Kurdistan (Kurdish: کوردستان ,Kurdistan [ˌkʊɾdɪˈstɑːn] (listen); lit. “land of the Kurds”) or Greater Kurdistan is a roughly defined geo-cultural territory in Western Asia wherein the Kurds form a prominent majority population and the Kurdish culture, languages, and national identity have historically been based. Geographically, Kurdistan roughly encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges.
Kurdistan generally comprises the following four regions: southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), and northern Syria (Western Kurdistan). Some definitions also include parts of southern Transcaucasia. Certain Kurdish nationalist organizations seek to create an independent nation state consisting of some or all of these areas with a Kurdish majority, while others campaign for greater autonomy within the existing national boundaries.
Historically, the word “Kurdistan” is first attested in 11th century Seljuk chronicles. There were a large number of disparate Kurdish dynasties, emirates, principalities and chiefdoms established from the 8th to 19th centuries. Administratively, the 20th century saw the establishment of the short-lived areas of the Kurdish state (1918–1919), Kingdom of Kurdistan (1921–1924), Kurdistansky Uyezd i.e. “Red Kurdistan” (1923–1929), Republic of Ararat (1927–1930), and Republic of Mahabad (1946).
Iraqi Kurdistan first gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the Iraqi government, and its status was re-confirmed as the autonomous Kurdistan Region within the federal Iraqi republic in 2005. There is also a Kurdistan Province in Iran, but it is not self-ruled. Kurds fighting in the Syrian Civil War were able to take control of large sections of northern Syria and establish self-governing regions in an Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, where they call for autonomy in a federal Syria after the war.
According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Kurdistan covers about 190,000 km² (or 73,000 square miles), and its chief towns are Diyarbakır (Amed), Bitlis (Bedlîs) and Van (Wan) in Turkey, Erbil (Hewlêr) and Sulaymaniyah in Iraq, and Kermanshah (Kirmanşan), Sanandaj (Sine), Ilam and Mahabad (Mehabad) in Iran. According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Kurdistan covers around 190,000 km² (73,000 sq. mi.) in Turkey, 125,000 km² (48,000 sq. mi.) in Iran, 65,000 km² (25,000 sq. mi.) in Iraq, and 12,000 km² (5,000 sq. mi.) in Syria, with a total area of approximately 392,000 km² (151,000 sq. mi.).
Iraqi Kurdistan is divided into six governorates, three of which (and parts of others) are under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Iranian Kurdistan encompasses Kurdistan Province and the greater parts of West Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, and Īlām provinces. Syrian Kurdistan is located primarily in northern Syria, and covers the province of Al Hasakah and northern Raqqa Governorate, northern Aleppo Governorate and also Jabal al-Akrad (Mountain of the Kurds) region. The major cities in this region are Qamishli (Kurdish: Qamişlo) and Al Hasakah (Kurdish: Hasakah).
Turkish Kurdistan encompasses a large area of Eastern Anatolia Region and southeastern Anatolia of Turkey and it is home to an estimated 6 to 8 million Kurds. There are another 9 to 12 million Turkish citizens of Kurdish descent in predominantly Turkish regions of Turkey as the majority of Turkish Kurds no longer live in Southeastern Anatolia.