West Azarbaijan

From Academic Kids

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West Azarbaijan is a very religiously diverse province of Iran. This church, among the world's oldest, attracts many visitors annually.
Map showing West Azarbaijan in Iran

West Azarbaijan (آذربایجان غربی in Persian) is one of the 30 provinces of Iran. It should not be confused with the western part of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The province of West Azarbaijan covers an area of 39,487 sq. km. Its townships include: Urumieh, Oshnavieh, Bukan, Piran Shahr, Takab, Chaldran, Khoy, Sardasht, Salmas, Shahindej, Maku, Mahabad, Miandoab, and Naqadeh. In the year 2000, this province had a population of about 2.686 million people. The capital city of the province is the city of Urumieh, with a population of approximately 435,000.

Contents

Geography

This province has a mountainous terrain in which the high Zagros Mountains span over an area from the northwest to the southeast. The water obtained from the melting snow flows through the various valleys in the vicinity, ultimately flowing into Lake Urmia, the great fault of Khoy and the Khoy valley and the valley of the Kloy (Zaab) River. These are the most low-lying areas of the province.

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Pleasant climatic conditions have created suitable living conditions in the Azarbaijan provinces. It is here where humanity's first traces of wine were discovered.

Climatically, the province is influenced by the humid air currents of the Atlantic Ocean, and in the winter months the Mediterranean air currents have an effect here, bringing down the temperature. Generally the climate is variable, rising to 34C in hot summer months and dropping to 16C in the winter season, such that the cities of Urumieh and Maku have dry summers and cold winters, Mahabad has long, dry summers and extremely cold winters, whereas Naqadeh and Miandoab experience a semi-humid climate with mild summers and cold winters.

UNESCO has designated Lake Urmia as a Biosphere reserve protected habitat.

Religion

Most follow Shiite Islam; however, there are numerous Christian minorities such as the Assyrians which have historically lived on the west shore of Lake Urmia, as well as Armenians which are scattered throughout the province. Notably the city of Maku in northern West Azarbaijan was the only city in Iran (before World War II) where Christians comprised the majority.

Therefore from the religious aspect, the 'Shiite-sect' mostly are the inhabitants of Urumieh and the northern cities, whereas the Sunni sect are prevalent in the southern areas of the province. Other minorities such as the Assyrians and Armenians abide by their churches and each one of these, including the Azeri and Kurds, has its own traditions and culture.

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 Iranian 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 all, 31 Churches are registered by Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization in the province.

Ethnicity

Most residents of the province are ethnic Azeris who have lived for centuries in the region known as Azarbaijan, which stretches from the Republic of Azerbaijan of the former Soviet Union to the province of Zanjan in Iran. There is also a large Kurdish minority living mostly in the southern and western part of the province.

West Azarbaijan today

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Urumiyeh University has a well accredited College of Agriculture.

In the city of Urumieh many residents have a high standard of living in comparison with the Third world. There are plenty of parks, coffee shops, cinemas, and internet cafes throughout the city. There are hundreds of small villages in the province as well, most of which have running water and electricity as well as television, satellite, and telephone lines.

Thus, not surprisingly, it was here in the mountains of West Azarbaijan where humanity's first traces of wine were discovered at Tappeh Hajji Firuz.

Again not surprisingly, West Azarbaijan province is one of the most important provinces for Iran's agriculture. The province also enjoys a wealth of historical attractions, 169 sites registered by Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization.

The province has the following major institutes of higher education:

See also

External links


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