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Qishm

island, arab and persian

QISHM, styled by the Arabs as Jazirat-at-Tawilah or Long Island, the Oarakta of the ancients, the largest island in the Persian gulf, is situated in the Strait of Ormuz and separated from the mainland of Persia by Clarence strait, 2 to 15 m. in width. The island has an extreme length of 68 m. and average breadth of i o m. and is composed of table-topped hills rising to 56o ft. with one peak attaining 1,300 ft. The range on the south is largely composed of rock-salt, which is quarried at Namakdan and other places and forms one of the main products. In general aspect the island is parched and barren, but there are fertile patches of cultivation near the villages, producing grain, grapes, dates and melons. The climate is trying to Europeans from May to October.

The total population, mainly of Arab origin, is estimated at 15,00o. The chief town is Qishm (pop. 3,000) on the north-eastern point, a well-built Arab village which was partially destroyed by earthquake in 1898. It carries on a small coasting trade which

(including that of Hanjam island) amounted to 6,30o tons in 1925-26, mainly in fish, fruit and salt. Borings for oil were made by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company during the years 1914-1922 but without result. A light buoy with a flashing light is moored about a mile east of the Portuguese fort, now in ruins. The administration is in the hands of a shaikh, an Arab of the Bani Ma'in, who has executive powers under the Persian authorities.

Basidu, known to British sailors as "Bassadore" is on the north western extremity of Qishm, exposed to all winds. The site was ceded to the British Crown in 1817, having been selected, after the suppression of piracy, as a base for the naval squadron responsible for keeping order in the Persian gulf and protecting trade. The station was abandoned in 1823.