West Azerbaijan Province is located at the end of the northwestern part of Iran, neighboring the provinces of East Azerbaijan, Zanjan, Kurdistan; and the countries of Iraq, Turkey and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. The nature, mountains, and the diverse topography has led to the creation of numerous lagoons, springs, lakes and caves.
With an area of about 37411 square meters, the province is the 12th largest province of Iran. It has 17 counties that Khoy, Bookan and Tekab are the most populated ones. It holds about four percent of Iran’s population, and the majority of its population are Azeri Turks. Beside the Turks, Kurds, Assyrians and Armenians also live in the province. Turks speak Azerbaijani Turkish, Kurds speak Kormanji Kurdish, Assyrians speak Assyrian and Armenian speak Armenian. The center of this province is the city of Urmia, an Assyrian term that means “the City of Water.”
The history of this area dates back to the time of the ruling of Medes Kings. At the time of the invasion of Macedonian Alexander, the place kept its integrity under the ruling of the brave commander of the time, Aturupat. It later came to be known as Aturpatkan after the commander’s name that was turned in the time to Azerbaijan. During the Safavid period, many bloody wars took place in this region between Iran and Ottoman, most notably the Chaldoran War. After the collapse of the Safavid dynasty, Azerbaijan fell to the hand of Ottomans for a while, and after World War I, the whole Iran came under the influence of Britain.
With Iran’s forced participation in World War II, the northern parts of Iran fell into the hands of the Soviet Union. Eventually, Iran had to take the problem of Azerbaijan to the United Nations where by the support of the organization, Russians evacuated Azerbaijan.
The beautiful nature and the rich history of West Azerbaijan annually attracts many tourists to the region. The Takht-e Soleyman (Solomon’s Throne), the Holy Virgin Mary Church (Chapel of Dzordzor), and Saint Thaddaeus Monastery are the attractions of the West Azerbaijan Province that have been registered in UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the title of Takht-e Soleyman and Armenian Monastic Ensembles. Nevertheless, the province has many other interesting attractions that are yet to be introduced to the world. The famous Ghotour Bridge is one of the largest railway bridges of the Middle East. It is part of the Iranian-Turkish railroad track and a tourist attraction of this province. Other attractions include the Lake Urmia that is the most important permanent lake of Iran, Ghasemlou Valley, Sirdaghi Mountains, Bastam Fortress and Hasanlu Historic Mound.
The beautiful nature and the rich history of West Azerbaijan annually attracts many tourists to the region. The Takht-e Soleyman (Solomon’s Throne), the Holy Virgin Mary Church (Chapel of Dzordzor), and Saint Thaddaeus Monastery are the attractions of the West Azerbaijan Province
The West Azerbaijan Province is also known for its Handicraft and Traditional arts, as well as its magnificent cuisine. The most skilled masters of delicate woodwork, chessboard and chess pieces, and Namad (Felt) clothes are found here in this province. Varieties of sweets, honey, Halva (a dense sweet desert and made with walnut, carrot, and flour), and natural extracts of grapes (may be mixed with walnuts, pistachios and almonds) are the main souvenirs of the West Azerbaijan. The dishes that locals call Gatkh-Shurbasi (Yogurt Stew) and Ghorout-Shurbasi (Kashk Stew) are the main local food of the region that are a good example of the style of cuisine in the region.