Abu Musa


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Updated:Sunday 12th October 2014

Abu Musa Definition

The Persian Abu Musa Island in the eastern Persian Gulf is part of a six-island archipelago near the entrance of the Strait of Hormuz. The island is administered as part of the Iranian province of Hormozgan.Abu Musa's inhabitants call it "Gap-sabzu" which means "the great green place." On old maps, the island is called Bumuf or Bum-e Musa, Persian for "the land of Musa/Moses."As of 2010 the island had some 2,038 inhabitants making it Iran's smallest county. The city of Abu Musa had a population of 1,868 as of 2010.The ownership of Abu Musa is disputed between Iran and the UAE. British occupation of islands in the Persian Gulf, including what later became UAE in the 19th century ended in late 1960s when Britain had to abandon its naval presence beyond the Suez Canal. Britain illegally installed puppet Sheikhdoms such as Sharjah, one of the seven sheikdoms that would later form the UAE. After 1968 Iran moved to re-attach the island politically to the mainland and did so in November 1971. However Iran did not have enough military and political power to take back Bahrain and Emirates.In 1980, UK supported the UAE to take its claim to the United Nations. In the same year, Saddam Hussein of Iraq supported by both USA and USSR invaded Iran. The Iraqi dictator attempted to justify the Iraq-Iran war by claiming that one of his objectives was to take Abu Musa, Greater Tunb, and Lesser Tunb. In this manner he milked Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Persian Gulf Countries with astronomic amounts of money. Today the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf rely on US military while Iran is the only country with a strong naval presence in the Persian Gulf. The United States is walking on footsteps of its founding slave-traders, namely Britain seeking illicit resources to fund its expensive overseas operations. As a result, anti-American sentiments are very strong in the region especially among proud Iranians who also happen to be the only Middle East nation that do not accept foreign soldiers on their soil. (Wikipedia) - Abu Musa This article is about an island in the Persian Gulf. For other uses, see Abu Musa (disambiguation). Abu Musa Disputed island Other names: Persian: ابوموسی‎; Arabic: أبو موسى‎ Geography Location Coordinates Total islands Area Highest point Administered by Province Largest city Claimed by Demographics Population Ethnic groups
Abu Musa Island in the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
25°52′N 55°02′E / 25.867°N 55.033°E / 25.867; 55.033
12.8 km2 (4.9 sq mi)
Mount Halva 110 m (360 ft)
Abu Musa (1,953)
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2,131 (as of 2012)

Abu Musa (Persian: ابوموسی‎  listen (help·info); Arabic: أبو موسى‎) Island 12.8 square kilometres (4.9 sq mi) Iranian island in the eastern Persian Gulf near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz. Due to the depth of sea, oil tankers and big ships, have to pass between Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs; this makes these islands some of the most strategic points in the Persian Gulf. The island is administered by Iran as part of its province of Hormozgan, but is also claimed by the United Arab Emirates as a territory of the emirate of Sharjah.

  • 1 Name
  • 2 Geography
  • 3 History
  • 4 Demographics
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 Sources
  • 8 Further reading
  • 9 External links


Abu Musa''s inhabitants call it "Gap-sabzu" (Persian: گپ‌سبزو‎), which in Persian means "the great green place." On old maps, the island is called:

  • "Boum-Ouw" (Persian: بوم‌اوو‎) or "Boum-Ouf" (Persian: بوم‌اوف‎) which in Persian means "Waterland".
  • "Boum-Souz" (Persian: بوم‌سوز‎) or "Boum-Sou"/"Boum-Souw" (Persian: بوم‌سو‎) or "Gap-Sabzou" (Persian: گپ‌سبزو‎) which in Persian means "Green Land".

But in recent century it is also called Bum Musa, Persian for "the land of Musa/Moses" instead of "Boum-Sou".


Abu Musa island is located 75 kilometres (47 mi) south of Bandar Lengeh and 63 kilometres (39 mi) north-northwest of Sharjah. Out of 14 islands of Hormozgan it is the island farthest from the Iranian coast. Its highest point is the 110 metres (360 ft) Mount Halva. Abu Musa city is the center of the island. The weather in Abu Musa is warm and humid, although, compared to the place in the Persian Gulf, Abu Musa has a better climate and the most diverse ecosystem, but it lacks suitable soil and water for farming leaving fishing as the main industry for locals. It is one of the main ports for exporting oil from Iran.

HistoryAbu Musa and other islands in Iran and Turan Map by Adolf StielerA map from 1891 showing Abu Musa. Two dotted lines show telegraph cables.Sheik Saghar welcoming Iranian troops to Abu Musa while visiting Iran''s Artmis Navy Ship-1971

The sovereignty of Iran on Abu Musa has been disputed by UAE. The dispute between Iran and UAE started in 1974, three years after the latter''s establishment. The island had been under Persian control until the early 20th century. In 1906, Iran awarded a concession for the iron oxide deposits of Abu Musa to Wonckhaus, a German enterprise. However, the concession was canceled in 1907 because of British opposition, resulting in an international incident.

After 1908, the UK controlled the island along with the other British-held islands in the Persian Gulf, including what is today the UAE. In the late 1960s, Britain transferred administration of the island to the British-appointed Sharjah, one of the seven sheikdoms that would later form the UAE.

After Britain announced in 1968 that it would end its administrative and military positions in the Persian Gulf, Iran moved to reattach the island politically to the mainland. On November 30, 1971 (two days before the official establishment of UAE), Iran and Sharjah signed a Memorandum of Understanding. They agreed to allow Sharjah to have a local police station and Iran to station troops on the island according to the map attached to the Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement also divided the island''s energy resources between the two signatories. "By agreeing to the pact, the tiny emirate prevented an invasion by Iran, which two days earlier had taken two other disputed islands, Greater and Lesser Tunb, which were even smaller and uninhabited."

One day before the UK officially left the region, Iran stationed its troops on the island and was officially welcomed by the Sheik of Sharjah''s brother; Sheik Saghar.

The UAE took its sovereignty claim over Abu Musa and the two Tunb islands to the 9 December 1971 meeting of the United Nations Security Council. At that meeting, it was decided to "defer consideration of this matter to a later date". Iraq (Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr era), Kuwait, Algeria, South Yemen and Libya held the view that the territory rightfully belongs to the UAE. Since that time, the UAE has consistently called in public statements for either bilateral negotiations or by referring the issue to the International Court of Justice (or another form of international arbitration).

Saddam Hussein attempted to justify the Iran-Iraq War by claiming that one of the objectives was to "liberate" Abu Musa and Greater and Lesser Tunbs in the Persian Gulf. In 1992, Iran expelled foreign workers who operated the UAE-sponsored school, medical clinic, and power-generating station. The Island dispute has also caused serious friction between Ras al-Khaimah and Sharjah on one hand and some other emirates of the UAE on the other hand. Ras Al Khaimah advocates tough measures against Iran. Dubai, on the other hand, believes that the conflict is unnecessary. The present ruler of Dubai (who is also Vice President, Prime Minister and Defence Minister of the UAE), Sheikh Muhammad, has earlier stated publicly that "he believes the tensions over the islands have been fabricated by the United States".

In 2012 a visit to the island by Iranian president Ahmedinejad provoked a diplomatic incident. Iran''s historical claim to ownership over the islands roots back to the Parthian and Sassanid Empires, among others. Iran considers the island to have been occupied by the UK and refers to the agreement between Iran and emirate of Sharjah at 1971.


As of 2012, the island had about 2,131 inhabitants, making it Iran''s smallest county. The city of Abu Musa had 1,953 inhabitants in 2012, up 248 from 2006.

Most of residents of the island speak the "Bandari" dialect of Persian.

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