East Azerbaijan Province is the largest and most populated province of northwest Iran. It neighbors the provinces of West Azerbaijan, Ardebil, and Zanjan; and countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan. What specifies Iran’s border with the mentioned three neighboring country is the Arras River; in addition, this province is the intersection of two main mountain ranges of Iran, Zagros and Alborz with Sahand Summit being its highest point. East Azerbaijan is 45491 square meters, and in terms of its size, is the 11th largest province of Iran. It has 21 counties with Marand, Maragheh and Median being 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 history of the 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 during the invasion of Alexander, Azerbaijan became independent under the command of Aturatkan, but later it fell into the hands of the Parthians and the Sasanians. When Omar became the Caliph, Azerbaijan fell to the hands of the Muslims, and then, with Babak Khoramdin uprising, the influence of the Abbasid Caliphs in the region became dim. With the Mongol invasion and the arrival of Hulagu Khan, Azerbaijan was chosen as the center of the vast Mongol Empire. In the time of Safavid, Shah Ismail I chose Tabriz as the capital of Iran and later in the Qajar period, Tabriz became the ruling place of Qajar princes. Azerbaijan also played an important role in the Constitutional Revolution.
The history of the 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 during the invasion of Alexander, Azerbaijan became independent under the command of Aturatkan, but later it fell into the hands of the Parthians and the Sasanians.
This province has various types of climate due to its large area and high altitude; cities like Jolfa and Bostanabad have the lowest temperature. High altitude, closeness to the Caspian Sea, Lake Urmia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea makes the region cold and dry. The highlands of this region are snowy and suitable for winter sports, especially skiing. Due to its natural and historic 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 market and the church of St. Stephanos in Jolfa has been registered at the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Other popular destinations of the province includes, Tabriz Mosque, the remnants of the Maragheh Observatory and the Kandovan Village. The province is also rich in artistic and souvenir items like Tabriz Carpet that is one of the most famous carpets of the province, as well as in Iran. Among its other souvenirs, there is variety of nuts, as well as various types of pastries such as Noghah, Rees, Basluk, and Qurabiyah.
Beside Kebab, Kufteh is the most famous dish 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, 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 Bagherkhan 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.