Sistān o Balūchestān is one of the 30 provinces of Iran. It is in the southeast of the country, bordering Pakistan and Afghanistan and its capital is Zahedan, with a population of 420,000 inhabitants.
The province is the third largest in Iran, with an area of 181,600 kmē and a population of 3.1 million. The counties of the province are Iran Shahr, Chabahar, Khash, Zabol, Zahedan, Saravan, and Nik Shahr.
The region is also home to Iran's Balochi Sunni minority.
The province comprises of two sections, Sistan in the north and Baluchestan in the south. The combined Sistan & Baluchestan province today accounts for one of the driest regions of Iran with a slight increase in rainfall from east to west, and an obvious rise in humidity in the coastal regions. The province is subject to seasonal winds from different directions, the most important of which are, the 120-day wind of Sistan known as Levar, the Qousse wind, the seventh (Gav-kosh) wind, the Nambi or south wind, the Hooshak wind, the humid and seasonal winds of the Indian Ocean, the North or (Gurich) wind and the western (Gard) wind.
In the south and west of Sistān and Balūchestān, the people are mostly Balōchi and speak the Baluchi language. The name Balūchestān means "Land of the Balōchi" in Persian language. Similarly, the Persian language name Sistān comes from the Old Persian Sakastāna, meaning "Land of the Sakas".
The inhabitants of the province of Sistan Va Baluchestan continue to embrace their own norms and traditions, and the region has the potential to become one of the sight-seeing areas of Iran. The two most important tribes of the province are the Barahuie and Baluch tribes. Their means of livelihood, life-style, mode of dwelling, customs, traditions, and tribal paths all form a cultural background worth seeing.
Many scholars, orators, and literary personalities have sprung up from this part of Iran, amongst which are the reputed Farrokhi Sistani, Ya'qub bin Laith as-Saffar and Rostam. Ayatollah Sistani is also from Sistān; though he currently resides in Najaf, Iraq.
In the epigraphs of Bistoon and Persepolis, Sistan is mentioned as one of the eastern territories of Darius the Great. The name Sistan, as mentioned above, is derived from Saka (also sometimes Saga, or Sagastan), one of the Aryan tribes that had taken control over this area in the year 128 BCE. During the Arsacid Dynasty (248 BC to 224 CE), the province became the seat of Suren-Pahlav Clan. From the Sassanid period till the early Islamic period, Sistan flourished considerably.
During the reign of Ardashir I of Persia, Sistan came under the jurisdiction of the Sassanids, and in 644CE, the Arab Muslims gained control as the Persian empire was in its final moments of collapsing.
The famous Persian hero Ya'qub bin Laith as-Saffar, whose descendants dominated this area for many centuries, later became governor of this province. Dynasties such as the Saffarids, Samanids, Qaznavids, and Seljuqids, all ruled over this territory for periods as well. But the region witnessed particularly heavy damage during the Mongol assault.
In 1508 CE, Shah Ismail I of the Safavid dynasty conquered Sistan, and during the reign of Nadir Shah due to internal discrepancies, the region underwent turmoil onmce more.
The ancient name of Baluchestan was Moka and through the passage of time it changed to Mokran / Makran, which is now the southern sector of Baluchestan. This territory came to be known as Baluchestan from the time that the Baluch tribes settled here. According to the relics discovered in the hillocks of Baluchestan, the history of this region dates back to the 3000 BCE.
During the reign of the second caliph of Islam, this territory was conquered by the Arabs and an Arab commander was assigned as governor. In 916 CE, Baluchestan was liberated by the Daylamids and thereafter the Seljuqids, when it became a part of Kerman.
The province today is one of the most underdeveloped, desolate, and poorest of Iran's provinces. The government of Iran has been trying to reverse this situation by implementing new plans such as creating the Chabahar Free Trading Zone. Talks have also been underway for building automobile assembly plants in the zone as well.
Chābahār (Persian: چابهار), previously also Bandar Beheshti, is an Iranian city and a free port (Free Trade Zone) on the coast of the Gulf of Oman.
Chabahar is situated on the Makran Coast of the Sistan and Baluchestan province of Iran and is officially designated as a Free Trade and Industrial Zone by Iran's government. Due to its free trade zone status, the city has increased in significance in international trade. The overwhelming majority of the city's inhabitants are ethnic Baluchis speaking the Balochi language.
Chabahar is the closest and best access point of Iran to the Indian Ocean. For this reason, Chabahar is the focal point of Iran for development of the east of the country through expansion and enhancement of transit routes among countries situated in the nortehrn part of the Indian Ocean and Central Asia. The hope is that with the development of transit routes, and better security and transit services, the benefits will reach the area residents.