Kurdpedia

Kurdpedia: Kurds, Kurdistan and Kurdish Language


Kurdistan

Mountain and plateau region in southwest Asia near Mount Ararat, where the borders of Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan meet; area 193,000 sq km/74,600 sq mi; total population 25-30 million. It is the home of the Kurds and is the area over which Kurdish nationalists have traditionally fought to win sovereignty. It is also the name of a northwest Iranian province in the Zagros Mountains, covering 25,000 sq km/9,650 sq mi, population (2001 est) 1,465,000. The chief towns of the region are Kermanshah (capital of Kermanshahan province, west Iran, a major city of Iranian Kurdistan), Sanandaj (capital of Kurdistan Iranian province), and Ilam (capital of Ilam province)(Iran); Irbil, Sulaymaniyah, and Kirkuk (Iraq); Divarbakir, Erzurum, and Van (Turkey); and Qamishle (Syria). Kurdistan is almost a greenfield site. There has been so little investment for so long.

The climate of Kurdistan has two patterns; semiarid and summer-dry. The temperature in winter drops below -35° C whereas in summer rises as high as 45° C. For those who have never seen the spring of Kurdistan it is hard to imagine. The beauty is indescribable.

Kurdistan has various mineral resources. It is the richest country in the Middle East. The most important of all deposits is oil. In fact, the largest oil reserve in the Middle East is Kurdistan. The oil deposit of Kurdistan ranks the 6th in the world. The land is very rich in agricultural properties and it has water resources. In addition, it has gold, silver, magnesium, zinc, diamonds, iron, aluminum, coal, lead, copper and uranium.

Situated on the ancient Silk Road, on the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent, Kurdistan grew to be a prosperous area during the Middle Ages. Its steady decline began in the 16th century when sea traffic replaced the Silk Road. Today, despite being one of the poorest areas in the Middle East in terms of income per head, it holds rich oil reserves and is the source of much of the water that flows into Syria, Iraq, and west Iran. The two well known rivers of Euphrates and Tigris originated from the highlands of Kurdistan.

Despite the extreme climate, much of Kurdistan is fertile and has traditionally exported grain and livestock to Iranian, Iraqi, and Turkish cities. Nomadism has been drastically disrupted by ongoing tensions between the states with Kurdish minorities.

As a consequence of the policies of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and the Turkish military, some 5,000 villages in Kurdistan have been depopulated since 1980. Only in Iranian Kurdistan has traditional village life remained intact. The situation of Iranian Kurds is better than Kurds in Turkey and Iraq. Fore instance, the Turkey and Iraqi government try to change all Kurdish names and to destroy all villages replacing by Turks and Arabs. In contrast, three Province (Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and Ilam) of Iran are always Kurds.

In Turkey, the Kurds are concentrated in eleven provinces of the southeast, the same area that their ancestors inhabited when Xenophon mentioned the Kurds in the fifth century B.C. There also are isolated Kurdish villages in other parts of Turkey. Kurds have been migrating to Istanbul for centuries, and since 1960 they have migrated to almost all other urban centers as well. There are Kurdish neighborhoods, for example, in many of the gecekondus or shantytowns, which have grown up around large cities in western Turkey. Turkey's censuses do not list Kurds as a separate ethnic group. Consequently, there are no reliable data on their total numbers (For more information click here).

In Iraq, the Kurdish dialect of Kurmanji is divided into North Kurmanji (also called Bahdinani) and South Kurmanji (also called Sorani). South Kurmanji, or Sorani, is the language of a plurality of Kurds in Iraq. Major subdialects of South Kurmanji are Mukri, Ardalani, Garmiyani, Khushnow, Pizhdar, Warmawa, Kirmanshahi, and Arbili (or Sorani proper). Kurds in Iraq are the overwhelming majority in As Sulaymaniyah, Irbil, and Dahuk governorates. Although the government hotly denies it, the Kurds are almost certainly also a majority in the region around Kirkuk, Iraq's richest oil-producing area. Kurds are settled as far south as Khanaqin. Once mainly nomadic or seminomadic, Kurdish society was characterized by a combination of urban centers, villages, and pastoral tribes since at least the Ottoman period. By the nineteenth century, about 20 percent of Iraqi Kurds lived in historic Kurdish cities such as Kirkuk, As Sulaymaniyah, and Irbil. The migration to the cities, particularly of the young intelligentsia, helped develop Kurdish nationalism. Since the early 1960s, the urban Kurdish areas have grown rapidly. Kurdish migration--in addition to being part of the general trend of urban migration--was prompted by the escalating armed conflict with the central authorities in Baghdad, the destruction of villages and land by widespread bombing, and such natural disasters as a severe drought in the 1958-61 period. In addition to destroying traditional resources, the severe fighting has hindered the development of education, health, and other services (For more information click here).



Kurds

Member of a people living mostly in the Taurus and Zagros mountains of eastern Turkey, western Iran, and northern Iraq in the region called Kurdistan. The Kurds have suffered repression in several countries, most brutally in Iraq, where in 1991 more than 1 million were forced to flee their homes. They speak an Indo-Iranian language that has evolved from the northwestern branch of the Iranian languages and they are predominantly Sunni Muslims, although there are some Shiites in Iran.

The Kurds population is over 30 million. There are about 14 million in Turkey, 9 million in Iran, 6 million in Iraq, 1 million in Syria, and 500,000 in Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia. Several million live elsewhere in US and Europe (especially in Sweden). Although divided among several states, they have nationalist aspirations, and the growth of a pan-Kurdish movement has been helped by the recent move to towns (undertaken in search of work and to escape repression). About 1 million Kurds were made homeless and 25,000 killed as a result of chemical-weapon attacks by Iraq in 1984-89. A Kurdish parliament in exile was established in 1995 in The Hague, the Netherlands, by exiles from Iraq, Turkey, and Iran, where the Kurds suffer discriminatory legislation. The Kurdish communities of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia suffer few restrictions on the use of their language and culture.

The Kurds are a Middle Eastern, non-Arab minority that live mainly in a large mountain and plateau region in southwest Asia, including areas of eastern Turkey, northeastern Iraq, northwestern Iran, parts of Armenia and northeastern Syria, and Transcaucasia (Kurdistan). This region is called Kurdistan. The date of this division goes back to the end of the First World War, when the victorious Allied Power divided the vast domain of the Ottoman Empire Turks among themselves.

Traditionally nomadic herders, the people have been forced to adopt a seminomadic or sedentary lifestyle. The Kurds have historically had to resist incessant attempts to subjugate them to the authority of a particular country. Despite their lack of political cohesiveness, they have made a significant impact on the history of southwest Asia. The Kurds are the largest national group without a nation state.

21th March is the day that Kurdish (Persian) New Year begins. In Kurdish, New Year's day is called Newroz, which means a new day. Newroz (Nowrooz) is celebrated as a national holiday since 612 B.C. It is important to the Kurds not only because it is the beginning of their new year, but also because it marks the day that their national existence was first recognized. It was on this day in 612 B.C. that the ancestors of the Kurds united to resist and rebel against the leading great power at the time, the Assyrian empire and constitute confederation of Median principle. The victory against this empire resulted in liberation for the people of this region. This is the reason why the people of Kurdistan, Iran and Afghanistan all celebrate Newroz, but in their own different ways. Now, the 2607th years of the Kurdish have passed (For more information click here).

Nowrooz is the new year holiday in Iran, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, parts of India and among the Kurds. The word itself literally means "new day" in Persian, and the festival marks the beginning of the solar year and new year on the Iranian calendar, as well as among several other nationalities. It is a cultural and national festival (For more information click here).

Historically, culturally, and ethnically, Kurdistan is a part of Persia (Iran). Most of Kurdistan is now divided between Turkey, Iran and Iraq.

Before the emergence of Islam most of the Kurds (and Iranians) embraced Zoroastrianism and some were Christians and Jews. Today 75% of the Kurds are Sunni Muslims, 15% are Shia Muslims, 4% are atheists, 3% are kakis and 3% are Christians and others.

Kurdistan divides into two general socio-linguistic regions at the Greater Zab River near the Iraqi-Turkish border:

  • Northern Kurdistan is the Kurmanji-speaking region which mostly lies in Turkey (most of eastern Anatolia).
  • Southern Kurdistan is mostly Sorani-speaking and lies principally in Iraq (north) and Iran (northwest).


Kurdish Language

Kurdish is on of the modern Iranian languages. Kurdish is spoken by more than 30,000,000 people living in Kurdistan (Kurd Land). There are many dialects of Kurdish, the widely spoken West Iranian language. Three main dialect groups can be distinguished -northern, central, and southern. It is generally written in a variation of the Arabic script, though the Cyrillic alphabet has been introduced in the Soviet Union, though a Roman script exists in Iraq and Syria. For information about Kurdish alphabets, please see: Kurdish alphabets (Latin, Cyrillic and Arabic)

Kurdish is a member of the Indo-Iranian language group which is a branch of the Indo-European family, the largest language family in the world.
Kurdish (like Persian) is grouped under the Western Iranian branch of Indo-European languages. The Eastern branch of Iranian languages consists of languages such as Scythian and Avestan and more recently Pashto spoken by Afghans.

Kurdish has thirty-one consonant phonemes some of which have entered the language through borrowing from Arabic; and five long and four short vowel phonemes. Stem-final vowels are regularly stressed, but stress is somewhat complicated and predictable morphologically. No vowel sequences are permitted.

Unmarked or bare nouns can have "singular, generic, or indefinite plural meaning." Nouns are marked, usually by morphemes suffixed to the noun, for number and definiteness; nouns are not marked either for gender or case (while Kurmanji is). Adjectives similarly are marked by suffixes for number and degree (comparative or superlative). Pronouns are distinguished for number and person and exist independently or as suffixes; independent pronouns are used for emphasis.

The biggest group, as regards the number of people who speak it, is the northern Kurdish, commonly called "Kurmanjî", spoken by the Kurds living in Turkey, Syria, and by some of the Kurds living in Iran and Iraq. This language is also spoken by 200,000 Kurdophones settled around Kabul, in Afghanistan. The central group includes the Kurdish spoken in the north-east of Iraq, where it's called "Soranî" and the dialects of the neighbouring areas, beyond the Zagros, in Kurdistan of Iran. This group also gave birth to a literary language.

In addition, Kurdish and Persian are using Arabic alphabet, but they are completely different from Arabic language. For instance, there are four letters in Kurdish and Persian (G, P, Ch, Zh) which are not exist in Arabic. Moreover, the nouns have not gender (feminine or masculine) which are exist in Arabic and so on.

Kurdish Calendar

Calendar Name Today's TimeGregorian equivalent
Kurdish Calendar (since 612 BC, Median Empire)
2619/01/01
2007 March 21


Maps of Kurdistan


Related Web sites

  • The CIA in Kurdistan by Husayn Al-Kurdi
  • The Kurdish Drama: the Turkish crime of our century
  • Kurdistanica: Encyclopaedia of Kurdistan by Dilan Roshani
  • Kurdish Virtual Academy of Language (KVAL)
  • Kurdish Language Studies
  • Online English-Kurdish Dictionary by Peshraw Namo
  • Kurdish language: Classification and related languages
  • Kurdistan Web


  • Kurdish Media

  • Kurdish Media
  • Kurd Net
  • Kurdland
  • Google Directory of Kurdish Language


  • Kurdish Music

  • Kurdish Music I
  • Kurdish Music II
  • Kurdish Music III

  • The word Kurdpedia was coined by Alireza Noruzi. 
    Copyright © Alireza Noruzi. Created 23/07/2004 & Last modified 21/03/2007.

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