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Location of Khorasan within Iran (pre-2004)
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Khorasan (Persian: استان خراسان listen (help·info)) (also transcribed as Khurasan and Khorassan, also called Traxiane during Hellenistic and Parthian times) was a province in north eastern Iran, but historically referred to a much larger area east and north-east of the Persian Empire. The name Khorasan is Persian and means "where the sun arrives from." The name was given to the eastern province of Persia during the Sassanid Empire.
Khorasan was the largest province of Iran until it was divided into three provinces in September 2004:
- North Khorasan, center: Bojnourd, other counties: Shirvan, Esfarayen, Garmeh and Jajarm, and Maneh and Samalgan
- South Khorasan, center: Birjand, other counties: Ferdows, Qaen, Nehbandan, Sarayan, Sarbisheh and Darmian.
- Razavi Khorasan, center: Mashhad, other counties: Sabzevar, Neyshabour, Torbat-e-Heydariyeh, Quchan, Torbat-e Jam, Kashmar, Taybad, Gonabad, Dargaz, Sarakhs, Chenaran, Fariman, Khaf, Roshtkhar, Bardaskan, Kalat and Khalil Abad.
Some parts of the province were added to
The older Persian province of Khorasan included parts which are today in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Some of the main historical cities of Persia are located in the older Khorasan: Nishapur and Tus (now in Iran), Merv and Sanjan (now in Turkmenistan), Samarkand and Bukhara (both now in Uzbekistan), Herat and Balkh (now in Afghanistan), Khujand and Panjakent (now in Tajikistan). In its long history, Khorasan knew many conquerors and empires: Greeks, Arabs, Seljuk Turks, Safavids, Pashtuns and others.
The major ethnic groups in this region are minority Fars or Persians with few Kurdish tribesmen, Turks and Turkmen as the majorities. Most of the people in the region speak closely related modern day dialects of Persian. The largest cluster of settlements and cultivation stretches around the city of Meshed northwestward, containing the important towns of Quchan, Shirvan, and Bojnurd.
In August 1968 and September 1978, the region was the scene of two major earthquakes that left 12,000 and 25,000 people dead, respectively. A third major earthquake, the 1997 Qayen earthquake, took place on 10 May 1997 and left 1,567 dead, 2,300 injured, and 50,000 homeless.