Khūzestān (Persian: خوزستان) is one of the 30 provinces of Iran. It is in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahwaz and covers an area of 63,238 km². Other major cities include Behbahan, Abadan, Andimeshk, Khorramshahr, Bandar Imam, Dezful, Shushtar, Omidiyeh, Izeh, Baq-e-Malek, Mah Shahr, Dasht-i Mishan/Dasht-e-Azadegan, Ramhormoz, Shadegan, Susa, Masjed Soleiman, Minoo Island and Hoveizeh.
Historically Khuzestan is what historians refer to as ancient Elam, whose capital was in Susa. The Achaemenid Old Persian term for Elam was Hujiyā, which is present in the modern name. Khuzistan, meaning the Land of the Khuzi" refers to the original inhabitants of this province, the "Susian" people (Old Persian "Huza" or Huja (as in the inscription at the tomb of King Darius I at Naqsh-e Rostam, (the Shushan of the Hebrew sources) where it is recorded as inscription as "Hauja" or "Huja"). This is in conformity with the same evolutionary process where the Old Persian changed the name Sindh into Hind /Hindustan. In Middle Persian the term evolves into "Khuz" and "Kuzi" The pre-Islamic Partho-Sassanid Inscriptions gives the name of the province as Khwuzestan.
The Persians settlers had by the 6th century BC, mixed with the native Elamite population. The assimilation, however, does not seem to have concluded until after the Islamic invasion of the 7th century, when the Muslim writers still mention "Khuzi" to be the primary language of the inhabitant of the province.
The seat of the province has for the most of its history been in the northern reaches of the land, first at Susa (Shush) and then at Shushtar. During a short spell in the Sasanian era, the capital of the province was moved to its geographical center, where the river town of Hormuz-Ardasher, founded over the foundation of the ancient Hoorpahir by Ardashir I, the founder of the Sassanid Dynasty in 3rd century AD. This town is now known as Ahwaz. However, later in the Sasanian time and throughout the Islamic era, the provincial seat returned and stayed at Shushter, until the late Qajar period. With the increase in the international sea commerce arriving on the shores of Khuzistan, Ahwaz became a more suitable location for the provincial capital. The River Karun is navigable all the way to Ahwaz (above which, it flows through rapids). The town was thus refurbished by the order of the Qajar king, Naser al-Din Shah and renamed after him, Nâseri. Shushtar quickly declined, while Ahwaz/Nâseri prospered to the present day.
Khouzi is referred to as people who make raw sugar from sugar cane fields of northern Sassanian planes up to Dez River side in Dezful. Khouzhestan has been the land of Khouzhies who used to cultivate sugar cane even to day in Haft Tepe.The name Khuzestan means "The Land of the Khuzi", refers to the original inhabitants of this province, the "Susian" people (Old Persian "Huza", Middle Persian "Khuzi" (the Shushan of the Hebrew sources) in the same evolutionary manner that Old Persian changed the name Sindh into Hind"). The name of the city of Ahwaz also has the same origin as the name Khuzestan., being an Arabic broken plural from the compound name, "Suq al-Ahwaz" (Market of the Huzis)--the medieval name of the town, that replaced the Sasanian Persian name of the pre-Islamic times.
The southern half of the province (south of the Ahwaz Ridge) was still known as "The Khudhi or The khooji" until the reign of the Safavid king Tahmasp I and the 16th century. By the 17th century, it had come to be known—at least to the imperial Safavid chancery as Arabistan. The great history of Alamara-i Abbasi by Iskandar Beg Munshi, written during the reign of Shah Abbas I the Great, regularly refers to the southern half of the province as "Arabistan" and its ruler as the "wali of Arabistan," from whence Shah Abbas received troops. Some tribes from as far away as Yemen had settled the southern half of the province since the 7th century AD, giving rise to some of the most prominent Arab poets such as Abu Nuwas Ahwazi. They remain an integral part of Khuzistan up to now.
There has been many attempts at finding other sources for the name, none however being tenable.
The province of Khuzestan can be basically divided into two regions, the rolling hills and mountainous regions north of the Ahwaz Ridge, and the plains and marsh lands to its south. The area is irrigated by the Karoun, Karkheh, Jarahi and Maroun rivers. The northern section maintains a Persian (Lur, Bakhtiari, Khuzi) majority, while the southern section had an Arabic speaking majority until the great flood of job seekers from all over Iran inundated the oil and commerce centers on the coasts of the Persian Gulf since the 1940s. Presently, Khouzestan has several minority and ethnic groups of Lors-Bakhtiyaris-ghashghayee- Arabs and Persians from periods of history that arabs were not mentioned anywhere.
Khuzestan has great potentials for agricultural expansion, which is almost unrivaled by the country's other provinces. Large and permanent rivers flow over the entire territory contributing to the fertility of the land. Karun, Iran's most effluent river, 850 kilometers long, flows into the Persian Gulf through this province. The agricultural potential of most of these rivers, however, and particularly in their lower reaches, is hampered by the fact that their waters carry salt, the amount of which increases as the rivers flow away from the source mountains and hills. In case of the Karun, a single tributary river, Rud-i Shur ("Salty River") that flows into the Karun above Shushtar contributes most of the salt that the river carries. As such, the freshness of the Karun waters can be greatly enhanced if the Rud-i Shur could be diverted away from the Karun. The same applies to the Jarahi and Karkheh in their lower reaches. Only the Marun is exempt from this.
The climate of Khuzestan is generally hot and occasionally humid, particularly in the south, while winters are much more pleasant and dry. Summertime temperatures routinely exceed 50 degrees Celsius (record striking temperatures of over 60 degrees air temperature also occur with up to 90 degrees surface temperature) and in the winter it can drop below freezing, with occasional snowfall, all the way south to Ahwaz. Khuzestan province is known to master the hottest temperatures on record for a populated city anywhere in the world. Many sandstorms and duststorms are frequent with the arid and dessert style terrains.