BANDAR-e ŠĀH (now Bandar-e Torkaman), a port on the southeastern Caspian Sea at the entrance of the Astarābād bay and about eight km south of the mouth of the Atrak. It was constructed from scratch during the 1930s at the terminus of the trans-Iranian railroad and consisted of a 200-meter-long jetty and a 12-kilometer-long channel. Four or five berths were provided for ships with displacements of a thousand tons. In 1935-36, total exports amounted to 48,000 tons and imports to 2,000. By 1941, however, there was so much silt in the channel that regular dredging was abandoned. Though the port had a theoretical daily capacity of 200 tons, traffic for all of 1940 reached only 970 tons. The town of Bandar-e Šāh comprised port buildings and a few houses for employees. In 1941, the Russians deepened the channel to fourteen feet, and the port’s capacity increased to 1,200-1,500 tons a day. But with wartime activities over, and as the level of the Caspian Sea grew steadily lower and silt continued to accumulate, port traffic all but disappeared and did not revive despite development plans dating from the early 1970s. The port’s bay still served as a place for fishing sturgeon; however the real reason behind its prosperity and rapid growth was its position as a railhead and an outlet for the Turkestan steppes, where agriculture was burgeoning during the 1950s and 1960s. When the railroad was extended to Gorgān in 1961, Bandar-e Šāh lost some of its importance. In 1966, there were 13,081 inhabitants. Since the Islamic Revolution of 1357 Š./1978-79, the town has been known as Bandar-e Torkaman.



H. Kopp, “Städte im östlichen iranischen Kaspitiefland,” Erlanger Geographische Arbeiten 33, 1973, p. 151.

Naval Intelligence Division, Persia, Oxford, 1945, pp. 510-11.

P. Somerville-Large, Caviar Coast, London, 1968, pp. 36-37, 41-42.

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(X. De Planhol)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988

This article is available in print.
Vol. III, Fasc. 7, pp. 688-689