Online Encyclopedia

ASTARABAD

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 791 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ASTARABAD, the capital of the province, is situated on the Astar, a small tributary of the Kara Su (Black river), which flows into the Caspian Sea 20 M. W. of the city, and about 18 m. S. of the Gurgan river, in 36° 51' N. lat. and 54° 26' E. long. It is surrounded by a mud wall about 30 ft. in height and about 31 M. in circuit, but much of the enclosed space is occupied by gardens, n.ounds of refuse, and ruins. At one time of greater size, it was reduced by Nadir Shah within its present limits. Astarabad owes its origin to Yazid ibn Mohallab, who occupied the province early in the 8th century for Suleiman, the seventh of the Omayyad caliphs (715-717), and was destroyed by Timur (Tamerlane) in 1384. Jonas Hanway, the philanthropist (d. 1786), visited the place in 1744, and attempted to open a direct trade through it between Europe and central Asia. Owing to the noxious exhalations of the surrounding forests the town is so extremely unhealthy during the hot weather as to have acquired the title of the " Abode of the Plague." It has post and telegraph offices, and a population of about Io,000. Since 1890 the Turkomans who impeded trade by their perpetual raids have been kept more in check, and with the decrease of insecurity the commercial activity of Astarabad has increased considerably.
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