Ahvaz or Ahwaz (Persian: اهواز Ahvāz) is a city in the southwest of Iran, and the capital of Khuzestan province. At the 2011 census, its population was 1,112,021 and its built-up (or metro) area with Sheybany was home to 1,136,989 inhabitants. Iran's only navigable river, Karun passes by the middle of the city. It has a long history dating back to the Achaemenid period. In the ancient times, it had been one of the main centers of the Academy of Gondishapur. It is home to several universities, institutions, prominent companies and sport clubs. In Iran, it is known for its ethnic diversity. It is home to Persians, Lurs, Arabs, Jews, Iranian Armenians and Mandaeans, hence different languages are spoken in it although the lingua franca remains Persian.