite of 11th century Baghdad.[30]
  • Abd al Qader Hasan Ruyani − astronomer. 15th/16th century written works include: "Compendious astronomical tables for Mīrzā", (c.1486) for Sultan Mirza ʿAli (1478–1505); "The Nezam’s gift" for Sultan Yahya Kia; and "Epitome of knowledge of the calendar." [30]
  • Masha'alla Ajoodani − social scientist
  • Hassan Hasanzadeh Amoli − mathematician, Islamic philosopher

Historians, philosophers and theologians[edit]



Sports people[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b همشهری آنلاین-استان‌های کشور به ۵ منطقه تقسیم شدند
  2. ^ a b Statistical Centre of Iran
  3. ^ a b Maryam Borjian - Bilingualism in Mazandaran: Peaceful Coexistence With Persian. Archived September 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Based on Maz or Mazan Term: Mazanderani: مازرون Māzerūn, Persian: مازندران‎‎, Russian: Мазендеран.
    Based on Tapur Term: English: Tapuria, Arabic: طبرستان‎‎ Ṭabaristan, from Middle Persian Tapuristān
    Mazandarani: Tapurana. (not prevalent)
    Ancient Greek: Hyrcania came from local name Vergana (Persian Gorgan), Caspia from local name Kaspi, See Caspian Sea. Firdawsi called the Caspian region Gilan, so people refer to Caspian provinces as Gilan.
    Note: It was also known as Al-Jannat by the Arabs, meaning paradise, during the 7–8th centuries
  5. ^ Statistical Centre, Government of Iran. See: "General Characteristics of Ostans according to their administrative divisions at the end of 1383 (2005 CE)" Archived October 26, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., "Population estimation by urban and rural areas, 2005"[dead link]
  6. ^ a b University of Mazanderan Archived October 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Census Results, 2006: Sari: 490.830, Babel: 464.535, Amel: 343.747, Shahi: 293.721.
    Iranian 2006 Census Website, Information File Archived June 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. (in Persian)
  8. ^ Springer Netherlands; July 10, 2005; Contributions to the knowledge of the useful plants and plant raw materials of Iran; ISSN 0921-9668
  9. ^ Mazandaran, Geography & History Archived February 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Entry for Elburz
  11. ^ Freshwater Fishes of Iran; Revised: 12 July 2007
  12. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Entry for Mazandaran
  13. ^ [1] (Persian)
  14. ^
  15. ^ IRAN Daily Caspian Region Archived September 12, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Parthia News, November 6, 2005.
  17. ^ Payvand, 400 Historical Sites Discovered within 7 Days in Mazandaran
  18. ^ CHN Page for Mazandaran
  19. ^ Keddie, N. R.; 1968; The Iranian villages before and after land reform. Journal of Contemporary History, 3(3), 69–78.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Minorsky, V.; Vasmer, R. "Mazandaran" Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2007. Brill Online.
  21. ^ Britannica article for "Hyrcania"
  22. ^ Logan (1992), p. 201
  23. ^ Pietro Della Valle, Viaggi, 3 vols. in 4 parts, Rome, 1658–63; tr. J. Pinkerton as Travels in Persia, London, 1811.
  24. ^ Gwillim Law, Statoids website. "Provinces of Iran". Retrieved on 2007-08-28
  25. ^ Reference: "The Soviet Socialist Republic of Iran, 1920-1921: Birth of the Trauma" by Cosroe Chaqueri.
  26. ^ Gordon, R.G., Jr. (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th edition. (Dallas, TX: SIL International). Online version
  27. ^ Lars Johanson, Éva Csató, Eva Agnes Csato. The Turkic Languages. Taylor & Francis, 1998. ISBN 0-415-08200-5; p. 274
  28. ^ Shahnameh/Book of Kings by Abu'L Ferdawsi, edited by Dr. jalal Khaleghi-Motlagh [2]
  29. ^ Iran Chamber Society: Geography of Iran: Ancient Iran’s Geographical Position in Shah-Nameh
  30. ^ a b Encyclopedia Iranica: Abu'l Tayyeb Tabari

External links[edit]