Region divided between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria dominated by Kurds, covering an area of about 200,000 km², and with an estimated 25 million inhabitants.
The main cities are in Turkey; Diyarbakir, Van and Bitlis; in Iraq: Mosul, Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah, in Iran: Kermanshah and in Syria: Qamishli and Hassake.
Despite Kurdish claims to establish their own state, this has not emerged. The closest to such are the short-lived Kurdistan Republic of Mahabad of the 1940's and the autonomous regions of northern Iraq (since early 1990's).
In especially Turkey and Syria, Kurdish struggle for independence has at many occasions caused clashes and fights with government troops. In Iraq and Iran, Kurdish culture and identity has mainly been respected by the state. Still, even in Iran there have been many clashes since the 1990's.
Kurdistan is a region of many cultures and religions, representing the most complex region in the Middle East. Lack of Western research into Kurdish cultures is one explanation to the confusion. The religions in the region are the following: Islam, Alevism, Ahl-e Haqq, Yazidism and Shabak.
951: Forming of the Kurdish principality of Shaddadid in the northern regions. It would last until 1174.
959: Forming of the Kurdish principality of Hasanwayhid in the eastern regions. It would last until 1015.
990: Forming of the Kurdish principality of Annazid in the eastern regions. It would last until 1116.
Forming of the Kurdish principality of Marwanid in the western regions, centred around Diyarbakir. It would last until 1096.
12th century: The oldest recorded use of the term Kurdistan, as the Seljuq sultan who formed a province of that name in the region of Hamadan (modern Iraq).
1920: In negotiations following World War 1, the Kurds are promised their own homeland. This is rejected by the Turks. Kurdistan is divided between Turkey and the British-controlled areas of the Middle East.
1946 January 24: The State of Republic of Kurdistan is proclaimed by the Kurdish Democratic Party in a ceremony in Saqqez. Delegates from the surrounding lands participate. Qazi Muhammad becomes president, while Mustafa Barzani becomes commander-in-chief.
December: Iranian troops march into Mahabad, and end the Kurdish rule over the region.