Sablax (officialy Mahabad) is the capital City of Mahabad County, West Azerbaijan Province in northwestern Iran and lying south of Lake Urmia. The name Sablax (in Kurdish) is deriv

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Sablax (officialy Mahabad) is the capital City of Mahabad County, West Azerbaijan Province in northwestern Iran and lying south of Lake Urmia. The name Sablax (in Kurdish) is derived from Savoujbolagh which is a turkish word meaning cold spring.  This was the name of the town until 1936, when the town was named Mahabad by Rashid Yasemi from the Academy of Persian Language and Literature.


Mahabad is situated in a region that was the center of the Mannaeans, who flourished in 10th to 7th centuries BC and were neighbors of the empires of Assyria and Urartu. Mannaeans after suffering several defeats at the hands of both Scythians and Assyrians, the remnants of the Mannaean populace were absorbed by an Iranian people known as the Matieni and the area became known as Matiene. It was then annexed by the Medes in about 609 BC.


In the medieval period, the Kurdish dynasty of Hasanwâyhids (Hadhabani kurds) around 10th century was ruling the region. After destruction under the Mongols, Ilkhanate, and Timurid dynasty, the region was controlled by Kara Koyunlu (1375–1468) and Aq Qoyunlu (1378–1501)(both belonging to Turkish tribes). During regional conflicts between Kara Koyunlu and Aq Qoyunlu, the Mukri kurd tribe gained power in the fertile valleys of south of Lake Urmia. Murki kurds participated in several wars between Safavid dynasty and Ottoman Empire, and gained more predominance. In 17th century AD, Mahabad became the seat of Mukri principality (known as Murkriyān in Kurdish and Morkriyān in Farsi). Many believe Budaq Sultan Murki, who built Mahabad's Jameh Mosque is the founder of the current city.


For a short time in 1945 just after World War II by backing of the Soviet Union the area (including Piranshar, Nawada, Ushnaviya, Sardasht og Bukan) was declared independent on January 1 1946 under the leadership of Qazi Muhammad from the Qazi tribe, and again in 1978 during the Iranian Revolution, the region was controlled by the Kurdish people. It remains a center of Kurdish nationalism and is hotly debated.[i]

The region is quite well known for its historical past and therefore was of great interest for many archeological sites and excavations in Mahabad most known area are places such as Fakrigah Cave and Sahoolan cave.


People and Religion[ii]

With a 2013 population of about 147,000[iii] within an area of 2591 km2 most residents of the city are of Kurdish ethnicity and then Azeri’s with further minor minorities as Assyirans, Armenieans and Jews.  Religiously it is well divers; the city is predominantly Sunni Muslims where the majority of them are Kurds, but includes Shia Muslims and Armenian Christians and orthodox Jews, Yarsanis and Zoroastrians



It is an economically undeveloped city primarily resource of income is from agriculture and trading with neighboring countries primarily Iraq. The Climate is mountainous with cold winters, because of the regions high placement, and temperate summers. The river that flows through the capital is of great importance and main resources of electricity for the entire city and neighboring districts. 


In recent days, the city of Urmia, capital of west Azerbaijan, has a higher standard of living in comparison with the other cities of the province.  Many small villages Around Mahabad have running water and electricity, as well as telephone lines and road infrastructure most of which been done by the people themselves than governmental investment. Therefore most of the Southern cities of west Azerbaijan are considered poor economically and have always been the venue of Kurdish demonstrators against the Islamic regime.

West Azerbaijan Province is one of the most important provinces for Iran's agriculture.



[i] Mahabad. Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved on 2014-04-03.




[iii] City Population - West Azerbaijan. City Population. Retrieved on 2014-04-03.

Mahabad has a few cafes and fast food places near the university, including one called Cook Fast Food offering American-style hot dogs and hamburgers. Several other traditional restaurants exist throughou the city. Sahoolan Cave - This interesting geological formation consists of a water-filled cave with regular boat tours for visitors. It is located about halfway between Mahabad and Bookan, some 40 km. from Mahabad. The name is derived from the Kurdish word for ice, Sahol, which in fact dates back to the Mesozoic age, i.e. about 65 mio years ago. Here, visitors can enjoy the cave on a kayak tour.

Lake Urmia - The largest lake in the Middle East, Lake Urmia's salty waters attract many birds and animals, although its high salinity does not allow for fish. Most of the area around it is National Park. It's about a 30 mile drive from Mahabad.
There are a few hotels in Mahabad, but non currently offering online reservations.

The city of Mahabad is located in a thin mountain valley at an elevation of 4,272 feet, just south of Lake Urmia. Rood River runs through the middle of the city, with a dam just above the city to provide hydroelectricity.[i]

Mahabad has a continental climate with an average August high of 85°F and average January low of 29°F. Due to its elevation, it is not quite as hot as its more low-lying neighbors.[ii]

[i] Mahabad Rood River. Iran Tourism & Touring Online. Retrieved on 2014-04-03.

[ii] Average Weather Mahabad. World Weather Online. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
The closest airport is Sahand Airport in Bonab, about 60 miles away.

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