Geographical Position, Gilan Province
Covering an area of 13,952 square kilometers, Gilan province is located in the north of Iran, stretching between the Alborz and Talesh Mountain Ranges. According to the latest divisions of the country in the year 1996, the townships of the province are: Astara, Astaneh Ashrafieh, Bandar Anzali, Rasht, Roodbar, Roodsar, Somiehsara, Fooman, Lahijan, Langerood, Talesh and Shaft. Rasht is the provincial capital. Gilan province, shares borders with the provinces of Ardabil on the west, Mazandaran on the east, Zanjan to the south and the Caspian Sea and the Republic of Azarbayjan to the north.
In the year 1996, this province had a population of approximately 2.2 million, of which 46.8% were registered as urban dwellers and 53.2% as rural dwellers. Stretching from the east to west are the mountainous regions of Talesh, Masooleh, Poshtkooh as well as the Alborz Mountain Ranges, which itself is composed of western,central and eastern parts. The western Alborz surrounds the province like a wall, and its highest peak is called 'Fak' or 'Dolfak' meaning an eagle's nest. The plains of the province extend between the mountainous areas and the sea, reaching an altitude of 100 m. above sea level. These are divided into three main parts named as, Talesh, eastern and western Gilan.
Climate, Gilan Province
Gilan enjoys a climate known as 'moderate Caspian'. The same has emerged from the influence of currents of both the Alborz Mountains and the Caspian Sea. The Talesh Mountains being in a north to south direction, and the Alborz mountains in an east to west direction. These serve as a barrier against the humid north-west Caspian winds and withholds the penetration of wind bearing vapors towards Iran's mainland, causing heavy rainfall in the northern provinces of Iran. However, freezing temperatures are seldom reported in the coastal areas. The amount of rainfall in Gilan, depends on the winds bearing vapor that blow from the north west in winter, from the east in spring and from the west in summer and autumn.
These winds carry the vapor and humidity towards the plains causing heavy and prolonged rainfalls. In the year 1996, the average rainfall in Rasht was reported as 1015.4 mm. with 156 rainy and 20 frosty days. The average minimum and maximum temperatures were reported as 11 C and 20.9 C respectively.
History and Culture, Gilan Province
The history of Gilan is not very clear till the 6th century BC. or till the time that the Greek historians clarified some sections of Iranian history. But archaeological excavations show that the antiquity of the territory in the southern parts of the Caspian Sea dates back to the time prior to the last Ice Age, estimated around 50-150 millennium BC. Some historians believe that human civilization has emerged from the southern coasts of the Caspian Sea, extending westwards specially towards Mesopotamia.
Historical records of the Gilan civilization dates to several millennium BC. During this period, the 'Kasis' or the resident tribes of this region migrated to other areas for attaining better lands. Meanwhile, some groups of migrant tribes including Aryans migrated to this region due to climatic changes and the increase of frigidity in their territory. Due to the mingling of migrant tribes with the indigenous residents of the region, several new clans were formed, of which, the two tribes of 'Gill and 'Daylam' formed a majority. In the 6th century BC, the inhabitants of Gilan allied with Koorush (Cyrus) the Achaemenian and overthrew the Medes.
On the defeat of the Achaemenian Dynasty by Alexander the Macedonian, Iran came under their control. Thereafter, the Seleucidians took over the power. At that time, the local governors ruled independently. In the Sassanide era, Gilan lost its independence to some extent and Ardeshir Babakan overcame the local governors. During the Abbasid Caliphate, the Alavian (Shi'ites) who lived in the mountainous areas of Daylam, tried to severe the control of the Abbasid Caliphs from Iran. Consequently, the two united. Around the year 290 AH., the people of Gilan accepted the Shi'ite religion and tried to expand it. In this period some dynasties having Gilani and Daylami origins appeared on the historical scene in Iran.
One of the most dynasties as such was the 'Al Bouyeh', who even attacked Baqdad, the capital of the Abbasid Calipahte, and defeated the Abbasid Caliph. In the 7th century AH., the Mongols tried to conquer Gilan. But due to geographical conditions and lack of accessibility, they failed to get there till the early 8th century AH. Finally, Soltan Mohammad Khodabaneh or 'Oljaito' temporarily conquered this territory.
The Gilacks also payed an important role in the Constitutional Revolution in Iran. They conquered Tehran after two days of the attack of Mohammad Ali Shah in 1908 AD. Moreover, their contribution to the movement of ' Mirza Koochak Khan Jangali'or the 'Jungle Movement' and accounts as a glorious event in the history of this region.