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Asia > Middle East > Kurdistan


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Kurdistan is a region named after the Kurds in the Middle East, divided between Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Armenia. Since the 1970s, the Kurds are largely known in the West for being some of the staunchest allies of the United States, having assisted the U.S. military in its various wars in the Middle East.


  • Northern Kurdistan or Turkish Kurdistan — parts of Southeastern Anatolia and Eastern Anatolia in Turkey. The Kurdish population also spills across the border into Armenia, even though the Kurdish-majority part of Armenia is not usually considered a part of Kurdistan. The relationship between ethnic Armenians and Kurds is tense, due to the fact that the Kurds assisted in Ottoman Empire in committing the Armenian Genocide.
  • Western Kurdistan, Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava — as of 2017, the area is de facto autonomous from the other contestant forces in Syria. Rojava is consisted of two disjointed areas along the Turkish border in the northern Syrian Desert and Northwestern Syria, but its borders are very much in flux due to the ongoing war in Syria.
  • Southern Kurdistan or Iraqi Kurdistan — an autonomous part of Iraq. In a referendum held in September, 2017, an overwhelming majority of the voters opted for the independence of the region but this has not led to any moves so far.
  • Eastern Kurdistan or Iranian Kurdistan — parts of Iranian Azerbaijan and Western Iran (Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and Ilam Provinces)


Kurdish is an Indo-European language closely related to Persian and has three major dialects: Kurmanji or Northern Kurdish spoken mostly in Turkey and Syria, Sorani or Central Kurdish spoken in most of Iraqi Kurdistan and parts of Iranian Kurdistan, and Pehlewani or Southern Kurdish spoken mostly in Iran. These dialects are not immediately mutually intelligible with each other. The script of choice for written Kurdish also differs according to the country — the Roman alphabet is in use in Turkey and Syria while the Kurds of Iraq and Iran use the Arabic script.

Zaza or Zazaki is a related language spoken in parts of Eastern Anatolia in Turkey. While from a linguistic standpoint, Kurdish and Zaza are distinct languages, many native Zaza speakers identify with the Kurds.

Most of the locals are bilingual in the national language of the country they live in (Turkish, Arabic, and Persian). There are also minorities with different native languages in the region, such as Syriac.

Stay safe[edit]

Much of the region is prone to ethnic strife, political conflict or is a war zone: do your research well before attempting any visit.

This region article is an extra-hierarchical region, describing a region that does not fit into the hierarchy Wikivoyage uses to organise most articles. These extra articles usually provide only basic information and links to articles in the hierarchy. This article can be expanded if the information is specific to the page; otherwise new text should generally go in the appropriate region or city article.