استان خراسان جنوبی
|Area :||69,555 km²|
• Density :
|No. of Counties:||8|
|Time zone:||IRST (UTC+3:30)|
|-Summer (DST):||IRST (UTC+4:30)|
Greater Khorasan has witnessed the rise and fall of many dynasties and governments in its territory throughout history. Various tribes of the Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Turkemen and Afghans brought changes to the region time and time again.
Ancient geographers of Iran divided Iran ("Iran-Shahr") into eight segments of which the most flourishing and largest was the territory of Greater Khorasan.
The famous Parthian empire was based near Merv in Khorasan for many years. However they did have many fortifications and strongholds in Khorasan, such as the Nehbandan castle in South Khorasan province.
During the Sassanid dynasty the province was governed by an Espahbod (Lieutenant General) called "Padgoosban" and four margraves, each commander of one of the four parts of the province.
In the year 651 CE, the army of Islamic Arabs invaded Khorasan. The territory remained in the hands of the Abbasid clan until 820 CE, followed by the rule of the Iranian Taherid clan in the year 896 CE and the Samanid dynasty in 900 CE.
Mahmud Qaznavi retaliated against the invaders several times, and finally the Qaznavi Turks defeated Sultan Sanjar. But there was more to come, as in 1157 CE Khorasan was conquered by The Khwarazmids and because of simultaneous attacks by the Mongols, Khorasan was annexed to the territories of the Mongol Ilkhanate.
In the 14th century, a flag of independence was hoisted by the Sarbedaran movement in Sabzevar, and in 1468 CE, Khorasan came into the hands of Amir Teimoor Goorkani (Tamerlane) and the city of Herat was declared as capital.
During the Qajar period, Britain supported the Afghans to protect their East India Company. Herat was thus separated from Persia, and Nasereddin Shah was unable to defeat the British to take back Herat. Finally, the Paris Treaty was concluded in 1903 and Iran was compelled not to challenge the British for Herat and other parts of what is today Afghanistan.
Finally Khorasan was divided into two parts: the eastern part, which was the most densely populated region came under British occupation, and the other western section remained part of Iran.
Khorasan was the largest province of Iran until it was divided to three provinces on September 29, 2004. The provinces approved by the parliament of Iran (on May 18, 2004) and the Council of Guardians (on May 29, 2004) were Razavi Khorasan, North Khorasan, and South Khorasan.
The major ethnic groups in this region are the Persians there are also large Pashtuns, Baloch, and Arab communities. There is also a sizeable Afghan (pashutns) community, especially in the eastern parts of the province (Birjand and Qaen), due to the influx of pashtun coming from Afghanistan in recent years.
South Khorasan has many historical and natural attractions, but besides these, South Khorasan encompasses various religious buildings and places of pilgrimage as well.
The Cultural Heritage of Iran lists 1179 sites of historical and cultural significance in all three provinces of Khorasan.
In the past, Birjand was a small part of a region which called Ghohestan. Ghohestan, was a part of old Khorasan which now is named South Khorasan Province. The main cities of Ghohestan, were Toon (now Ferdows) and Qaen. Birjand grew in recent centuries especially during Qajar dynasty and found its important role in this region.
On the one hand, this region was a place of refuge for some movements like the Ismaili, and was the target of Arab refugees who escaped from the tyranny of the Abbasid Caliphate. On the other hand, some Zoroastrian vestiges have exist in the area.
Some of the popular attractions of South Khorasan are:
and 260 other sites of historical and cultural significance, as listed by Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization.