Khorasan, Or Khorassan, a N. E. province of Persia, between lat. 31° 30' and 38° 40' N., and lon. 52° 40' and 01° 20' E., bounded N. by Khiva, E. by Afghanistan, S. and W. by the Persian provinces of Kerman, Fars, Luristan, and Irak-Ajemi; area, 124,400 sq. m.; pop. estimated at 850,000. A large portion of the surface is covered by the great salt desert, called by the natives Kubir. The N. W. and N. E. districts are fertile, with numerous oases, mostly of small extent, but containing several populous towns. The Elburz mountains stretch along the north of the province, and throw off ramifications to the southward. The products of the cultivated districts are grain, cotton, hemp, tobacco, aromatic plants, and drugs, including asafoetida, manna, and gum tragacanth. The manufactures are silk, woollen, and goats1 hair stuffs, carpets, muskets, and sword blades. Meshed is the capital of the province, and the other chief towns are Yezd, Tabas or Tubus, and Nishapur. About 40 m. N. W. of Nisha-pur are famous turquoise mines.
Two thirds of the inhabitants are Persians, resident in towns, the remainder being nomadic Turkomans and Kurds. The prevalent religion is Mohammedanism of the sect of Ali. - The province comprises the ancient territories of Parthia, Mar-giana, and Aria. After its having formed part of the empire of Alexander the Great and of the Seleucidae, a portion of it was incorporated with Bactria. The Arsacides of Parthia, the Sassanides of Persia, and the caliphs ruled over the entire province. Its governor Taher revolted in 813, and he and his successors continued independent. The Suffarides regained possession of it, but lost it to the Samanides and their successors in power, the Ghuznevides. The Seljuks also occupied it for a while, losing it periodically to the people of Kharesm and Ghore, and finally Genghis Khan conquered it. About 1383 it fell into the hands of Tamerlane, and in the reign of his son it enjoyed great prosperity. After much suffering from the inroads of the Uzbecks, it was seized by Ismael, and has formed since 1510, with the exception of Herat, a province of Persia.