Iranian Azarbaijan: Wikis


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This article is about the region in Iran; for other uses, see Azerbaijan (disambiguation).

Azerbaijan or Azarbaijan (Persian: آذربایجان; Āzarbāijān; Azerbaijani: آذربایجان , Kurdish: ئازه‌ربایجان ), also Iranian Azerbaijan, Persian Azarbaijan[1] (Persian: آذربایجان ایران; Āzarbāijān-e Irān), is a region in northwestern Iran. It is also historically known as Atropatene and Aturpatakan. The region is referred to by some as South Azerbaijan or Southern Azerbaijan[2][3], however some scholars and sources view these terms as being irredentist and politically motivated.[4][5][6] For more information see the article History of the name Azerbaijan.


Etymology and usage

The name Azerbaijan itself is derived from Atropates,[7] the Satrap (governor) of Medea in the Achaemenid empire, who ruled a region found in modern Iranian Azarbaijan called Atropatene. Atropates name is believed to be derived from the Old Persian roots meaning "protected by fire."[8] The name is also mentioned in the Avestan Frawardin Yasht: âterepâtahe ashaonô fravashîm ýazamaide which translates literally to: We worship the Fravashi of the holy Atare-pata.[9] َAccording to the Encyclopedia of Islam, the name of the province was pronounced as: In Middle Persian the name of the province was called Āturpātākān, older new-Persian Ādharbādhagān آذربادگان/آذرآبادگان, Ādharbāyagān, at present Āzerbāydjān/Āzarbāydjān, Greek ᾿Ατροπατήνη, Byzantine Greek ᾿Αδραβιγάνων, Armenian Atrpatakan, Syriac Adhorbāyghān..[10] The name Atropat in Middle Persian was transformed to Adharbad and is connected with Zoroastrianism. A famous Zoroastrian priest by the name Adarbad Mahraspandan is well known for his counsels.[11] Azerbaijan, due to its numerous fire-temples has also been quoted in a variety of historic sources as being the birth place of the prophet Zoroaster although modern scholars have not yet reached an agreement on the location of his birth.[12]


Iranian Azerbaijan is generally considered the northwest portion of Iran comprising the provinces of East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan, Zanjan and Ardabil[13] and comprising an area of about 40,000 square miles (100,000 square km). It shares borders with the Republic of Azerbaijan,[14] Armenia, Turkey, and Iraq. Azerbaijan is famous for its great natural beauty. There are 17 rivers and two lakes in the region. Cotton, nuts, textiles, tea, machinery and electrical equipments are main industries. The northern, alpine region, which includes Lake Urmia, is mountainous, with deep valleys and fertile lowlands.

The region is bounded in the north by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan and in the West by Lake Urmia and Kurdish-inhabited areas of Iran, and in the East by the Talyshstan and Gilan.


Grains, fruits, cotton, rice, nuts, and tobacco are the staple crops of the region.

Industries and handicrafts

Industries include machine tools, vehicle factories, oil refinery, petrochemical complex, food processing, cement, textiles, electric equipment, and sugar milling. Oil and gas pipelines run through the region. Wool, carpets, and metal ware are also produced.


Azerbaijan, the main Turkic-speaking area and one of the richest and one of the most densely populated regions of Iran, presents a picture of ethnic distinctiveness and homogeneity that is perhaps misleading. Not only are there various linguistic, religious, and tribal minority groups, and Azerbaijanis themselves have settled widely outside the region.[15] The Azeris are followers of Shi'a Islam. Azeris make up the majority of the population in the Iranian region of Azerbaijan. The Azeri (also known as Azerbaijani) population of Iran is mainly found in the northwest provinces: East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan, Ardabil, Zanjan, and in some regions of Kordestan, Hamadan and Markazi. Many others live in Tehran, Karaj and other regions.[16]

Kurds make up a sizeable and according to some sources[17], the majority of the population of West Azarbaijan.

Smaller groups of Armenians, Assyrians, Talyshs, Jews, Georgians, and Persians also inhabit the region.

Provinces and cities

According to the population census of 2006[18][19], the three provinces of East Azarbaijan(2006 pop. 3,603,456), West Azarbaijan (2006 pop. 2,873,459) and Ardabil (2006 pop. 1,228,155) have a combined population of 7.7 million people.

Chief cities include Tabriz (the capital of East Azarbaijan), Urmia (the capital of West Azerbaijan), Ardabil (the capital of Ardabil), Maragheh, Marand, Mahabad, Piranshahr and Khoy (Khvoy).



Pre-Islamic period

The oldest kingdom known in Iranian Azerbaijan is that of the Mannea who ruled a region southeast of Lake Urmia centered around modern Saqqez. The Manneans were a confederation of Iranian and non-Iranian groups. According to Professor Zadok:

it is unlikely that there was any ethnolinguistic unity in Mannea. Like other peoples of the Iranian plateau, the Manneans were subjected to an ever increasing Iranian (i.e., Indo-European) penetration.[20]

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the Medes were an:

Indo-European people, related to the Persians, who entered northeastern Iran probably as early as the 17th century BC and settled in the plateau land that came to be known as Media.[21]
Map showing Atropatene (Iranian Azerbaijan) below the Aras River. Region above the Aras River,currently Located in Azerbaijan republic, is labeled as Caucasian Albania (600 AD).

After Alexander the Great conquered Persia, he appointed (328 BC) as governor the Persian general Atropates, who eventually established an independent dynasty. The region, which came to be known as Atropatene or Media Atropatene (after Atropates), was much disputed. In the 2nd century BC, it was liberated from Seleucid domination by Mithradates I of Arsacid dynasty, and was later made a province of the Sassanid Empire of Ardashir I. Under the Sassanids, Azerbaijan was ruled by a marzubān, and, towards the end of the period, belonged to the family of Farrukh-Hormuzd. Heraclius, the Byzantine emperor, briefly held the region in the 7th century until peace was made with the Sassanids. After the Islamic Conquest of Iran, Arab invaders converted most of its people to Islam and made it part of the caliphate.

Islamic period

Arab Conquest

During the Islamic invasion of Azerbaijan, the name of the general of Iran, was Rustam the son of Farrukh Hurmuz also known as Rustam Farrokhzad. Rustam himself was born in Azerbaijan and lead the Sassanid army into battle.

He is also mentioned in the Shahnameh.

The Sassanid Persian army was defeated in the battle of Qadisiya and Rustam was killed in the same battle. In 642 A.D., Piruzan, the Persian commander fought the Muslims in Nahavand, which was a gateway to the provinces of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Albania. The battle was fiece but the Sassanid troops failed in battle. This opened the gateway for Muslims into Azerbaijan. Muslims settled in Azerbaijan like many parts of Iran. According to the historian Kasravi, the Muslims also settled in Azerbaijan more numerously than other provinces due to its wide and green pastures. Local revolts against the Caliphate were common and the most famous of these revolts was that Persian Khurramite movement.

Abbasid and Seljuqids

After the revolt of Babak Khorramdin who was a Zoroastrian of neo-Mazdakite background, the grip of the Abbasid caliphate on Azerbaijan weakened, allowing native dynasties to rise in Azerbaijan. Later on Azerbaijan was taken by the Kurdish Daisam and the Daylamite Marzuban. The Daylamites were succeeded by the Kurdish Rawadids. After confrontations with the local Kurdish populations who had already established their own dynasties and emirates in vast areas of Azerbaijan, the Seljuks dominated the region in the 11th and early 12th centuries, at which point Turkification of the native populations began. In 1136, Azerbaijan fell to the lot of the Atabakan-e-Azerbaijan and Atabakan-e-Maragheh. It was invaded by the Khwarizm Shah Jalal ad-din until the advent of the Mongol invasions.

Mongol and Turkmen Period

The Mongols under Hulagu Khan established their capital at Maragheh. The Safina-yi Tabriz is a book that describes the general intellectual condition of Tabriz during the Ilkhanid period. After being conquered by Timur in the 14th century, Tabriz became an important provincial capital of the Timurid empire. Later, Tabriz becamse the capital of the Qara Qoyunlu empire.

Safavid, Afghan interlude, Afshars and Qajar

It was out of Ardabil (ancient Artavilla) that the Safavid dynasty arose to renew the state of Persia and establish Shi'ism as the official religion of Iran. After 1502, Azarbaijan became the chief bulwark and military base of the Safavids. In the meantime, between 1514 and 1603, the Ottomans frequently occupied Tabriz and other parts of the province. The Safavid control was restored by Shah Abbas but during the Afghan invasion (1722-8) the Ottomans recaptured Azerbaijan and other western provinces of Iran, until Nadir Shah expelled them. In the beginning of the reign of Karim Khan Zand, the Afghan Azad Khan revolted in Azerbaijan and later the Dumbuli Kurds of khoy and other tribal chiefs ruled various parts of the territory. With the advent of the Qajars, Azerbaijan became the traditional residence of the heirs-apparent. At this time, the final northern frontier of Iran with Russia (along the Araxes) was established in 1828 (Turkmanchay Treaty). After 1905 the representatives of Azerbaijan were very active in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution.

Modern Period

The Russian (Tsarist) army occupied Iranian Azerbaijan in 1909, and again in 1912-1914 and 1915-1918 period,the Ottoman forces occupied her in 1914-1915 and 1918-1919 periods, the Bolshevik forces occupied Iranian Azerbaijan and other parts of Iran in 1920-1921,[22] and the Soviet forces occupied Iranian Azerbaijan in 1941, createing a very short-lived autonomous, Soviet-supported state in May 1946, which was dissolved after reunification of Iranian Azerbaijan with Iran in November of the same year. The history of Iran, especially its contemporary history has proven that Azerbaijani people are one of the most patriot people in Iran. Iranian Nationalism is partly the product of Azerbaijani Intellectuals.[23] [24].Azerbaijani provinces have played a major in the cultural and economic life of Iran in both the Pahlavi era as well as the Iranian Constitutional and Islamic revolution.


Azeris are culturally very close to the rest of the Iranians though their language is Turkic. The people of Azerbaijan have similar DNA to other Iranian peoples[25][26] as well as their religion which is Shi'a Islam, which sets them apart from other Turkic speakers (who are mostly Sunni Muslims). Azeris celebrate Nouruz for the turn of the new Iranian year, the arrival of spring. Azerbaijan has a distinct music in Iran. Many local dances and folk music continue to survive among the various peoples of the provinces. Although Azerbaijani language is not an official language it is widely used, mostly in an oral tradition, among the Azeris in Iran. Many poets that came from Azerbaijan wrote poetry in both Persian and Azerbaijani. Renowned poets in Azerbaijani language are Nasimi, Shah Ismail I (who was known with the pen-name Khatai), Fuzuli, and Mohammad Hossein Shahriar. Fuzuli and Nasimi were probably born outside what is now Iranian Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani was the dominant language of the ruling dynasties of the Turkic rulers of the area such as the Ak Koyunlu and later it was used in the Safavid courts for a short time, until Persian was adopted, however, Turkic was used especially among the Kizilbash warriors.[citation needed] As a longstanding province of Iran (Persia), Azerbaijan is mentioned favorably on many occasions in Persian literature by Iran's greatest authors and poets. Examples:

Sassanid king, Bahram Gur is a great favourite in Persian tradition and poetry. Depction of Nezami's "Bahram and the Indian Princess in the Black Pavilion" Khamse ("Quintet"), mid-16th century Safavid era.

گزیده هر چه در ایران بزرگان
زآذربایگان و ری و گرگان
All the nobles and greats of Iran,
Choose from Azerbaijan, Ray, and Gorgan.
Vis o Ramin

از آنجا بتدبیر آزادگان
بیامد سوی آذرآبادگان
From there the wise and the free,
set off to Azerbaijan

به یک ماه در آذرآبادگان
ببودند شاهان و آزادگان
For a month's time, The Kings and The Free,
Would choose in Azerbaijan to be

Colleges and universities

See also

External links


  1. ^ James Minahan. "Miniature Empires", Published by Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998.
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica: "Azerbaijan", viii "Azerbaijan Turkish", Doerfer, G. page 246, (LINK)
  3. ^ Brown, Cameron S. 2002 (Dec.). "Observations from Azerbaijan." Middle East Review of International Affairs: v. 6, no. 4, (LINK)
  4. ^ Michael P. Croissant, "The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Causes and Implications", Praeger/Greenwood, 1998. excerpt from pg 61: "During the Soviet-era historical revisionism and myth-building intended to denounce imperialism, the notion of a "northern" and "southern" Azerbaijan was created and propogated throughout USSR. It was charged that the "two Azerbaijanis" once united were separated artificially by conspiracy between imperial Russia and Iran".
  5. ^ Ethnic Conflict and International Security, Edited by Michael E. Brown, Princeton University Press, 1993
  6. ^ Bert G. Fragner, ‘Soviet Nationalism’: An Ideological Legacy to the Independent Republics of Central Asia ’ in” in Van Schendel, Willem(Editor) . Identity Politics in Central Asia and the Muslim World: Nationalism, Ethnicity and Labour in the Twentieth Century. London , GBR: I. B. Tauris & Company, Limited, 2001. Excerpt from pg 24: "Under Soviet auspices and in accordance with Soviet nationalism, historical Azerbaijan proper was reinterpreted as 'Southern Azerbaijan', with demands for liberation and, eventually, for 're'-unification with Northern (Soviet) Azerbaijan a breathtaking manipulation. No need to point to concrete Soviet political activities in this direction, as in 1945-46 etc. The really interesting point is that in the independent former Soviet republics this typically Soviet ideological pattern has long outlasted the Soviet Union."
  7. ^ Atroapates. Encyclopedia Iranica
  8. ^ Encyclopædia Iranica, "ATROPATES" M. L. Chaumont.
  9. ^ FRAWARDIN YASHT ("Hymn to the Guardian Angels") Translated by James Darmesteter (From Sacred Books of the East, American Edition, 1898)
  10. ^ Minorsky, V.; Minorsky, V. "Azerbaijan" Encyclopaedia of Islam. Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill
  11. ^ R. C. Zaehner, The Teachings of the Magi, London, 1956, p. 101
  12. ^ G. Gnoli, Zoroaster's time and homeland, Naples, 1980
  13. ^ "Azerbaijan." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 09 Mar. 2009 <>. excerpt:"geographic region that comprises the extreme northwestern portion of Iran. It is bounded on the north by the Aras River, which separates it from independent Azerbaijan and Armenia; on the east by the Iranian region of Gīlān and the Caspian Sea; on the south by the Iranian regions of Zanjān and Kordestān; and on the west by Iraq and Turkey. Azerbaijan is about 40,000 square miles (100,000 square km) in area."
  14. ^ M. N. POGREBOVA, Encyclopedia Iranica, ARCHEOLOGY. viii. NORTHERN AZERBAIJAN (REPUBLIC OF AZERBAIJAN), June 16, 2004
  15. ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica, page 243 = accessed January 9, 2007]
  16. ^ Azarbaijanis
  17. ^ Keith Stanley McLachlan, "The Boundaries of Modern Iran ", Published by UCL Press, 1994. pg 55
  18. ^ Provinces of Iran - 1996 Census figures, page last updated: 2006-04-19, accessed April 2, 2007
  19. ^ [1]
  20. ^ MANNEA by R. Zadok in Encyclopaedia Iranica
  21. ^ "Mede." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 12 February 2007 <>
  22. ^ Younes Parsa Benab, "The Gilan Soviet Republic and Azadistan in Iranian Azerbaijan (1917-1921)", accessed April 2, 2007
  23. ^ For more information see: Ali Morshedizad,Roshanfekrane Azari va Hoviyate Melli va Ghomi (Azari Intellectuals and Their Attitude to Natinal and Ethnic Identity (Tehran: Nashr-e Markaz publishing co., 1380)
  24. ^ Cold War International History Project Virtual Archive 2.0 Collection: 1945-46 Iranian Crisis
  25. ^ "Maziar Ashrafian Bonab"Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge (retrieved 9 June 2006)
  26. ^ "Cambridge Genetic Study of Iran"ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency), 06-12-2006, news-code: 8503-06068 (retrieved 9 June 2006)


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