Rasht, the provincial capital is one of the important cities of this region. It is situated in the center of the province, 30 km. from the Caspian Sea. The climate of this area is humid and variable. Dominant air currents of the Caspian Sea blow westwards, and the annual precipitation is relatively high. The history of Rasht dates back to the pre-Islamic period, that is the Sassanide era. The independent governor of this region was called 'Gilanshah', before the attack of the Arabs to Iran. In the year 61 AH., after the Arab conquest in Iran, Rasht was mentioned in historical documents for the first time.
In the Safavid period, and specially in the reign of Shah Esmail, the territory of Gilan was composed of two parts of 'Biepas' with the centrality of Rasht, and 'Biehpish'with the centrality of Lahijan. In the reign of Shah Tahmasb Safavid I, the governorship of both sections was assigned to 'Khan Ahmad Gilani'. In the year 1045 AH., Stephen Razin, a Russian sailor plundered the city. The army of Peter the Great conquered the city in 1722 AD. and remained here till the year 1734 AD. This city was once again conquered by the Russians in 1917 simultaneously with the Socialistic Revolution.
In 1246 AH., due to the outbreak of plague, many people lost their lives. In 1937, a revolt broke out in the region in order to get road tax from the Russians, but the central government suppressed it. The people of Rasht played a very important role in the Constitutional Revolution. The Russian and British army as well as local rebels attacked the city of Rasht during World War I (1914-1918).
In 1920, Rasht became the arena of revolutionary activities again. When the Red Army conquered Baku in 1918, the naval forces of the White Army took asylum in the Port of Anzali, which was under control of the British army. The commander of the Red Navy persued them and conquered the port and the British retreated. This event encouraged the revolutionaries of Gilan to establish an anti-British government movement under the leadership of 'Mirza Koochak Khan Jangali'. British forces evacuated the city and went to Baqdad. Finally, the Iranian forces defeated the movement and a treaty was signed with Russia in 1339 AH. and they evacuated the city. Today, Rasht as the capital of Gilan province is the most important trade center between Caucasia, Russia and Iran and has considerable tourism facilities.