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Urmia is the second largest city in the north-west of Iran, is a city in and the capital of West Azerbaijan Province, Iran. Urmia is situated at an altitude of 1,330 m above sea level, and is located along the Shahar Chay river (City River) on the Urmia Plain. Lake Urmia, one of the world’s largest salt lakes, lies to the east of the city and the mountainous Turkish border area lies to the west.

Urmia is the 10th most populated city in Iran. At the 2012 census, its population was 667,499 with 197,749 households. The city’s inhabitants are predominantly Azeris, who live alongside minorities of Kurds, Assyrians, and Armenians. The city is the trading center for a fertile agricultural region where fruits (especially apples and grapes) and tobacco are grown.

An important town by the 9th century, Urmia was seized by the Seljuk Turks (1184), and later occupied a number of times by the Ottoman Turks. For centuries the city has had a diverse population which has at times included Muslims (Shias and Sunnis), Christians (Catholics, Protestants, Nestorians, and Orthodox), Jews, Bahá’ís and Sufis. Around 1900, Christians made up more than 40% of the city’s population, however, most of the Christians fled in 1918 as a result of the Persian Campaign during World War I and the Armenian and Assyrian Genocides.

The name Urmia originated in the Kingdom of Urartu. Urartian fortresses and artifacts found across Azerbaijan and into the Azerbaijan province of Iran denote an Urartian etymology. The city’s Armenian population also complements the idea of an Urartian origin. According to Vladimir Minorsky, there were villages in the Urmia plain as early as 2000 B.C., with their civilization under the influence of the Kingdom of Van. The excavations of the ancient ruins near Urmia led to the discovery of utensils that date to 2000 years B.C.. In ancient times, the west bank of Urmia Lake was called Gilzan, and in the ninth century B.C. an independent government ruled there, which later joined the Urartu or Mana empire; in the eighth century B.C., the area was a vassal of the Asuzh government until it joined the Median Empire after its formation. Richard Nelson Frye also suggested an Urartian origin for the name.

T. Burrow connected the origin of the name Urmia to Indo-Iranian urmi- “wave” and urmya- “undulating, wavy”, which is due to the local Assyrian folk etymology for the name which related “Mia” to Syriac meaning “water.” Hence Urmia simply means ‘Watertown” — a befitting name for a city situated by a lake and surrounded by rivers, would be the cradle of water. This also suggests, that the Assyrians referred to the Urartian influence in Urmia as ancestors of the inhabitants of the Sumerian city state Ur, referenced Biblically as “Ur of the Chaldees”. Further association of the Urmia/Urartian/Ur etymology from the Assyrian folk legend is the fact that the Urartian language is also referenced as the Chaldean language, a standardized simplification of Neo-Assyrian cuneiform, which originated from the accreditation to Urartian chief god Ḫaldi or Khaldi. Thus the root of Urmia is an Assyrian reference to the etymology of the Urartu/Ur Kingdoms and the Aramaic word “Mia” meaning water, which as T. Burrow noted, referenced the city that is situated by a lake and surrounded by rivers.

As of 1921, Urmia was also called, Urumia and Urmi. During the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925–1979), the city was called Rezaiyeh[nb 3] (Persian: رضائیه‎) after Rezā Shāh, the dynasty’s founder, whose name ultimately derives from the Islamic concept of rida via the Eighth Imam in Twelver Shia Islam, Ali al-Ridha.

According to historical documents, the western part of the Urmia Lake has been a center of attention of the prehistoric nations, 6 km (3.7 mi) southeast of the lake which competes with the oldest hills of Mesopotamia, Asia the Minor, and the Iranian Plateau.

Urmia was the birthplace of Zoroaster (also called Zarahustra).

The Columbia Encyclopedia mentions that Urmia was an important town in the region during the 9th century.

The Ottoman Turks made several incursions into the city, but the Safavids were soon able to regain control over the area. The first monarch of Iran’s Qajar dynasty, Agha Muhammad Khan, was crowned in Urmia in 1795.

Due to the presence of substantial Christian minority at the end of the 19th century, Urmia was also chosen as a site of the first American Christian mission in Iran in 1835. Another mission soon became operational in nearby Tabriz as well. During World War I the population was estimated as 30,000 by Dr. Caujole, a quarter of which (7,500) were Assyrians and 1,000 were Jews.

During the 19th century, the region became the center of a short lived Assyrian renaissance with many books and newspapers being published in Syriac. Urmia was also the seat of a Chaldean diocese.

At the beginning of the First World War tens of thousands of Assyrians and Armenians from Anatolia found refuge in Urmia. The city changed hands several times between Russians and Kurds the following two years. The influx of Christian refugees and their alliance with the Russians angered the Muslims who attacked the Christian quarter in February 1918, The better armed Assyrians managed however to capture the whole city following a brief battle. The region descended into chaos again after the assassination of the Assyrian patriarch Shimun XXI Benyamin at the hands of Simko Shikak one month later. Turkish armies and Samko managed to finally take and plunder the city in June/July 1918. Thousands of Assyrians were massacred as part of the Assyrian Genocide, others found refuge under British protection in Iraq.

According to official census of 2012, the population of Urmia city is about 667,499 (with 197,749 households).

The city has been home to various ethnic groups during its long history. The population of Urmia in the early Islamic period were Christian. At the beginning of the 20th century, the city’s population had a significant Christian minority (Assyrians and Armenians).[9] By 1900 the Christianity population of the town had grown to some 40-50 percent. According to Macuch, and Ishaya, the city was the spiritual capital of the Assyrians were influenced by four Christian missions which were established in the city from period from 1830 to the end of World War I. A large number of the Assyrians and Armenians were killed in 1914 as result of the Armenian and Assyrian Genocide which led to a shift in the city’s demographics. During the era of Reza Shah Pahlavi, Iranian Assyrians were invited to return to the region and several thousand did return. There are around 5,000 Assyrians left in the city, or around 1% of the population.

Until the Iran crisis of 1946 and the Establishment of the State of Israel in 1947 several thousand Jews also lived Urmia and their language (Lishán Didán) is still spoken by an aging community in Israel.

Today the population is mostly made up of Azerbaijanis[4][5][6][7] who live alongside Christians, Kurdish,[6][7] Assyrian[6][7] and Armenian[6][7] minorities.

Today the majority of the population can also speak the official language of Iran, Persian, in addition to their own native tongue.
The majority of people are followers of Shia Islam. There are also Catholic, Protestant, Nestorian, and Orthodox Christians.[citation needed] The city is also home to followers of Sunni Islam, followers of the Bahá’í Faith, followers of Judaism[citation needed] and followers of different kinds of Sufism.[citation needed]
Parks and touristic centers

Urmia has many parks and touristic costal villages in the shore of Urmia Lake. The oldest park in Urmia, called Park-e Saat, was established in the first Pahlavi’s era. Urmia’s largest park is Ellar Bagi Park (Azerbaijani “People`s Garden”) along the Shahar Chayi, or the “City River”.
Lakes and Ponds:
Urmia Lake Natural Park
Hasanloo Lake
Marmisho Lake
Shahrchay ِDam
Urmia Lake Islands
Haft Abad
Soole Dokel
Dana Boğan
Ali Pancesi
Isti Sou
Park-e Saat (Clock Park)
Park-e Jangali (Jungle Park)
Ellar Bagi (People`s Garden)
Park-e Shahr (City Park)
Park-e Saheli (Riverside Park)
Park-e Shaghayegh
Alghadir Park
Tokhmemorghi (Oval) Park
Ghaem Park

and ….
Touristic Costal Villages:
Landscape Attractions:
Ghasemloo Valley
Kazem Dashi Islet in Lake Urmia
Kashtiban Village
Imamzada Village
Silvana Region
Rashekan to Dash Aghol
Kaboodan Island
Urmia’s climate is cold semi-arid (Köppen: BSk) with cold winters, mild springs, hot dry summers and warm autumns. Precipitation is heavily concentrated in late autumn, winter, and especially spring, while summer precipitation is very scarce.

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Country Iran
Visa requirementsIran Visa Page
Languages spokenTurkish Azari And Farsi
Currency usedRial
Area (km2)37,059 km²

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