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Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf - Persian Gulf from space
Persian Gulf from space
Location Southwest Asia
Ocean type Gulf
Primary sources Sea of Oman
Basin countries Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Oman (exclave of Musandam)
Max length 989 km (615 mi)
Max width 56 km (35 mi) (min)
Surface area 251,000 km2 (97,000 sq mi)
Average depth 50 m (160 ft)
Max depth 90 m (300 ft)

The Persian Gulf, in the Southwest Asian region, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.[1] Historically and commonly known as the Persian Gulf, this body of water is sometimes controversially referred to as the Arabian Gulf or simply The Gulf by most Arab states[2], although neither of the latter two terms is recognized internationally. The name Persian Gulf (Gulf of Iran) is used by the International Hydrographic Organization[3].

The Persian Gulf was a focus of the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers. In 1991, the Persian Gulf again was the background for what was called the "Persian Gulf War" or the "Gulf War" when Iraq invaded Kuwait and was subsequently pushed back, despite the fact that this conflict was primarily a land conflict.

The Persian Gulf has many good fishing grounds, extensive coral reefs, and abundant pearl oysters, but its ecology has come under pressure from industrialization, and in particular, petroleum spillages during the recent wars in the region.



This inland sea of some 251,000 km² is connected to the Gulf of Oman in the east by the Strait of Hormuz; and its western end is marked by the major river delta of the Shatt al-Arab, which carries the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris. Its length is 989 kilometres, with Iran covering most of the northern coast and Saudi Arabia most of the southern coast. The Persian Gulf is about 56 kilometres wide at its narrowest, in the Strait of Hormuz. The waters are overall very shallow, with a maximum depth of 90 metres and an average depth of 50 metres.

Countries with a coastline on the Persian Gulf are (clockwise, from the north): Iran, Oman (exclave of Musandam), United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar on a peninsula off the Saudi coast, Bahrain on an island, Kuwait and Iraq in the northwest. Various small islands lie within the Persian Gulf, some of which are subject to territorial disputes by the states of the region.



The International Hydrographic Organization refers to the gulf as the "Persian Gulf (Gulf of Iran)", and it defines its southern limit as follows:[3]

The Northwestern limit of Gulf of Oman [A line joining Ràs Limah (25°57'N) on the coast of Arabia and Ràs al Kuh (25°48'N) on the coast of Iran (Persia)].

Oil and gas

The Persian Gulf and its coastal areas are the world's largest single source of crude oil and related industries dominate the region. Al-Safaniya, the world's largest offshore oilfield, is located in the Persian Gulf. Large gas finds have also been made with Qatar and Iran sharing a giant field across the territorial median line (North Field in the Qatari sector; South Pars Field in the Iranian sector). Using this gas, Qatar has built up a substantial liquified natural gas (LNG) and petrochemical industry.

The oil-rich countries (excluding Iraq) that have a coastline on the Persian Gulf are referred to as the Persian Gulf States. Iraq's egress to the gulf is narrow and easily blockaded consisting of the marshy river delta of the Shatt al-Arab, which carries the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris Rivers, where the left (East) bank is held by Iran.


Map of the Persian Gulf. The Gulf of Oman leads to the Arabian Sea. Detail from larger map of the Middle East.

In 550 B.C, the Achaemenid Empire established the first Persian Empire in Pars (Persis, or modern Fars) in the southwestern region of the Iranian plateau. Consequently in the Greek sources, the body of water that bordered this province came to be known as the Persian Gulf.[4]

Considering the historical background of the name Persian Gulf, Sir Arnold Wilson mentions in a book, published in 1928 that:

No water channel has been so significant as Persian Gulf to the geologists, archaeologists, geographers, merchants, politicians, excursionists, and scholars whether in past or in present. This water channel which separates the Iran Plateau from the Arabia Plate, has enjoyed an Iranian Identity since at least 2200 years ago.[1]

No written deed has remained since the era before the Persian Empire, but in the oral history and culture, the Iranians have called the southern waters: "Jam Sea", "Iran Sea", "Pars Sea".

During the years: 550 to 330 B.C. coinciding with sovereignty of the first Persian Empire on the Middle East area, especially the whole part of Persian Gulf and some parts of the Arabian Peninsula, the name of "Pars Sea" has been widely written in the compiled texts.[1]

In the travel account of Pythagoras, several chapters are related to description of his travels accompanied by Darius the Great, to Susa and Persepolis, and the area is described. From among the writings of others in the same period, there is the inscription and engraving of Darius the great, installed at junction of waters of Arabian Gulf (Ahmar Sea = Red sea) and Nile river and Rome river (current Mediterranean) which belongs to the 5th century BC where, Darius, the king of Achaemenid Empire has named the Persian Gulf Water Channel: Pars Sea.[1]

Naming dispute

A historical map of the Persian Gulf in a Dubai museum, United Arab Emirates with the word Persian removed.[citation needed]

In the fifth century B.C., Darius the Great of the Achaemenid dynasty called the Persian Gulf "Draya; tya; haca; parsa: Aitiy", meaning, "The sea which goes from Persian"[5]. In this era, some of the Greek writers also called it "Persikonkaitas", meaning the Persian Gulf. Claudius Ptolemaues, the celebrated Greco-Egyptian mathematician/astronomer in the second century called it "Persicus Sinus" or Persian Gulf[6]. In the first century A.D., Quintus Curticus Rufus, the Roman historian, designated it "Aquarius Persico" – the Persian Sea[7]. Flavius Arrianus, another Greek historian, called it "Persiconkaitas" (Persian Gulf)[8]. During the Sassanian dynasty and the time of the Prophet Muhammad and the 4 caliphs, the name invariably used was the "Persian Sea"[9]. This was continued by the Ummayyads and Abbassids[9], while during the Ottomans used either "Persian Gulf" or "Persian Sea", however occasionally they called it "Khalij of Basra" or "Basra Kurfuzi", meaning the Gulf of Basra[9]. Among historians, travellers and geographers of the Islamic era, many of them writing in Arabic from the 9th to the 17th century, Ibn Khordadbeh[10], Ibn al-Faqih[11], Ibn Rustah[12], Sohrab[13], Ramhormozi[14], Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al-Farisi al Istakhri[15], Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Ali al-Mas'udi[16], Al-Mutahhar ibn Tahir al-Maqdisi(d. 966)[17], Ibn Hawqal[18], Al-Muqaddasi[19], Ibn Khaldun[20],Mohammad ibn Najub Bekiran[21], Abu Rayhan Biruni[22], Muhammad al-Idrisi[23], Yaqut al-Hamawi[24], Zakariya al-Qazwini[25], Abu'l-Fida[26], Al-Dimashqi[27], Hamdollah Mostowfi[28], Ibn al-Wardi[29], Al-Nuwayri[30], Ibn Batutta[31], Katip Çelebi and other sources[32] have used the terms "Bahr-i-Fars", "Daryaye-i-Fars", "Khalij al-'Ajami" and "Khalij-i Fars".

With the rise of Arab nationalism (Pan-Arabism) in the 1960s, most Arab states started adopting the term "Arabian Gulf" (in Arabic: الخلیج العربي al-ḫalīǧ al-ʻarabi) to refer to the waterway.[2][33],[34],[35]. However, this naming has not found much acceptance outside of the Arab world, and is not recognized by the United Nations[2][36][37][38] or any other international organization.[2][39] The United Nations Secretariat on many occasions has requested that only "Persian Gulf" be used as the official and standard geographical designation for the body of water.[40] Historically, "Arabian Gulf" has been a term used to indicate the Red Sea.[1][41][42][43][44] At the same time, the historical veracity of the usage of "Persian Gulf" can be established from the works of many medieval historians.[1][45][46][47][48] Most Arabs refer to the waterway as simply "al-Khaleej" or "the Gulf".

At the Twenty-third session of the United Nations in March-April 2006, the name "Persian Gulf" was confirmed again as the legitimate and official term to be used by members of the United Nations.[49]


Pre-Islamic era

For most of the history of human settlement in the Persian Gulf the southern side was ruled by nomadic tribes. During the end of fourth millennium BC the southern part of the Persian Gulf was dominated by the Dilmun civilization. For a long time the most important settlement on the southern coast of the Persian Gulf was Gerrha. In the second century the Lakhum tribe, who lived in Yemen, migrated north and founded the Lakhmid Kingdom along the southern coast. During the 7th century the Sassanid Empire conquered the whole of the Persian Gulf.

Between 625 BC and 226 AD the northern side was dominated by the Median, Achaemenid, Seleucid and Parthian empires. After the fall of the Parthian Empire, the Sassanid empire ruled the northern half and at times the southern half of the Persian Gulf. the Persian Gulf, along with the Silk Road was very important to trade in the Sassanid empire. Siraf was an ancient Sassanid port that was located on the north shore of the Persian Gulf in what is now the Iranian province of Bushehr.

Colonial era

Portuguese expansion into the Indian Ocean in the early sixteenth century following Vasco da Gama's voyages of exploration saw them battle the Ottomans up the coast of the Persian Gulf. In 1521, a Portuguese force led by commander Antonio Correia invaded Bahrain to take control of the wealth created by its pearl industry. IIn April 29 of 1602, Shāh Abbās, the Persian emperor of Safavid Persian Empire expelled the Portuguese from Bahrain.[50][50], and that date is commemorated as National Persian Gulf day in Iran[51]. With the support of the British fleet, in 1622 'Abbās took the island of Hormuz from the Portuguese: much of the trade was diverted to the town of Bandar 'Abbās which he had taken from the Portuguese in 1615 and had named after himself. The Persian Gulf was therefore opened by Persians to a flourishing commerce with Portuguese, Dutch, French, Spanish and British merchants, which were granted particular privileges.

From 1763 until 1971, the British Empire maintained varying degrees of political control over some Persian Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates (originally called the "Trucial Coast States"[citation needed]) and at various times Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar through the British Residency of the Persian Gulf.

The United Kingdom maintains a high profile in the region; in 2006, over 1 million Britons visited Dubai alone.[52]


Mangroves in the Persian Gulf, which are thought to require tidal flow and a combination of fresh and salt water, are nurseries for crabs, small fish and insects - and the birds that eat them.[53]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Working Paper No. 61, UNITED NATIONS GROUP OF EXPERTS ON GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES, dated March 28, April 4, 2006 ([1]); accessed February 09, 2007
  2. ^ a b "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition". International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved 7 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Touraj Daryaee, The Persian Gulf Trade in Late Antiquity, Journal of World History, Vol. 14, No. 1., March 2003, (LINK); accessed February 09, 2007
  4. ^ Roland G. Kent, "Old Persian Texts", Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Bol. I, Oct. 1942, no. 4., pg 419
  5. ^ See geography of Claudius Ptolemy translated by Edward L. Stevenson; also sited in Sir Arnold T. Wilson, "The Persian Gulf", (London: 1928), pg 3 and pg 43
  6. ^ Histoire d’Alexandre le Grand par Quinte Curce, traduction en Francais, Tom II (Paris: 1834), pg 184
  7. ^ Flavius Arrianus, "History of Alexandre and Indica" with an English translation by E. Lliff Robinson (London: 1949), the Loeb Classical Library vol. II, pp. 414-417
  8. ^ a b c Mehr, Farhang (1997), "A colonial legacy: The dispute over the islands of Abu Musa, and the Greater and Lesser Tumbs", University Press of America
  9. ^ "Al-Massalek wa al-Mamalek", Leiden edition, 1889. Pg 233
  10. ^ The abrdiged "Al-Buldan", Leiden, 1885, pg 8
  11. ^ Ibn Rustah, Kitāb al-A'lāk an-Nafīsa, ed. M. J. De Goeje, Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum [BGA], Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1891/1892. Pg 81
  12. ^ Ajayeb al-Aqalim al-Saba ila Nehayate al-Mara, (Vienne: 1929), pg 59. He was a Persian geographer who lived in the 9th century A.D.
  13. ^ Nakhoda Bozorg ibn Shahriyar Ramhormozi was another Persian geographer of the classical Islamic era, "Ajayeb al-Hind", ed: M. Davis, Leiden 1886, pg. 41
  14. ^ "Massalek al-Mamalek", ed.: De M.J. Goeje, Leiden 1927, pg 28
  15. ^ "Muruj adh-dhahab wa ma'adin al-jawhar (The Meadows of Gold and Mines of Gems)", English Translation by Aloys Sprenger, Vol I, (London: 1841), p. 259
  16. ^ al-Bad’ wa-l Tarikh, (Paris: 1907) Tom IV, pg 58.
  17. ^ "The Oriental Geography of Ebn Hawkal", Translated by Sir Williams Ouseley (London: 1800) p. 62; "Surat al-Arḍ"(Leiden 1938), Vol I, pg 42.
  18. ^ Ahsan al-Taqasim fi Ma’rifat al-Aqalim. Ed: De A.J. Goeje, (Leiden 1906), pg 17.
  19. ^ بحر فارس فی کتاب تاريخ ابن خلدون الجزء الأول ص ( 2 من 258 ) وكذلك يقولون في تبع الآخر وهو أسعد أبو كرب وكان على عهد يستأنف من ملوك الفرس الكيانية إنه ملك الموصل وأذربيجان ولقي الترك فهزمهم وأثخن ثم غزاهم ثانية وثالثة كذلك وإنه بعد ذلك أغزى ثلاثة من بنيه بلاد فارس وإلى بلاد الصغد ..... وذلك أن ملك التبابعة إنما كان بجزيرة العرب وقرارهم وكرسيهم صنعاء اليمن‏.‏ وجزيرة العرب يحيط بها البحر من ثلاث جهاتها‏:‏ فبحر الهند من الجنوب وبحر فــارس الهابط منه إلى البصرة من المشرق وبحر السويس الهابط منه إلى السويس من أعمال مصر من جهة المغرب كماتراه في مصور الجغرافيا‏.‏ فلا يجد السالكون من اليمن إلى المغرب طريقاً من غير السويس‏.‏ تاريخ ابن خلدون الجزء الأول ( 3 من 258 ) والبحر الثاني من هذا البحر الحبشي ويسمى الخليج الأخضر يخرج ما بين بلاد السند والأحقاف من اليمن ويمر إلى ناحية الشمال مغرباً قليلاً إلى أن ينتهي إلى الأبلة من سواحل البصرة في الجزء السادس من الإقليم الثاني على أربعمائة فرسخ وأربعين فرسخاً من مبدئه ويسمى بحر فـــارس‏.‏ وعليه من جهة الشرق سواحل السند ومكران وكرمان وفارس والأبلة عند نهايته ومن جهة الغرب سواحل البحرين واليمامة وعمان والشحر والأحقاف عند مبدئه‏.‏ وفيما بين بحر فارس والقلزم جزيرة العرب كأنها داخلة من البر في البحر يحيط بها البحر الحبشي من الجنوب وبحر القلزم من الغرب وبحر فارس من الشرق وتفضي إلى العراق فيما بين الشام والبصرة على ألف وخمسمائة ميل بينهما‏.‏ وهنالك الكوفة والقادسية وبغداد وإيوان كسرى والحيرة‏.‏ ووراء ذلك أمم الأعاجم من الترك والخزر وغيرهم‏.‏ وفي جزيرة العرب بلاد الحجاز في جهة الغرب منها وبلاد اليمامة والبحرين وعمان جهة الشرق منها وبلاد اليمن في قالوا‏:‏ وفي هذا المعمور بحر أخر منقطع من سائر البحار في ناحية الشمال بأرض الديلم يسمى بحر جرجان وطبرستان طوله ألف ميل في عرض ستمائة ميل في غربيه أذربيجان والديلم وفي شرقيه أرض الترك وخوارزم وفي جنوبيه طبرستان وفي شماليه أرض الخزر واللان‏.‏ هذه جملة البحار المشهورة التي ذكرها أهل الجغرافيا‏........ ....... وفي الجزء السادس من هذا الإقليم فيما بين البحرين الهابطين من هذا البحر الهندي إلى جهة الشمال وهما بحر قلزم وبحر فارس وفيما بينهما جزيرة العرب‏.‏ وتشتمل على بلاد اليمن وبلاد الشحر في شرقيها على ساحل هذا البحر الهندي وعلى بلاد الحجاز واليمامة‏.‏في كتاب أحسن التقاسيم في معرفة الأقاليم المقدسي البشاري هي فی
  20. ^ "Jahan Nama", quoted by Mohammad Javad Mashkoor in an article titled "Nam-i Khalij Fars" in the proceeding of the "Seminar on Khalij-e-Fars" (Tehran: 1964), Vol I. p. 44. Bekiran lived in the 11th century A.D.
  21. ^ "Al-Tafhim le-awa’el Sena al-Tanjim" ed.: Jalal al-Din Homai (Tehran: 1318 Hijri Sola Calendar), pg 167. Also in "Qanun Masudi"(Heydarabad, 1955), Vol. II. Pg 558. ابوريحان بيرونی ( 440 ق.) فی کتاب التفهيم: بحر پارس ـ دريای پارس ـ ابوريحان بيرونی فی کتاب قانون المسعودی: دريای فارس ـ ابوريحان بيرونی فی کتاب تحديد نهايات الامانی: بحر فارس
  22. ^ "Geographic d’Edirisi" traduite de l’Arabe en Francais par P. Amedee Jaulert (Recueil des voyages et des memoires publiees par la Societe de Geographie), (Paris: 1840), Vols. VI and VI. "Nuzhat al-Mushtaq fi Ikhtraq al-Afar", (Rome : 1878). Pg 9
  23. ^ "mu’jam al-Buldan",(Cairo: 1906), Vol. 2, pg 68. ياقوت حموی ( 626 ق.) فی کتاب المعجم البلدان: بحر فارس
  24. ^ "Athar al-Bilad" (Gutingen: 1848), pg 104. زکريای قزوينی ( 682 ق.) فی کتاب آثار البلاد: بحر فارس ـ زکريای قزوينی فی کتاب العجايب المخلوقات: بحر فارس
  25. ^ "Taqwim al-Buldan", Geographie d’Aboulfeda traduite de l’Arab par M. Reinaud, 2 Vols. (Paris: 1848), Vol 1, pg 23. ابوالفداء ( 732 ق.) فی کتاب التقويم البلدان: بحر فارس
  26. ^ Quoted also in Mohammad Javad Mashkoor in an article titled "Nam-i Khalij Fars" in the proceeding of the "Seminar on Khalij-e-Fars" (Tehran: 1964). Pg 46. انصاری الدمشقی ( 727 ق.) فی کتاب النخبة الدهر: بحر فارس
  27. ^ "Nuzhat al-Qolub", ed: Mohammad Dabir Sayaqi, (Tehran: 1336 Hijri Solar Year), pg 164. حمدالله مستوفی قزوينی ( 740 ق.) فی کتاب النزهة القلوب: بحر فارس
  28. ^ "Kharida al-Ajayeb", Quoted also in Mohammad Javad Mashkoor in an article titled "Nam-i Khalij Fars" in the proceeding of the "Seminar on Khalij-e-Fars" (Tehran: 1964). Pg 47. ابوحفص ابن الوردی ( 749 ق.) فی کتاب خريده العجايب: بحر فارس
  29. ^ Quoted also in Mohammad Javad Mashkoor in an article titled "Nam-i Khalij Fars" in the proceeding of the "Seminar on Khalij-e-Fars" (Tehran: 1964). Pg 46.شهاب الدين احمد نويری ( 733 ق.) فی کتاب نهاية الارب: خليج فارس
  30. ^ "The Travels of Ibn Babutta", translated from the abrdiged Arabic MMS of Cambridge by the Rev. Samuel Lee(Cambridgde: 1824), pg 56
  31. ^ ابن فقيه فی کتاب البلدان (تأليف 279 ق.): اطلق علیها الاسم  : بحر فارس ـ ابن رسته فی کتاب الاعلاق النفيسه (تأليف 290 ق.): تسمیها بالخليج الفارسی ـ سهراب (قرن ثالث هجری) فی کتاب العجايب الاقاليم السبعه: ت= بحر فارس ـ ابن خردادبه ( 300 ق.) فی کتاب المسالک الممالک: ت = بحر فارس ـ بزرگ بن شهريار فی کتاب العجايب الهند (تأليف 342 ق.): بحر فارس ـ اصطخری ( 346 ق.) فی الکتاب المسالک الممالک: بحر فارس ـ اصطخری فی کتاب الاقاليم: بحر فارس ـ مسعودی ( 346 ق.) فی کتاب المروج الذهب: بحر فارس ـ مسعودی فی کتاب التنبيه والاشراف: بحر الفارس ـ ابن مطهر فی کتاب البدء والتاريخ (تأليف 355 ق.): خليج الفارس ـ ابوريحان بيرونی ( 440 ق.) فی کتاب التفهيم: بحر پارس ـ دريای پارس ـ ابوريحان بيرونی فی کتاب قانون المسعودی: دريای فارس ـ ابوريحان بيرونی فی کتاب تحديد نهايات الامانی: بحر فارس ـ ابن حوقل فی کتاب صورة الارض (تأليف 367 ق.): بحر فارس ـ مؤلف الحدود العالم من المشرق الی المغرب (تأليف 372 ق.): خليج فارس ـ دريای پارس ـ مقدسی فی کتاب احسن التقاسيم فی معرفة الاقاليم (تأليف 375 ق.): بحر فارس ـ محمد بن نجيب فی کتاب جهان نامه (تأليف قرن چهارم): بحر پارس ـ ابن بلخی فی کتاب فارسنامه (تأليف حدود 500 ق.): بحر فارس ـ طاهر مروزی فی کتاب الطبايع الحيوان (تأليف حدود 514 ق.): الخليج الفارس ـ شريف ادريسی ( 560 ق.) فی کتاب النزهة المشتاق: بحر فارس ـ ياقوت حموی ( 626 ق.) فی کتاب المعجم البلدان: بحر فارس ـ زکريای قزوينی ( 682 ق.) فی کتاب آثار البلاد: بحر فارس ـ زکريای قزوينی فی کتاب العجايب المخلوقات: بحر فارس ـ انصاری الدمشقی ( 727 ق.) فی کتاب النخبة الدهر: بحر فارس ـ ابوالفداء ( 732 ق.) فی کتاب التقويم البلدان: بحر فارس ـ شهاب الدين احمد نويری ( 733 ق.) فی کتاب نهاية الارب: خليج فارس ـ حمدالله مستوفی قزوينی ( 740 ق.) فی کتاب النزهة القلوب: بحر فارس ـ ابوحفص ابن الوردی ( 749 ق.) فی کتاب خريده العجايب: بحر فارس ـ ابن بطوطه ( 777 ق.) فی الکتاب مشهور الرحله ابن بطوطه : بحر فارس ـ قلقشندی (درگذشته 821 ق.) فی کتاب صبح الاعشی: بحر فارس ـ حاجی خليفه ( 1067 ق.) فی کتاب جهان نما (ترکی): بحر فارس ـ شمس الدين محمد سامی فی قاموس الاعلام (قرن سيزدهم هجری): خليج بصره ـ البستانی فی دايرة المعارف البستانی (طبع 1883 م.): الخليج العجمی و ایضا سجلت و وصفت الخلیج الفارسی فی کتب : 1ـ آثار البلاد و اخبار العباد ـ تالیف ابوعبدالله زكريا بن محمد بن محمود القزويني ـ طبع بيروت 1960. 2ـ احسن التقاسيم في معرفة الاقاليم ـ تالیف شمس الدين ابوعبدالله محمدبن احمدبن ابوبكر الشامي مقدسي، معروف به البشاري، ـ ليدن 1960 (يطلب من مكتبة المثني ببغداد). 4ـ الاعلاق النفيسه ـ تالیف ابوعلي احمد بن عمر، معروف به ابن رسته، طبع ليدن 1981 ميلادي. . 8ـ تاريخ التمدن الاسلامي ـ تأليف جرجي زيدان ـ طبع القاهره 1935 ـ جلد دوم. 9ـ التفهيم لاوائل صناعة التنجيم ـ ابوريحان بيروني خوارزمي ـ تصحيح جلال همايي 1318 شمسي. 10ـ حياة الحيوان الكبري ـ شيخ كمال الدين الدميري، قاهره 1311 هجري. 11ـ خريدة العجائب و فريدة الغرائب ـ تالیف ابو حفض زيدالدين عمر مظفر، معروف به ابن الوردي ـ چاپ قاهره 1303 هجري. 18ـ صبح الاعشي في صناعة الانشاء ـ ابي العباس احمدبن علي بن احمد القلقشندي . قاهره 1913 تا 1920 جلد سوم. 19ـ صورة الارض، تالیف ابوالقاسم محمدبن حوقل، ليدن 1938 ، جلد اول. 20ـ طبايع الحيوان ـ تالیف شرف الزمان طاهر مروزي ـ طبع لندن 1942 . 21ـ عجائب الاقاليم السبعة الي نهاية المعمارة ـ تالیف سهراب ـ وين 1929 . 22ـ العراق ـ تأليف سيد عبدالرزاق الحسني ـ صيدا 1956 . 23ـ علم الخرائط ـ تأليف دكتر محمد عبدالكريم صبحي، قاهره 1966 . 24ـ قاموس الاعلام ـ تالیف شمس الدين محمد سامي، استانبول 1306 هجري. 25ـ قانون مسعودي ـ تالیف ابوريحان بيروني الخوارزمي، حيدرآباد دكن 1955 . 26ـ قصة الحضارة ـ تأليف ويل دورانت ـ ترجمه به عربي از دكتر زكي نجيب محمود، قاهره 1965 . 27ـ لطايف اللغات ـ عبداللطيف بن عبدالله ـ نسخهٌ خطي. 28ـ مختصر البلدان ـ ابوبكر احمدبن محمد، معروف به ابن الفقيه (279 هجري)، ليدن 1885) يطلب من مكتبة المثني ببغداد). 29ـ مراصد الاطلاع ـ علي محمد البجاوي ـ طبع 1954 جزء اول. 30ـ المسالك و الممالك ـ ابواسحق ابراهيم الاصطخري، ليدن 1889 . 31ـ الموسوعة العربية الميسرة ـ تأليف صبحي عبدالكريم، ترجمه الی عربي من محمد شفيق غربال، قاهره 1965 . 32ـ تطور الخط العربي ـ تأليف ناجي زيدالدين ـ طبع بغداد 1968 . 33ـ معجم البلدان ـ شهاب الدين ابوعبدالله ياقوت بن عبدالله حموي رومي، قاهره 1906 . 34ـ المنجد (معجم)، ـ بيروت 1966 . 35ـ نخبة الدهر في عجائب البر و البحر ـ نوشتهٌ شمس الدين ابوعبدالله محمد بن ابي طالب الانصاري الدمشقي الصوفي ـ چاپ لايپزيك 1923 . 36ـ نزهة القلوب ـ حمدالله بن احمد بن ابي بكر مستوفي قزويني ـ 1928 ميلادي. 37ـ نزهة المشتاق ـ ابوعبدالله، محمدبن عبدالله معروف به شريف الادريسي، رم 1878 . 38ـ نهاية الارب في فنون الادب ـ تأليف شهاب الدين احمد عبدالوهاب النري ـ قاهره 1923
  32. ^ (The Persian Gulf at the Millennium: Essays in Politics, Economy, Security, and Religion edited by Gary G. Sick, Lawrence G. Potter, pg 8)"As recognized by the United States Board on Geographic names, the name of the body of water that lies between Iran and the Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council is the Persian Gulf. For political reasons, Arabs often refer to it as the Arab or Arabian Gulf "
  33. ^ Eilts, Hermann F. "Security Considerations in the Persian Gulf." International Security :Vol. 5, No. 2. (Autumn, 1980), pp. 79-113. "The Arab-Iranian nomenclatural controversy over the Gulf, which was so bitter in the late 50s and early 60s, was a by-product of the late President Nasser of Egypt's brand of Arab nationalism ... 'Arabian Gulf' is in fact a recent Arab appellation for that body of water..." )
  34. ^ Bosworth, C. Edmund. "The Nomenclature of the Persian Gulf." Pages xvii-xxxvi in Alvin J. Cottrell (ed.), The Persian Gulf States: A General Survey. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980.) (pg xxxiii).. Excerpt: Not until the early 1960s does a major new development occur with the adoption by the Arab states bordering on the Gulf of the expression al-Khalij al-Arabi as weapon in the psychological war with Iran for political influence in the Gulf; but the story of these events belongs to a subsequent chapter on modern political and diplomatic history of the Gulf."
  35. ^ UN Map (LINK)
  36. ^ UN Map of Iran([2])
  37. ^ UN Map of Western Asia, ([3])
  38. ^ . The Persian Gulf at the Millennium: Essays in Politics, Economy, Security, and Religion edited by Gary G. Sick, Lawrence G. Potter, pg 8
  39. ^ ([4])
  40. ^ Working Paper No. 61, UNITED NATIONS GROUP OF EXPERTS ON GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES, dated March 28, April 4, 2006, p.2 ([5])
  41. ^ Hecataeus (472 to 509 B.C.) can be stated where Persian Gulf and Arabian Gulf (Red Sea) have been clearly shown.
  42. ^ Also a map has remained from Herodotus, the great Greek historian (425-484 B.C.) which introduces Red Sea as the Arabian Gulf
  43. ^ In the world map of Diseark (285-347 B.C.) too, Persian Gulf and Arabian Gulf have been clearly distinct.
  44. ^ Many maps and deeds prepared up to the 8th century by the historians such as Arrian, Hecataeus, Herodotus, Hiparek, Claudius Batlamious, Krats Malous.
  45. ^ Arriann, "Alexander Fleet in the Persian Gulf", in Anabasis Alexandri: Book VIII (INDICA)
  46. ^ In the Islamic period, Khwārizmī, Abou Yousef Eshagh Kandi, Ibn Khordadbeh, Batani (Harrani), Mas'udi, Balkhi, Estakhri, Ibn Houghal, Aboureyhan Birouni and others, mention that there is a wide sea at south of Iran named "Pars Sea", "Pars Gulf", "Fars Sea", "Fars Gulf", "Bahre Fars", "Sinus Persicus" and "Mare Persicum" and so on.
  47. ^ In a book, named "Persilus Aryateria", the Greek traveller of the 1st century A.D. has called the Red Sea as Arabian gulf; the Indian ocean has been named Aryateria Sea; the waters at Oman Coast is called Pars Sea; Barbarus region (between Oman and Yemen coast are called belonging to Pars, and the Gulf located at south side of Iran is named: Persian Gulf. By describing the water body, the life of Persians living at both sides have also been confirmed.
  48. ^ Working Paper No. 61, UNITED NATIONS GROUP OF EXPERTS ON GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES, dated March 28, April 4, 2006, p.2 ([6]).
  49. ^ Iran daily, Retrieved on 26 February 2009.
  50. ^ Peter Beaumont, "Blair was dangerously off target in his condemnation of Iran", The Guardian, December 24, 2006.
  51. ^ Jim Krane (2006-07-03). "Development in Persian Gulf Threatens Wildlife". Discovery Channel. Retrieved 30 June 2008. 

External links

Coordinates: 26°54′17″N 51°32′51″E / 26.90472°N 51.5475°E / 26.90472; 51.5475

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

"PERSIAN GULF. - The term "Persian Gulf" is, strictly speaking, restricted to the landlocked sea which extends in a southeasterly direction from the mouth of the Shatt al 'Arab 460 m. to the mountain mass of the promontory of Oman, terminating in Ras Musandam, but, for the purpose of this article, it will be considered to include the Gulf of Oman to which it is joined by the Strait of Ormuz, 29 m. wide. The Gulf itself has an average width of 120 miles. It is tidal, spring tides rising about 9 ft.; the water is somewhat salter than the Indian Ocean, and seldom exceeds 10 fathoms in depth; with the exception of the Shatt al `Arab, the Jarrahi and the Hindiyan rivers, which mingle their waters with those of the sea at the W. end of the Gulf, all the streams that flow into it are so salt as to be undrinkable. The XXXII.-3 Euphrates and Tigris have within historical times silted up their mouths to an extent that has materially altered the coast-line of the Gulf and these rivers seem destined in the future to unite El Hasa to Fao, just as in the past they produced the fertile plains of Mesopotamia. The Persian Gulf is lacking in good harbours, anchorage being mostly shallow and exposed.

Table of contents

N. Coast.

From the Indian Ocean the Gulf of Oman is entered approximately where Persian territory begins at the tiny port of Gwattar. From Gwattar the coast-line, running W., first to the Strait of Ormuz, next along the N. shore of the Persian Gulf, and finally to the mouth of the Shatt al 'Arab,' is nominally under the exclusive control of the Persian Government. The inhabitants of this tract are Persians or Arabs who by domicile and intermarriage with Persians have lost nearly all their racial and most of their social characteristics, but retain a dialect of Arabic as their mother tongue.

S. Coast

The S. coast on the Gulf of Oman may be regarded as commencing from Ras el Hadd; it extends to the Ras Musandam. This coast is under the nominal suzerainty of the Sultan of Muscat, the principal ports from E. to W. being Sur, Muscat, Matra, Khabura and Sohar. From Ras Musandam westwards the Arabian shore is inhabited by tribes of Arab origin, which are independent and in treaty relation with Great Britain.

Up to 1913 the Turks exercised the right of suzerainty over the maritime districts of El Hasa and Hofuf, and claimed it in Qatar and Kuwait. The Emir of Nejd, 'Abd el 'Aziz ibn Saud, ejected them from the first-named districts; the war has put an end to their claims elsewhere in the Gulf. The Trucial chiefs of the Arabian coast hold sway between the peninsulas of Musandam and Qatar. From E. to W. their headquarters run as follows: - Ras el Kheima, Umm el Qaiwein, 'Ajman, Sharja, Dibai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar. The Sheikh of Bahrein exercises no authority over the mainland, which from the S. extremity of the bay in which Bahrein lies to Jebel Manifa N. of Qatif is recognized as within the territories of the Emir of Nejd (see Arabia).

The friendly attitude of Ibn Saud on the outbreak of war with Turkey made it imperative that the British Government should come to a definite understanding with him, and he was recognized by a treaty dated Dec. 28 1915, as independent ruler of Nejd and El Hasa, and given a limited dynastic guarantee, with a promise of support in case of foreign aggression. Great Britain assumed control of his foreign relations outside Arabia. He on his part undertook not to alienate any territory to a foreign Power, except with the consent of the British Government.

Shortly afterwards a treaty was made with the Chief of Qatar, whereby his position was assimilated to that of the Trucial chiefs. The British Government undertook in addition to afford their good offices to the Sheikh in the event of unprovoked aggression by land.


The prevalent winds in the Gulf follow the configuration of the coast, i.e. N.W., known as the shamal, and S.E., known as the qaus. The former wind, rising often to a gale in a few hours and falling as suddenly, is foretold b y no change in the barometer. With the qaus the reverse is the case. This wind is much dreaded by native mariners as it strikes nearly all the sheltered anchorages.

Rainfall varies from 6 in. to 9 in. at the W. end of the Gulf to a negligible quantity at Muscat. As is to be expected, the rainfall on the peninsula is somewhat greater than on the Arab coast. The influence of the S.W. monsoon, which is marked at Muscat, is scarcely noticeable in the Persian Gulf proper, though recent upperair investigations conducted at Bagdad give some reason to think that the effects of the monsoon can be observed even there.

The temperature at the W. end of the Gulf varies from a minimum of 4° or 5° F. below freezing point at night in winter to a maximum of 115° F. in the shade during a few days in summer; the humidity of the air at Muscat is greater and the climate is, in consequence, much more trying, but even here a maximum of 109° F. has been recorded, the lowest minimum being 55°. Snow has been known to fall at Bushire. (A. T. W.) Medical Conditions. - The medical conditions prevailing in the Persian Gulf are largely determined by the peculiarly trying climatic influences to which the inhabitants are exposed. The Arabian desert forms the W. and S. shores, which are almost uninhabited except for the small centres of population around its few widely separated towns, Kuwait, noted for its pearl fisheries, in the N.W. corner, being the most important of these. The E.

1 The W. frontier of Persia was finally demarcated in 1914, a few months before the outbreak of war, by a mixed Anglo-Russian PersoTurkish commission.

and N. shores are formed by the desert country of southern Persia, and are similarly very sparsely populated, Bushire, in the N.E. part of the Gulf, the port for the Shiraz district of southern Persia, and Bandar `Abbas, at the entrance of the Gulf, being the chief centres of population. The hot season of the year is from May to October, July and August being the hottest months. The Persian Gulf has an unenviable reputation for its dangers from heat-stroke, and the sun's rays seem to have a peculiar deadly power in this region, for the risk of exposure is greater than in any part of the world, though other countries have a temperature which is equally high. The explanation is to be found in the extreme flatness of the country and the absence of trees or vegetation. The clear atmosphere is in its upper strata free from clouds and dust, so that the sun's rays undergo scarcely any absorption and strike down with full force on the light-brown desert soil, from which they are radiated and reflected to a great extent. The relative humidity of the air along the shores of the Gulf is high, so that exposure to the direct and reflected rays of the sun and radiation from the hot soil are encountered in a moist atmosphere.

So trying is the heat that some parts of the Persian Gulf are almost uninhabitable to natives in the hotter months. The greatest care requires to be taken by white races to avoid exposure to the sun and heat. Dwellings require careful construction, with thick walls and roofs of non-conducting material to keep out the heat-rays, and fans and punkahs are essential for the promotion of currents of air in the inhabited rooms. Personal protection, in the shape of thick pith topees, or cork helmets, and spinal pads, is necessary in the hot months, the clothing being light and loose and not too thin. Fatigue from physical exertion is a predisposing cause of heat-stroke, and constipation and alcoholic indulgence should be avoided.

Should a person be infected with latent malaria, heat exposure is very likely to induce an acute malarial attack and the combination is almost certain to lead to hyperpyrexia. On this account malarial subjects living in the Persian Gulf should take especial care to have an effective course of treatment in order to eradicate the disease as far as possible. The frequent association of heat-stroke with malaria is to be borne in mind in the treatment of heat hyperpyrexia, for, should the temperature of the patient not subside rapidly after treatment with cold sponging in a current of air or cold baths and ice, an intramuscular or intravenous injection of in grains of quinine bihydrochloride should be given without delay. In the case of white people exposure to heat of itself frequently causes heat-stroke, but probably in almost all cases of heat hyperpyrexia amongst natives the malarial complication is the exciting cause and therefore with them quinine treatment is all-important. Natives are generally immune to the effects of heat apart from other complicating causes of high temperature, such as malaria, etc., whereas white races may be affected with heat-stroke from heat exposure even if in perfect health. If a white person suffers in the hot months from any disease causing fever, e.g. enteric or sand-fly fever, etc., there is always a serious danger of hyperpyrexia, and this has to be guarded against.

The Effects of Heat

The effects of exposure in the case of white races are not only manifested by the acute attack of heat-stroke, but, if this is avoided by proper care, it is nevertheless certain that long residence in the Persian Gulf causes a certain amount of tissue degeneration, owing to the exposure of the body cells to abnormal conditions of temperature. The highly specialized cells, viz. those of the nervous system, suffer most; and nerve-cell fatigue is shown by manifestations of neurasthenia. Lack of the power of brain concentration and severe inability to undergo the mental strain of arduous work are often the penalty which white races pay.

Beri-beri is a dietetic deficiency disease which manifests itself by cardiac weakness with shortness of breath, swelling of the legs and peripheral neuritis with numbness of the limbs and weakness. The climatic conditions of the Persian Gulf particularly seem to predispose to this disease, for it very frequently attacks white persons resident there, especially if they are exposed to dietetic hardships.

Residents in the towns along the Persian Gulf are exposed to the same dangers from disease as are experienced in similar places in Mesopotamia and Persia (see Mesopotamia and Persia). Thus malaria and sand-fly fever, dysentery, typhoid and paratyphoid fever, cholera, smallpox, and occasionally typhus fever, eye diseases, oriental sores and indeed any disease conveyed by impure water, flies, contaminated dust or the contagion of sufferers from infectious diseases, are prevalent in the inhabited places along the Persian Gulf, and precautions must always be taken to guard against them.

(W. H. W.) Geology. - Large portions of the littoral had not up to 1921 been examined geologically. Of the numerous islands that dot the Gulf many are partly at least of volcanic origin, notably Qishm and Ormuz.

The geological formations represented are the following in descending order: Recent or sub-recent Pleistocene Pliocene Miocene Lower Miocene Oligocene and Eocene Upper Cretaceous or Lower Eocene Upper Cretaceous Jurassic or Lower Cretaceous Carboniferous to Trias Archaean The latest movement to which the Gulf has been or is now being subjected is one of gradual elevation, of which traces are found in recent littoral concretes, now as much as 450 ft. above present level, and in the flat ledge which surrounds Muscat harbour.

Numerous " shows " of petroleum exist along a broad belt running N.W. and S.E. through Mesopotamia and down the Persian Gulf. These are the most abundant at the foot of a chain of hills where the oil wells of Daliki, Bebehan, Ramuz and Shushtar, Dizful, Pusht-i-Kuh, and Qasr-i-Shirin are situated. Oil has, however, been struck in paying quantities hitherto only at a point 30 m. E. of Shushtar. Experimental boring on Qishm I. in 1916 had not given any result up to 1921.

Among other mineral products, asphalt is found at Bahrein; coal 30 m. inland from Sur, and some seams of good coal in newer strata; sulphur occurs in a fairly pure state at Khamir and Bustaneh near Lingeh, and on Qishm I.; copper, as copper glance and malachite, occurs in the interior of Oman; copper-mines are said to have been worked in the neighbourhood of the coast near Lingeh by the Portuguese, but all trace of them has been lost. Red ochre, for which there is only a limited market, is mined on Ormuz, Abu Musa and other islands in the Gulf; salt, as deposits, on Ormuz and Qishm I., and by evaporation, near Mohammerah, Fao and elsewhere on both sides of the Gulf; gypsum is widely distributed throughout the Gulf; iron, as haematite and pyrites, widely found through the Ormuz series.

Earthquakes are frequent and sometimes severe in the Persian Gulf proper, especially on Qishm I. and on the coast in the neighbourhood. In 1865 an earthquake levelled the villages of Darveh Asul near Muga'rn; in 1880 an earthquake caused 120 deaths in Basra; in 1883 severe shocks were felt from Bushire to Tahiri; in 1884 an earthquake caused 132 deaths on Qishm I., which was in consequence deserted; in 1897 an earthquake destroyed Qishm town and caused over I,000 deaths; further shocks were experienced at Qishm and Bandar `Abbas in 1902 and 1905.


Cereals are produced in considerable quantities in the hinterlands of Mohammerah and Bushire and in the intervening coastal strip; the rest of the Gulf largely depends on imports from this part of Persia or from India. Dates are grown for the European market at Muscat and for local consumption on both sides of the Gulf, but not in considerable quantities. The Muscat date reaches maturity sooner than the Basra crop, and is commercially valuable.

Live Stock. - Camels are abundant on the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf littoral and are also found on the Persian coast, especially where the country is open. Horses are scarce in Oman and few are kept in Trucial Oman or in Bahrein or El Hasa. But they are more common in Qatar and Kuwait. Nejd, or Central Arabia, is the principal horse-breeding country adjacent to the Persian Gulf, and is the only one in the world, except the adjacent Syrian desert, where the genuine Arab is produced on any considerable scale.

Sailing Craft. - The Persian Gulf is by tradition the home of sailing craft, for their skill in handling which the Phoenicians afterwarns became famous in the Mediterranean. There are some 14 types of native craft which belong to the Persian Gulf proper. The same principle of construction applies to nearly all; as a general rule these vessels are remarkable for the beauty of their lines. They sail well and are weatherly craft. The principal shipbuilding centres in the Persian Gulf are now Kuwait, Sur in Oman and Lingeh.


Few seas are more prolific in fish than the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman; the great proportion of known species are edible and many have a commercial value for the isinglass or oil Shelly conglomerates and dead coral reefs of the littoral; red sandhills of the coast of Trucial Oman; alluvium of Turkish Iraq; river and lake deposits of Oman and the interior of Persia.

Foraminiferal oolite or " Miliolite." Bakhtiari series; grits and conglomerates.

Fars series; marls, clays and sand stones with limestones and inter bedded strata of rock gypsum. Clypeaster beds of the Bakhtiari mountains.

Nummulitic limestones of Persia; Muscat series; and Bahrein series. Ormuz series; lavas and tuffs with interbedded cla y s and sandstones.

Hippuritic limestones of Persia and Oman.

Serpentinous and other igneous rocks of Oman.

Oman series; limestones and slates with beds of chert.

Hatat beds; schists and quartzites.

extracted from them. Fish are extensively used for manure, especially in Muscat, where they are also fed to cattle without unpleasant results. Sharks are caught in enormous numbers with hook and harpoon; the flesh is considered by some to have aphrodisiacal properties; the dried fins and tails are exported to China; the oil is used for smearing boats. The turtle is also found, the carapace being exported as tortoiseshell, the animal being gently roasted or boiled alive over a slow fire to facilitate the separation of the shell from the flesh. The whale is often seen in the Gulf of Oman; porpoises and swordfishes are common.

Pearling Industry.-The pearling grounds of Bahrein are in over six fathoms of water, mostly beyond the three-mile limit. The geological formation of the bottom of the Persian Gulf and the temperature and shallowness of its waters appear to be favourable in a high degree to the growth of the pearl oyster. The pearl banks which are known and actually worked occupy a very considerable proportion of the whole area of the Gulf, chiefly upon the Arabian side. The pearl banks on the Persian side are found chiefly on the coast between Lingeh and Tahiri, and again in the neighbourhood of Kharag Island. The largest and most productive of all the banks are situated on the Arabian side of the Gulf and are fished annually; the banks of the Persian coast are poor as well as small and are fished at infrequent intervals. The total value of pearls exported was estimated in 1905 at about £ 1,500,000, the value at current prices of the 1919 outturn was probably about £2,500,000. Motherof-pearl was exported before the World War to the value of £20,000; after the war high freights and absence of demand from Hamburg, the principal market, killed the trade for the time being. Some 4,500 boats employing some 75,000 men are employed in the pearling industry during the season, which lasts for almost three months, and can do little else but fish for the rest of the year.

Commerce.-A summary of import and export values of trade in the Persian Gulf, excluding Mohammerah and Basra, is appended. It is, however, not possible to make reliable deductions from these figures taken by themselves. The normal value, for example, of the post-war exports of Bahrein should be more nearly £3,000,000 than £ I,000,000, owing to the enhanced value in terms of money of pearls, and the export trade of Bandar 'Abbas should likewise be more in a normal post-war than in a pre-war year. Of the total imports from 1912-3, one-half come direct from India and a quarter from the United Kingdom direct, the balance from foreign countries, European and Asiatic, in about equal proportions. For the latest post-war statistics up to 1921 the proportions were respectively twothirds, one-sixth and one-sixth, owing primarily to the almost complete cessation of direct shipments from Europe to the Persian Gulf.

Mail Communications.-The Persian Gulf was at the end of the 18th century the most rapid route between Europe and India, and it was not until 1833 that the Red Sea route was adopted by the East India Co.; from this date until 1862 the Gulf fell into an extraordinary state of inaccessibility-letters for India being sent from Bagdad and Basra via Damascus, and correspondence from Bushire for Bagdad via Teheran. In 1862 the British India Steam Navigation Co. undertook their first mail contract for the Persian Gulf, and simultaneously the Euphrates-Tigris Steam Navigation Co. agreed to run a subsidized line of mail steamers from Basra to Bagdad.

The British India Co. maintain weekly and fortnightly services between Basra and the Persian Gulf. The fast weekly steamer stops only at Karachi, Bushire and Mohammerah on its way to Basra. The slow mail steamers stop at every port in the Gulf, either on the upward or the downward voyage.

Posts.-The reopening in 1862 of direct communications between India and the Persian Gulf gave rise to a demand for properly organized post-offices, and the Indian Postal Department accordingly opened branches in 1864 at Muscat and Bushire. Every port of importance on both sides of the Persian Gulf has an Indian postoffice transacting all classes of business.

The existence of these offices on Persian soil has occasionally been the subject of complaint by the Persian Government. The justification for their continued existence has been found in the climatic conditions of the Gulf, which make it difficult for the Persian Government to staff their own offices adequately, and in the fact that the rupee is the only currency common to all ports of the Gulf and to India, while the trade of these ports is mainly with India.

Telegraphs.-The inception of the Persian Gulf telegraphs, which formed the first links in an intercontinental chain, was dictated not by local interests, but by broad considerations of national advantage. The Crimean War of 1856 brought home to the Porte the slowness of communication between the Persian Gulf and the outlying provinces of the Turkish Empire, while the Mutiny of 1857 taught the British Government a similar lesson in regard to India. In 1857, after some unfruitful preliminary attempts, the Turkish Government agreed to the construction of a line from Scutari to Bagdad on their behalf; this was finished in 1861 and was extended to Fao by 1864, after further lengthy negotiations, when it was linked up with the cable from Karachi which had been laid meanwhile. The route of the cables has been several times altered. They now run from Karachi to Jask, whence a cable runs to Muscat; from Jask one cable runs to Hanjam, and thence to Bushire; another cable runs direct to Bushire. Hanjam is connected by cable with Bandar `Abbas. A double cable connects Bushire with Fao. Bushire, Hanjam, Bahrein, Abadan and Basra Summary showing Import and Export Values of Trade in the Persian Gulf (excluding Iraq and Arabistan) in two pre-war years and in the latest post-war year available.




Arab Side






Post-War Year

Post-War Year









Bahrein Is.. .. .








Muscat. .









£3, 1 4 1 ,37 6







Persian Side

Bushire. ... .








Bandar 'Abbas .








Lingeh. .. .








Total. ...




£I, 114,928




Grand Total








  • 1918-9 in the case of Muscat, 1919-20 in other cases. t Reckoning 55 Krans to the £.

Banks.-The Imperial Bank of Persia, in addition to branches all over Persia, has branches at Bushire, Bandar 'Abbas and Mohammerah. The Eastern Bank has a branch at Bahrein.

Currency.-Persian currency alone is legal in Persia, but the rupee is freely current in Persian ports. On the Arab coast the rupee is legal tender, and is almost exclusively used for commercial transactions, but the Maria Teresa dollar circulates freely, and is preferred by the inhabitants of the interior of Arabia. Persian currency is also in use, principally in Bahrein.

Lights and Buoys.-In view of the difficulties attending navigation in the Gulf, and the impossibility of arranging with the Governments of the littoral for the provision of lights and buoys except on terms which would have greatly hampered shipping, the British Government, in view of the great preponderance of British shipping in the Gulf, has established since 1912 a very complete system of lights and buoys, the cost of which is shared in equal moieties by the Government of India and H.M. Government in accordance with the recommendations of the Welby Commission. Lighthouses exist on one of the Quwain group of islands off Ras Musandam and on Tunb I.; light-buoys have been placed at Bushire in the outer and inner anchorages, at Bahrein and on the Shatt al 'Arab bar. Shore lights and unlighted buoys have also been provided where necessary. There is a lightship in the Shatt al 'Arab bar, which is very completely buoyed and lighted throughout its length from the lightship to Fao, where there is a fixed light.

are provided with wireless stations. Kuwait is connected by land line with Basra; Jask is connected by a land line to Karachi. Mohammerah is connected by land line and cable with Basra and Abadan and via Ahwaz with Bushire and with the inland Persian system. Bushire has its own telephone system; Mohammerah is connected by telephone with Basra. The whole system is under the control of the Indo-European Telegraph Department, whose directorin-chief is responsible to the Secretary of State for India. The Department, which also controls the principal international lines in Persia, is amply self-supporting.

Population and Religions. - In all the countries of the Persian Gulf, Islam in one or another of its forms prevails, almost to the exclusion of other religions. The Mahommedans of the Persian Gulf region belong to the following denominations :- Sunni, Shiah, Ibadhi, Wahabi and Khojah. The Wahabis may be regarded as a branch of the Sunnis and the Khojahs as a branch of the Shiahs. Shiahs predominate on the Persian coast except in the districts of Rud Hilleh, Shibkuh, Lingeh, Bastak, Biyaban, Jask, and on the islands of the Persian Gulf. The Persian province of S. Arabistan, which is under the hereditary government of the Sheikh of Mohammerah, is exclusively Shiah. The Sunnis are estimated at Ioo,000 out of a total population in the maritime districts of 300,000.

Persian Makran is exclusively Sunni except for the district of Jask. At Gwadar, Sunni, Khojah and Ibadhi rub shoulders. The Oman sultanate is predominately Ibadhi. In the territory controlled by the Emir of Nejd the official religion is Wahabi, but a few Shiahs are still to be found in the districts of El Hasa and Hofuf. Bahrein is Sunni, but has a large Shiah population of Persian origin. Kuwait is Sunni, with Wahabi leanings.

The Khojahs number some 2,000 souls and are distributed over the ports of the Gulf, mainly on the Arab side. They are descended from Hindus of Sind and Kach, who were converted from Hinduism to the Ismaili form of the Shiah faith in the 15th century of the Christian era.

Hindus total about 1,500 and are to be found in all the principal ports of the Gulf, especially at Gwadar, where their presence gives rise to occasional fanatical disturbances. Panislamic ideas have obtained little hold in this region; in Persia and wherever people are Shiahs the pretensions of the Sultan of Turkey to the headship of the Mahommedan world are rejected, as also in Oman, where the bulk of the population are Ibadhi.


Roman Catholic missions have at intervals worked in the Persian Gulf, on the Persian side since the beginning of the 17th century; they are still represented at Bushire. The first Protestant mission to the Gulf was initiated by Henry Martyn in 1811; his Arabic New Testament appeared in 1816. The American Arabian mission was founded in 1889 in the United States; the first agents of the mission were the Rev. J. Cantine and the Rev. S. Zwemer, who established a branch at Bahrein in 1892 and later at Muscat. Political complications arising out of the work of the Arabian mission have been singularly few, a happy circumstance which must be attributed chiefly to the missionaries themselves, whose general opinion is that for a Mahommedan country the Persian Gulf and eastern Arabia are peculiarly free from religious fanaticism.


The Persian Gulf has figured in history from the earliest times. A myth (preserved by Berosus) records that Oannes (Hea) the fish-god came up from that part of the Erythraean Sea which borders on Babylonia, to teach the inhabitants of that country letters and sciences and arts of every kind. This seems to indicate the arrival, in ships, of strangers of a higher grade of civilization. These strangers may have come from China, but Sir H. Rawlinson considers they were a dark race not belonging to the Semitic family. Rawlinson also suggests that the Phoenicians may have originally come from the Bahrein Is. and extended westwards to the settlements on the Mediterranean at least 5,000 years ago. Though there is no direct evidence of this connexion, enormous numbers of tumuli, probably of Phoenician origin, exist on the Bahrein Is., which also contain tumuli of Babylonian age. Babylonian tumuli have also been found at Bushire. Col. Yule, from Chinese annals of the 7th and 8th centuries, says that Chinese ships came as far as Siraf (Tahiri) and the Euphrates, where they lay at Hira near Kufa, and adds that this trade fell off in A.D. 878 owing to civil war in China. From the records of Fa-Hian of the 4th century it is clear that ships from China exchanged merchandise with Arab vessels at Ceylon, and this is confirmed by the account of Cosmas, who wrote between S30 and J50 A.D. Along the shores of the Persian Gulf in 326 A.D. came Nearchus, the admiral of Alexander, on his way from the Indies to the Tigris delta; from Basra sailed Sindbad in the 9th century in one of the many Arab craft which traded thence to India, Ceylon and Zanzibar. Thousands of years before Christ the pearls of Bahrein were sold in Egypt; Bahrein still supplies 80% of the world's output of pearls. After the Phoenicians, Babylonians, and Arabs came the Persians; though they never aspired to command of the seas and are indeed not a maritime race, the Persian Gulf was no obstacle to them, and at one time or another they occupied Muscat and parts of Oman and Bahrein, and penetrated into the greater part of Arabia.

Commerce between East and West had from early times followed this route in preference to that of the Red Sea, and when during the 15th century Genoa and Venice successively lost their positions in Oriental commerce, through the capture of Constantinople by the Turks and by the hostility of the Mamelukes of Egypt respectively, the country which most earnestly devoted itself to the quest of a new way to India was Portugal. Albuquerque seized several towns on the coast of Oman, including Muscat in 1507, and soon afterwards established his authority on the I. of Ormuz, at the N. of the Gulf. Towards the end of the 16th century the Dutch made their appearance in Indian waters as rivals of the Portuguese; and in 1616 the first British " factories " of the East India Co. were established on the Persian coast. In 1622 the Portuguese were expelled from Ormuz by joint efforts of the British by sea and of the Persians by land; in 1650 they finally left Muscat. In 1664 the French made their appearance on the scene, but did little trade. It is, however, of interest to note that in 1698, in consequence of a nominal agreement, from which nothing resulted, among the principal Europeans in the East, the French undertook the policing of the Persian Gulf against pirates. The Dutch, who had played no part in expelling the Portuguese, now became increasingly predominant, and the wars that were waged in Europe between England and Holland had their counterpart in the Persian Gulf.

In 1674 hostility between Holland and England ceased, but the position was radically unsatisfactory owing to the prevalence of piracy, from which both England and other nations suffered heavily. At the beginning of the 18th century the improved state of affairs in India began to have an effect on the Company's branches in the Persian Gulf and by the middle of the 18th century the Dutch settlements had disappeared.

Henceforward the bulk of the trade was in British hands, but piracy was rife, the slave trade flourished, and the coast towns and islands of the Persian Gulf had fallen from their ancient prosperity to a lower level than they had experienced for some centuries. To restore this prosperity had for about a century before 1921 been the secular mission of Great Britain in these lands, the British resident in the Persian Gulf, acting as the representative of the Government of India, being the umpire to whom by long custom all parties on both coasts appealed and who had by treaties been entrusted with the duty of preserving peace.

Students of international politics are familiar with the claims of nations to a position of preference in certain regions, based upon historic, economic or geographical considerations. The claims of Great Britain to such a position in this region are unique. But beyond two brief occupations of the I. of Kharag, and the continuous possession of a few square miles of desert land at Basidu, the S.W. end of the I. of Qishm, she has at no time acquired territory in that region, although she has for generations borne an honourable burden there which no other nation has ever undertaken anywhere, except in the capacity of sovereign. British influence kept the peace amongst peoples who were not subjects of the King-Emperor; Great Britain lighted, buoyed, charted and patrolled for over a century waters over which it claimed no formal lordship; and kept in strange ports an open door, through which traders of every nation might have equally free access to distant markets. On the other hand, a steady and increasing market was gained for the products of the British Empire, and in particular for those of India; the ports of the Gulf were made safe, not so much for the British as for the Indian trader; nearly 75% of the trade of the Gulf ports was in 1921 with India, and an even greater proportion in the hands of Indians, Persians and Arabs.

A good market had been created for Indian products, particularly yarns and cereals. But more than this, Great Britain had gained a reputation for patient and persevering efforts to promote the spread of civilization in these regions, a prestige which yielded profit during the difficult years of the World War, and was not without its effect in India. With the exception of local disturbances of old standing at Muscat, and at Bushire (where they were fomented by German gold), the Arab and Persian population of both shores maintained a friendly attitude to Great Britain throughout the war, although British gunboats were seldom, if ever, seen at that time in waters which in peace they had regularly patrolled.

The peculiar interests, strategic, political and commercial, of Great Britain in the Persian Gulf have never been denied; they are intimately connected with the welfare of India, with the security of its communication with the outside world, and of its internal tranquillity. The considered policy of the British Government was embodied in 1903 in Lord Lansdowne's declaration in the House of Lords that " we should regard the establishment of a naval base or a fortified port in the Persian Gulf by any other Power as a very grave menace to British interests, and we should certainly resist it by all the means at our disposal." This declaration was formally reaffirmed in 1907 by Sir E. Grey, in a despatch to the British ambassador at St. Petersburg, which further stated that " H.M. Government will continue to direct all their efforts to the observance of the status quo in the Gulf, and the maintenance of British trade; in doing so they have no desire to exclude the legitimate trade of any other Power." These declarations were never openly challenged, and in 1912-4 the British Government entered into far-reaching negotiations with the Turkish and German Governments with the object of regularizing the position. The resulting agreements had not, however, been ratified before the declaration of war in 1914.

The Arms Traffic. - During the 3rd Afghan War the trade in modern arms and ammunition in the Persian Gulf attracted the attention of the British and Indian Governments for the first time. In 1880 the Government of India took preliminary steps in the matter within its own borders; in 1881 the importation of arms and ammunition into Persia was made illegal, but with little effect. In Far Eastern countries firearms are widely possessed and used. In 1890 the General Act of the Brussels Conference struck a blow at the arms trade in Africa and diverted it to the Persian Gulf, which was not subject to the Brussels Act.

The stream of arms flowing from Zanzibar to Muscat continued to increase in volume, and in 1892 no less than 11,50o firearms were landed at Muscat, of which more than half were at once reexported. The figure was doubled by 1895 and trebled in 1897; in spite of prohibitions, imports into Persia continued on a large scale. Moved at last by the great quantity of military material that was being found in the Gulf, the British Government urged the Persian Government to enforce the actual law and to confiscate the stores of arms which had accumulated at Bushire. The Persian Government, thoroughly alarmed, took action, but with only temporary effect. Somewhat similar action was taken at Bahrein. These seizures created much indignation and anxiety among firms in England whose interests were involved.

From 1898 to 1908 the attitude of the British Government towards the question was one of regular attention without the power to intervene directly or effectually. In 1900 the consignment of arms and ammunition to the Persian Gulf through Indian ports with or without transhipment was made illegal. This was reinforced by an Act of Parliament empowering the sovereign to prohibit by proclamation the export of arms and ammunition from the United Kingdom to countries or places where they might be employed against British troops and subjects.

The trade, blocked at Persian ports and later at all Gulf ports except Muscat, continued to flourish, in spite of a naval blockade of the Makran coast by Great Britain in 1910 - I. At length, however, in 1912 the Sultan of Muscat issued a proclamation requiring all arms imported into Muscat to be placed in a special warehouse from which they could not be removed except on production of an import permit from the competent authority at their destination. This killed the trade at Muscat; the French Government, who had claimed that the Sultan's proclamation was inconsistent with his treaty engagements with them, accepted the accomplished fact with good grace after lengthy diplomatic negotiations, and the trade was by 1913 almost dead, except at the N. end of the Gulf, where it still flourished on a small scale. The arms traffic has been responsible for much of the prevailing anarchy of the Middle East and indeed of Arabia. The possession of firearms places irresistible temptations in the path of unsophisticated and quick-tempered tribesmen. For this result the European Powers signatories of the Brussels Act of 1892 are to blame for lack of foresight and to some extent of goodwill. Joint Anglo-French action at any time during 1902-12 would probably have been effective in stopping the traffic.

Slave Trade

On board the fleet which in 1626 conveyed Sir Dodmore Cotton, a British ambassador, with his staff, from Surat to Bandar `Abbas, there were more than 300 slaves bought of Persians in India, and the only remark which this circumstance suggested to Sir T. Herbert was that " ships, be sides the transporting of richer varieties from place to place, consociate the most remote regions of the earth by participation of commodities and other excellencies to each other." In 1772 it was decided by the English courts that a slave as soon as he set foot on the soil of the British Isles became free; the slave trade, however, continued actively until 1807, when an Act was passed to prevent British subjects dealing in slaves; in 1811 the traffic in slaves was declared to be felony; in 1833 the status of slavery was abolished throughout the British Dominions. In defiance of her commercial interests and of her popularity with the Moslem population of the Gulf, Great Britain set herself to suppress the trade, and executed a series of agreements with the chiefs of the Arabian littoral with this object. The arduous task of enforcing the observance of these treaties fell upon the Government of India and involved great sacrifice of lives and money.

In subsequent years over 700 slaves were rescued at sea and more than 2,000 otherwise released; the traffic was by 1920 virtually dead in the Gulf, but slavery as an institution seemed likely to continue for many decades to come to flourish inland in Muscat, in Central Arabia, and in a modified form in part of Persia.

Authorities. - The chief source of information is the late J. G. Lorimer's Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, published confidentially by the Government of India in 1908. See also Lord Curzon's Persia (1892); papers by T. J. Bennett, of The Times of India (Royal Society of Arts, 1902), and the late Comm. A. W. Stifle, Indian Navy (Jour. R.G.S. 1897); and handbooks prepared during the war of 1914-8 under the direction of the Historical Section of the Foreign Office. (A. T. W.)

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary


Proper noun

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The Persian Gulf

  1. A gulf between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula; known as The Persian Gulf.


Simple English

File:Persian Gulf
larger map of the Middle East]].

The Persian Gulf is the name of a geographical place. Its location is in the Middle East. It is an extension of the Gulf of Oman. It lies between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.

During the Iraq-Iran War (1980-1988), the Persian Gulf came into news. Both sides attacked oil tankers of each other. When Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, this war got the name the Persian Gulf War. But, this war, major fighting happened on the land.

The water in the Persian Gulf is rich in fishes; it has long beautiful coral reefs. Deep inside the water of the Persian Gulf, there are many pearl oysters. Due to this, the area attracts a lot of activities.

In Persian language, the term khalīj-e-Fars means the Persian Gulf.


The sea waters of the Persian Gulf covers an area of 233,000 km². On the east, it connects with the Gulf of Oman by Strait of Hormuz. On the west, it connects a major river delta of Shatt al-Arab. In this river delta, waters of two big rivers of the area flow into: the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers.

The length of the Persian Gulf is 989 kilometers, and the shortest distance between two land points are 56 kilometers. The waters are generally not very deep. The maximum depth is only 90 meters. The average depth is only 50 meters.

There are many countries with borders touching the Persian Gulf. If taken in a clockwise direction, these countries are from the north: Iran, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar on a peninsula off the Saudi coast; Bahrain on an island; and Kuwait and Iraq in the northwest. Many small islands lie within the Persian Gulf.


The area in and around the Persian Gulf has world’s largest crude oil. Industries relating to crude oil are the main industries in this area. Al-Safaniya, the world’s largest offshore oilfield is in the Persian Gulf. Many countries with large crude oil are in this area. They are called Persian Gulf States, that is, the countries located around the Persian Gulf. These countries are Iran, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But, Iraq (with its small portion touching the Persian Gulf) is not called a Persian Gulf State.

British control

For about 200 years, from 1763 until 1971, the United Kingdom kept some control over some of the Persian Gulf countries. These countries were the United Arab Emirates and at various times Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar.


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