The province of East Azerbaijan is one of the most populous and prosperous regions located in the northwest corner of Iran. The province, East Azerbaijan, is located be-tween the 45'.7" to 48'.20" east longitude and between the 36'.45" to 39'.26" north latitude. The province is located in the northwest of the Iran plateau, with an area of 45490.88 square kilometers (sq. km.). East Azerbaijan Province borders the Republic of Azerbaijan, The Republic of Armenia and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan in the north, the Province of Ardebil in the east, the province of West Azerbaijan in the west, and the provinces of Zanjan and West Azerbaijan in the south. According to the latest state geographical orderings in 2003, the East Azerbaijan Province has 19 urban areas, 42 towns, 55 cities, 142 rustic areas, and 3109 rustic settlements.
Due to the special geopolitical location and its ethnic background, the region Azerbaijan is a crucial area. The region Azerbaijan, because of its historical background and the geo-political significance, is divided into four provinces; including, West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan, Ardebil and Zanjan provinces. The long tradition of trading and commerce in the region has caused Azerbaijan, and Tabriz in particular, to play an important role in bridging the far east to the central Asia since the good days of the Silk Road and the trade of spices.
The land "Azerbaijan" is a mountainous region located on the connecting point of the two major mountain ranges in Iran; namely, Alborz and Zagros Mountain Ranges. The Alborz Mountain range has been extended all the way from Azerbaijan to Afghanistan passing through the southern part of the Caspian Sea. The Zagros range has covered a region from Azerbaijan to the west and southeast of the country. Thus, the two mountain ranges meet in Azerbaijan and make the land a mountainous one. The high Mountains, the rolling hills and the flat lands comprise the physical geography of Azerbaijan.
In terms of the divisions of the catchment basins, the basins of the rivers Aras, Sefidrud, Qizil Uzan and Lake Urmia cover the region, the Urmia Lake catchment covering most of the area. It is noteworthy that the catchment basins of Aras and Sefidrud belong to the Caspian Sea basin.
Azerbaijan is a mountainous region. The overall 40 % of it is covered by the mountains, 28.2 % by hills, and 31.8 % is flat terrain (plains and intermountain plains). The major mountains in Azerbaijan are the volcanic mass of Sabalan, the Sahand, Qara Dagh Moun-tain, Mishov, Takht Solomon and Arbat and the Bozghoush Mountain.
The province East Azerbaijan has many natural common features with the neighboring provinces; West Azerbaijan and Ardebil Provinces in particular. The Aras River (Araxes) flows in the north of the three provinces of West Azerbaijan, East Azerbaijan and Ardebil. The river indeed provides the life energy for the three provinces. The Urmia Lake and its catchment basin lie between the two provinces of West and East Azerbaijan. The rivers Sefidrud and Qizil Uzan with their catchment basins connect the three provinces of East Azerbaijan, Zanjan and Ardebil. The Sabalan Massif is located between the two provinces of Ardebil and East Azerbayjan and is crucial in the climate changes and water resources for both of the provinces.
East Azerbaijan has a 235 kilometer border line with the neighboring Republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the north. The province shares so many common interests and benefits with the neighboring countries and is considered a major region in determining some part of the foreign relations.
Geographical location of Tabriz
Tabriz, the capital city in the East Azerbaijan province is located at 46 degrees 25 minutes east longitude and 38 degrees 2 minutes north latitude from the Greenwhich Meridian. The city is located in the middle part of East Azerbaijan province and has a population of over 2 million people. The city covers an area of 2167 square kilometers. The city is con-nected to the other cities via roads; to the city Varzeqan in the north, Shabestar in the North-west, Herris in the Northeast, Bostanabad in the east, and Kandovan, Osku, Azarshahr and Maragheh in the south. However, Tabriz itself lies in a valley between the Einaly Mountain with 1800 m height from the sea level in the north and the rolling hills in the south. The nar-row land in the east stretches toward the open and flat fields in the west.
Climate and weather
The weather in the East Azerbaijan is generally cold and dry. Due to the topographical diversity of climates, the weather in Azerbaijan region is always shifting. The province has always been influenced by the cold winds from the north and moist winds from Siberia and the Black Sea. The Mediterranean and the Atlantic winds influence the climate in Azerbaijan region. The local winds are also affected by the natural condition of the province: the high mountains and the plains beneath the Caspian Sea and around Lake Urmia all affect the weather in Azerbaijan. However, the Azerbaijan land is often classified among the cold and the semi-arid areas in Iran. The mountains all over Azerbaijan as well as the humidity' of the torrents from of the Caspian Sea and the moist atmosphere around the Khodaffarin Water Dam affect the region and make the weather cold.
Tabriz has a cold climate with the moderate rainfall of 285 mm per year. The special low height from the sea level is a major factor for the long winters and mild summers.
Second to the Caspian Sea terrain, Azerbaijan is the highest moist region in Iran, and due to this fact some parts of Azerbaijan are covered with foliage, forests and greenery. However, contrary to the forests in the north part of Azerbaijan, the region has some lands with saltwort and camel-thorn bushes in the southern Ajabshir and Binab. Overall, the rolling hills and the volcanic mountains in Azerbaijan have sparse and thinner coverage of the plants and vegetation.
Licorice plants and goat's thorn, and locoweed often grow in the mountainous areas of Azerbaijan. Other common plants in Azerbaijan include spurge (or dog 's milk) which is a toxic and useless plant, mint, iris, crowfeet, reed, daisy, mustard and turf Gum tragacanth grows in the mountainous areas.
In addition to the plants, plenty of good millet family and other families of plants and trees are grown. The natural pastures and forests in the northern mountains of Arasbaran are the seasonal grazing fields of the nomadic tribes and the owners of the sheep cattle. Due to the sufficient rainfall in the Arasbaran region, the natural forests are some major attractions for the tourists and explorers. These forests mostly comprise coniferous trees, hornbeams and oak trees. Other tree species include ash, maple, elm, hazel, willow, cherry, wainut, fig, quince, apple, barberry shrubs and the other species. The open spaces in the forests are ap-propriate places for the animal husbandry. Honey-bees and the hi% es are very popular scenes in the forests of Arasbaran and all around Ardehil.