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Contemporary Kurdistan's Map

Kurdistan's Map
This is the Kurdistan's Map which was drawn by the League of Nations in Paris after WW1 in 1924

The number of Kurds in the four parts of Kurdistan and within the borders of the four countries that have divided it up between themselves totals about 52 million. This makes the Kurds, one of the largest nation in the Near East or  Middle East, like Persians, Israelis, Arabs, turks, etc and if not more in case of population size.  Kurdistan, which has since time immemorial been inhabited by the Kurds, has a territory of 500,000 square km, which is as large as that of France (for this purpose I have published few maps below). In other words, the Kurds are not a minority in their country; they are the majority. The Kurdish question is not the problem of a minority of the population of this or that country; it is the question of a divided and illegally occupied country and an oppressed nation. Like all other nations, the Kurdistani too have the right to self-determination. The borders that divide Kurdistan are neither natural, economic, nor cultural borders. They are artificial borders that have been drawn against the will of the Kurdish people according to the interests of the forces that did the dividing and the balance of power. In many cases these borders have divided villages, towns, even families, and have had divisive and destructive effects on economic, social, and cultural life. The largest part of Kurdistan, which in terms of both its population and its territory makes up about one-half of the total, lies in the north inside the state borders of Turkey. This part amounts to one-third of the total territory of Turkey, and includes more than twenty provinces in the "eastern and northeastern regions". Other parts, according to their size, are eastern Kurdistan (within the borders of Iran), southern Kurdistan (within the borders of Iraq), and Southwestern Kurdistan  ( within the borders of Syria ). In all of these parts a large number of the inhabitants - between 85 and 95% - are Kurds. A certain proportion of the Kurds have lived since earlier times, or because of the migrations and refugee movements of recent times, in other regions and in the large cities of these countries. If we count these as well, then about 24 million Kurds live  in Northern Kurdistan [ Kurdistan ], 12 million in Eastern Kurdistan [ Iran ], 8 million in  Southern Kurdistan [ Iraq ], and 4 million in Western Kurdistan  [ Syria ].

Kurdistan Map in1938.
This Kurdistan Map was handed to the League of Nations in Geneva in1938, by the Kurdish delegation

Ancient kurdistan 1721
Historic map from 1721, showing borders of Curdistan ( Kurdistan ) provinces

Being the native inhabitants of their land. there are no "beginnings" for Kurdish history and people. Kurds and their history are the end products of thousands of years of continuous internal evolution and assimilation of new peoples and ideas introduced sporadically into their land. Genetically, Kurds are the descendants of all those who ever came to settle in Kurdistan, and not any one of them. A people such as the Guti, Kurti. Mede, Mard, Carduchi, Gordyene, Adianbene, Zila and Khaldi signify not the ancestor of the Kurds but only an ancestor.

Archaeological finds continue to document that some of mankind's earliest steps towards development of agnculture. domes- tication of many common farm animals (sheep, goats, hogs and dogs). record keep- ing (the token system), development of domestic technologies (weavmg, fired pot- tery making and glazing), metallurgy and urbanization took place in Kurdistan, dating back between 12,000 and 8.000 years ago.

The earliest evidence so far of a unified and distinct culture (and possibly, ethnicity) by people inhabiting the Kurdish moun- tains dates back to the Halaf culture of 8,000-7,400 years ago. This was followed by the spread of the Ubaidian culture, which was a foreign introduction from Mesopotamia. After about a millennium, its dominance was replaced by the Hurrian culture, which may or may not have been the Halafian people reasserting their domi- nance over their mountainous homeland. The Hurrian period lasted from 6,300 to about 2,600 years ago.

Much more is known of the Hurrians. They spoke a language of the Northeast Caucasian family of languages (or Alarodian), kin to modern Chechen and Lezgian. The Hurrians spread far and wide, dominating much territory outside their Zagros-Taurus mountain base. Their settlement of Anatolia was complete-all the way to the Aegean coasts. Like their Kurdish descendents, they however did not expand too far from the mountains. Their intrusions into the neighboring plains of Mesopotamia and the Iranian Pteau, there- fore, were primarily military annexations with little population settlement. Their economy was surprisingly integrated and focused, along with their political bonds, mainly running parallel with the Zagros- Taurus mountains, rather than radiating out to the lowlands, as was the case during the preceding (foreign) Ubaid cultural period. The mountain-plain economic exchanges remained secondary in importance, judging by the archaeological remains of goods and their origin.

The Hurrians-whose name survives now most prominently in the dialect and district of Hawraman/Awraman in Kurdistan- divided into many clans and subgroups, who set up city-states, kingdoms and empires known today after their respvi hective clan names. These included the Gutis, Kurti, Khadi, Mards, Mushku, Manna, Hatti, Mittanni, Urartu, and the Kassitis1es, to name just a few. All these were Hurrians, and together form the Hurrian phase of Kurdish history.

By about 4.000 years ago, the first van- guard of the Indo-European-speaking peoples were trickling into Kurdistan in limited numbers and settling there. These formed the aristocracy of the Mittani, Kassite, and Hittite kingdoms, while the common peopies there remained solidly Hurrian. By about 3,000 years ago, the trickle had turned into a flood, and Hurrian Kurdistan was fast becoming Indo-European Kurdistan. Far from having been wiped out, the Hurrian legacy, despite its linguistic eclipse, remains the single most important element of the Kurdish culture until today. It forms the substructure for every aspects of Kurdish existence, from their native reli- gion to their art, their social organization, women's status, and even the form of their militia warfare.

Medes, Scythians and Sagarthians are just the better-known clans of the Indo- European-speaking Aryans who settled in Kurdistan. By about 2,600 years ago, the Medes had already set up an empire that included all Kurdistan and vast territories far beyond. Medeans were followed by scores of other kingdoms and city-statesQall dom- inated by Aryan aristocracies and a populace that was becoming Indo-European, Kurdish speakers if not so already.

By the advent of the classical era in 300 BC. Kurds were already experiencing massive population movements that resulted in settlement and domination of many neighboring regions. Important Kurdish polities of this time were all byproducts of these movements. The Zelan Kurdish clan of Commagene (Adyaman area), for example, spread to establish in addition to the Zelanid dynasty of Commagene, the Zelanid kingdom of Cappadocia and the Zelanid empire of PontusQall in Anatolia. These became Roman vassals by the end of the Ist century BC. In the east the Kurdish kingdoms of Gordyene, Cortea, Media, Kirm, and Adiabene had, by the I st century B C, become confederate members of the Parthian Federation.

While all larger Kurdish Kingdoms of the west gradually lost their existence to the Romans, in the east they survived into the 3rd century A D and the advent of the Sasanian Persian empire. The last major Kurdish dynasty, the Kayosids, fell in AD 380. Smaller Kurdish principalities (called the Kotyar, "mountain administrators") however, preserved their autonomous existence into the 7th century and the coming of Islam.

Several socio-economic revolutions in the garb of religious movements emerged in Kurdistan at this time, many due to the exploitation by central governments, some due to natural disasters. These continued as underground movement into the Islamic era, bursting forth periodically to demand social reforms. The Mazdakite and Khurramite movements are best-known among these.

The eclipse of the Sasanian and Byzantine power by the Muslim caliphate, and its own subsequent weakening, permitted the Kurdish principalities and "mountain administrators" to set up new, independent states. The Shaddadids of the Caucasus and Armenia, the Rawadids of Azerbaijan, the Marwandis of eastern Anatolia; the Hasanwayhids, Fadhilwayhids, and Ayyarids of the central Zagros and the Shabankara of Fars and Kirman are some of the medieval Kurdish dynasties.

The Ayyubids stand out from these by the vastness of their domain. From their capital at Cairo they ruled territories of eastern Libya, Egypt, Yemen, western Arabia, Syria, the Holy Lands, Armenia and much of Kurdistan. As the custodians of Islam's holy cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, the Ayyubids were instrumental in the defeat and expulsion of the Crusaders from the Holy Land.

With the 12th and 13th centuries the Turkic nomads arrived in the area who in time politically dominated vast segments of the Middle East. Most independent Kurdish states succumbed to various Turkic kingdoms and empires. Kurdish principalities, however, survived and continued with their autonomous existence until the 17th century. Intermittently, these would rule independently when local empires weakened or collapsed.

The advent of the Safavid and Ottoman empires in the area and their division of Kurdistan into two uneven imperial dependencies was on a par with the practice of the preceding few centuries. Their introduction of artillery and scorched-earth policy into Kurdistan was a new, and devastating development.

In the course of the 16th to 18th centuries, vast portions of Kurdistan were systematically devastated and large numbers of Kurds were deported to far corners of the Safavid and Ottoman empires. The magnitude of death and destruction wrought on Kurdistan unified its people in their call to rid the land of these foreign vandals. The lasting mutual suffenng awakened in Kurds a community feelingQa nationalism, that called for a unified Kurdish state and fostering of Kurdish culture and language. Thus the historian Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi wrote the first pan-Kurdish history the Sharafnama in 1597, as Ahmad Khani composed the national epic of Mem-o-Zin in 1695, which called for a Kurdish state to fend for its people. Kurdish nationalism was born.

For one last time a large Kurdish kingdomQthe Zand, was born in 1750. Like the medieval Ayyubids, however, the Zands set up their capital and kingdom outside Kurdistan, and pursued no policies aimed at unification of the Kurdish nation. By 1867, the very last autonomous Kurdish principalities were being systematically eradicated by the Ottoman and Persian governments that ruled Kurdistan. They now ruled directly, via governors, all Kurdish provinces. The situation further deteriorated after the end of the WWI and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

The Treaty of Sevres (signed August 10, 1921) anticipated an independent Kurdish state to cover large portions of the former Ottoman Kurdistan. Unimpressed by the Kurds' many bloody uprisings for independence, France and Britain divided up Ottoman Kurdistan between Turkey, Syria and Iraq. The Treaty of Lausanne (signed June 24, 1923) formalized this division. Kurds of Persia/Iran, meanwhile, were kept where they were by Teheran.

Drawing of well-guarded state boundaries dividing Kurdistan has, since 1921, aMicted Kurdish society with such a degree of fragmentation, that its impact is tearing apar the Kurds' unity as a nation. The 1920s saw the setting up of Kurdish Autonomous Province (the "Red Kurdistan") in Soviet Azerbaijan. It was disbanded in 1929. In 1945, Kurds set up a Kurdish republic at Mahabad in the Sovie, occupied zone in Iran. It lasted one year, until it was reoccupied by the Iranian army.

Since 1970s, the Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed an official autonomous status in a portion of that state's Kurdistan. By the end of 1991, they had become all but independent from Iraq. By 1995, however, the Kurdish government in Arbil was at the verge of political suicide due to the outbreak of factional fighting between various Kurdish warlords.

Since 1987 the Kurds in TurkeyQby themselves constituting a majority of all KurdsQhave waged a war of national liberation against Ankara's 70 years of heavyhanded suppression of any vestige of the Kurdish identity and its rich and ancient culture. The massive uprising had by 1995 propelled Turkey into a state of civil war. The burgeoning and youthful Kurdish population in Turkey, is now demanding absolute equality with the Turkish component in that state, and failing that, full independence.

In the Caucasus, the fledgling Armenian Republic, in the course of 1992-94 wiped out the entire Kurdish community of the former "Red Kurdistan." Having ethnically "cleansed" it, Armenia has effectively annexed Red Kurdistan's temtory that forms the land bridge between the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia proper.

Click Here For Kurdistan History From Wikipedia (A Neutral account of Kurdistan History)

Kurdsitan Map
Kurdistan's Map

Kurds are speakers of Kurdish, a member of the northwestern subdivision of the Iranic branch of the Indo-Europian family of languages, which is akin to Persian, and by extension to other Europian languages. It is fundamentally different from Semetic Arabic and Altaic Turkish. Modern Kurdish divides into two major groups: 1) the Kurmanji group and, 2) the Dimili-Gurani group [ See below for more detials in the Map]. These are supplemented by scores of sub-dialects as well. The most popular vernacular is that of Kurmanji(or Kirmancha), spoken by about three-quarters of the Kurds today. Kurmanji divided into North Kurmanji(also called Bahdinani, with around 20 million speakers, primarily in central and  North Western Kurdistan and the former Soviet Union) and South Kurmanji(also called Sorani, with about 12 million speakers, primarily in South Eastern Kurdistan).

To the far north of Kurdistan along Kizil Irmak and Murat rivers in Turkey, Dimili(less accurately but more commonly known as Zaza) dialect is spoken by about 4 million Kurds. There are small pockets of this language spoken in various croners of Anatolia, northern Iraq, northern Iran and the Caucasus as well.

In the far Southern Kurdistan, ( Iraq and Iran ), the Gurani dialect is spoken by about 3 million Kurds. Gurani along with its two major subdivisions: Laki and Awramani, merit special attention for its wealth of sacred and secular literature stretching over a millennium.

The Kurds: A Concise Handbook by Mehrdad R. Izady (This information should not be considered as a 'fact'---The KIN).

In South and Eastern Kurdistan ( Iraq and Iran ) a modified version of the Perso-Arabic alphabet has been adapted to South Kurmani(Sorani). The Kurds of Northern( Turkey ) have recently embarked on an extensive campaign of publication in the North Kurmanji dialect of Kurmaji (Bahdinani) from their publishing houses in Europe. these employed a modified form of the Latin alphabet. The Kurds of the former Soviet Union first began writing Kurdish in the Armenian alphabet in the 1920s, followed by Latin in 1927 , then Cyrillic in 1945, and now in both Cyrilic and Latin. Gurani dialects continue to employ the Persian alphabet without any change. Dimili now uses the same modified Latin alphabet as North Kurmanji for print.


The Genealogy of Kurdish Language

Sources: The Kurds, A Concise Handbook, By Dr. Mehrdad R. Izady, Dep. of Near Easter Languages and Civilazation Harvard University, USA, 1992

Please note that the spelling system of the author which
conforms with the most common English rendition of Kurdish
names and terms has been fully maintained here.


Nearly three fifths of the Kurds, almost all Kurmanji-speakers, are today at least nominally Sunni Muslims of Shafiite rite. There are also some followers of mainstream Shiitem Islam among the Kurds, particularly in and around the cities of Kirmanshah, to Hamadan and Bijar in southern and eastern Kurdistan and the Khurasan. These Siite Kurds number around half a million. The overwhelming majority of Muslim Kurds are followers of one several mystic Sufi orders, most importantly the Bektashi order of the northwest Kurdistan, the Naqshbandi order in the west and north, Qadiri orders of east and central Kurdistan, and Nurbakhshi of the south.

Zerk rituals are held at the Pir-e Shahriyar's house, in a hall roughly as large as 5*10m located at the extreme of the house. A man holding a Takht-e Guiveh left from the Pir is sitting on a platform at the end of the hall so the people kiss it for blessing. Mam-Wasta (the village clergy) with his white turban, sits by the top platform. After all people gather, they play the Daf and start chanting the Zekr. [From Kurdistan by N. Kasraian, Z. Arshi, and K. Zabihi]

The rest of the Kurds are followers of several indigenous Kurdish faiths of great antiquit and originality, which are variations on and permutation of an ancient religion that can be reasonably but loosely labeled as Yardanism or the "Cult of Angels." The three surviving major divisions of this religion are Yezidism (in west and west-central Kurdistan, ca 2%of all Kurds), Yarsanism or the Ahl-i Haqq (in southern Kurdistan, ca 13% of all Kurds), and Alevism or Kizil Bash(in western Kurdistan and the Khurasan, ca 20%).

Minor communities of Kurdish Jews, Christians and Baha'is are found in various croners of Kurdistan. the ancient Jewish community has progressively emigrated to Israel, while the Christian community is merging their identity with that of the Assyrians.

The Big Mosque, Mosul-Kurdistan, where The Kurdish governer Imadadin Zengi ruled and The Great Salahaddin grew up

Eleventh Edition of  Encyclopedia Britannica 1910-
Extract from the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, published in England in 1910-1911

 Eleventh Edition of Britannica Encyclopedia 1910-
Extract from the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, published in England in 1910-1911

Eleventh Edition of Britannica Encyclopedia 1910-
Extract from the Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, published in England in 1910-1911

An extract from the Oxford English Dictionary
An extract from the Oxford English Dictionary

NORTHERN KURDISTAN  [Turkish occupied Kurdistan]

In  Northern Kurdistan almost 20 million Kurds are forbidden to use their own language or to describe themselves as Kurds or Kurdistani, on pain of imprisonment Kurds are officially known as "Mountain Turks". In the 1920s and 1930s Kurds rebelled against this discrimination, and the government suppressed them with great ferocity deporting thousands from their homeland. The continued stringent suppression of over 20 million people has resulted in the rise of a Marxist guerrilla group.

EASTERN KURDISTAN [ Iranian occupied Kurdistan ]

In Eastern Kurdistan the Kurds were similarly brought under control in the 1920s. In 1946 the Kurds of Mahabad succeeded in declaring an independent republic, but it only lasted a few months, and the authorities hanged the ringleaders. Tribal chiefs were allowed to register tribal lands as personal possessions and were welcomed into the Iranian ruling elite, in return for making sure their tribes obeyed the government. After the shia revolution the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) rebelled after demands for autonomy were refused by Tehran.

SOUTHERN  KURDISTN [ Kurdistan that is attached to Iraq]

There were numerous revolts against Baghdad, mainly by Mullah Mustafa Barzani, the famous leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iraq (KDP). From 1964 until 1975 Barzani was strong enough to maintain an intermittent state of war and peace negotiations. In 1974 the governing Ba'th party offered the Kurds autonomy, but the Kurds believed it lacked substance and they reverted to war, strongly supported and encouraged by Iran. But In 1975 the Shah of Iran, who had supported Barzani, signed the Agreement of Algiers with the Iraqi government and abandoned the Iraqi Kurds to their fate; as a result the Kurdish resistance virtually collapsed. In the years that followed, many of the achievements of 1970 were gradually whittled down by the Iraqi authorities. In view of the repeated brutal attacks on Kurdish civilians after the end of the Iran-Iraq war (e.g. Halabja, March 1988), and the forced resettlements of parts of the Kurdish population (1989), it seems unlikely that the atmosphere in Iraq will be conducive to worthwhile literary activities in the near future. At the time of writing, it is impossible to predict the effects of the 1991 Gulf War on the position of the Kurds of Iraq.
The successes of the Iraqi Kurds in the field of language and education have, however, enabled them to create an impressive literature and a fully adequate written language, and have produced a generation of Kurds whose primary and secondary education have been in Kurdish. Such achievements will undoubtedly help the Kurds of Iraq in their future efforts to preserve their cultural and ethnic identity.

WESTERN KURDISTAN  [Syrian occupied Kurdistan]

The Syrian  Ba'ath  Party  is not very different from the  Iraqi brutial regime of Saddam, in its suppression of kurds.  It  has a long history of terror and brutality against the Kurdish people. Syria has the worst and highest record of human right violation in the region particularly towards Kurds.  Many massacre and  genocide have been committed against Kurdistanis. The government did not only murdered the kurds, but  also have forbidden the Kurdish Language in education. In additton to all of those dirty crimes, it confiscated the kurdish land  and distributed it to the Arab settlers, the policy of Arabization is still being carried out until this moment by Syrain  regime.  


The number of Kurdistani who have fled from oppression in  the three part of occupied  Kurdistan [ Turkey, Syrian, Iranian occupied Kurdistan ]  to Europe comes to about 2.5 millions , This migration began in the late 60th and 70th mainly for political and economical reasons,


Because of migration and refugee movements, Kurdish communities have also been formed in North America and Australia. Although there has not been  any official statistic on kurdish population in these continents, but thier number are in hunderds of thousands. 

Kurdistan's map with Population Figures

Nationalist movements in Kurdistan 1880 to 1938

Provisions of Treaty Sevres for an Independent Kurdistan in 1920

Kurdish Independent Kingdoms and Principalities, Circa 1835

Petroleum Deposits and Facilities in Kurdsitan

Major Kurdish Political Parties in Kurdistan ,Circa 1998

Kurdish Dialects

Kurdistan Provinces
Principalities (Provinces)of Kurdistan before World War I 1905

Kurdistan Airlines
Kurdistan Airlines ( Firokeyeka Kurdistan )

Kurdistan Airlines Website

Kurdistan Airbus
Firokeyen Kurdistan ( Kurdistan Air )

Kurdish Poems Translated into English

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