East Azerbaijan Province is the largest and most populated province in northwest of Iran. It neighbors the provinces of West Azerbaijan, Ardabil and Zanjan as well as the countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan. What specifies Iran’s border with the mentioned three neighboring country is Aras River. In addition, this province is the intersection of two main mountain ranges of Iran i.e. Zagros and Alborz with Sahand Summit as the highest point of this intersection. East Azerbaijan is 45,491 square meters and in terms of size, it is the 11th largest province of Iran. It has 21 counties such as Marand, Maragheh and Mianeh as the most populated cities. It contains about five percent of Iran’s population with Tabriz as its center. The people living in this region speak Turkish with Azari Dialect.
The antiquity of East Azerbaijan province dates back to the pre-Islamic period and the time of the Medes when it was known as Little Medes. During the Achaemenid period and the invasion of Alexander, Azerbaijan became independent under the command of Atropatene, but later it fell into the hands of Parthians and Sasanians. When Omar became the Caliph, Azerbaijan fell into the hands of the Muslims and then with the uprising of Babak Khorramdin, the influence of the Abbasid Caliphs was faded away in the region. With the Mongol invasion and the arrival of Hulagu Khan, Azerbaijan was chosen as the center of the vast empire of the Mongol. During Safavid era, Shah Ismail I chose Tabriz as the capital of Iran and later in the Qajar period, Tabriz became a center of hosting Qajar princes. Azerbaijan also played an important role in the Constitutional Revolution.
This province has various types of climate due to its large area and high altitude. Cities like Mianeh and Jolfa have the highest temperature and Bostanabad the lowest temperature. The cold and dry weather, high altitude is because of its closeness to Caspian Sea, Lake Urmia, Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. The highlands of this region are snowy and suitable for winter sports, especially skiing.
Due to its natural and historical attractions, East Azerbaijan has become one of the most prestigious destinations in the country that attracts many foreign and domestic tourists every year.
The historical sites such as the Tabriz traditional bazaar and the church of St. Stepanos in Jolfa registered in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Tabriz Blue Mosque, the remnants of the Maragheh Observatory and Kandovan Village are among the tourist attractions of this province.
The province is also rich in handicrafts and souvenirs like Tabriz Carpet that is one of the most famous carpets of the province and Iran as well. Among its other souvenirs, there is variety of nuts as well as various types of pastries such as Nougat, Rees, Baslogh, and Qurabiya. Besides, Kebab and Kufteh are the most famous dishes of the region. Bonab Kebab which is a kebab made in the city of Bonab is so popular that has turned to a national food, it is served in most Iranian restaurants. Kufteh is usually homemade and not a food one commonly find in restaurants.
Prominent figures such as Sattar Khan and Baqir Khan who were among the leaders of Iran’s Constitutional Revolution are from East Azerbaijan. The province is also known for its literary figures like Gholam Hossein Sa’edi, Shahriar, Khaghani, Saeb Tabrizi, Parvin Etesami, Aref Murav, and Shams Tabrizi.