What is Kurdistan?
Kurdistan is an extensive region in the Middle East that comprises of areas within Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria. The region is mainly inhabited by Kurds who are a community with Indo-European roots. The total area covered by the Kurdistan region is approximately 392,000 km² within these four countries. The earliest recorded official use of Kurdistan dates as far back as the 12th century when Sanjar who was a ruler of the Saljukid conquered the territory and established a province called Kurdistan.
Over the years the Kurds have agitated for separation of the region from the countries that they are currently part of in order to form their own independent state. This has in most cases been met with brutal reprisal especially when there have been attempts at armed revolt such as those that have taken place especially in the Turkish areas of Kurdistan. The Iraqi Kurds have however made the most significant progress in this direction as they have an autonomous Kurdistan region which is controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government though they remain a part of federal Iraq. Among the Kurdistan nationalists, there are those who seek to have the establishment of an independent state of Kurdistan while others prefer to have autonomy while remaining within the current national borders of the four countries.
The Kurdistan region is a very mountainous area with nine major mountains among which Mt Ararat and Mt Judi are the most prominent especially in Kurdish folklore. Due to the geography of the area the climate experienced in the region is mainly extreme continental with very hot summers and exceedingly cold winters. Most of the land is fertile and has very good grain crop and livestock production with significant volumes available for export. There are a good number of rivers and lakes in Kurdistan with many hydro electric projects setup on the bigger rivers in the region. These supply a good portion of the national electricity requirements in their respective countries. The lakes are a major tourist attraction and offer an amazingly beautiful contrast to the mountainous topography.
Similar to most other areas in the Middle East, Kurdistan has massive oil reserves with some estimating the region to hold more than 100 billion barrels of oil. The oil reserves in this area are among the worlds largest which is part of the reason why the respective governments are not willing to allow autonomy for the Kurdistan areas falling within their borders. The vast oil riches have however not benefitted the Kurdish people which has been one of their top reasons for wanting autonomy. If properly managed oil can greatly transform the lives of the people in the area whether within the current setting or in a Kurdistan state. Besides oil and gas, there are significant quantities of gold, iron, copper, coal, zinc, marble and limestone reserves. Kurdistan also has the world’s largest rock sulfur deposit. With such an abundance of natural resources, Kurdistan has the potential to be among the wealthiest places in the world.