There are about one and a half million nomads in Iran, extending from the border of Turkistan to the warm waters of the Persian Gulf. Most of these tribes, the Kurds, the Lurs, the Bakhtiaris, the Guilaks (on the Caspian Coast) and the Baluchis are the original invaders who, in the first millennium BC, swept down from Central Asia and settled in various parts of the Iranian Plateau. Most of the tribes in central Iran are from pure Aryan stock, while other tribes such as the Arabs of Khuzestan and Khorassan, the Turkish tribes of Quchan, the Qashqai tribes, the Shahsevan and Afshar tribes of Azerbaijan and the Turkmens are remnants of races that have passed through Iran at various periods of history.
Traditionally, there has always existed a close link in Iran between the ruling dynasty and the domination of one particular tribe or ethnic group.
There are many divisions and sub-Divisions for each of the main tribes and tens of smaller tribes. With the expansion of education and better communications, the young generation of Iranian tribes has made great progress supplying very intelligent engineers, medical men, administrators, scientists and even women doctors to serve the country. Today there are over a hundred different tribes, each with its own dialect, picturesque dress, dwelling-place and chief. The most important tribes are as follows:
Originating in Khorassan, the northeastern province of Iran, they are scattered and live in the Mokran region far southeast of the country, a vast area from the Pakistan border to the Iranian deserts. Their language is pure Persian. Nowadays mainly settled in urban centers such as Zahedan, the Baluch tribes consist of many different smaller tribes, making their living out of camel herding and agriculture.
They are probably the most intact tribes of Iran, retaining their robustness, virility, and tall stature. They are mostly cultivators and shepherds and occupy the high grounds of Lurestan, south of Kurdestan, and Kermanshah provinces. The Lursare thought to be a division of the ancient Kurds, both tribes being considered true descendants of the Medes. The Mamasani Lurs dwelling in western mountains of Fars form one of the most important clans.
They descend from the Mongols who arrived in Iran very early on, in the 11th century AD, and are powerfully built, with high cheekbones and slanting eyes. They live in the northeast of the country, north of Khorassan and east of Mazandaran. They dwell on the vast flat lands of Turkmensahra, which is situated between the Caspian Coast and the southern mountains. today, they constitute the most active agriculturists and fishermen of the region, and unlike the other ethnic groups, they are Sunni.