The province of Ardabil covers an area of 17,881 km2 and lies in the northwestern parts of Iran. It is surrounded by the Republic of Azerbaijan on the north, and the provinces of Zanjan on the south, Eastern Azerbaijan on the west and Gilan on the east. The capital of this province is the city of Ardebil and its other major cities are Bileh Savar, Geirmi, Khalkhal, Meshginshahr and Pars Abad.
In 1996, the population of Ardabil province was 1,168,011, most of whom were farmers. The major agricultural produce of this province are grains, potatoes, cereals and maize. Meat and dairy productions are amongst other activities of its people. The honey produced in the Ardebil province is one of the most delicious honeys anywhere in the world. The people of this province are also engaged in other industries such as rubber & leather making, and industries related to agriculture.
Ardabil province is one of the colder provinces of Iran. There are highlands in most parts of the province which reduce the temperature, especially in autumn and winter. Ardebil has a moderate climate in summer. Moghan plain lies in the northern parts of this province and is low in altitude. So, it has warm summers but is moderate during the other seasons.
The average annual rainfall in this region is about 500 mm. Khalkhal being mountainous, the temperature in this area is low and it has cold winters. The annual rainfall in Khalkhal is 400-450 mm. Meshginshahr in the central parts of the province has cold and long winters, and its average annual rainfall is 300 mm.
Because of high altitudes and severe cold, the temperature in most parts of this province is below 0°C during six months of the year. The temperature at higher altitudes falls at times to -30°C.
This city, the capital of Ardabil province, is 1,359 m above sea level, and lies at a distance of 588 km from Tehran. Ardabil city was also inhabited in Sassanid and Achaemenid eras. According to the Avesta (The holy book for Zorostians), Zoroaster the prophet was born near this river, and wrote the Avesta in Mount Sabalan. After the Moslem conquest of Iran (654-661), Ardebil was became the capital of Azerbaijan, but it was once again destroyed in the Mongol invasion.
Sheikh Safi-al-Din Ardabili changed Ardabil into a center for Sufis. Shah Esmail Safavid, one of his sons and the founder of the Safavid dynasty in Iran, chose Tabriz as his capital.
In 1803, Russian forces captured Ardabil and this domination continued for 27 years later. During these years, a large number of cultural and historic treasures were transferred from this city to Russian museums. Ardabil province was a part of East Azerbaijan till 1952, when it became an independent province.
Carpet weaving is the main handicraft of this province. Other major handicrafts are kilim, jajim and shawl weaving, and silver, inlaid, wood and metal works.