Apart from being the name of one of Iran's 25 provinces, Kurdistan exists largely as a cultural, and increasingly political, abstract. It exists as a region within the hearts and minds of the majority of Kurds, and their sympathizers, yet this region is unlikely to be found on any academic maps, and will certainly not be found on any maps produced by the government agencies of the four countries that Kurdistan overlaps. Kurdistan's existence as a discrete area containing a fairly homogeneous population of Kurdish-speaking Indo-Europeans, cannot be doubted. Indeed such an area has been recognized, documented and mapped by outsiders for over 100 years.1 The Sharafnameh, an epic history of the Kurdish people between 1290 and 1596, written by Sharaf Khan Bitlisi in 1596, probably contained the first indigenous attempt at defining the limits of Kurdistan.2 Since the 1940s, attempts have also been made by certain Kurds themselves to map the region, culminating in the adoption of a stylised map of Greater Kurdistan. This map has become almost an inalienable part of the Kurdish nationalist mythology, to the extent that many Kurds seriously believe that the area traditionally inhabited by Kurds reaches to one or more seas, giving essentially landlocked Kurdistan port cities.3 It is this question of the extent of the area that can be defined as Kurdistan and of its exact borders that is probably the most vexing even for Kurds. Kurds share, since the time of the venerable Sharaf Khan, a predilection for exaggerating their numbers and their area of habitation, both historically and in the present time. Their host countries, currently Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, similarly share a predilection for underestimating and even falsifying the Kurds' numbers and habitat. All of these states have at various times made their own attempts at reducing the Kurdish population, either absolutely or just within the zone of Kurdistan itself.