The province of Gilan is 13,952 km2 (5,387 sq mi) in the north of Iran. lies just west of the province of Mazandaran, along the Caspian Sea. The center of the province is the city of Rasht. Other towns in the province include Astara, Astaneh-e Ashrafiyyeh, Rudsar, LangRud, Souma'eh Sara, Talesh, Fuman, Masouleh, and Lahijan. The main harbor port of the province is Bandar-e Anzali (previously Bandar-e Pahlavi).
Archaeological excavations reveal the antiquity of the province to date back to prior to the last Ice Age. In the 6th century BCE, the inhabitants of Gilan allied with Cyrus the Great and overthrew the Medes. The province then passed from the control of one dynasty to the next.
After World War I, Gilan came to be ruled independently of the central government of Tehran and concern arose that the province might permanently separate at some point. Prior to the war, Gilanis had played an important role in the Constitutional Revolution of Iran and had sent an armed brigade to Tehran which helped depose the Qajar ruler Mohammad Ali Shah.
The movement of Mirza Kouchak Khan Jangali in late 1910's, known as Jangalis (or the Constitutionalist movement of Gilan) is glorified in Iranian history, which had effectively secured Gilan and Mazandaran against foreign invasions. In 1920 British forces invaded Bandar-e Anzali, while being pursued by the Russian Bolsheviks. In the midst of this conflict between Britain and Russia, the Jangalis movement entered into an alliance with the Bolsheviks against the British. This resulted in the establishment of the Soviet Republic of Gilan, which lasted from June 1920 until September 1921.
Village of Masouleh, Gilan, Iran
In Februrary 1921 the Soviets withdrew their support for the Jangali government of Gilan, and signed the Soviet-Iranian Friendship Treaty with the central government of Tehran. The Jangalis continued to struggle against the central government for the rest of that year until their final defeat in September when control of Gilan returned to Tehran.
Gilan has a humid temperate climate with plenty of annual rainfall. The Alborz range provides further diversity to the land in addition to the Caspian coasts. Large parts of the province are mountainous, green and forested. The coastal plain along the Caspian Sea is similar to that of Mazandaran, mainly used for rice paddies.
The majority of the population speaks Gilaki, a Persian dialect, as their first language while many children, particularly in the cities, tend to use standard Persian amongst themselves.
This province is a popular destination for domestic tourists. The coast of Caspian Sea is one of the major holiday retreat; and of course the small village of Masouleh in the hills south-east of Rasht, where the roof of one house is the courtyard of the next house above, has a very magnetic attraction.
Rice Paddies, Gilan Province, Iran
Gilan has a strong culinary tradition, from which several dishes have come to be adopted across Iran, like Miza Ghasemi. This richness derives in part from the climate, which allows for a wide variety of fruit, vegetables and nuts grown in the province. Seafood is particularly a strong component of Gilani (and Mazandarani) cuisine. Iranian Caviar from this region is a delicacy that has been widely prized and served on millions of tables all over the world.
* HASC : Hierarchical Administrative Subdivision Codes * ISO : Codes from ISO 3166-2 * Dom : Province Domain codes