History of the Kurds 

Kurds are one of the Iranian peoples and speak a north-western Iranian language related to Persian.

With regard to the origin of the Kurds, it was formerly considered sufficient to describe them as the descendants of the Carduchi, who opposed the retreat of the Ten Thousand through the mountains in the 4th century BC. But modern research traces them far beyond the period of the Greeks. In their own histories, they are proud to mention the Hurrian period in the mid third millennium BC as the earliest documented period. The 3rd millennium was the time of the Guti and Hattians, the 2nd and 1st the time of the Kassites, Mitanni, Mannai, Urartu, and Mushku. It should be mentioned that the Kurds are an Indo-European people, whereas the above groups are thought to have been non Indo-Europeans, apart from the original Mitanni leadership. However, Kurds consider themselves as much Indo-European as they do any of these.

At the dawn of history the mountains overhanging Assyria were held by a people named Gutii, a title which signified "a warrior", and which was rendered in Assyrian by the synonym of Gardu or Kardu, the precise term quoted by Strabo to explain the name of the Car daces. These Gutii were a tribe of such power as to be placed in the early Cuneiform records on an equality with the other nations of western Asia, that is, with the Syrians and Hittites, the Susians, Elamites, and Akkadians of Babylonia; and during the whole period of the Assyrian Empire they seem to have preserved a more-or-less independent political position.

After the fall of Nineveh the Gutii coalesced with the Medes, and, in common with all the nations inhabiting the high plateaus of Asia Minor, Armenia and Persia, became gradually Aryanised, owing to the immigration at this period of history of tribes in overwhelming numbers who, from whatever quarter they may have sprung, belonged certainly to the Aryan family.

Cyrus reduced the Gutii or Kurdu to subjection before he descended upon Babylon, and furnished a contingent of fighting men to his successors, being thus mentioned under the names of "Saspirians" and "Alarodians" in the muster roll of the army of Xerxes, which Herodotus has preserved.

In later times they passed successively under the sway of the Macedonians, the Parthians, and Sassanids, being especially befriended, if we may judge from tradition as well as from the remains still existing in the country, by the Arsacid monarchs, who were probably of a cognate race. Gotarzes indeed, whose name may perhaps be translated "chief of the Gutii", was traditionally believed to be the founder of the Gurans, the principal tribe of southern Kurdistan, and his name and titles are still preserved in a Greek inscription at Behistun near the Kurdish capital of Kermanshah.

Under the caliphs of Baghdad the Kurds were always giving trouble in one quarter or another. In AD 838, and again in 905, formidable insurrections occurred in northern Kurdistan; the amir, Aqpd-addaula, was obliged to lead ten forces of the caliphate against the southern Kurds, capturing the famous fortress of Sermaj, of which the ruins are to be seen at the present day near Behistun, and reducing the province of Shahrizor with its capital city now marked by the great mound of Yassin Teppeh.

The most flourishing period of Kurdish power was probably during the 12th century, when the great Saladin, who belonged to the Rawendi branch of the Hadabani tribe, founded the Ayyubite dynasty of Syria, and Kurdish chieftain hips were established, not only to the east and west of the Kurdistan mountains, but as far as Khorasan upon one side and Egypt and Yemen on the other.

During the Mongol and Tatar domination of western Asia the Kurds in the mountains remained for the most part passive, yielding a reluctant obedience to the provincial governors of the plains. When Sultan Selim I, after defeating Shah Ismail I in 1514, annexed Armenia and Kurdistan, he entrusted the organization of the conquered territories to Idris, the historian, who was a Kurd of Bitlis. Idris found Kurdistan bristling with castles, held by hereditary tribal chiefs of Kurd, Arab, and Armenian descent, who were practically independent, and passed their time in tribal warfare or in raiding the agricultural population. He divided the territory into sanjaks or districts, and, making no attempt to interfere with the principle of heredity, installed the local chiefs as governors. He also resettled the rich pastoral country between Erzerum and Erivan, which had lain waste since the passage of Timur, with Kurds from the Hakkari and Bohtan districts.

The system of administration introduced by Idris remained unchanged until the close of the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29. But the Kurds, owing to the remoteness of their country from the capital and the decline of Turkey, had greatly increased in influence and power, and had spread westwards over the country as far as Angora.

After the war the Kurds attempted to free themselves from Turkish control, and in 1834, after the Bedirkhan clan uprising, it became necessary to reduce them to subjection. Reshid Pasha did this. The principal towns were strongly garrisoned, and Turkish governors replaced many of the Kurd beys. A rising under Bedr Khan Bey in 1843 was firmly repressed, and after the Crimean War the Turks strengthened their hold on the country. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 was followed by the attempt of Sheikh Obaidullah in 1880 - 1881 to found an independent Kurd principality under the protection of Turkey. The attempt, at first encouraged by the Porte, as a reply to the projected creation of an Armenian state under the suzerainty of Russia, collapsed after Obaidullah's raid into Persia, when various circumstances led the central government to reassert its supreme authority. Until the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-29 there had been little hostile feeling between the Kurds and the Armenians, and as late as 1877 - 1878 the mountaineers of both races had co-existed fairly well together. Both suffered from Turkey, both dreaded Russia. But the national movement amongst the Armenians, and its encouragement by Russia after the latest war, gradually aroused race hatred and fanaticism.

In 1891 the activity of the Armenian Committees induced the Porte to strengthen the position of the Kurds by raising a body of Kurdish irregular cavalry, which was well armed and called Hamidieh after the Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid II. The opportunities thus offered for plunder and the gratification of race hatred brought out the worst qualities of the Kurds. Minor disturbances constantly occurred, and were soon followed by the massacre of Armenians at Sasun and other places, 1894 - 1896, in which the Kurds took an active part.

This article uses text from 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.

Kurdistan Province 

Kordestan, or Kurdistan (in Persian: استان کردستان), is one of the thirty provinces of Iran, not to be confused with the greater geographical area of Kurdistan. It is in the west of the country, bordering Iraq. The province of Kurdistan is 28,817 km2 in area and is located in the west of Iran. It is bound by Iraq on its west, the province of west Azerbaijan to its north, Zanjan to s northwest, and Kermanshah to its south.

Iran Map
Map showing Iranian province of Kordestan

The capital of Kurdistan is the city of Sanandaj. Other major cities of the province are Marivan, Baneh, Saqqez, Qorveh, Bijar, Kamyaran, Sarvabad and Divandareh


Kurds are Aryan tribes who migrated to the region several thousands years ago. Situated on the ancient Silk Road, on the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent, Kurdistan grew to be a prosperous area during the middle Ages. In the early Islamic period, 637-641, all Kurdish castles and fortifications Arabs occupied as well as major cities. In 634 AD when Arabs Attacked Fars, Kurdish people of this state took part in the war against Arabs for defending the city of Fasa. Finally Arabs defeated Kurds in the year 636. In 835 one of the Kurdish leaders revolted against Motasem the Caliph, but finally he was suppressed. Since then Kurds revolted against the Caliphs several time but were defeated by them. They also revolted against Buwayhid dynasty but they were defeated as well. Mongols destroyed Kurdish cities and then during the time of the Timurid and Turkmen, Kurdistan was the arena of conflicts between different invaders. Its steady decline began in the 16th century when sea traffic replaced the Silk Road. During the reign of Shah Ismail I, the founder of Safavid dynasty, Ottoman Caliphs supported Sunnite Kurds against Shiite government of Safavid. With the establishment of Zand dynasty, for the first time in the history of Iran, a Kurdish dynasty took the throne. In the late Zandieh period, some parts of west Azarbaijan were under the seizure of Kurdish tribes. During 19th and 20th centuries AD, Kurdish tribes of the region revealed their inner inclination for independence and establishment of a Kurdish government. In 1946 AD, coincident with the occupation of Iran by the Allies, Ghazi Mohammed formed the Peoples Republic of Kurdistan with the help of Russians. But after complete evacuation of Iran by Allies and sending of Iranian army forces to Azarbaijan and Kurdistan, this republic was disintegrated.


Kurdistan Province is entirely a mountainous region that can be divided into two western and eastern sections from topographical points of view, which are located in the east and west of Sanandaj. Kurdistan province, being predominantly covered by mountains and hills, has many rivers, lakes; natural ice-stores and caves which render it rather picturesque. Consequently, Kurdistan has always attracted a large number of tourists and fans of mountaineering, ski, and water-sports.

Zarrinehorood, 302 km long, is one of the longest rivers of this province. Its banks offer great opportunities for recreation and the river's plentiful water renders itself ideal for water sports. This river runs northwards and ultimately pours into lake Urumieh. Sirvan River is another prominent river in this province. It runs over a long distance, eventually to join the Tigris in Iraq. The banks of this river too are remarkably attractive and pleasing. Ghezel Ozoon and Saminerhrood are two other important rivers in this province. A large number of marine species and birds live on the banks of the province's numerous rivers, which they seem to find ideal habitats.

Lake Zarivar is the most beautiful waters of the province, which lies at the feet to high mountains, providing a delightfully picturesque sight. Its water is sparklingly fresh. The lake has a maximum depth of 50 m and an average depth of 3 m. think forests surround it. The whole collection of the lake, the mountains and forests a fascinating panorama. This lake, which has a length of 5 km and a maximum which width of 1.7 km, lies to the west of Marivan. Lake Vahdat's dam, to the north of Sanandaj, provides excellent opportunities for fishing and water-sports.

Kurdistan has the benefit of many resourceful mineral water springs. The most outstanding of these are: Govaz to the northwest of Kamyaran, Abetalkh close to Bijar and Baba Gargar to the north of Ghorveh.

Cave Karaftoo, close to Divandarreh, is a unique natural and at the same time archeological site. Inside the cave there are a number of ancient buildings known as the Temple of Heraclius, because the name of this Greek god is carved on the ceiling of one of the halls. Cave Shoovi, 267 m long, is another prominent cave, which lies near the city of Baneh.

Mount Charkhaln 3,330 m high, mount Chehelcheshmeh, 3,173 m, Mount Hussein Bak, 3,091 m, and Mount Masjede Mirza, 3,059 m, are the other large mountains of Kurdistan.

Kurdistan has vast forests and refuges, where many animals and birds live, safely from the harms of the human beings: the leopard, ram, wild goat, hyena, jackal, wolf, fox, sable, weasel and such birds as the partridge, wild duck, stork, parrot, eagle.


Kurdistan is one of the most mountainous regions in Iran and has a generally mild and quite pleasant climate throughout the spring and summer. Winters are long and can be very cold with heavy snowfalls.

People and culture 

The population of the province in 1996 was 1,346,383 of which 52.42% were urban dwellers and 47.58% rural dwellers. The sex ratio of the Province is 104. The Kurdish people are the majority population in this province, who consider them to be descended from the ancient Medes. They speak Sorani-Kurdish which is a northwestern Iranian language closely related to Persian. Azeri is spoken in some eastern parts of the province. The region's historical name is Ardalan.


The major activities of the inhabitants are agriculture and modern livestock farming. Wheat, barley, grains and fruits are the major agricultural products. The chemical, metal, textile, leather and food industries are the main industrial activities in this province.

Kurdistan Cities 

The township of Baneh is in the extreme western part of this province and is the neighborhood of Iraq. This township is bounded on north and west by west- Azerbaijan in the east by Saqqez and in the south by Iraq. Its center being the city of Baneh located 728 km. from Tehran. Baneh is covered with forests and is full of various trees. In the pre-Islamic period, a Zoroastrian tribe named "Qeh Qoo" governed this area, but after the Arab invasion, 'Ekhtiar Diniha' took over the rule. Till the mid 13th century the actual name of the city of Baneh was Behrojeh.
But now the cemetery in the north east of the city is called "Kohneh Baneh" A change in the city's location is due to a massacre resulting from cholera, plaque, fire and tribal combats. The city of Baneh is located in the altitudes and its route is on a gradient

The township of Bijar is located in the north east of the province and it is restricted from the north to the provinces of Zanjan and west Azarbayjan; from the east to the provinces of Zanjan and Hamadan; from the south to the township of Qorveh and from the west to the township of Sanandaj. Its center is Bijar, which is at a distance of 518 km. from Tehran. Bijar is one of the fertile areas of Kurdistan. Its climate in winter is cold and dry and is moderate in summer. In the Kurdish language the willow tree is called 'Bi' and the area of such trees is called 'Bijar.' Thus because of abundance of willow trees, it means the region of willows.

The same is one of the new townships of this province as before it was part of Sanandaj Township. This township is located to the north of Sanandaj and is a mountainous region. It is bounded in the north by west Azarbayjan in the east by Bijar and in the west by Saqez. The city of Divandareh is located at a distance of 95 km. north of Sanandaj. Divandareh has developed from a village to a city in the last decade.

The said is one of the latest founded townships of the province, prior to which it was part of the township of Sanandaj. This township is located in the north of Sanandaj and is in a mountainous region. This township is bounded in the north by Sanandaj, in the east by Qorveh and Kermanshah province in the south by Kermanshah and in the northwest by the township of Marivan. It is located 65 km. from Sanandaj. This township has a pleasant climate in spring and autumn. The general cultural distinctions in this region are similar to other sectors of the province.

The township of Marivan is located in the west of Iran and in the neighborhood of Iraq. It is bounded on north by Saqez, in the south by Kamyaran and Kermanshah, and in the west by Iraq. Marivan is a cold region and is a century old. Farhad Mirza Qajar who governed just before the constitutional movement constructed a castle in Marivan. This border city was in the neighborhood of the Ottoman government.
Naseredin Shah ordered a castle to be built there in 1282 AH. In 1286 AH. , Haj Farhad Mo'tamed-o-Doleh further fortified the structure and named it Shah Abad. After Haj Mohammad Ali Khan Zafar-ol-Molk in the early Pahlavi era built a castle in Moosk Village that is now used as a garrison and it is not far from the city. The Zarivar Lake is to the west of the city of Marivan and has given a special beauty to this city, in addition to being a recreational area.

The township of Qorveh is located to the east of the province. It is restricted from east to the Hamadan province from the north to Bijar, from south to Hamadan and Kermanshah and from west to Sanandaj. Its center is the city of Qorveh, which is located in a large plain 93 km. east of Sanandaj and northwest of Hamadan and has expanded in the direction of the Sanandaj road towards Hamadan. In the past the seat of rule of this city was the Qaslan Village. Here the governor of the times was responsible for the construction of some buildings, a castle, mosque, bath, garden and large groves.
Today, due to its distinctive geological characteristics, and mineral water springs, visitors and tourists are attracted to this city.

This township is located in the center of the Kurdistan province. It is limited to Divandareh from the north and to Kamyaran from the south, to the east are Bijar and Qorveh, to the west are the townships of Marivan and Saqez. Sanandaj is the provincial capital of Kurdistan and lies at a distance of 500 km. from Tehran. This city has a beautiful natural environment and pleasant climate especially in autumn and spring.
Soleiman Khan Ardalan the governor of Kurdistan constructed the Sahneh Dej (castle) during the Shah Safi period (1038-1052 AH.). In the past, there was the Seer city instead of present Sanandaj. Sanandaj was under the control of the Ardalan household for duration of four centuries. The said are descendant of the Sassanids. In the war between Iran and Ottomans in Safavid period, this family sometimes sided Iran and sometimes the Ottomans. In 1146 AH. Karim Khan Zand destroyed Sanandaj.
After a period of chaos, Khosrow Khan Ardalan took over the power. From 1214 to 1240 AH. Eman Allah Khan, son of Khosrow Khan governed in Sanandaj and to some extent he worked for the sake of improvement of Sanandaj. In 1284 AH. due to the dissatisfaction of the inhabitants, Haj Mirza Mo'tamed-o-Doleh the uncle of Naseredin Shah governed in Kurdistan till the year 1291 AH. Now a days Sanandaj is one of the beautiful townships of Iran and Kurdistan province

The township of Saqqez is located in the north west of the province. To the north is the Province of west Azarbayjan (Mahabad and Bukan). This township is limited from west to the township of Baneh, from the south to Iraq and Marivan and from the east to Sanandaj. The capital of this township is Saqez city and lies at a distance of 706 km. from Tehran and 181 km. from Sanandaj. This township in spring and summer has a cool and moderate climate.
This city during the primary union of the Medes was their capital and was named "Izirta". On the attack of Sargan II, the ruler of the Assyrian, the Medes were defended and their fortifications destroyed. Thereafter, the Sekaha tried to rebuild this city and they chose Saqez, and then named "Eskit" as their capital. The present name of Saqez is derived from the Sekeh (Seka-Eskit-Sakez) tribe. The city of Saqez was formerly in the southwestern plain of the present city and today it is reputedly known as old Saqez. Saqez city is located in the skirts of the attitudes and a river runs through it. It is one of the most beautiful areas in Kurdistan province.

Kurdistan Capital 

Sanandaj (in Persian: سنندج) is the capital of the Iranian province of Kurdistan, which is situated in the western part of Iran bordering Iraq.
The city of Sanandaj is the capital of Kurdistan, and lies at a distance of 512 km from Tehran, 1,480 m above sea level.

History: Although the province of Kurdistan has archeological traces which go back to thousands of years BC when the Aryan Kurds first settled in these parts, Sanandaj itself is a rather new city and was built less than 200 years ago. Kurdistan province succumbed to the Muslim Army circa 642 A.D. and most of the inhabitants accepted Islam, which is the predominant religion of the area, today. Sanandaj was very prosperous in the Safavid era but was completely destroyed at the time of Karim Khan of Zand dynasty. It was later chosen to be the capital of this province and is presently one of the most prominent cities of western Iran.

Climate: Sanandaj has a pleasant weather in spring and summer. The average seasonal temperature in Sanandaj is 15.20 C in spring, 25.20 C in summer, 10.40 C in autumn and 1.60 C in winter. In a 30-year long study carried out on the climate of Sanandaj, the maximum absolute temperature was found to be 44 C, the minimum absolute -31 C, and the average annual temperature 13.10 C. The average relative humidity was 69% at 06:30 hours and 38% at 12:30 hours. The average annual rainfall was 497.3 mm and the maximum daily, 61 mm. The average number of frosty days was 111.4; and the maximum number of hours of sunshine over the entire year 2,786.2.


  • Dense forests of the region
  • Negel historical village on Sanandaj – Marivan road,
  • Salavat Abad village
  • Edifices of Khosro Abad, Salar Saeed (Sanandaj Museum of anthropology and contemporary arts) and Moshir which have been constructed in Qajar time
  • The old houses of Moshiri, Vakil, Asef Vaziri and Sadegh Vaziri
  • Palangan Castle
  • Several historical bridges belonging to the Safavid era
  • Historical hills
  • Old public bathes
  • Old bazaars of Sanandaj and Asef belonging to the Safavid era
  • Several Mosques and Imamzadehs


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