1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bushire

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BUSHIRE, or Bander Bushire, a town of Persia, on the northern shore of the Persian Gulf, in 28° 59′ N., 50° 49′ E. The name is pronounced Boosheer, and not Bew-shire, or Bus-hire; modern Persians write it Bushehr and, yet more incorrectly, Abushehr, and translate it as "father of the city," but it is most probably a contraction of Bokht-ardashir, the name given to the place by the first Sassanian monarch in the 3rd century. In a similar way Riv-ardashir, a few miles south of Bushire, has become Rishire (Reesheer). In the first half of the 18th century, when Bushire was an unimportant fishing village, it was selected by Nadir Shah as the southern port of Persia and dockyard of the navy which he aspired to create in the Persian Gulf, and the British commercial factory of the East India Company, established at Gombrun, the modern Bander Abbasi, was transferred to it in 1759. At the beginning of the 19th century it had a population of 6000 to 8000, and it is now the most important port in the Persian Gulf, with a population of about 25,000. It used to be under the government of Fars, but is (since about 1892) the seat of the governor of the Persian Gulf ports, who is responsible to the central government, and has under his jurisdiction the principal ports of the Gulf and their dependencies. The town, which is of a triangular form, occupies the northern extremity of a peninsula 11 m. long and 4 broad, and is encircled by the sea on all sides except the south. It is fortified on the land side by a wall with 12 round towers. The houses being mostly built of a white conglomerate stone of shells and coral which forms the peninsula, gives the city when viewed from a distance a clean and handsome appearance, but on closer inspection the streets are found to be very narrow, irregular, ill-paved and filthy. Almost the only decent buildings are the governor's palace, the British residency and the houses of some well-to-do merchants. The sea immediately east of the town has a considerable depth, but its navigation is impeded by sand-banks and a bar north and west of the town, which can be passed only by vessels drawing not more than 9 ft. of water, except at spring tides, when there is a rise of from 8 to 10 ft. Vessels drawing more than 9 ft. must anchor in the roads miles away to the west. The climate is very hot in the summer months and unhealthy. The water is very bad, and that fit for drinking requires to be brought from wells distant 1½ to 3 m. from the city wall.

Bushire carries on a considerable trade, particularly with India, Java and Arabia. Its principal imports are cotton and woollen goods, yarn, metals, sugar, coffee, tea, spices, cashmere shawls, &c., and its principal exports opium, wool, carpets, horses, grain, dyes and gums, tobacco, rosewater, &c. The importance of Bushire has much increased since about 1862. It is now not only the headquarters of the English naval squadron in the Persian Gulf, and the land terminus of the Indo-European telegraph, but it also forms the chief station in the Gulf of the British Indian Steam Navigation Company, which runs its vessels weekly between Bombay and Basra. Consulates of Great Britain, Germany, France, Russia and Turkey and several European mercantile houses are established at Bushire, and notwithstanding the drawbacks of bad roads to the interior, insufficient and precarious means of transport, and want of security, the annual value of the Bushire trade since 1890 averaged about £1,500,000 (one-third being for exports, two-thirds for imports), and over two-thirds of this was British. Of the 278,000 tons of shipping which entered the port in 1905, 244,000 were British.

During the war with Persia (1856-57) Bushire surrendered to a British force and remained in British occupation for some months. At Rishire, some miles south of Bushire and near the summer quarters of the British resident and the British telegraph buildings, there are extensive ruins among which bricks with cuneiform inscriptions have been found, showing that the place was a very old Elamite settlement.

(A. H.-S.)