South Khorasan province has a total area of 151193 square kilometers, located in eastern part of Iran. It is a part of Iran-Afghanistan international boundary and the third province of the country in terms of area. South Khorasan is one of the three provinces that were created after the division of Khorasan in 2004. It is the neighbor of Khorasan Razavi, Semnan, Isfahan, Yazd, Kerman and Sistan and Baluchistan provinces.
Birjand is the center of the province and it consists of 11 counties. The major ethnic groups in this region are the Persians who speak Persian with their local dialect. It is one of the arid areas of the country, but a small part of it enjoys mild temperature. In other regions, you see hot summers and cold winters. Lut Desert which covers a large area of the province is one of the warmest deserts of the world and has affected the temperature of the province greatly.
Qahestan or Quhistan was a region in grand Khorasan that stretched from south of Nishabur to Sistan and presently south Khorasan includes a great part of it. The history of Qahestan villages, probably, dates back to pre-Islamic historical eras. During the first conquests of the Muslims, Hephthalites ruled Qahestan, but when Umar became the Caliph, the Arab Muslims were successful in conquering it. Years later, a big uprising under the leadership of a person named Qarin started but the Arab commanders quelled it. Qahestan later became part of grand Khorasan with the centrality of Nishabur and Ismailism governors ruled it until the invasion of Mongol. By the arrival of Mongols, Qahestan was destroyed and never returned to its previous glory. In the next centuries, the region was ruled in a total chaos until in Qajar era, the independent rulers were suppressed and the region became part of the country again.
Unique nature, ancient, cultural and religious sites can be seen in all over the province. The impressive landscape of Lut Desert, waterfalls, Mineral springs, Saffron and barberry farms have made South Khorasan to an excellent place for tourists and nature lovers. The attractions of this province include Tabas Citadel, Mostofi House, Mansion of Boshruyeh Windcatcher, Nehbandan Watermill, Jameh Mosque of Qaen, and Madreseh Elmiyeh Oliya.
Lut Desert that a part of it is in the province, Akbariyeh Garden complex and Qanat Baladeh Ferdows are among attractions of this province that have been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.
Its handicrafts includes embroidery, Jajim weaving, Giveh making, felt making, Basket Weaving and pottery. The main souvenirs of province are saffron, barberry, jujube, pomegranate, black dried curd and Persian olive. The local foods are Abodardar Aash, Omaj Aash, Balgour Polow, Fenugreek Eshkeneh (a kind of Persian soup), Plum Abgoosht, and Saveri. Among the most notable figures of the province we can name Bozarjomher Qaeini (poet), Badi’ozzamān Foruzānfar) contemporary literary critique, linguist and culture expert).