Urmia or Orumieh (Persian: ارومیه, Orumieh; during the majority of the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925–1979) called Persian: رضائیه, Rezaiyeh), (37°32′58″N 45°4′11″E) is the capital of the West Azerbaijan Province, a district and a city located in northwestern Iran.
It is situated on the western side of Lake Urmia near the Turkish border with population in 2006 around 577,307.
The name Urmia is thought to have come from Sumerian tongue, the earliest known civilization in the world located in southern Mesopotamia. Ur was a principle Sumerian city. Some believe the name is derived from Syriac.
Ur, meaning “cradle,” and mia, meaning “water.” Hence, Urmia, situated by a lake and surrounded by rivers, would be the cradle of water.
Urmia (Orumieh) city
Azerbaijanis and Kurds are the two main ethnic groups in the city (over 95%) followed by Assyrian and Armenian minorities.
The city has been home to various ethnic groups during its long history. For this reason, the demographics of the city have undergone numerous changes.
Some historical documents show that at the beginning of the 20th century, the city’s population had a significant Christian minority (Assyrians and Armenians).
According to Macuch, and Ishaya, the city was the spiritual capital of the Assyrians from 1830 to the end of World War I by the influence of four Christian missions. Some of the Assyrians and Armenians left the region in 1914 after battles between the Russian and Ottoman armies which led to a shift in the city’s demographics. During the era of Reza Shah Pahlavi, Iranian Assyrians were invited to return to the region and several thousand did return.
Urmia, according to some historians, is believed to be the birthplace of the prophet Zarathustra, the founder of Zoroastrianism.