Khuzestan Province is one of the 31 provinces in Iran. It is located in the southwest of the country, bordering with Iraq’s Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Other major cities in Khuzestan include Behbahan, Abadan, Andimeshk, Khorramshahr, Bandar Imam, Dezful, Shushtar, Omidiyeh, Izeh, Baq-e-Malek, Mah Shahr, Susangerd, Ramhormoz, Shadegan, Susa, Masjed Soleiman, Minoo Island and Hoveizeh.
Khuzestan is the major oil-producing region in Iran, and as such is one of the wealthiest provinces in Iran. Khuzestan ranks third among Iran’s provinces in GDP. Khuzestan is also home to the Arvand Free Trade Zone. It is one of the six economic Free Trade Zones in Iran, and the PETZONE (Petrochemical Special Economic Zone in Mahshahr).
Khuzestan is what historians refer to as ancient Elam, whose capital was in Susa. The province of Khuzestan is one of the centers of ancient civilization, based around Susa. The first large scale empire originated from here, was that of the powerful 4th millennium BC Elamites. The Achaemenid Old Persian term for Elam was Hujiyā, which is present in the modern name. Khuzestan, meaning “the Land of the Khuz” refers to the original inhabitants of this province, the “Susian” people (Old Persian “Huza” or Huja (as in the inscription at the tomb of Darius the Great at Naqsh-e Rostam. This is in conformity with the same evolutionary process where the Old Persian changed the name Sindh into Hind/Hindustan. In Middle Persian the term evolves into “Khuz” and “Kuzi”. The pre-Islamic Partho-Sassanid Inscriptions gives the name of the province as Khuzestan. As the most ancient Iranian province, it is often referred to as the “birthplace of the nation,” as this is where the history of the Persian Empire begins.
The province of Khuzestan can be basically divided in to two regions, the rolling hills and mountainous regions north of the Ahvaz Ridge, and the plains and marsh lands to its south.
Khuzestan 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 climate of Khuzestan 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 and in the winter it can drop below freezing.
The people of Khuzestan are predominantly Shiite, with small Sunni, Jewish, Christian and Mandean minorities. Khuzestan is also very well regarded for their hospitality and generosity.
Seafood is the most important part of Khuzestani cuisine, but many other dishes are also featured.
Iran National Heritage Organization lists 140 sites of historical and cultural significance in Khuzestan, reflecting the fact that the province was once the seat of Iran’s most ancient empire.
Some of the more popular sites of attraction include: Choqa Zanbil, Dezful, Shushtar and Susa.