Ilam ( Persian: ایلام, Kurdish: ئیلام) is the capital of Ilam Province in western Iran. It is located in the west of Iran at a latitude of 33º 38´ north and longitude of 46º 26´ east. The Kabir Kuh mountain range lies east of the city. From the west it borders Iraq and had an estimated population of 168,478 in 2005 predominantly inhabited by Feyli Kurds.
Ilam is situated in the cold mountainous region of Iran at a height of 1319 m above the mean sea level. Although this city is surrounded by mountains, its climate is also affected by deserts from the west and the south. This region presents a highly variable annual weather profile. Heavy showers or heavy snow in the winter and dusty, hot, dry weather in the summer are normal for this region.
The name Ilam usually conjures up images of war, destruction and poverty. Ilam bore the brunt of the Iraqi attacks during the eight years of the Iran-Iraq war. But if you visit Ilam, what attracts your attention more than the scars of war and depravation is its unspoilt natural scenery and a profusion of historical remains which are scattered all over the province.
These were mostly built during the Sassanian era, third to seventh centuries A.D. They include the remnants of a vast historical city spread over 200 hectares, numerous fortresses of various size as well as several bridges, shrines and fire temples.
The splendid natural scenery of Ilam, located in the heart of Zagros Mountains, varies from imposing cliffs to slopes covered in a thick canopy of varied trees, as well as valleys, passes made through the mountain gaps, meadows, and grazing lands.
The majority of the population are nomadic tribes whose livelihood depends on rearing sheep. Whichever part of the province you cross and whatever route you take, there are always flocks of grazing sheep, with tribesmen in colourful clothes tending them.
Photo gallery by Farshid Samani