Iran's only navigable river, the 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.
The word Ahvaz is a modern Persianized form of the Arabic "Ahwaz" which in turn, is derived from an older Persian word. The Dehkhoda Dictionary specifically defines the "Suq-al-Ahvaz" as "Market of the Khuzis", where "Suq" is the elamite word for market, and "Ahvaz" is a broken plural (اسم جمع) of the form "af'āl" (افعال) of the word "Huz", which itself comes from the Persian Huz, from Achaemenid inscriptions where the term first appears. Thus, "Ahvaz" in Persian means "the Huz-i people", which refers to the Khuzi original inhabitants of Khūzestān.
The name of the region appears in medieval Syriac sources as ܒܝܬ ܗܘܙܝܐ Beṯ Huzáyé, literally meaning "land of the Huzis".
Ahvaz is the analog of "Avaz" and "Avaja" which appear in Darius's epigraph. This word appears in Naqsh-Rostam inscription as "Khaja" or "Khooja" too.