Ormuz, Hormuz Island
Situated in the
Strait of Hormoz in
Persian Gulf, the island is 8 km off the coast of
Hormuz Island also spelled
Hormoz is an
Iranian island in the
Persian Gulf. It is located in the Strait of Hormoz and is part of the
Hormoz Island has an area of 42 km². It is covered by sedimentary rock and layers of volcanic material on its surface. The highest point of the island is about 186 meters above sea level. Due to a lack of precipitation, the soil and water are salty. Specialists have helped cultivar Hara trees to grow in the climate. Due to the lack of fresh water, Iranian engineers piped water from the mainland of Iran underground.
The island was known as Organa to the ancient Greeks and as Jarun among some Arabs. It acquired the name of Hormoz from the important harbor town of Hormoz on the mainland 60 km away which had been a center of a minor principality on both sides of the strait. Around the year of 1300 its ruler decided to shift his residence to the island in order to evade attacks by Mongolian and Turkish groups from the interior.
A new town was built on the northern tip of Hormoz Island which was called New Hormoz for a number of years to distinguish it from the old town on the mainland until this fell into ruins. Slowly the name of the new town came to be used for the island as well.
The extremely arid and during the summer months very hot island was not an ideal location for the capital of a principality as all provisions including water had to be brought from the mainland. Its location, however, gave it a degree of security which let it grow to be a major trading port for several centuries especially as its competitors suffered repeatedly from destructions through acts of war and plunder.
In the 15th century Hormoz was visited several times by a Chinese fleet led by Zheng He.
The island was conquered by the Portuguese explorer Afonso de
Albuquerque in the
Capture of Ormuz (1507) and became a part of the Portuguese Empire. There is a historic Portuguese fortress on Hormoz Island, the
Fort of Our Lady of the Conception. The island was then captured by a combined
Anglo-Persian force in 1622.
Shah Abbas I was not interested to maintain the island as a trading center and developed the nearby mainland port of
Bandar Abbas instead. The city went into decline. Many of its inhabitants spent part of the year at fields and orchards around the old Hormoz on the mainland, only fishermen being in permanent residence. The island continued to export small quantities of rock salt and lumps of iron oxide which were used as ballast stones for sailing ships.
After a period of Omani administration in the 19th century it remained just as a sparsely inhabited fishermen island and showed some development since the later years of the 20th century.