The province of West Azerbaijan covers an area of 39,487 km², or 43,660 km² including Lake Urmia. In 2006 the province had a population of 3,015,361.
Permanent settlements were established in the province as early as the 6th millennium BCE as excavation at sites such as Teppe Hasanlu establish. In Hasanlu, a famous Golden Vase was found in 1958. The province is also the location of Tepe Hajji Firuz, site of some of the world's earliest evidence of wine production. Gooy Teppe is another significant site, where a metal plaque dating from 800 BCE was found that depicts a scene from the epic of Gilgamesh.
Ruins such as these and the UNESCO world heritage site at the Sassanid? compound of Soghorloo(Takht-i-Suleiman) illustrate the strategic importance and tumultuous history of the province through the millennia. Overall, the province enjoys a wealth of historical attractions, with 169 sites registered by the Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran.
The first monarch of Iran's Qajar dynasty, Agha Muhammad Khan, was crowned in Urmia in 1795.
Geography and Climate
With an area of 43,660 square kilometers, including Lake Urmia, the province of West Azerbaijan is located on the north-west of South Azerbaijan(Iranian Azerbaijan).
The climate of the province is largely influenced by the rainy winds of the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean. Cold northern winds affect the province during winter and cause heavy snow. According to existing meteorological data, local temperatures vary within the province.
Average temperature differs from 9.4 °C in Khana(Piranshahr) to 11.6 °C in SavujBolagh(Mahabad), while it is 9.8 °C in Urmia, 10.8 °C in Khoy, 9.4 °C in Khana(Piranshahr), and in Savuj Bolagh(Mahabad) 11.6 °C. According to same data, the highest temperature in the province reaches 34 °C in July, and the lowest temperature is –16 °C in January. Maximum change of temperature in summer is 4 °C, and in winter 15 °C. West- Azerbaijan province, encompassing vast and fertile plains, high mountains, enjoying moderate and healthy weather, rivers with high volume of water, vineyards, orchards, luxuriant forest and rangelands, mountain outskirt with wonderful flora, magnificent wildlife and beautiful shores around the lake with different recreational facilities, which all together form one of the most beautiful and spectacular region in Iran. A land with wonderful flora during the spring and the summer covered with tulip, poppy, narcissus and hyacinth extending from Araz(Arass) rivers banks in the north to Zab Kouchak valley in the south.
The province is divided into 14 shahrestans (counties). The present number of shahrestans (counties) was achieved over time by subdivision of many of the larger shahrestans into smaller ones. The current shahrestans are: Urmia, Khana(Piranshahr), SavujBolagh(Mahabad), Oshnaviyeh, Qoshachay(Miandoab), Sulduz(Naghadeh), Tikan Tappa(Takab), Shahindej, Maki(Maku), Chaldoran County, Salmas, Khoy, Sardasht and Bay Kandi(Bukan). There are no official statistics or census figures on the ethnic makeup of Iran. The bulk of the population in West Azerbaijan Province are Azerbaijanian Turks(80%) and Kurds.
Colleges and universities
Urmia University was first built by an American Presbyterian missionary in 1878. A medical faculty was also established there headed by Joseph Cochran and a team of American medical associates. Joseph Cochran and his colleagues were buried in an old cemetery in the vicinity of Urmia. Urmia University website says this about them:
There they lie in peace away from their homeland, and the testimonial epitaphs on their tombs signify their endeavor and devotion to humanity.
The province today has the following major institutes of higher education:
Urmia University of Medical Sciences
Urmia University of Technology
Islamic Azad University of Khoi
Islamic Azad University of Mahabad
Islamic Azad University of Urmia
Islamic Azad University of Piranshahr