Where to Visit in Igdir

Igdir is the capital of Iğdır Province in the Eastern Anatolia Region of Turkey. The city of Iğdır sits on a plain at a lower altitude than most of Turkey’s eastern provinces. This allows agricultural production including apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, peaches,  pears, sugar beet, watermelons and melons. However, the most famous produce of Igdir are cotton and apricots. Iğdır’s culture is part of the larger culture of Turkey. The rising agricultural production and the opening of a border gate with  Nakhchivan in 1992 have enabled the town to be livelier and wealthier than its neighbours in the generally impoverished eastern Turkey. There are many cafes and restaurants. The best-known dish is a meat stew called bozbaş.

According to the Russian family lists accounts from 1886, of the total 71,066 inhabitants of the districts 34,351 were Azerbaijanis (48.3%, mentioned as ‘Tatars’ in the source), 22,096 Armenians (31.1%) and 14,619 Kurds (20.6%). According to the Russian Empire Census in 1897 Iğdır had a population of 4,680, of which 3,934 (84%) were Armenians, and 559 (12%) were Russians. The province is populated by Azerbaijanis and Kurds.

Iğdır, or Igdir, was taken by the Russian Empire from Persia after the latter’s defeat in the Russo-Persian War of 1826-1828. It was organized as part of the Armenian Oblast in 1828 and made a part of the Georgia-Imeretia Governorate in 1840, and then the Surmalu Uyezd of the Erivan Governorate in 1850. According to the Russian family lists accounts from 1886, of the total 30,647 inhabitants of the district 11,868 were Tatars (38.7%, later known as Azerbaijanis), 15,204 Armenians (49.6%) and 3,575 Kurds (11.7%). An 1894 publication counted 2,912 Armenians living in the town. Under Russian rule, two primary schools, one for boys and the other for girls, and three churches were opened and 100 Armenian families were allowed to move to Igdir. The town’s population rose to 10,000 in 1914 and largely busied itself with agriculture and commerce.

Following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the area came under the control of a temporary administrative committee created by the three main ethnic groups in the Caucasus. Though it attempted to negotiate a truce with the Ottoman Empire, Ottoman forces launched an eastward offensive and took Igdir on May 20, 1918. They occupied it until the signing of the Armistice of Mudros in November 1918. The Republic of Armenia then assumed control over Igdir. The Armenian population suffered heavily during the grueling winter of 1918–19, as famine, disease and the cold killed many,  In May 1919, its status was elevated to that of a city. Based on the boundaries drawn by US State Department in November 1920, Igdir was envisaged to become a part of the Republic of Armenia. However, in September 1920 the government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey led by Mustafa Kemal launched a war to eliminate the republic and overran Igdir.  Turkish General Kâzım Karabekir  commanded the armies but his forces were initially unable to take Igdir due to strong Armenian resistance.  However, within a few days, on October 20, 1920, the Turkish Army managed to drive the Armenian forces out of the city and went on to capture Gyumri. According to official Turkish documents, after their defeat in the Shahtahti area, Armenian forces abandoned Iğdır. They burned the Markara Bridge which spanned the Aras river and retreated to the northern bank on November 13, 1920. Turkey annexed the region of Iğdır after the conclusion of several peace treaties, and its territorial gains were mainly formalized under the 1921 Treaty of Kars. In the early years of the Republic of Turkey, Igdir, now Iğdır, was a district of the province of Bayazıt. It was made a part of the Kars Province in 1934 and remained part of it until it became the seat of the newly formed Igdir Province on 27 May 1992.

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