Today the number of the Turkish nobles in the Iranian population is not exactly known. The reason for this is the fact that Turks have spread all over the country called Iran, and at the same time there is no official census based on ethnic origin. We should also add that the censuses on the Turkish population in Iran are generally unreliable.

South Azerbaijani agencies claiming that there are unofficial and unapproved 35 or 40 million Turks on one hand and the lower figure (18 million) sent by the Iranian state to official circles and the UN on the other cause suspicion. Such contradictory figures point to the necessity for a census in order to reach the most accurate figure.

The surface area of Iran is 1,648,195 sq km; the population of Iran is 68,278,826 and the population rate is determined to be 0.83 % as of 2003. Over 90 languages, pronunciations, accents and dialects are spoken in Iran. However, Persian is declared to be the official language of Iran in line with the state policy. The language groups in Iran are divided into three main groups as those speaking Persian, those speaking Turkish and those speaking Semitic.

Persian, Turkish (Azerbaijan, Ghashghyi and Turkmen), Arabic, Kurdish, Lor, Lek, Beluchi, Gilek and Mazenderan as well as the languages of a number of small communities are spoken in Iran. Actually, Iran is divided into 11 ethnic regions:

1- Region of the Persians

2- Region of the Azerbaijani Turks

3- Region of the Lors

4- Region of the Leks

5- Region of the Kurds

6- Region of the Lars

7- Region of the Beluchis

8- Region of the Turkmen Turks

9- Region of Gilan

10- Region of Mazenderan

11- Region of the Arabs

In addition, again Turks are living in the majority of these regions.

Mazanderan is the region with the highest population, and the ethnic region of Beluchestan in the Southeast is the region with the lowest population.

Approximately 36 people/km2 live throughout Iran according to the figures of 1989. Meanwhile, the Turkish population is scattered in every region of Iran.

The Turks living on the Iranian territories are actually living in three regions. These regions are

1. the region of the Northwest Turks (South Azerbaijan)

2. the region of the Northeast Turks (South Turkmenistan and Horasan Turks)

3. the region of South and Central Turks of Iran.

Azerbaijan Turks are living on the territories starting at the borders of Turkey and North Azerbaijan and extending to the Iranian geography. The actual historical name of these territories is Azerbaijan. The region of South Azerbaijan starts at the borders of Turkey and North Azerbaijan and extends to the internal regions of Iran. This region covers an area of 170,000 km2. Compared to the other Turks, they are much more developed in Iran in terms of history and economy. This region basically involves the provinces of South Azerbaijan (Tabriz), West Azerbaijan (Urmiye), Erdebil (Erdebil), Zenjan (Zenjan), Hemedan (Hemedan), and Kazvin (Kazvin).

The majority of the Turks in Iran consist of Azerbaijani Turks. Azerbaijani Turks are concentrated in the northwest, center, south and northeast. In Iran, which is the second country after Turkey with the highest number of Turks; Azerbaijani Turks make up almost all the Turkish population after Turkmen, few Kazakhs and Halachs (Khalach).

South Azerbaijani Turks have emerged with the gathering and merge of various tribes and communities such as the former Turkish tribes like Afsar, Bayat, Baghdili, Bayindir, Ghepchagh, Khalach, Ak Ghoyunlu, Ghara Ghoyunlu, Rumlu, Ustacli, Tekeli, Shamli, Zolghadir, Varsak, Capani, Turgutlu, Ecirli, Kachar, Bayburtlu, Ispirli, Karagozlu and Burcali.

Most of the Halachs (Khalach) and Kipcaks (Ghepchagh), having historically lived in Azerbaijan, have been melted within the Oguz (Oghuz) Turks. However, the words and idioms remaining from their accents have led to the formation of various accents in the region. Today, the Turks speaking with the former Khalach dialect are generally made up of small groups consisting of 50-60 villages in towns such as Qum, Tefres and Selefcegan.

Most of the Turks living in South Azerbaijan are Muslims or Jafari Shiites. There are also Sunnis though few in number. Also a very few number of Bahayi, Christian, Zoroastrian and Jewish Turks and minorities are living in the region.

Turks, who wanted to work in places other than the center during 1954-1978 and the years following due to the land reform, socio-economic problems and unemployment, rushed into the business centers in the islands in the south of Iran, harbor cities, Mazenderan, and the region of Khorasan in the east of the country. The migration of this young and working population increased during Iran-Iraq wars.

Subsequently, the Turks in Iran, in more correct words, the South Azerbaijani Turks constitute the largest Turkish community after Turkey. However, this Turkish population is unfortunately undergoing a dangerous period in line with the centralist and assimilation policy prevailing in the country. This situation is more evident in the central, southern and internal parts of Iran. In the 21st century, the Turkish population in the country is experiencing a distortion in language day by day, being deprived of reading and writing in the mother tongue. The oppressive Persian nationalism is continuing the assimilation policy in the country by keeping all the educational mechanisms in their hands although they are few in number.

(Our South Azerbaijan)