South Khorasan is a province located in eastern Iran. Birjand is the center of the province.
Other cities are Sarayan, Nahbandan, and Sarbisheh.
South Khorasan is one the three provinces that was created after the division of Khorasan in 2004.
Greater Khorasan has witnessed the rise and fall of many dynasties and governments in its territory throughout history. Various tribes of the Arabs, Turks, Mongols, Turkmen and Afghans brought changes to the region time and time again.
Ancient geographers of Iran divided Iran («Iran-Shahr») into eight segments of which the most flourishing and largest was the territory of Greater Khorasan.
The famous Parthian empire was based near Marvin Khorasan for many years. However they did have many fortification and strongholds in Khorasan, such as the Nehbandan castle in south Khorasan province.
During the Sassanid dynasty the province was governed by an Espahbod (Lieutenant General) called «Padgoosban» and four margraves, each commander of one of the four parts of the province.
Khorasan was divided into four parts during the Islamic Conquest of Iran and each section was named after the four large cities such as Neyshabour, Marv, Herat and Balkh.
In the year 651 CE, the army of Islamic Arabs invaded Khorasan. The territory remained in the hands of the Abbasid clan until 820 CE, followed by the rule of the Iranian Taherid clan in the year 896 CE and the Samanid dynasty in 900 CE.
Sultan Mahmud Qaznavi conquered Khorasan in 994 CE and in the year 1037 CE Toqrol, the first of the Seljuqian rulers conquered Nayshabour.
Mahmud Qaznavi retaliated against the invaders several times, and finally the Qaznavi Turks defeated Sultan Sanjar. But there was more to come, as in 1157 CE Khorasan was conquered by the Khwarazmids and because of simultaneous attacks by the Mongols, Khorasan was annexed to the territories of the Mongol Ilkhanate.
In the 14th century, a flag of independence was hoisted by the Sarbedaran movement in Sabzvar, and in 1468 CE, Khorasan came into the hands of Amir Teimoor Goorkani (Tamerlane) and the city of Herat was declared as capital.
In 1507 CE, Khorasan was occupied by Uzbek tribes. After the death of Nadir Shah Afshar in 1747 CE, Khorasan was occupied by the Afghans.
During the Qajar period, Britain supported the Afghans to protect their east India Company. Herat was thus separated from Persia, and Naser-e-ddin Shah was unable to defeat the British to take back Herat. Finally, the Paris treaty was concluded in 1903 and Iran was compelled not to challenge the British for Herat and other parts of which are today Afghanistan.
Finally Khorasan was divided into two parts: the eastern part, which was the most densely populated region, came under British occupation, and the other western section remained part of Iran.
Khorasan was the largest province of Iran until it was divided to three provinces on September 29, 2004. The provinces approved by the parliament of Iran (on May 18, 2004) and the Council of Guardians (on May 29, 2004) were Razavi Khorasan, North Khorasan, and South Khorasan.
Today South Khorasan
The major ethnic groups in this region are the Persians, Khorasani Turks, Turkmens, Kurds, and Arabs. There is also a sizeable Afghan community in the province due to the influx of refugees coming from Afghanistan in recent years.
Khorasan is known for its famous rugs as well as its saffron which is produced in the southern cities of this province in particular.
South Khorasan has many historical and natural attractions, but besides these, south Khorasan encompasses various religious buildings and places of pilgrimage as well.
The cultural Heritage of Iran lists 1179 sites of historical and cultural significance in all three provinces of Khorasan. In the past, Birjand was a small part of a region which called «Ghahestan» and had an important role after Islam.
On the one hand, this region was a place of refuge for some movements like the Ismaili, and was the target of Arab refugees who escaped from the tyranny of the Abbasid Caliphate. On the other hand, some Zoroastrian vestiges have existed in the area.
Some of the popular attractions of south Khorasan are:
And 260 other sites of historical and cultural significance, as listed by Iran's cultural Heritage organization.
Colleges and universities: