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 Introduction

 

KHOUZESTAN is located in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahwaz, covers an area of 63,633 km² and has an estimated population of 4,400,000. There are 20 counties in the province including Ahwaz, Behbahan, Abadan, Andimeshk, Khorramshahr, Bandar Imam, Dezful, Shushtar, Omidiyeh, Izeh, Baq-e-Malek, Mah Shahr, Dasht-i Mishan/Dasht-e-Azadegan, Ramhormoz, Shadegan, Susa, Masjed Soleiman, Minoo Island and Hoveizeh.
Historically Khouzestan is what historians refer to as ancient Elam, whose capital was inSusa. The Achaemenid Old Persian term for Elam was Hujiya, which is present in the modern name. Khuzistan, meaning the Land of the Khuzi" refers to the original inhabitants of this province. This is in conformity with the same evolutionary process where the Old Persian changed the name Sindh into Hind /Hindustan, whence the Hellenized name of "India". In Middle Persian the term evolves into "Khuz" and "Kuzi" The pre-Islamic Partho-Sassanid Inscriptions gives the name of the province as Khwuzestan.
The central coordination province locates in 31.3273°N 48.6940°E.
Major rivers of the province are 'Karkheh', 'Karoon', 'Dez', 'Maroon' and 'Kheirabad'.
The Persians settlers had by the 6th century BC, mixed with the native Elamite population. The assimilation, however, does not seem to have concluded until after the Islamic invasion of the 7th century, when the Muslim writers still mention "Khuzi" to be the primary language of the inhabitant of the province.
During a short spell in the Sasanian era, the capital of the province was moved to its geographical center, where the river town of Hormuz-Ardasher, founded over the foundation of the ancient Hoorpahir by Ardashir I, the founder of the Sassanid Dynasty in 3rd century AD. This town is now known as Ahwaz. However, later in the Sasanian time and throughout the Islamic era, the provincial seat returned and stayed at Shushter, until the late Qajar period. With the increase in the international sea commerce arriving on the shores of Khuzistan, Ahwaz became a more suitable location for the provincial capital. The River Karun is navigable all the way to Ahwaz (above which, it flows through rapids). The town was thus refurbished by the order of the Qajar king, Naser al-Din Shah and renamed after him, Nâseri. Shushtar quickly declined, while Ahwaz/Naseri prospered to the present day.
The name of the city of Ahwaz also has the same origin as the name Khouzestan, being an Arabic broken plural from the compound name, "Suq al-Ahwaz ("Market of the Huzis) the medieval name of the town that replaced the Sasanian Persian name of the pre-Islamic times.
The southern half of the province (south of the Ahwaz Ridge) was still known as "The Khudhi or The khooji" until the reign of the Safavid kingTahmasp I and the 16th century. By the 17th century, it had come to be known--at least to the imperial Safavid chancery as Arabistan. The great history of Alamara-i Abbasi by Iskandar Beg Munshi, written during the reign of Shah Abbas I the Great, regularly refers to the southern half of the province as "Arabistan" and its ruler as the "wali of Arabistan," from whence Shah Abbas received troops. Some tribes from as far away as Yemen had settled the southern half of the province since the 7th century AD, giving rise to some of the most prominent Arab poets such as Abu Nuwas Ahwazi. They remain an integral part of Khuzistan up to now.
There have been many attempts at finding other sources for the name, none however being tenable.
The city of Ahvaz or Ahwaz is the capital of the Iranian province of Khouzestan. It is built on the banks of the Karun River and is situated in the middle of Khouzestan Province. The city has an average elevation of 20 meters above sea level. The city has an estimated population of 1,400,000.
The word Ahvaz is a Persian zed form of the local Ahwaz, which in turn it is derived from a Persian word. The Dehkhoda Dictionary specifically defines the Market of the Khuzis", where "Suq" is Persian word "chahar-suy/sugh" for market, and "Ahwaz" is a plural of the form of the word "Huz", or more precisely, the root "ha wa za" , which itself comes from the Persian Huz, from Achaemenid inscriptions from where the term first appears.

1.2. Geography and Climate

The province of Khouzestan can be basically divided into two regions, the rolling hills and mountainous regions north of the Ahwaz 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 until the great flood of job seekers from all over Iran inundated the oil and commerce centers on the coasts of the Persian Gulf since the 1940s. Presently, the Arabs are predominate only in the countryside of the southern section of the province that was, until the late 1920s known as Arabistan.
Khouzestan has great potentials for agricultural expansion, which is almost unrivaled by the country's other provinces. 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 agricultural potential of most of these rivers, however, and particularly in their lower reaches, is hampered by the fact that their waters carry salt, the amount of which increases as the rivers flow away from the source Mountains and hills. In case of the Karun, a single tributary river, Rud-i Shur "Salty River" that flows into the Karun above Shushtar contributes most of the salt that the river carries. As such, the freshness of the Karun waters can be greatly enhanced if the Rud-i Shur could be diverted away from the Karun. The same applies to the Jarahi and Karkheh in their lower reaches. Only the Marun is exempt from this.
The climate of Khouzestan is generally hot and occasionally humid, particularly in the south, while winters are much more pleasant and dry. Summertime temperatures routinely exceed 50 degrees Celsius (record striking temperatures of over 60 degrees air temperature also occur with up to 90 degrees surface temperature) and in the winter it can drop below freezing, with occasional snowfall, all the way south to Ahwaz. Khouzestan province is known to master the hottest temperatures on record for a populated city anywhere in the world. Many sandstorms and dust storms are frequent with the arid and dessert style terrains.
Ahvaz has long, hot summers and mild, short winters. Summertime temperatures routinely exceed 50 degrees Celsius; the maximum temperature in summer could soar up to 65 degrees Celsius with many sandstorms and dust storms common during the summer period while in winters the minimum temperature could fall around -5 degrees Celsius with snow also present.
The annual rainfall is 195 mm.

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