Area: 43.660 km2
The Western Azerbaijan Province, where Lake Urmia is located, lies west of the Southern Azerbaijan Province. The Western Azerbaijan Province consists of 14 counties, namely Bukan, Khoy, Maku, Mahabad, Miyandoab, Naghade, Piranshehr, Chalderan, Oshnaviyeh, Salmas, Sardesht, Shahindej, Tekab and Urmia . The population of the province was 2.496.320 in 1996. 52-68% of the population reside in cities, 47-31% in villages, and the rest are nomads.
Western Azerbaijan has vast mountainous regions and in western parts there is a high mountain chain. These mountains are located between the Iraqi and Turkish borders. This high and snow covered mountain chain extends from the north to the south of the Western Azerbaijan province. For this reason, melting snows in warm months create floods.
The climate of the Western Azerbaijan province is under the influence of the showery winds of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean. Cold northern winds blow during winter months, it usually snows and weather conditions are quite harsh. The wide and high mountains, mild and fresh air, rising brooks, vineyards, vegetable gardens, oaks, slopes of mountains with beautiful flora, wild animals in their natural habitat of the Western Azerbaijan province and the shores of Lake Urmia with an atmosphere suitable for resting… All these constitute the beautiful and charming regions of the homeland of Azerbaijan. The Western Azerbaijan province, with its highly productive soil, is covered with wild tulips, narcissuses and lilies in spring and summertime. These territories, seashores and the lakes are the dwellings of several birds. The fresh air of high mountains and plateaus is very attractive and pleasant during spring and summer months. The people of Western Azerbaijan live on agriculture, stockbreeding, border trade and agricultural industry. Despite natural beauties and enormous soil potential, the level of income in this province is not cheering at all.
With its 140 km long shores, constituting a center of attraction for the fans of swimming, water sports and water skiing, beautiful shores and salty waters of Lake Urmia attract numerous people in summertime. Several minerals contained in the waters of Lake Urmia make the region one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world when it comes to spa therapy. People suffering from rheumatic and dermatological diseases are rushing in crowds to this region to make use of the curative waters and mud of this lake. Besides, there are tens of curative hot water springs in different parts of the province.
With its natural conditions and special topographic structure, the Western Azerbaijan province has several rivers, lakes, lowlands, plateaus, meadows, small lakes and a fruitful soil. In this beautiful landscape, both migratory and local animals dwell. Water birds, particularly flamingos, migrate to the ecosystem of Lake Urmia in Western Azerbaijan to spend winter and build their nests. The most prominent animals in Western Azerbaijan are gazelles, rabbits, bears, foxes, jackals, wild sheep, wild goats, deer, leopards and mountain lions. When it comes to birds, flamingos, pigeons, geese, ducks and quails are the most prominent ones. The biological diversity of the Western Azerbaijan province is taken into consideration on an international basis. For this reason, Lake Urmia has been declared National Park by UNESCO and taken under protection as a “Biosphere”
The natural regions in the Western Azerbaijan province which are under protection:
- Lake Urmia National Park: In a region of 4.810 hectares, it isunder protection with all its islands, shores, flora and fauna.
- Marakan Park and Grove: This magnificent natural valley is located at the south bank of Lake Araz and to the north of the city of Maku.
- Lake Agh Grove: It is located between Poldesht and Maku.
Western Azerbaijan has the necessary vehicles for transportation. Urmia International Airport provides transportation means for passengers coming from several places. The transit Iran-Turkey-Europe road and the railroad pass from the cities of Khoy and Maku, located in the northern parts of the province. The border city of Bazergan, located to the northwest of Southern Azerbaijan, has very important border trade markets, tourism possibilities and a customs organization. Poldasht, considered to be a small city, is located on the route of border trade with the Nakhjivan Autonomous Region to the north of the Western Azerbaijan province. There are several hotels and guesthouses all around the Western Azerbaijan province.