Zahedan, city in southeastern Iran, located near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan, the capital of Sistan and Baluchistan province at altitude of 1,352 m from sea level at a distance of 1,605 km from Tehran. Lying east of the "Kavir-e Loot" desert, Zahedan used to be called "Dozdab", as it was the meeting place of bandits. "Dozd" means robbers and bandits. "Ab" means water or a place of water. Bandits used to frequent the place for their drinking water. Zahedan is the main economic center of the region and home to many small- and medium-scale industries. Its main products include cotton textiles, woven and hand-knotted rugs, ceramics, processed foods, livestock feed, processed hides, milled rice, bricks, and reed mats and baskets. Highways link Zahedan to Tehran and Mashhad in the north, the port of Bandar Chabahar on the Arabian Sea in the south, and the Pakistani city of Quetta in the east. A rail line also runs from Zahedan to Quetta, and a rail line from Zahedan to Kerman in central Iran was being constructed in the mid-1990s. Zahedan is also served by an international airport. Like most Iranian cities, Zahedan has a Friday mosque, "Jame mosque", where many members of the community gather to worship on Friday. It also has a Sunni Mosque, "Makki Mosque", which is the greatest mosque of Sunnites in Iran with stuccos and decorations in Indian architecture method, a Sikh temple, and ruins of an old fortress. A colorful bazaar, "Rasouli Bazaar", patronized by the local Baluchi tribes can also be found in the city. About 100 km south of Zahedan is an intermittently active volcano, "Taftan", which rises abruptly 4,042 m from the surrounding plain. Although the surrounding area has some ancient sites, Zahedan has developed only in the 20th century. Before being chosen as the provincial administrative center in the 1930s, Zahedan was a small village. Its population reached 17,500 by 1956 and increased more than fivefold to 93,000 by 1976. After 1980 large numbers of refugees fleeing the invasion of Afghanistan by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) helped to triple the population of Zahedan to more than 281,000 by 1986, and now it has a population of 590,125 (2001 estimate).


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