Kish Island is a 91.5-square-kilometer (35.3 sq mi) resort island in the Persian Gulf. It is part of the Hormozgan Province of Iran. Due to its free trade zone status it is touted as a consumer's paradise, with numerous malls, shopping centers, tourist attractions, and resort hotels.
It has an estimated population of 20,000 residents and about 1 million people visit the island annually. Kish Island was ranked among the world’s 10 most beautiful islands by The New York Times in 2010, and is the fourth most visited vacation destination in the Middle East after Dubai, U.A.E, and Sharm el-Sheikh. Foreign nationals wishing to enter Kish Free Zone from legal ports are not required to obtain visas prior to travel. Valid travel permits are stamped for 14 days by airport and Kish port police officials. Kish Island has been mentioned in history variously as Kamtina, Arakia, Arakata, and Ghiss. In 325 BC, Alexander the Great commissioned Nearchus to set off an expedition voyage into the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf. Nearchus's writings on Arakata is the first known mention of Kish Island in antiquity. When Marco Polo visited the Imperial court in China, he commented on the Emperor's wife's pearls, he was told that they were from Kish. In the 1970s the last Shah of Iran turned the island into a luxury resort for the international elite complete with a Grand Casino (now known as the Shayan International Hotel) and an airport designed to handle the Concorde.
After the Islamic Revolution, Kish Island became a duty-free shopping center. Kish island's strategic position served as a way station and link for the ancient Assyrian and Elamite civilizations when their primitive sailboats navigated from Susa through the Karoun river into the Persian Gulf and along the southern coastline passing Kish, Qeshm and Hormoz islands. Kish Island has a unique situation in the strategic Persian Gulf region amongst tens of large and small islands. This island is so beautiful and attractive that it has become known as the Pearl of the Persian Gulf since ancient times. Its calm coasts are covered with coral sands that shine in the sunlight, creating a unique and fascinating sight.
The clear coastal waters allow one to view several meters deep into the sea and watch the beautiful movement of the fish. Diverse plants and native trees, as well as a pleasant climate seven months a year are among the outstanding characteristics of the island. The island has attracted many tourists, travelers and writers throughout history due to these very characteristics. Among those who have written in praise of this island are Niarkhous, the Greek navy commander who traveled to Kish in 225 B.C., and wrote about its beautiful palm fields, Marco Polo, Ibn Batuta and Hamdullah Mostofi, as well as Ms. Fatemeh Al Ali the contemporary Kuwaiti writer who traveled to Kish in February 2002 and compared the island to a “gem on a king’s crown”.
Geography: Kish is located in the Persian Gulf 19 km from mainland Iran and has an area of around 91 km² with an outer boundary of 40 km and a nearly elliptical shape. Along Kish's coast are coral reefs and many other small islands. The Island is positioned along the 1359 km long Iranian coastline north of the Persian Gulf, at the first quarter from the Hormuz entrance to the Persian Gulf. Its longitudinal and latitudinal positions are 26.32N and 53.58E degrees.
The Island is 15.45 km long from west coast to the east coast (the distance between Mariam Complex and Hoor field). Its maximum width extending from the southern shorelines to the northern shorelines is 7.5 km (the distance between Gomrok Port and the lighthouse). The island's surface is flat, lacking mountains or even high hills. Kish International Airport is built in the center on an elevated area 35-40 meters from the sea level.
Climate, Nature, and Geobotany: Kish, like the other Persian Gulf Islands, especially the islands in the Strait of Hormuz, is located on a narrow strip of tropical vegetation in the Northern Hemisphere, with the Persian plateau to the north and the Arabian Peninsula to the south. In addition to its special geographic and climatic attributes, Kish Island, like other nearby islands, such as Forur, Hendurabi, Shatuar and Lavan and even Qeshm, is under the sway of the semi-equatorial climate dominating this band of vegetation.
Weather: Since vital climates are influenced by the combined effects of rainfalls and humidity and are measured by the ratio of the size of annual rainfalls in millimeters to the degree of temperatures is less than 2 to 1. According to this measure, Kish's climate is considered to be a very dry semi equatorial climate. For an 8 years span of time, the median annual rainfall in Kish has been 145 mm (54% in winter, 28% autumn and 14% in summer) and the annual temperature 26.6 °C. The relative atmospheric humidity in Kish makes it like a sea island except in cold seasons. The humidity is about 60% most of the year.
In the months of October to April, Kish's weather is mild, ranging between 18 to 25 °C. The statistical data in the Kish free zone's archives show that the island's temperature varies form very hot to moderately hot, accompanied by relatively high humidity often interspersed by heavy rains of short durations in certain seasons. With the exception of some southeastern coastal areas and a few other islands in the Persian Gulf, Kish Island has the longest sunny hours in the region which is roughly 3100 hours a year. Based on climatological classification and general weather conditions and nearness to the Tropic of Cancer and exposure to high tropical pressure system and being in the midst of hot and shallow waters, the island tends to be hot and humid most of the year. Climate Temperature Kish has a warm and humid climate with an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius.
The weather is temperate and pleasant in fall, winter and two months into the spring. Humidity The humidity is high in the majority of the months of the year.
The humid season begins in mid April and continues for nine months. Rain Kish receives little and varying rainfall like in other parts of the Persian Gulf. The average annual rainfall in the island is 170 mm, 82 % of which falls in winter, 10 % in fall and the rest in spring and summer. The rain falls in the form of strong drizzle in spring and summer, and in small continuous drops in winter. People The native people of Kish are a combination of Iranians and Arab- Iranians of the country’s southern provinces, who had migrated to the island during its ancient times of prosperity. Thus they speak Persian and Arabic.
The complexion of the native people is dark and their physical characteristics are similar to those of the natives of the southern Iran. Based on the census carried out in 2001, Kish has a population of 16501 comprising 4454 households. The increase in population is the result of the migration of Iranians from all parts of the country who come to work or invest in Kish. This has created considerable job opportunities and encouraged more migration to the island. The island has a youthful population. Around 49.7% of the population is in the 25-64 age group, economically classified as active. The current population structure is a reflection of the inflow of job-seekers. With the ongoing development projects coming to fruition, the population structure is expected to normalize, approaching the patterns in other regions of the country.