Iran: ethnic map (479K!!)South Azerbaijan comprises three provinces currently part of the Islamic Republic of Iran: Ardebil, whose capital is also called Ardebil, Western Azerbaijan, with its capital in Uromiyeh and Eastern Azerbaijan, with its capital in Tabriz. A forth Iranian province Zanjan, with the capital in the city of the same name, also has a dominant Azeri population and there are important Azeri communities in and around Hamadan, in Tehran, around Qom and Saveh, in the Khorasan province, and are scattered throughout many other parts of Iran.

Ardebil: Shikh Safi mausoleumArdebil stands about 60km from the Caspian Sea. It is located on an open plain 1,400 m above sea level, just east of Mount Sabalan (4,811 m), where cold spells occur until late spring. Access is made by difficult roads. It is surrounded by vast areas of grazing grounds, without trees.  It suffered a major earthquake in 1997, causing hundreds of fatalities.

Being a city of great antiquity, the origins of Ardebil go back to 1500 years  ago. This city was the capital of Azerbaijan province in different times, but its golden age was in the Safavid period. Neighbouring  on the Caspian Sea and the Republic of  Azerbaijan, this city is of great political and  economical significance. Enjoying fertile soil and adequate precipitation, Ardebil is an  important agricultural centre in Iran. The  mineral springs of Ardebil are  Beele-Darreh, Sar'eyn, Sardabeh and  Booshloo, being famous for their medicinal  qualities throughout Iran.

The complex of Sheikh   Safi-ad-Din-e-Ardabili is an impressive  ancient monument, comprising the  following components: the mausoleums of  Sheikh Safi and Shah Isma'il, Chini khaneh  (meaning the house of chinaware), a  mosque, Jannat Sara (meaning the house of  paradise), Khanaqah (the house of  Dervishes), Cheragh Khaneh (the house of  lamps), Shahid khaneh (the house of martyrs) and Chelleh Khaneh (the place  where devotees shut themselves up during  the forty days of Lent). The mausoleum of  Sheikh Safi, the famous dome of which is called "Allah-Allah" has an octagonal  interior.

Ardebil bazaarThe other significant historical monuments are as follows: the mausoleum  of Sheikh Jebra'il, located 2 kms north of Ardebil, the old but always lively bazaar, the Friday mosque, and a few ancient bridges. In addition to these, in  many villages of Ardebil, relics of ancient monuments, including tombs have been found.

Covering an area of 18011 sq kms the province of Ardebil has been blessed with splendid natural beauty and numerous sights. This  province is bounded on the north by the Republic of Azerbaijan, on the east by Gilan, on the south by Zanjan and on the  west by the eastern Azerbaijan. Generally, the weather of the highlands  of Sabalan is cold, Ardebil city is mild and the Moghan Plain (Dasht-e-Moghan) is warm. But the distinctive feature of the  weather in almost all parts of the province is  freshness in summer, attracting a large  number of people.

The Talesh mountains, stretching  southward, separate Ardebil from the  Caspian region. This chain runs northward  to meet Mount Salavat Dagh and Mount  Khoroosloo which are in the south of the  plateau of Moghan. Mount Sabalan and the  volcanic peak of Soltan-e-Savalan (4811 metres) are among other mountains of the  province. At the top of this volcano, having  been inactive in historical times, there is a  beautiful pool encircled by snow all year round. The lush pasture and mineral springs  on the slopes of Mt. Sabalan create  spectacular natural sights. The plateau of  Moghan, in the north-west of the province,  runs to the Caspian Sea. This fertile plateau is among the most important agricultural regions in Iran.

The lakes are numerous, the largest of  which are Ne'or, Shoorabil, Shoor-Gel,  Nou-Shahr and Aloocheh that are the habitats of some species of water birds.  Lake Ne'or, located in a mountainous area,  48 kms south-east of the city of Ardebil, has  splendid natural beauty. This lake, the water  of which gushes out from the springs in the  bed, covers an area of 210 ha and has an average depth of 3 metres.  Lake Shoorabil located in a hilly area south of the city of Ardebil, covers an area of 64 ha. The surface of the lake is  covered with a thin white layer of minerals,  being useful for healing skin diseases and  rheumatism. Near the lake there is the leisure complex of Shoorabil.

The Araz is the largest river of the  province, originating in the mountains of  the eastern Turkey, flowing along the Iranian borders with the Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia  and emptying into the Caspian Sea. The vast plateau of Moghan is watered by this river. Other important rivers of the province  are the Darreh-Rood, the Qara-Soo, the  Khiyav-Chay and the Namin-Chay.

The mineral springs are numerous,  among which the hot springs of Sar'eyn in  Ardebil and the mineral springs of Khlkhal, Sardabeh and Booshli are of more  importance. The forested areas in Khalkhal and  Ardebil are covered with oaks, beeches,  maples and hornbeams. In the mountainous region of Sabalan and Talesh there are lush pastures which are used by villagers and  pastoral nomads for animal husbandry. Wildlife includes wolves, bears, leopards,  gazelles, mouflons, ibexes, eagles, partridges  pheasants, poisonous snakes and alligators.

The majority of the people are Muslim, faithful to the religious traditions. In some regions of the province, especially in  Moghan, where the tribes of Ilsavan and  Qara Dagh live, there is tribal life. The roads aren't always good, but they are very scenic, passing through the forested and mountainous areas and the lush pastures, you find one splendid view follows another during journey between different places.

The cities of Ardebil and Pars-Abab, having airports capable of handling jets, are served by regular flights to and from Tabriz and Tehran. Fertile soil, adequate water and the establishment of "Kesht-o-San'at-e-Moghan" comprising agricultural, animal husbandry and  industrial units, have made this province a  major centre for producing corn, fruit and meat. The said establishment, being unique in its kind in the Middle East, utilizes modern methods, techniques and machinery for producing and harvesting the crops, improving the fertility of the soil and the quality of the seeds, and producing and caring for domestic animals. This establishment also includes a sugar mill.  Wheat, barley, beet and cotton are important crops. In addition to these, apiculture is an active industry and the honey produced in Ardebil province has nation-wide fame.

Handicrafts, such as carpet weaving,  jajim (a fine carpet made of wool or cotton) and gelim (a rug mad of goats' hair) weaving and pottery also play a main role in  the economy of the province. Mineral resources consist of copper, limestone and  sulphur.  Besides Ardebil there are five other cities:  Khalkhal, Meshkin-Shahr, Moghan, Bileh Savar, and Pars-Abad.

Other places of interest in the Ardebil province:


Situated 29 kms west of Ardebil, this town is an important centre of mineral water. The nine hot and mineral springs with medicinal qualities and the centre of hydrotherapy are significant tourist attractions. Facilities for recreation and accommodation are thriving, so that in the  near future Sar'eyn will be one of the largest leisure centres in Iran.


It is a border town located in the north  of the province and neighbouring on the Republic of Azerbaijan. It mainly consists of flatlands enjoying a mild climate. This region, in which agriculture is a significant  activity, is watered by the Araz River. Having fertile soil, favourable climate and adequate precipitation, it has rich pasture   and impressive natural beauty. The establishment of  "Kesht-o-San'at-e-Moghan", including units for producing sugar, compotes, conserves and a unit for winnowing cotton, has  flourished the economy of the town.


Located in a mountainous area to the west of the mountains of Talesh, this town is mild in summer and cold in winter. The mineral spring of Khalkhal Sooyee and the  hot spring of Givi having medicinal value,  and natural beauty and pleasant fresh weather of this town attract a large number  of visitors. Winter sports are among  recreational activities fascinating for many  tourists. Among handicrafts, shawl weaving  is of more importance and Khalkhal's  shawls are well known.


This town is situated to the west of  Ardebil and the north of Mount Sabalan. It  is temperate in summer and cold in winter. The rich pastures of this region are largely populated by pastoral nomads. Although in  the villages many people are engaged in  handicrafts, the economy is mainly  dependent on agriculture and animal  husbandry. Being an ancient town, Meshkin-Shahr's  historical monuments are of great  significance. The following are among  well known ones: The Castle of Arshoq, the  mausoleum of Sheikh Heydar and a  petrograph belonging to Shapur II (a King of the Sassanian dynasty).  The most well known mineral springs in  this region are the springs of Googerdi and Qotoor Sooyee on the slopes of Mt. Sabalan, and the springs of Shabil, Aqsoo,  Malek Soo'i and Ilandoo.


It is a plateau, warm in summer and cold in winter. The capital of this region is  Germi which is an important centre for agriculture. This fertile plateau is watered by the Araz River.

sources: Sharif Cultural Institute, Osinga,
see also: Hotels in Ardebilhistory, Uromiyeh, Tabriz, Zanjan, South Azerbaijan, Iranian visas, places, photos

A to Z of Azerbaijan / A dan Z ye Azerbaycan