by Anastasia Maniglio
Last summer I’ve gone to Hormuz, an Iran’s island, and met some fishermen who helped me to discover it and its history.
Before going there, I seeked information on the internet, where I found the most interesting things to do in Iran.
The Strait of Hormuz, a sea loch 37 miles long and 19 wide that brushes against the southern coast of Iran, separates the Arabian Peninsula from Iran and divides the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman.
This channel, strategically important as it controls the oil traffic passing into and out of the Gulf, flows through Iran, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Once the prey of pirates, nowadays passage for 30% of the oil transported worldwide by sea (according to the latest data supplied by the American Energy Information Administration).
Commercial traffic is managed in accordance with agreements concluded in 1975 between Iran and Oman.
Pearl of the strait is the homonym island, a famous destination for travelers like Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, the Franciscan Odorico, Jean Aubin… The Greeks called it Organa and in the Islamic period it was known as Jarun.
The island is one of three districts of the province of Qeshm in Iran’s Hormozgan region, and is 5 miles far from the coast.
With its 5-6 miles in diameter, it has an overall extension of 26 square miles, while the higher point is located 0,12 miles above sea level. It is a territory predominantly hilly and arid, so drinking water comes from the mainland via an aqueduct, and native vegetation – almost nonexistent – has been replaced by mangroves Avicennia marine species. Covered by sedimentary rocks and layers of volcanic materials, the island almost knows no precipitation, then the land and the water is very salty.
I was walking among the stones of this island when I found five fishermen who started to tell me the history of that place…
The Jazireh-ye Hormuz was famous in the Middle Ages. During the attacks of the Mongols and the Turks in 1300, the capital and residence of the principality was moved from Old to New Hormuz, built on the island; once the conflict with Ilkhanid had concluded, the initial capital regained its role. In the 15th century it was visited by the Chinese fleet of Zheng He and in 1507 was captured by the Portuguese Alfonso de Albuquerque. From 1515 to 1622 it was part of the Portuguese Empire, who built a castle-fortress of red stone, on a promontory, in the western part of the island.
In 1622 the Anglo-Persian army took possession of Hormuz. Later, Shah Abbas I was wary of the local population and not interested in the island’s economic development, then devoted his attention to Bandar Abbas, the current capital of Hormuzgan region. Between 1798 and 1868 Hormuz saw the Omani administration, but it was inhabited only by fishermen, losing in importance. Only in the last years of the 20th century it returned to bloom again.
Currently, the most populated area of the island is the north, with the homonymous town of Hormuz: the latest official figures date back to 2006 and counted 5699 inhabitants. The economy is based on the sale of farmland to the surrounding Arab countries; another attraction is the Museum and Art Gallery of Dr. Ahmad Nadalian.
Ibn Battuta visited New Hormuz in 1331-32 and in 1347. He wrote: “Most of its salty water and salty hills are called ‘salt Darabi’; they produce handmade ornamental containers and pedestals with it, on which they set lighting.” And added: “Their diet consists of fish and dried dates exported from al-Basra and Oman. They say in their language: ‘Khurma va mahi luti padishdni’, that means ‘Dates and fish are a royal dish’. The water is an expensive good; there are sources and artificial tanks in which rainwater gathers. The residents go there with water bottles, which fill and carry on their back to the sea, load them on the boats, and lead to the city.”
Strait of Hormuz: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strait_of_Hormuz
Strait of Hormuz (map): http://www.worldatlas.com/aatlas/infopage/hormuz.htm
Strait of Hormuz – New York Times: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/strait-of-hormuz/index.html
Security in Strait of Hormuz: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/06/gulf-arab-security-coordination-hormuz-strait.html#
Hormuz island: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hormuz_Island