History of Khuzestan Province



Khuzestan Province
استان خوزستان

محافظة خوزستان-جمهوریة ایران الأسلامیة

Khuzestan Province


Coordinates:  31°19′38″N 48°41′38″E / 31.3273°N 48.6940°E / 31.3273; 48.6940






 • Total

64,055 km2 (24,732 sq mi)


 • Total


 • Density

110/km2 (300/sq mi)

Time zone

IRST (UTC+03:30)

 • Summer (DST)

IRST (UTC+04:30)

Main language(s)

Farsi, Arabic and Luri,

Khuzestan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahvaz and covers an area of 63,238 km². Other major cities include Behbahan, Abadan, Andimeshk, Khorramshahr, Bandar Imam, Dezful, Shushtar, Omidiyeh, Izeh, Baq-e-Malek, Mah Shahr, Susangerd, Ramhormoz, Shadegan, Susa, Masjed Soleiman, Minoo Island and Hoveizeh.

As the most ancient Iranian province, it is often referred to as the "birthplace of the nation," as this is where the history of the Persian Empire begins. Historically, Khuzestan is what historians refer to as ancient Elam, whose capital was in Susa.

Currently, Khuzestan has 18 representatives in Iran's parliament, the Majlis, and 6 representatives in the Assembly of Experts. Khuzestan is known for its ethnic diversity; the population of Khuzestan consists of Lurs, Iranian Arabs, Qashqai people, Afshar tribe, indigenous Persians and Iranian Armenians. Khuzestan's population is predominantly Shia Muslim, but there are small Christian, Jewish and Sunni minorities.

The word "Khouzi" refers to people who make raw sugar from sugar cane fields of northern Sassanian plains up to the Dez River side in Dezful. Khouzhestan has been the land of Khouzhies who cultivates sugar cane even today in Haft Tepe. The name Khuzestan means "The Land of the Khuzi",The name of the city of Ahvaz also has the same origin as the name Khuzestan., being an Arabic broken plural from the compound name, "Suq al-Ahvaz" (Market of the Huzis)--the medieval name of the town, that replaced the Sasanian Persian name of the pre-Islamic times.

The province of Khuzestan can be basically divided into two regions, the rolling hills and mountainous regions north of the Ahvaz Ridge, and the plains and marsh lands to its south. The area is irrigated by the Karoun, Karkheh, Jarahi and Maroun rivers. The northern section maintains a Persian (Lur, Bakhtiari, Khuzi) majority, while the southern section had an Arabic speaking majority.

Khuzestan has great potentials for agricultural expansion. Large and permanent rivers flow over the entire territory contributing to the fertility of the land. Karun, Iran's most effluent river, 850 kilometers long, flows into the Persian Gulf through this province.

The climate of Khuzestan is generally hot and occasionally humid, particularly in the south, while winters are much more cold and dry. Summertime temperatures routinely exceed 40 degrees Celsius and in the winter it can drop below freezing, with occasional snowfall, all the way south to Ahvaz.




The ziggurat of Choqa Zanbil in Khuzestan was a magnificent structure of the Elamite Empire. Khuzestan's Elamites were "precursors of the royal Persians", and were "the founders of the first Iranian empire in the geographic sense."


The province of Khuzestan is one of the centers of ancient civilization, based around Susa. The first large scale empire based here was that of the powerful 4th millennium BC Elamites.

Iran-Iraq war

During the Iran-Iraq War, Khuzestan was the focus of the Iraqi invasion of Iran, leading to the flight of thousands of the province's residents. As a result, Khuzestan suffered the heaviest damage of all Iranian provinces during the war.

What used to be Iran's largest refinery at Abadan was destroyed. Many of the famous nakhlestans (palm groves) were annihilated, cities were destroyed, historical sites were demolished, and nearly half the province captured by the invading Iraqi army. This created a mass exodus into other provinces.

However, by 1982, Iranian forces managed to push Iraqi forces out of Iran. The battle of "the Liberation of Khorramshahr" (one of Khuzestan's largest cities and the most important Iranian port prior to the war) was a turning point in the war, and is officially celebrated every year in Iran.

The city of Khorramshahr was almost completely destroyed as a result of the scorched earth policy ordered by Iraq's leader, Saddam Hussein. However, Iranian forces were able to prevent the Iraqis from attempting to spread the execution of this policy to other major urban centers.

People and culture



A bust from The National Museum of Iran of Queen Musa, wife of Phraates IV of Parthia, excavated by a French team in Khuzestan in 1939.

Khuzestan is inhabited by many different ethnic groups, the population of Khuzestan consists of Lurs (including Bakhtiari people), Iranian Arabs, Turkic-speaking Qashqai people and Afshar tribe .


Many Khuzestanis are bilingual, speaking both Persian and one of the following languages/Dialects: Khuzi languages such as Dezfuli/Shushtari, Behbahani, Ramhormozi, Ghanavati and Mahshahri or tribal languages such as Luri, Bakhtiari, Arabic, Bahmee, and Qashqai. Mandaee language is spoken among minority Mandaeian mainly in Ahvaz & Dezful. It is ancient Mandaee language mingled by some aspect of Khuzi. The Arabic spoken in Khuzestan is Mesopotamian Arabic, the same dialect as is spoken in Iraq. Susangerd, Hoveizh, Shadegan & lately Khorramshahr are main cities with people speaking Arabic . But main Arab ethnic groups are in nomadic and rural regions along Iran-Iraq border in southwest of province to the ahvaz urban areas. The Persian and Lurish groups of western Khuzestan all speak distinct dialects unique to their areas. It is also not uncommon to find people able to speak a variety of indigenous dialects in addition to their own.

Traditions and religion

Khuzestani folk music is colorful and festive, and each native group has their own rich traditions and legacy in this area.

The people of Khuzestan are predominantly Shia, with small Sunni, Jewish, Christian and Mandean minorities. Khuzestanis are also very well regarded for their hospitality and generosity.


Seafood is the most important part of Khuzestani cuisine, but many other dishes are also featured. The most popular Khuzestani dish is Ghalyeh Mahi, a popular fish dish that is prepared with heavy spices, onions and cilantro. Other provincial specialties include Ghalyeh Meygu ("shrimp casserole"), ash (a Khorramshahri breakfast stew), sar shir (a Dezfuli breakfast of heavy cream), halim (a Shushtari breakfast of wheatmeal with shredded lamb).




The government of Iran is spending large amounts of money in Khuzestan province. The massive Karun-3 dam, was inaugurated recently as part of a drive to boost Iran's growing energy demands.

Khuzestan is the major oil-producing region of Iran, and as such is one of the wealthiest provinces in Iran. Khuzestan ranks 2nd  among Iran's provinces in GDP.

Khuzestan is also home to the Arvand Free Trade Zone. It is one of six economic Free Trade Zones in Iran and the PETZONE (Petrochemical Special Economic Zone in Mahshahr).


The abundance of water and fertility of soil have transformed this region into a rich and well-endowed land. The variety of agricultural products such as wheat, barley, oily seeds, rice, eucalyptus, medicinal herbs; the existence of many palm and citrus farms; having mountains suitable for raising olives, and of course sugar cane - from which Khuzestan takes its name - all show the great potential of this fertile plain. In 2005, 51,000 hectares of land were planted with sugar cane, producing 350,000 tons of sugar. The abundance of water supplies, rivers, and dams, also have an influence on the fishery industries, which are prevalent in the area.


There are several cane sugar mills in Khuzestan province, among them Haft Tepe and Karun Agro Industry near Shushtar.

The Karun 3 and 4, and Karkheh Dam, as well as the petroleum reserves provide Iran with national sources of revenue and energy. The petrochemical and steel industries, pipe making, and the power stations that feed the national electricity grid, the chemical plants, and the large refineries are some of Iran's major industrial facilities. The province is also home to Yadavaran Field, which is a major oil field in itself

Higher education

  1. Khorramshahr University of Nautical Sciences and Technologies
  2. Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences
  3. Petroleum University of Technology
  4. Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz
  5. Azad Science and research university of Khuzestan
  6. Shahid Chamran University-Dezful
  7. Islamic Azad University of Shushtar
  8. Islamic Azad University of Abadan
  9. Islamic Azad University of Omidiyeh
  10. Islamic Azad University of Ahvaz
  11. Islamic Azad University of Behbahan
  12. Islamic Azad University of Izeh
  13. Amirkabir University of Technology, Mahshahr campus
  14. Azad University of Mahshahr

Attractions of Khuzestan

Iran National Heritage Organization lists 140 sites of historical and cultural significance in Khuzestan, reflecting the fact that the province was once the seat of Iran's most ancient empire.

Some of the more popular sites of attraction include:



The Parthian Prince, found in Khuzestan c. AD 100, is kept at The National Museum of Iran, Tehran.

Choqa Zanbil: The seat of the Elamite Empire, this ziggurat is a magnificent five-story temple that is one of the greatest ancient monuments in the Middle-East today. The monolith, with its labyrinthine walls made of thousands of large bricks with Elamite inscription; manifest the sheer antiquity of the shrine. The temple was religiously sacred and built in the honor of Inshushinak, the protector deity of the city of Susa.

Shush-Daniel: Burial site of the Jewish prophet Daniel. He is said to have died in Susa on his way to Jerusalem upon the order of Darius. The grave of Ya'qub bin Laith as-Saffar, who rose against the oppression of the Umayyad Caliphate, is also located nearby.

Dezful (Dezh-pol), whose name is taken from a bridge (pol) over the Dez river having 12 spans built by the order of Shapur I. This is the same bridge that was called "Andamesh Bridge" by historians such as Istakhri who says the city of Andimeshk takes its name from this bridge. Muqaddasi called it "The City of the Bridge."

Shushtar, Home to the famous Shushtar Watermills and one of the oldest fortress cities in Iran, known as the "City of Forty Elders" in local dialect. In and around Shushtar, there are many displays of ancient hydraulic engineering. There are also the Band Mizan and Band Qeysar, 2000 year old dams on the Karoun river and the famous Shadervan Bridge which is over 2000 years old.The Friday Mosque of Shushtar was built by the Abbasids. The mosque, which features "Roman" arches, has 54 pillars and balconies.

Izeh, or Izaj, was one of the main targets of the invading Islamic army in their conquest of Persia. Kharezad Bridge, one of the strangest bridges of the world, is situated in this city and was named after Ardeshir Babakan's mother. It is built over cast pillars of lead each 104 meters high. Ibn Battuta, who visited the city in the 14th century, refers to many monasteries, caravanserais, aqueducts, schools, and fortresses in the town. The brass statue of The Parthian Man, kept at the National Museum of Iran, is from here.

Masjed Soleiman, another ancient town, has ancient fire altars and temples such as Sar-masjed and Bard-neshondeh. It is also the winter's resting area of the Bakhtiari tribe, and where William Knox D'Arcy dug Iran's first oil well.

Abadan is said to be where the tomb of Elijah, the long lived Hebrew prophet is.

Iwan of Hermes, and Iwan of Karkheh, two enigmatic ruins north of Susa.



Ahvaz (Persian: اهواز‎ ) is a city in and the capital of Khuzestan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 1,432,965, in 796,239 families.

Ahwaz is built on the banks of the Karun River and is situated in the middle of Khūzestān Province. The city has an average elevation of 20 meters above sea level.

Location and roads and ports

Ahvaz located 100 km north-east of Abadan and is accessible via following routes in addition of a single runway airport:

Tehran-Khorramshahr national railway

Ahvaz-Abadan expressway (145 km)

Ahvaz-Andimeshk (152 km) expressway

Ahvaz-Bandar Imam Khomeini freeway (175 km).

Ahvaz being the largest city in the province consists of two distinctive districts: the newer part of Ahvaz, the administrative and industrial center, has been built on the right bank of the Karun while residential areas are found in the old section of the city, on the left bank.

There are two Iranian ports in Khuzestan province (Bandar Imam and Khuramshahr port) ,generally operated by the Ports and Shipping Organization (P.S.O.), a government entity and division of Ministry of Roads and Transportation. These ports can accommodate all types of seaborne trade, from dry to containerized to wet cargoes


Ahvaz has a desert climate with long, extremely hot summers and mild, short winters. Ahvaz is consistently one of the hottest cities on the planet during the summer, with summer temperatures regularly at least 45 degrees Celsius, sometimes exceeding 50 degrees Celsius with many sandstorms and dust storms common during the summer period while in winters the minimum temperature could fall around +1 degrees Celsius. Winters in Ahvaz have no snow. The average annual rainfall is around 230 mm.


Ahvaz is accessible via freeways from Isfahan and Shiraz, and roadways to Tehran.

A metro urban railway system is being built by the Ahvaz urban railway. It will be a 23 km underground line with 24 stations.

The airport is served by Naft Airlines and Asseman Airlines (Dubai, Kuwait, Tehran, flying on Boeing 727-200s or Fokker F100s), Caspian Airlines (Dubai, by MD-80), Iran Air (Isfahan, Kuwait, Tehran, by Airbus , Boeing 727-200 or Fokker 100), Iran Air Tours (Isfahan, Mashad, Shiraz, Tehran, by MD-80), Kish Air (Tehran, by MD-80).


Traditionally, Khuzestan province has been a major soccer hub in Iran. The city has two existing sport complexes: Takhti Stadium and a newly constructed stadium Ghadir Stadium. There are several other smaller complexes for martial arts, swimming pools and gymnasiums. Also, a new privately owned stadium is currently under construction by Foolad F.C. in Ahvaz.


Football is a major part of the city's culture. The numerous enthusiasm has made Ahvaz home to three Iranian major Football clubs: Foolad F.C., Esteghlal Khuzestan F.C. are currently playing in Iran Pro League, and Esteghlal Ahvaz F.C. is playing in Azadegan League.


Ahvaz has also two team in the Iranian Futsal Super League which are Sherkat Melli Haffari Iran FSC and Gaz Khozestan FSC.


Colleges and universities

Ahvaz is also known for its universities as well as its role in commerce and industry. Ahvaz institutes of higher learning include:

Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences

Petroleum University of Technology

Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz

Islamic Azad University Ahvaz Science and Research center   


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