Ashuradeh: the Incidental Island

Ashuradeh: the Incidental IslandAshuradeh: the Incidental Island

Ashuradeh is the only Iranian island in the Caspian Sea. It is located on the eastern end of the Miankaleh peninsula, a narrow, long stretch of land in the extreme southeastern section of the Caspian, according to CHTN.

Ashuradeh is 3 km from Bandar Torkman and 23 km from Gorgan. The island can be reached via Bandar Torkman. Boats are the only means of transport to the island. The islanders speak Persian and Turkish.

Due to mild, moderate temperatures, it is a special place for eco-tourism in Golestan Province. Though located within the northern green strip, it has the ecosystem of drier regions. Due to continuous winds, the air never becomes too saturated to feel muggy.

  Flora and Fauna

The island’s soil is sand-based, which is fertile land for sour pomegranate trees to grow and raspberry bushes that provide shelter for the jackals. The sand dunes of the island are a result of the gusty winds and the clay-less soil. They are aligned with the east-west direction of the winds. The grassy cover of the ground prevents the sands from further spreading.

Historical documents speak of date palm, cotton, and sugarcane on the island, but now there are no agricultural plants other than the fruit trees in the courtyard of the old houses.

Since Ashuradeh is under environmental protection, it has a considerable wildlife population including breeding birds such as pheasants and black francolins, and migratory birds such as larus, black-winged stilts, Caspian terns, swans, ducks, Flamingos, Pelicans, and geese.


The island was initially connected to the mainland. As a result of the manmade Khozeini Canal, the strip that connected the island to the shore was severed and the connection with Miankaleh peninsula disrupted, thus making Ashuradeh an independent Island.

The Caspian Sea stretches a distance to the north of the island; there is a strait to the east called Tangeh-Chopoq-Oghli; to the west, Khozeini Canal divides the island from Miankaleh peninsula; and Gorgan Gulf lies south.


In historical documents, Ashuradeh was known as an archipelago containing three islands, but the two smaller islands on the eastern tip became gradually submerged.

Despite Iranian resistance, the island was occupied by Russian forces in 1837. The Russian army established a military post on the island and remained there for a few decades.

During the reign of Mohammad Shah, the Russians built a fort on the island, as well as commercial and residential buildings. At that time the island’s inhabitants were mainly Russian, but they eventually vacated following the collapse of the Tsar’s government.

Iranian occupancy of the Island began in the 1950s when the fisheries organization established facilities there. Ashuradeh housed about 300 families or 1,000 people before the sea level rose in 1993. Now only fishermen remain.


There are two historical buildings remaining on the island: the Russian fort and the erstwhile house of the Russian counselor.

Ashuradeh is one of the main areas for fishing sturgeon, the species that provides caviar. Over 40% of Iran’s caviar is produced near Ashuradeh Island. Tourists are often fascinated by the fishing process. The piers and fisheries are definitely worth a visit.

  Coming Changes

The lack of tourist facilities is one of the first things that draws visitors’ attention. This is perhaps why during his recent visit to Golestan Province, President Hassan Rouhani promised that Ashuradeh’s tourism infrastructure would be improved, with plans being developed to turn the island into a tourist hub.

The president said as Golestan enjoys many potentials for tourism, meetings and discussions are in full swing to make the Miankaleh peninsula a major tourist center. at the meetings, the Department of Environment (DoE) and Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) have been sharing views.

The head of ICHHTO Masud Soltanifar said the barriers for the development of Ashuradeh’s tourism industry have been removed after decades. Now a favorable ground exists for investment on tourism projects, and so Ashuradeh will soon be seeing better days.