History: Some historians believe that this area pre-dates Mesopotamia, which is considered one of the earliest civilizations.
Some archaeologists believe that the West Azerbaijan province is actually the Garden of Eden because of its location in relation to the four rivers mentioned in Genesis.
530 B.C.- The rule of King Cyrus the Great ends (559-530 B.C.).
858 A.D.- Tabriz destroyed by a catastrophic earthquake.
13th century- The city of Rasht is first settled.
1500’s A.D- Provinces are sites of fierce fighting between Ottoman and Persian Empires. Between wars and natural disasters the area suffers great losses.
1826 A.D.- Russians invade and occupy Northwest Iran.
1918: Most of Orumieh's Armenian Christian population leaves the city. Most of the remainders were massacred by Ottoman troops.
1990 A.D.- A 7.7 earthquake rocks northwest Iran, killing over 50,000 people.
Languages: Farsi is spoken by almost everyone in the northwest. Also spoken are Azeri, Mazanderani, and Turkmen. Azeri and Turkmen are Turkic languages and can be understood by Turkish speakers with little difficulty. The Azeri language is so close to Turkish that the Azeri people are known as “Turks” in Iran.
Population: The population of the northwest provinces of Iran is about 17 million. Azeris, who mostly live in the northwest provinces, make up 25 percent of Iran’s total population. Tabriz, the area’s largest city has a population of 1.2 million.
Lifestyle: Over half of the people of northwest Iran live in the cities of the region. Even the city dwellers are forced to grow some produce. The rest of the people in northwest Iran either live in villages or in nomadic tribes. Most of the people work either in industry or agriculture. Many of the people of northwest Iran have become successful merchandisers in Iranian Bazaars.
The Bab, founder of the Babi Islamic sect, which evolved into the Baha’i religion, was executed along with 40,000 followers in 1850 in Tabriz. Baha’is are nonviolent and incorporate other beliefs into their own. The Baha’i of Iran suffer more religious persecution than any other religion in Iran.
These days, in spite of the spiritual variety in northwest Iran’s history, most everyone is a Shiite Muslim.
Status of Christianity: Northwest Iran still has fingerprints from Christian influences from Russia and Armenia. Evangelical Christianity, vastly different from the orthodox Christianity, is slowly gaining ground. Men and women are working to spread the Gospel among the Azeri, Gilaki, Mazanderani, Talesh, and Turkmen peoples of northwest Iran.
The Jesus film has been shown in the provinces. There are a few evangelical churches in the region. The New Testament, Christian literature, and God’s Story, have been translated into Azeri. Christian recordings, Bibles and radio broadcasts are also available in the northwest provinces. At least two missions agency are reaching out to the people of northwest Iran.