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Iran

Iran

Overview
Iran officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān), is a country in Southern
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 as Persia (icon or ˈ). Both "Persia" and "Iran" are used interchangeably in cultural contexts; however, "Iran" is the name used officially in political contexts.

The 18th largest country in the world in terms of area at 1648195 km² (636,371.6 sq mi), Iran has a population of around 78 million.
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Timeline

539 BC   King Cyrus The Great of Persia marches into the city of Babylon, releasing the Jews from almost 70 years of exile and making the first Human Rights Declaration.

1256   Hulagu Khan captures and destroys the Hashshashin stronghold at Alamut in present-day Iran as part of the Mongol offensive on Islamic southwest Asia.

1722   The Safavid Empire of Iran is defeated by an army from Afghanistan at The Battle of Gulnabad, pushing Iran into anarchy.

1856   The Iranian city of Bushehr surrenders to occupying British forces.

1908   At Masjed Soleyman (مسجد سليمان) in southwest Persia, the first major commercial oil strike in the Middle East is made. The rights to the resource are quickly acquired by the United Kingdom.

1924   Teheran, Persia comes under martial law after the American vice-consul, Robert Imbrie, is killed by a religious mob enraged by rumors he had poisoned a fountain and killed several people.

1928   Boris Bazhanov defects through Iran. He is the only assistant of Joseph Stalin's secretariat to have defected from the Eastern Bloc.

1935   Shah Reza Pahlavi formally asks the international community to call Persia by its native name, Iran, which means 'Land of the Aryans.'

1946   Iran: Qazi Muhammad declares the independent people's Republic of Mahabad at Chuwarchira Square in the Kurdish city of Mahabad. He is the new president; Hadschi Baba Scheich is the prime minister.

1953   Cold War: the CIA helps to overthrow the government of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran and reinstate the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

1960   A severe earthquake shakes Lar in Fars province, Iran and kills more than 200 people.

 
Encyclopedia
Iran officially the Islamic Republic of Iran ( Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān), is a country in Southern
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 as Persia (icon or ˈ). Both "Persia" and "Iran" are used interchangeably in cultural contexts; however, "Iran" is the name used officially in political contexts.

The 18th largest country in the world in terms of area at 1648195 km² (636,371.6 sq mi), Iran has a population of around 78 million. It is a country of particular geopolitical
Geopolitics
Geopolitics, from Greek Γη and Πολιτική in broad terms, is a theory that describes the relation between politics and territory whether on local or international scale....

 significance owing to its location in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and central Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

. Iran is bordered on the north by Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

, Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 and Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

. As Iran is a littoral state of the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

, which is an inland sea, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 are also Iran's direct neighbors to the north. Iran is bordered on the east by Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, on the south by the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 and the Gulf of Oman
Gulf of Oman
The Gulf of Oman or Sea of Oman is a strait that connects the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz, which then runs to the Persian Gulf. It is generally included as a branch of the Persian Gulf, not as an arm of the Arabian Sea. On the north coast is Pakistan and Iran...

, on the west by Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and on the northwest by Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 is the capital, the country's largest city and the political, cultural, commercial and industrial center of the nation. Iran is a regional power
Regional power
In international relations, a regional power is a state that has power within a geographic region. States which wield unrivaled power and influence within a region of the world possess regional hegemony.-Characteristics:...

, and holds an important position in international energy security and world economy as a result of its large reserves of petroleum
Petroleum
Petroleum or crude oil is a naturally occurring, flammable liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights and other liquid organic compounds, that are found in geologic formations beneath the Earth's surface. Petroleum is recovered mostly through oil drilling...

 and natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

.

Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations. The first dynasty in Iran formed during the Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

ite kingdom in 2800 BC. The Iranian Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

 unified Iran into an empire in 625 BC. They were succeeded by the Iranian Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

, the Hellenic
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

 Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 and two subsequent Iranian empires, the Parthians
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

 and the Sassanids
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

, before the Muslim conquest in 651 AD. Iranian post-Islamic dynasties and empires expanded the Persian language
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 and culture throughout the Iranian plateau
Iranian plateau
The Iranian plateau, or Iranic plateau, is a geological formation in Southwest Asia. It is the part of the Eurasian Plate wedged between the Arabian and Indian plates, situated between the Zagros mountains to the west, the Caspian Sea and the Kopet Dag to the north, the Hormuz Strait and Persian...

. Early Iranian dynasties which re-asserted Iranian independence included the Tahirids, Saffarids, Samanids and Buyids.

The blossoming of Persian literature
Persian literature
Persian literature spans two-and-a-half millennia, though much of the pre-Islamic material has been lost. Its sources have been within historical Persia including present-day Iran as well as regions of Central Asia where the Persian language has historically been the national language...

, philosophy, medicine
Science and technology in Iran
Persia was a cradle of science in earlier times. Persian scientists contributed to the current understanding of nature, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. Persians made important contributions to algebra and chemistry, invented the wind-power machine, and the first distillation of alcohol...

, astronomy
Science and technology in Iran
Persia was a cradle of science in earlier times. Persian scientists contributed to the current understanding of nature, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. Persians made important contributions to algebra and chemistry, invented the wind-power machine, and the first distillation of alcohol...

, mathematics
Science and technology in Iran
Persia was a cradle of science in earlier times. Persian scientists contributed to the current understanding of nature, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. Persians made important contributions to algebra and chemistry, invented the wind-power machine, and the first distillation of alcohol...

 and art became major elements of Muslim civilization. Iranian identity continued despite foreign rule in the ensuing centuries and Persian culture was adopted also by the Ghaznavids, Seljuk
Seljuq dynasty
The Seljuq ; were a Turco-Persian Sunni Muslim dynasty that ruled parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries...

, Ilkhanid and Timurid
Timurid Dynasty
The Timurids , self-designated Gurkānī , were a Persianate, Central Asian Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turko-Mongol descent whose empire included the whole of Iran, modern Afghanistan, and modern Uzbekistan, as well as large parts of contemporary Pakistan, North India, Mesopotamia, Anatolia and the...

 rulers. The emergence in 1501 of the Safavid dynasty
Safavid dynasty
The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Iran. They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires since the Muslim conquest of Persia and established the Twelver school of Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning...

, which promoted Twelver Shia Islam as the official religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 of their empire, marked one of the most important turning points in Iranian and Muslim history
Muslim history
Muslim history is the history of Muslim people. In the history of Islam the followers of the religion of Islam have impacted political history, economic history, and military history...

. The Persian Constitutional Revolution established the nation's first parliament in 1906, within a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

. In 1953 Iran became an authoritarian regime, following a coup d'etat instigated by the the UK and US. Growing dissent with foreign influence culminated during the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 which led to establishment of an Islamic republic
Islamic republic
Islamic republic is the name given to several states in the Muslim world including the Islamic Republics of Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Mauritania. Pakistan adopted the title under the constitution of 1956. Mauritania adopted it on 28 November 1958. Iran adopted it after the 1979 Iranian...

 on 1 April 1979.

Iran is a founding member of the UN
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, NAM
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

, OIC and OPEC
OPEC
OPEC is an intergovernmental organization of twelve developing countries made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. OPEC has maintained its headquarters in Vienna since 1965, and hosts regular meetings...

. The political system of Iran
Politics of Iran
The politics of Iran take place in a framework of theocracy guided by an Islamist ideology. The December 1979 constitution, and its 1989 amendment, define the political, economic, and social order of the Islamic Republic of Iran, declaring that Shi'a Islam of the Twelver school of thought is...

, based on the 1979 constitution, comprises several intricately connected governing bodies. The highest state authority is the Supreme Leader
Supreme Leader of Iran
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

. Shia Islam is the official religion and Persian is the official language.

Name



The name of Iran (ایران) is the Modern Persian derivative from the Proto-Iranian
Proto-Iranian
Proto-Iranian, is the reconstructed proto-language of the Iranian languages branch of Indo-European language family, and as such, the ancestor of the Iranian languages such as Persian, Sogdian, Zazaki, Mazandarani, Kurdish and others...

 term Aryānā,, meaning "Land of the Aryan
Aryan
Aryan is an English language loanword derived from Sanskrit ārya and denoting variously*In scholarly usage:**Indo-Iranian languages *in dated usage:**the Indo-European languages more generally and their speakers...

s", first attested in Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

's Avesta
Avesta
The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language.-Early transmission:The texts of the Avesta — which are all in the Avestan language — were composed over the course of several hundred years. The most important portion, the Gathas,...

 tradition. The term Ērān is found to refer to Iran in a 3rd century Sassanid
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

 inscription, and the Parthian
Parthian language
The Parthian language, also known as Arsacid Pahlavi and Pahlavanik, is a now-extinct ancient Northwestern Iranian language spoken in Parthia, a region of northeastern ancient Persia during the rule of the Parthian empire....

 inscription that accompanies it uses the Parthian term "aryān" in reference to Iranians. However historically Iran has been referred to as Persia or similar (La Perse, Persien, Perzië, etc.) by the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

, mainly due to the writings of Greek historians who called Iran Persēs (Πέρσης), meaning land of the Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

. In 1935 Rezā Shāh
Reza Shah
Rezā Shāh, also known as Rezā Shāh Pahlavi and Rezā Shāh Kabir , , was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from December 15, 1925, until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on September 16, 1941.In 1925, Reza Shah overthrew Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar...

 requested that the international community should refer to the country as Iran. Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision, and in 1959 both names were to be used interchangeably. Since the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 in 1979 the official name of the country has been the "Islamic Republic of Iran."

Geography


Iran is the eighteenth largest country in the world, with an area of 1648000 km² (636,296.4 sq mi).

Its area roughly equals that of the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany combined, or somewhat more than the US state of Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

. Iran lies between latitudes 24°
24th parallel north
The 24th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 24 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 40° N
40th parallel north
The 40th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 40 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 44°
44th meridian east
The meridian 44° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 64° E
64th meridian east
The meridian 64° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. Its borders are with Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 (611 km (380 mi) (with Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave(179 km (111 mi) )) and Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 (35 km (22 mi)) to the north-west; the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 to the north; Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

 (992 km (616 mi)) to the north-east; Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 (909 km (565 mi)) and Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 (936 km (582 mi)) to the east; Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 (499 km (310 mi)) and Iraq (1458 km (906 mi)) to the west; and finally the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman
Gulf of Oman
The Gulf of Oman or Sea of Oman is a strait that connects the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz, which then runs to the Persian Gulf. It is generally included as a branch of the Persian Gulf, not as an arm of the Arabian Sea. On the north coast is Pakistan and Iran...

 to the south.

Iran consists of the Iranian plateau
Iranian plateau
The Iranian plateau, or Iranic plateau, is a geological formation in Southwest Asia. It is the part of the Eurasian Plate wedged between the Arabian and Indian plates, situated between the Zagros mountains to the west, the Caspian Sea and the Kopet Dag to the north, the Hormuz Strait and Persian...

 with the exception of the coasts of the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 and Khuzestan. It is one of the world's most mountainous countries, its landscape dominated by rugged mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

s that separate various basins
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

 or plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

x from one another. The populous western part is the most mountainous, with ranges such as the Caucasus
Caucasus Mountains
The Caucasus Mountains is a mountain system in Eurasia between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the Caucasus region .The Caucasus Mountains includes:* the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range and* the Lesser Caucasus Mountains....

, Zagros
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

 and Alborz
Alborz
Alborz , also written as Alburz, Elburz or Elborz, is a mountain range in northern Iran stretching from the borders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the northwest to the southern end of the Caspian Sea, and ending in the east at the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan...

 Mountains; the last contains Iran's highest point, Mount Damavand
Mount Damavand
Mount Damāvand also known as Donbavand, a potentially active volcano and the highest peak in Iran, has a special place in Persian mythology and folklore...

, Amol
Amol
Amol is a city in and the capital of Amol County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 197,470, in 55,183 families.Amol and the old part of town is the first of the four towns that populate the world in which there is Nzamyh...

 at 5610 m (18,406 ft), which is also the highest mountain on the Eurasian landmass west of the Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
The Hindu Kush is an mountain range that stretches between central Afghanistan and northern Pakistan. The highest point in the Hindu Kush is Tirich Mir in the Chitral region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.It is the westernmost extension of the Pamir Mountains, the Karakoram Range, and is a...

.

The northern part of Iran is covered by dense rain forests called Shomal
Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forests
The Caspian Hyrcanian Mixed Forests ecoregion, in the temperate broadleaf and mixed forests biome, is an area of lush lowland and montane forests covering about near the southern shores of the Caspian Sea of Azerbaijan and Iran.-Setting:...

 or the Jungles of Iran. The eastern part consists mostly of desert
Desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

 basins such as the Dasht-e Kavir
Dasht-e Kavir
Dasht-e Kavir , also known as Kavir-e Namak or Great Salt Desert is a large desert lying in the middle of the Iranian plateau. It is about 800 kilometers long and 320 kilometers wide with a total surface area of about 77,600 square kilometers , making it the Earth's 23rd largest desert...

, Iran's largest desert, in the north-central portion of the country, and the Dasht-e Lut
Dasht-e Lut
Dasht-e Lut, also spelled Dasht-i-Lut, is a large salt desert in southeastern Iran and is the world's 25th largest desert.Iran is climatically part of the Afro-Asian belt of deserts that stretch from the Cape Verde islands off West Africa all the way to Mongolia near Beijing, China...

, in the east, as well as some salt lake
Salt lake
A salt lake or saline lake is a landlocked body of water which has a concentration of salts and other dissolved minerals significantly higher than most lakes . In some cases, salt lakes have a higher concentration of salt than sea water, but such lakes would also be termed hypersaline lakes...

s. This is because the mountain ranges are too high for rain clouds to reach these regions. The only large plain
Plain
In geography, a plain is land with relatively low relief, that is flat or gently rolling. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland, but plains in their natural state may also be covered in shrublands, woodland and forest, or...

s are found along the coast of the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 and at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, where Iran borders the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab (or the Arvand Rūd) river. Smaller, discontinuous plains are found along the remaining coast of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz
Strait of Hormuz
The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow, strategically important waterway between the Gulf of Oman in the southeast and the Persian Gulf. On the north coast is Iran and on the south coast is the United Arab Emirates and Musandam, an exclave of Oman....

 and the Gulf of Oman
Gulf of Oman
The Gulf of Oman or Sea of Oman is a strait that connects the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz, which then runs to the Persian Gulf. It is generally included as a branch of the Persian Gulf, not as an arm of the Arabian Sea. On the north coast is Pakistan and Iran...

.

Climate



Iran's climate
Climate
Climate encompasses the statistics of temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall, atmospheric particle count and other meteorological elemental measurements in a given region over long periods...

 ranges from arid
Desert climate
A desert climate , also known as an arid climate, is a climate that does not meet the criteria to be classified as a polar climate, and in which precipitation is too low to sustain any vegetation at all, or at most a very scanty scrub.An area that features this climate usually experiences less than...

 or semiarid, to subtropical along the Caspian coast and the northern forests. On the northern edge of the country (the Caspian coastal plain) temperatures rarely fall below freezing and the area remains humid for the rest of the year. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 29 °C (84.2 °F). Annual precipitation is 680 mm (26.8 in) in the eastern part of the plain and more than 1700 mm (66.9 in) in the western part.

To the west, settlements in the Zagros
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

 basin experience lower temperatures, severe winters with below zero average daily temperatures and heavy snowfall. The eastern and central basins are arid, with less than 200 mm (7.9 in) of rain, and have occasional deserts. Average summer temperatures exceed 38 °C (100.4 °F). The coastal plains of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman
Gulf of Oman
The Gulf of Oman or Sea of Oman is a strait that connects the Arabian Sea with the Strait of Hormuz, which then runs to the Persian Gulf. It is generally included as a branch of the Persian Gulf, not as an arm of the Arabian Sea. On the north coast is Pakistan and Iran...

 in southern Iran have mild winters, and very humid and hot summers. The annual precipitation ranges from 135 to 355 mm (5.3 to 14 in).

Fauna


Iran's wildlife
Wildlife of Iran
Wildlife of Iran includes its flora and fauna and their natural habitats. One of the most famous members of wildlife in Iran are the world's last surviving, critically endangered Asiatic Cheetah also known as the Iranian Cheetah, which are today found nowhere else but in Iran...

 is composed of several animal species including bears, gazelles, wild pigs, wolves, jackals, panthers, Eurasian Lynx
Eurasian Lynx
The Eurasian lynx is a medium-sized cat native to European and Siberian forests, South Asia and East Asia. It is also known as the European lynx, common lynx, the northern lynx, and the Siberian or Russian lynx...

, and foxes. Domestic animals include, sheep, goats, cattle, horses, water buffalo, donkeys, and camels. The pheasant, partridge, stork, eagles and falcon are also native to Iran.

One of the most famous members of Iranian wildlife is the critically endangered Asiatic cheetah
Asiatic Cheetah
The Asiatic Cheetah is now also known as the Iranian Cheetah, as the world's last few are known to survive mostly in Iran. Although recently presumed to be extinct in India, it is also known as the Indian Cheetah...

, also known as the Iranian Cheetah, whose numbers were greatly reduced after the Iranian Revolution. Today there are ongoing efforts to increase its population and introduce it back in India . Iran had lost all its Asiatic Lion
Asiatic Lion
The Asiatic lion also known as the Indian lion, Persian lion and Eurasian Lion is a subspecies of lion. The only place in the wild where the lion is found is in the Gir Forest of Gujarat, India...

 and the now extinct Caspian Tiger
Caspian Tiger
The Caspian tiger, also known as the Turan tiger and Hyrcanian tiger, is an extinct tiger subspecies that has been recorded in the wild until the early 1970s, and used to inhabit the sparse forest habitats and riverine corridors west and south of the Caspian Sea, from Turkey, Iran and west through...

s by the earlier part of the twentieth century.

Provinces and cities


Iran is divided into thirty one provinces
Provinces of Iran
Iran is subdivided into thirty one provinces , each governed from a local center, usually the largest local city, which is called the capital of that province...

 (ostān), each governed by an appointed governor (استاندار, ostāndār). The provinces are divided into counties (shahrestān
Counties of Iran
The provinces of Iran further subdivided into counties called shahrestan , an area inside an ostan, and consists of a city centre, few bakhsh and many villages around them. There are usually a few cities and rural agglomerations in each county. Rural agglomerations are a collection of a number...

), and subdivided into districts (bakhsh
Bakhsh
A bakhsh is a type of administrative division of Iran. While sometimes translated as county, it is more accurately translated as district, as they are similar to a township in the United States or a district of England....

) and sub-districts (dehestān).

Iran has one of the highest urban growth rates in the world. From 1950 to 2002, the urban proportion of the population increased from 27% to 60%. The United Nations predicts that by 2030, 80% of the population will be urban. Most internal migrants have settled near the cities of Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, Isfahan, Ahvaz
Ahvaz
-History:For a more comprehensive historical treatment of the area, see the history section of Khūzestān Province.-Ancient history:Ahvaz is the anagram of "Avaz" and "Avaja" which appear in Darius's epigraph...

, and Qom
Qom
Qom is a city in Iran. It lies by road southwest of Tehran and is the capital of Qom Province. At the 2006 census, its population was 957,496, in 241,827 families. It is situated on the banks of the Qom River....

. The listed populations are from the 2006/07 (1385 AP) census. Tehran, with a population of 7,705,036, is the largest city in Iran and is the capital. Tehran is home to around 11% of Iran's population. Tehran, like many big cities, suffers from severe air pollution. It is the hub of the country's communication
Communications in Iran
Iran’s telecommunications industry is almost entirely state-owned, dominated by the Telecommunication Company of Iran . Fixed-line penetration in 2004 was relatively well-developed by regional standards, standing at 22 lines per 100 people, higher than Egypt with 14 and Saudi Arabia with 15,...

 and transport
Transport in Iran
Transport in Iran is inexpensive because of the government's subsidization of the price of gasoline. The downside is economic inefficiency because of highly wasteful consumption patterns, contraband with neighboring countries and air pollution...

 network.

Mashhad
Mashhad
Mashhad , is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia Muslim world. It is also the only major Iranian city with an Arabic name. It is located east of Tehran, at the center of the Razavi Khorasan Province close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its...

, with a population of 2,410,800, is the second largest Iranian city and the centre of the Razavi Khorasan Province
Razavi Khorasan Province
Razavi Khorasan Province is a province located in northeastern Iran. Mashhad is the centre and capital of the province.Other cities and townships are Ghouchan, Dargaz, Chenaran, Sarakhs, Fariman, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Torbat-e Jam, Taybad, Khaf, Roshtkhar, Kashmar, Bardaskan, Nishapur, Sabzevar,...

. Mashhad is one of the holiest Shia cities in the world as it is the site of the Imam Reza shrine
Imam Reza shrine
Imām Reza shrine in Mashhad, Iran is a complex which contains the mausoleum of Imam Reza, the eighth Imām of Twelver Shi'ites. It is the largest mosque in the world by dimension and the second largest in capacity...

. It is the centre of tourism in Iran, and between 15 and 20 million pilgrims go to the Imam Reza's shrine every year.

Another major Iranian city is Isfahan (population 1,583,609), which is the capital of Isfahan Province. The Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan has been designated by UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 as a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

. The city contains a wide variety of Islamic architectural
Islamic architecture
Islamic architecture encompasses a wide range of both secular and religious styles from the foundation of Islam to the present day, influencing the design and construction of buildings and structures in Islamic culture....

 sites ranging from the 11th to the 19th century. The growth of the suburban area around the city has turned Isfahan into Iran's second most populous metropolitan area (3,430,353).

The fourth major city of Iran is Tabriz
Tabriz
Tabriz is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the junction of the Quri River and Aji River, it was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s, one of its former...

 (population 1,378,935), the capital of the East Azerbaijan Province. It is also the second industrial city of Iran after Tehran. Tabriz had been the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s and one of its former capitals and residence of the crown prince under the Qajar dynasty
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

. The city has proven extremely influential in the country’s recent history.

The fifth major city is Karaj
Karaj
Karaj is a city in and the capital of Karaj County, Alborz Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 1,377,450, in 385,955 families, , making it the fifth-largest city in Iran after Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan and Tabriz.) It is situated west of Tehran, at the foothills of the Alborz...

 (population 1,377,450), located in Alborz Province and situated 20 km west of Tehran, at the foot of the Alborz
Alborz
Alborz , also written as Alburz, Elburz or Elborz, is a mountain range in northern Iran stretching from the borders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the northwest to the southern end of the Caspian Sea, and ending in the east at the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan...

 mountains; however, the city is increasingly becoming an extension of metropolitan Tehran.

The sixth major Iranian city is Shiraz
Shiraz
Shiraz may refer to:* Shiraz, Iran, a city in Iran* Shiraz County, an administrative subdivision of Iran* Vosketap, Armenia, formerly called ShirazPeople:* Hovhannes Shiraz, Armenian poet* Ara Shiraz, Armenian sculptor...

 (population 1,214,808); it is the capital of Fars Province. The Elamite civilization to the west greatly influenced the area, which soon came to be known as Persis. The ancient Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 were present in the region from about the 9th century BC, and became rulers of a large empire under the Achaemenid dynasty in the 6th century BC. The ruins of Persepolis
Persepolis
Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire . Persepolis is situated northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid...

 and Pasargadae
Pasargadae
Pasargadae , the capital of Cyrus the Great and also his last resting place, was a city in ancient Persia, and is today an archaeological site and one of Iran's UNESCO World Heritage Sites.-History:...

, two of the four capitals of the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

, are located in or near Shiraz. Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire and is situated northeast of modern Shiraz. UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 declared the citadel of Persepolis a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

 in 1979.

Pre-Historic era



The earliest archaeological artifacts in Iran were found in the Kashafrud
Kashafrud
Kashafrud Basin is an archaeological site in Iran, known for the Lower Palaeolithic artifacts collected there; these are the oldest-known evidence for human occupation of Iran.,...

 and Ganj Par
Ganj Par
Ganj Par is a Lower Paleolithic site located in the Gilan province in northern Iran.Located on an old western terrace of the Sefīd-Rūd River, the site was discovered by a team of archaeologists from the Center for Paleolithic Research of the National Museum of Iran in 2002.The Lower Paleolithic...

 sites that date back to the Lower Paleolithic
Lower Paleolithic
The Lower Paleolithic is the earliest subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. It spans the time from around 2.5 million years ago when the first evidence of craft and use of stone tools by hominids appears in the current archaeological record, until around 300,000 years ago, spanning the...

 era. Mousterian
Mousterian
Mousterian is a name given by archaeologists to a style of predominantly flint tools associated primarily with Homo neanderthalensis and dating to the Middle Paleolithic, the middle part of the Old Stone Age.-Naming:...

 Stone tools made by Neanderthal
Neanderthal
The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia...

 man have also been found. There are more cultural remains of Neanderthal
Neanderthal
The Neanderthal is an extinct member of the Homo genus known from Pleistocene specimens found in Europe and parts of western and central Asia...

 man dating back to the Middle Paleolithic
Middle Paleolithic
The Middle Paleolithic is the second subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. The term Middle Stone Age is used as an equivalent or a synonym for the Middle Paleolithic in African archeology. The Middle Paleolithic and the Middle Stone Age...

 period, which have been found mainly in the Zagros region and less frequently in central Iran at sites such as Shanidar, Kobeh, Kunji, Bisetun, Tamtama, Warwasi
Warwasi
Warwasi is a Paleolithic rockshelter site located at north of Kermanshah in western Iran. It was excavated by Bruce Howe under direction of late Robert Braidwood in the 1960s. This site contains a rich archaeological sequence from Middle Paleolithic to late Epipaleolithic.-References:Braidwood,...

, Palegawra, and Yafteh
Yafteh
Yafteh is a Upper Paleolithic cave located at the foot of Yafteh Mountain, north-west of Khoramabad, Western Zagros, Iran.The site was found and later excavated by two American archaeologists, Frank Hole and Kent Flannery, in the 1960s. It contained a thick Upper Paleolithic sequence which yielded...

 Cave. Discovery of human skeletons in the Huto cave and the adjacent Kamarband cave near the town of Behshahr
Behshahr
Behshahr is a city in and the capital of Behshahr County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 83,537, in 22,034 families.It is approximately forty kilometers from Sari. The name Behshahr literally means The Best city...

 in the Mazandaran Province
Mazandaran Province
Mazandaran Province is a Caspian province in the north of Iran. Located on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea, it is bordered clockwise by the Golestan, Semnan, Tehran, Alborz, Qazvin, and Gilan provinces....

 and Amol
Amol
Amol is a city in and the capital of Amol County, Mazandaran Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 197,470, in 55,183 families.Amol and the old part of town is the first of the four towns that populate the world in which there is Nzamyh...

 old city north of iran, south of the Caspian Sea
Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea is the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world's largest lake or a full-fledged sea. The sea has a surface area of and a volume of...

 in Iran, suggest human habitation of the area as early as 75,000 years ago. However, recent studies in the valleys of Shuresh, around the earlier mentioned caves, led to the discovery of 400,000 year old stone tools. Evidence for Upper Paleolithic
Upper Paleolithic
The Upper Paleolithic is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age as it is understood in Europe, Africa and Asia. Very broadly it dates to between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago, roughly coinciding with the appearance of behavioral modernity and before the advent of...

 and Epipaleolithic
Epipaleolithic
The Epipaleolithic Age was a period in the development of human technology marked by more advanced stone blades and other tools than the earlier Paleolithic age, although still before the development of agriculture in the Neolithic age...

 periods are known mainly from the Zagros region in the caves of Kermanshah
Kermanshah
Kermanshah is a city in and the capital of Kermanshah Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 784,602, in 198,117 families.The overwhelming majority of Kermanshahi people are Shi'a Muslims...

 and Khorramabad
Khorramabad
Khorramabad is a city in and capital of Lorestan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 328,544, in 75,945 families. Khorramabad is situated in the Zagros Mountains...

.

Early agricultural communities such as Chogha Bonut
Chogha Bonut
Chogha Bonut is an archaeological site in southwestern Iran, located in the Khuzistan Province ....

 in 8000 BC, Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

 (now a city still existing since 7000 BC) and Chogha Mish
Chogha Mish
Tappeh-ye Choghā Mīsh dating back to 6800 BC, is the site of a Chalcolithic settlement in Western Iran, located in the Khuzistan Province on the Susiana Plain...

 dating back to 6800 BC. started to form in the western Iran.
Dozens of pre-historic
Prehistory
Prehistory is the span of time before recorded history. Prehistory can refer to the period of human existence before the availability of those written records with which recorded history begins. More broadly, it refers to all the time preceding human existence and the invention of writing...

 sites across the Iranian plateau point to the existence of ancient cultures and urban settlements in the 4th millennium BC
4th millennium BC
The 4th millennium BC saw major changes in human culture. It marked the beginning of the Bronze Age and of writing.The city states of Sumer and the kingdom of Egypt were established and grew to prominence. Agriculture spread widely across Eurasia...

, centuries before the earliest civilizations arose in nearby Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

.

Early history (3200 BC – 625 BC)


Elam was part of the early urbanization
Cities of the ancient Near East
The largest cities in the Bronze Age ancient Near East housed several tens of thousands. Memphis in the Early Bronze Age with some 30,000 inhabitants was the largest city of the time by far...

 during the Chalcolithic. The emergence of written records from around 3000 BC also parallels Mesopotamian history. In the Old Elamite period (Middle Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

), from around 2800 BC, Elam consisted of kingdoms on the Iranian plateau
Iranian plateau
The Iranian plateau, or Iranic plateau, is a geological formation in Southwest Asia. It is the part of the Eurasian Plate wedged between the Arabian and Indian plates, situated between the Zagros mountains to the west, the Caspian Sea and the Kopet Dag to the north, the Hormuz Strait and Persian...

, centered in Anshan
Anshan (Persia)
Anshan - History :Before 1973, when it was identified as Tall-i Malyan, Anshan had been assumed by scholars to be somewhere in the central Zagros mountain range....

, and from the mid-2nd millennium BC
2nd millennium BC
The 2nd millennium BC marks the transition from the Middle to the Late Bronze Age.Its first half is dominated by the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and Babylonia. The alphabet develops. Indo-Iranian migration onto the Iranian plateau and onto the Indian subcontinent propagates the use of the chariot...

, it was centered in Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

 in the Khuzestan lowlands. Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

ite kingdom continued its existence until the emergence of Median
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

 and Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

s.

Proto-Iranian
Proto-Iranian
Proto-Iranian, is the reconstructed proto-language of the Iranian languages branch of Indo-European language family, and as such, the ancestor of the Iranian languages such as Persian, Sogdian, Zazaki, Mazandarani, Kurdish and others...

s first emerged following the separation of Indo-Iranians
Indo-Iranians
Indo-Iranian peoples are a linguistic group consisting of the Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Dardic and Nuristani peoples; that is, speakers of Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family....

, and are traced to the Andronovo culture
Andronovo culture
The Andronovo culture, is a collection of similar local Bronze Age cultures that flourished ca. 21200–1400 BCE in western Siberia and the west Asiatic steppe. It is probably better termed an archaeological complex or archaeological horizon...

. Proto-Iranian
Ancient Iranian peoples
Iranian peoples first appear in Assyrian records in the 9th century BCE. In Classical Antiquity they were found primarily in Scythia and Persia...

 tribes arrived in the Iranian plateau in the third and second millennium
Millennium
A millennium is a period of time equal to one thousand years —from the Latin phrase , thousand, and , year—often but not necessarily related numerically to a particular dating system....

 BC, probably in more than one wave of emigration, and settled as nomads.

Further separation of Proto-Iranians into "Eastern" and "Western" groups occurred due to migration. By the first millennium BC, Medes
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

, Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

, Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

ns and Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

ns populated the western part, while Cimmerians
Cimmerians
The Cimmerians or Kimmerians were ancient equestrian nomads of Indo-European origin.According to the Greek historian Herodotus, of the 5th century BC, the Cimmerians inhabited the region north of the Caucasus and the Black Sea during the 8th and 7th centuries BC, in what is now Ukraine and Russia...

, Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 and Alans
Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

 populated the steppes north of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

.

Other tribes began to settle on the eastern edge, as far as on the mountainous frontier of the north-western Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

 and into the area which is now Balochistan
Balochistan
Balochistan or Baluchistan is a region which covers parts of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan. It can also refer to one of several modern and historical territories within that region:...

. Others, such as the Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

n tribes, spread as far west as the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 and as far east as Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2...

. Avestan is an eastern Old Iranian language that was used to compose the sacred hymns and canon of the Zoroastrian
Zoroastrianism
Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil...

 Gathas
Gathas
The Gathas are 17 hymns believed to have been composed by Zarathusthra himself. They are the most sacred texts of the Zoroastrian faith.-Structure and organization:...

 in c. 1000 BC.

Pre-Islamic statehood (625 BC – 651 AD)


The Medes are credited with the unification of Iran as a nation and empire (625–559  BC), the largest of its day, until Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 established a unified empire of the Medes and Persians leading to the Achaemenid Empire (559–330  BC), and further unification between peoples and cultures. After Cyrus' death, his son Cambyses II continued his father's work of conquest, making significant gains in Egypt.

Following a power struggle after Cambyses' death, Darius the Great was declared king (ruled 522–486 BC). Under Cyrus and Darius, the Persian Empire eventually became the largest and most powerful empire in human history up until that point. The borders of the Persian empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 stretched from the Indus and Oxus Rivers in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, extending through Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 (modern day Turkey) and Egypt.

In 499 BC, Athens lent support to a revolt in Miletus
Miletus
Miletus was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia , near the mouth of the Maeander River in ancient Caria...

 which resulted in the sacking of Sardis
Sardis
Sardis or Sardes was an ancient city at the location of modern Sart in Turkey's Manisa Province...

. This led to an Achaemenid campaign against Greece known as the Greco-Persian Wars
Greco-Persian Wars
The Greco-Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and city-states of the Hellenic world that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus...

 which continued through the first half of the 5th century BC. During the Greco-Persian Wars Persia made some major advances and razed Athens in 480 BC, but after a string of Greek victories the Persians were forced to withdraw. Fighting ended with the peace of Callias
Peace of Callias
The Peace of Callias is a purported treaty established around 449 BC between the Delian League and Persia, ending the Persian Wars. The peace was agreed as the first compromise treaty between Achaemenid Persia and a Greek city....

 in 449 BC.

The rules and ethics emanating from Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

's teachings were strictly followed by the Achaemenids who introduced and adopted policies based on human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, equality
Equality before the law
Equality before the law or equality under the law or legal egalitarianism is the principle under which each individual is subject to the same laws....

 and banning of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. Zoroastrianism spread unimposed during the time of the Achaemenids and through contacts with the exiled Jewish people in Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 freed by Cyrus, Zoroastrian concepts further propagated and influenced the Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

. The Golden Age of Athens marked by Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

 also came about during the Achaemenid period while their contacts with Persia and the Near East abounded. The peace, tranquility, security and prosperity that were afforded to the people of the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

 and Southeast Europe
Southeast Europe
Southeast Europe or Southeastern Europe is a relatively recent political designation for the states of the Balkans. Writers such as Maria Todorova and Vesna Goldsworthy have suggested the use of the term Southeastern Europe to replace the word Balkans for the region, to minimize potential...

 proved to be a rare historical occurrence, an unparalleled period where commerce prospered and the standard of living for all people of the region improved.

In 334 BC, Alexander the Great invaded the Achaemenid Empire, defeating the last Achaemenid Emperor Darius III at the Battle of Issus
Battle of Issus
The Battle of Issus occurred in southern Anatolia, in November 333 BC. The invading troops, led by the young Alexander of Macedonia, defeated the army personally led by Darius III of Achaemenid Persia in the second great battle for primacy in Asia...

 in 333 BC. He left the annexed territory in 328–327. In each of the former Achaemenid territories he installed his own officers as caretakers, which led to friction and ultimately to the partitioning of the former empire
Partition of Babylon
The Partition of Babylon designates the attribution of the territories of Alexander the Great between his generals after his death in 323 BC.-Background:...

 after Alexander's death, and the subsequent formation of the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

.

The Parthian Empire (238 BC–226 AD), led by the Arsacid Dynasty, was the third Iranian
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

 kingdom to dominate the Iranian plateau, after defeating the Greek
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

 Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

, beginning in the late 3rd century BC, and intermittently controlled Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 between ca. 150 BC and 224 AD. This was the third native dynasty of ancient Iran and lasted five centuries.
After the conquests of Media
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

, Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

, Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

 and Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

, the Parthians had to organize their empire. The former elites of these countries were Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, and the new rulers had to adapt to their customs if they wanted their rule to last. As a result, the cities retained their ancient rights and civil administrations remained more or less undisturbed.

Parthia was the arch-enemy of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 in the east, limiting Rome's expansion beyond Cappadocia
Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in Nevşehir Province.In the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine...

 (central Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

). By using a heavily armed and armoured cataphract
Cataphract
A cataphract was a form of armored heavy cavalry utilised in ancient warfare by a number of peoples in Western Eurasia and the Eurasian Steppe....

 cavalry, and lightly armed but highly mobile mounted archers
Mounted archery
A horse archer, horsed archer, or mounted archer is a cavalryman armed with a bow, able to shoot while riding from horseback. Archery has occasionally been used from the backs of other riding animals...

, the Parthians "held their own against Rome for almost 300 years". Rome's acclaimed general Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

 led a disastrous campaign against the Parthians in 36 BC, in which he lost 32,000 men. By the time of Roman emperor Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

, Rome and Parthia were settling some of their differences through diplomacy. By this time, Parthia had acquired an assortment of golden eagles, the cherished standards of Rome's legions
Aquila (Roman)
The Aquila was the eagle standard of a Roman legion, carried by a special grade legionary known as an Aquilifer. One eagle standard was carried by each legion.-History:...

, captured from Mark Antony, and Crassus, who was defeated by General Surena
Surena
Surena or Suren may refer to either a noble family of Parthia also known as the House of Suren, or to a renowned 1st century BC General Surena who was a member of that family....

 in the Battle of Carrhae
Battle of Carrhae
The Battle of Carrhae, fought in 53 BC near the town of Carrhae, was a major battle between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic. The Parthian Spahbod Surena decisively defeated a Roman invasion force led by Marcus Licinius Crassus...

 in 53 BC.

The end of the Parthian Empire came in 224 AD, when the empire was loosely organized and the last king was defeated by Ardashir I, one of the empire's vassals. Ardashir I then went on to create the Sassanid Empire. Soon he started reforming the country both economically and militarily. The Sassanids established an empire roughly within the frontiers achieved by the Achaemenids, referring to it as Erânshahr or Iranshahr, , "Dominion of the Iranians", (i.e. of Iranians
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

), with their capital at Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

. Unlike the diadochi
Diadochi
The Diadochi were the rival generals, family and friends of Alexander the Great who fought for the control of Alexander's empire after his death in 323 BC...

c Seleucids and the succeeding Arsacids, who used a vassalary system
Vassal state
A vassal state is any state that is subordinate to another. The vassal in these cases is the ruler, rather than the state itself. Being a vassal most commonly implies providing military assistance to the dominant state when requested to do so; it sometimes implies paying tribute, but a state which...

, the Sassanids—like the Achaemenids—had a system of governors (MP: shahrab) personally appointed by the Emperor and directed by the central government. The Romans suffered repeated losses particularly by Ardashir I, Shapur I
Shapur I
Shapur I or also known as Shapur I the Great was the second Sassanid King of the Second Persian Empire. The dates of his reign are commonly given as 240/42 - 270/72, but it is likely that he also reigned as co-regent prior to his father's death in 242 .-Early years:Shapur was the son of Ardashir I...

, and Shapur II
Shapur II
Shapur II the Great was the ninth King of the Persian Sassanid Empire from 309 to 379 and son of Hormizd II. During his long reign, the Sassanid Empire saw its first golden era since the reign of Shapur I...

. During their reign, Sassanid battles with the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 caused such pessimism in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 that the historian Cassius Dio wrote:



In 632 raiders from the Arab peninsula began attacking the Sassanid Empire
Sassanid Empire
The Sassanid Empire , known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran , was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651...

. Iran was defeated in the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah
Battle of al-Qadisiyyah
The Battle of al-Qādisiyyah was fought in 636; it was the decisive engagement between the Arab muslim army and the Sassanid Persian army during the first period of Muslim expansion. It resulted in the Islamic conquest of Persia, and was key to the conquest of Iraq...

, paving way for the Muslim conquest of Persia.

During the Parthian and later Sassanid eras, trade on the Silk Road
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 was a significant factor in the development of the great civilization
Civilization
Civilization is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways. Primarily, the term has been used to refer to the material and instrumental side of human cultures that are complex in terms of technology, science, and division of labor. Such civilizations are generally...

s of China, Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, Persia, Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

, and Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, and helped to lay the foundations for the modern world. Parthian remains display classical Greek influences in some instances and retain their oriental mode in others, a clear expression of the cultural diversity that characterized Parthian art and life.

The Parthians were innovators of many architecture designs
Parthian style (Iranian architecture)
The "Parthian style" is a style of historical Iranian architecture.This style of architecture includes designs from the Seleucid, Parthian, and Sassanid eras, reaching its apex of development by the Sassanid period....

 such as that of Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

, which later influenced European Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

. Under the Sassanids, Iran expanded relations with China
Iran-China relations
Sino-Persian relations , or Sino-Iranian relations, refers to the historic diplomatic, cultural and economic relations between the cultures of China proper and Greater Iran, dating back to ancient times...

. Arts, music
Sassanid music
Sassanid music refers to the golden age of Persian music that occurred under the reign of the Sassanid dynasty.Persian classical music dates to the sixth century BC; during the time of the Achaemenid Empire , music played an important role in prayer and in royal and national events...

, and architecture
Sassanid architecture
Sassanid architecture refers to the Persian architectural style that reached a peak in its development during the Sassanid era. In many ways the Sassanid dynastic period witnessed the highest achievement of Persian civilization, and constituted the last great Persian Empire before the Muslim...

 greatly flourished, and centers such as the School of Nisibis
School of Nisibis
The School of Nisibis , for a time absorbed into the School of Edessa, was an educational establishment in Nisibis, modern-day Turkey. It was an important spiritual center of the early Syriac Orthodox Church, and like Gundeshapur, is sometimes referred to as the world's first university. The...

 and Academy of Gundishapur
Academy of Gundishapur
The Academy of Gondishapur , also Jondishapur , was a renowned academy of learning in the city of Gundeshapur during late antiquity, the intellectual center of the Sassanid empire. It offered training in medicine, philosophy, theology and science. The faculty were versed in the Zoroastrian and...

 became world renowned centers of science and scholarship.

Middle Ages (652–1501)



After the Muslim conquest of Persia, most of the urban lands of the Sassanid Empire, with the exception of Caspian provinces and Transoxiana, came under Islamic rule.
Many provinces in Iran defended themselves against the Arab invaders, although none in the end were able to repulse the invaders. However, when the Arabs had subdued the country, many of the cities rose in rebellion, killing Arab governors, although reinforcement by Arab armies succeeded in putting down the rebellions.

However, the Iranians' conversion to Islam was a complex process and is generally considered to have been gradual; the notion of force has largely been discredited, although occasional acts of violence did take place, with Zoroastrian scriptures being burned and Zoroastrian priests being executed.

By the 9th century, Islam became a dominant religion in Persia and the conversion of Iranians to Islam brought profound changes to their life and culture. However, in some regions, such as the Fars province, Zoroastrianism remained strong up to the 9th century, although Sufis such as Abu Eshaq Kazeruni, the founder of Kazeruni Sufi order, brought mass conversion of Zoroastrians to Islam in the 10th century.

During the Abbasid caliphate decline, independent and semi-independent native Iranian dynasties arose in different parts of Persia including the Tahirids, Saffarids, Samanids, Afrighids
Afrighids
The Afrighids were native Chorasmian Iranian dynasty who ruled over the ancient kingdom of Chorasmia until 995 AD.-Sources:...

, Ghurids
Ghurids
The Ghurids or Ghorids were a medieval Muslim dynasty of Iranian origin that ruled during the 12th and 13th centuries in Khorasan. At its zenith, their empire, centred at Ghōr , stretched over an area that included the whole of modern Afghanistan, the eastern parts of Iran and the northern section...

, Sallarids, Justanids, Shaddadids and Buyids. Socially, the Arabs abolished the previous social class system of Sassanians while later, especially under the Ummayyads, another form of discrimination and exclusion against non-Arabs evolved. In reaction to these, Abu Moslem
Abu Muslim
- External links :* *...

, an Iranian general, expelled the Umayyad
Umayyad
The Umayyad Caliphate was the second of the four major Arab caliphates established after the death of Muhammad. It was ruled by the Umayyad dynasty, whose name derives from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, the great-grandfather of the first Umayyad caliph. Although the Umayyad family originally came from the...

s from Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and helped the Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 caliphs to conquer Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. The Abbasid caliphs frequently chose their Iranians as their "wazirs
Vizier
A vizier or in Arabic script ; ; sometimes spelled vazir, vizir, vasir, wazir, vesir, or vezir) is a high-ranking political advisor or minister in a Muslim government....

" (viziers), and Iranian governors acquired a certain amount of local autonomy. Thus in 822, the governor of Khorasan, Tahir
Tahir II of Khorasan
Tahir bin 'Abd-Allah was the Tahirid governor of Khurasan from 845 until 862.During his father 'Abd-Allah's lifetime, Tahir was sent into the steppes to the north in order to keep the Oghuz Turks in line; he probably received Samanid assistance in this venture. When 'Abd-Allah died in 844, the...

, proclaimed his independence and founded a new Persian dynasty of Tahirids
Tahirid dynasty
The Tahirid Dynasty, was a Persian dynasty that governed from 820 to 872 over the northeastern part of Greater Iran, in the region of Khorasan . The dynasty was founded by Tahir ibn Husayn, a leading general in the service of the Abbasid caliph al-Ma'mun...

. And by the Samanid era, Iran's efforts to regain its independence had been well solidified.

Attempts at Arabization
Arabization
Arabization or Arabisation describes a growing cultural influence on a non-Arab area that gradually changes into one that speaks Arabic and/or incorporates Arab culture...

 thus never succeeded in Iran, and movements such as the Shu'ubiyya
Shu'ubiyya
Shu'ubiyyah refers to the response by non-Arab Muslims to the privileged status of Arabs within the Ummah.There has been discrimination and in many cases oppression of minority groups resulting in many defined periods of cultural struggle throughout Islamic History.-Terminology:The name of the...

 became catalysts for Iranians to regain their independence in their relations with the Arab invaders. Other notable major revolts, some by Iranian Muslims and others by practitioners of old Iranian religions against Arab rule were led by Al-Muqanna
Al-Muqanna
Al-Muqanna‘ was a Persian man who claimed to be a prophet and is viewed as a heretic by mainstream Muslims.- Biography : Al-Muqanna‘ was an ethnic Persian from Merv named Hashim ibn Hakim, originally a clothes pleater. He became a commander for Abū Muslim of Khorasan...

, Sunpadh
Sunpadh
Sunpadh or Sinbad or Sinbad the Magus was a Persian cleric from a small village called Āhan near Nishapur who incited an uprising against the Abbasid Caliphate in the 8th century....

, Khurramites
Khurramites
The Khurramites were an Iranian religious and political movement with its roots in the movement founded by Mazdak. An alternative name for the movement is the Muḥammira "Red-Wearing Ones" , a reference to their symbolic red dress.-Origins and History:The sect was founded by the Persian cleric...

, Babak Khorramdin
Babak Khorramdin
Bābak Khorram-Din was one of the main Persian revolutionary leaders of the Iranian Khorram-Dinān , which was a local freedom movement fighting the Abbasid Caliphate. Khorramdin appears to be a compound analogous to dorustdin and Behdin "Good Religion" , and are considered an offshoot of...

, Maziar
Maziar
Maziar was an Iranian aristocrat of the House of Karen and feudal ruler of the mountainous region of Tabaristan...

, Mardavij
Mardavij
Mardāvīj , was the founder of the Ziyarids dynasty, who successfully defeated the Abbasid's army firstly in Hamadan , and finally in Kashan and Isfahan...

, Ustadh Sis
Ustadh Sis
Ustadh Sis was a Persian heresiarch and anti-Arab rebel leader.His name in Persian means Master of Sis...

 and Ya'qub-i Laith Saffari.

The cultural revival of the post-Abbasid
Abbasid
The Abbasid Caliphate or, more simply, the Abbasids , was the third of the Islamic caliphates. It was ruled by the Abbasid dynasty of caliphs, who built their capital in Baghdad after overthrowing the Umayyad caliphate from all but the al-Andalus region....

 period led to a resurfacing of Iranian national identity. The resulting cultural movement reached its peak during the 9th and 10th centuries. The most notable effect of the movement was the continuation of the Persian language
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, the official language of Iran to the present day. Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

, Iran's greatest epic poet, is regarded today as the most important figure in maintaining the Persian language. After an interval of silence Iran re-emerged as a separate, different and distinctive element within Islam.

In 1218, the eastern Khwarazmid
Khwarezmian Empire
The Khwarazmian dynasty or Khwarezmian dynasty, also known as Khwarezmids, dynasty of Khwarazm Shahs or Khwarezm-Shah dynasty was a Persianate Sunni Muslim dynasty of Turkic mamluk origin.They ruled Greater Iran in the High Middle Ages, in the period of about 1077 to 1231, first as vassals of...

 provinces of Transoxiana
Transoxiana
Transoxiana is the ancient name used for the portion of Central Asia corresponding approximately with modern-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, southern Kyrgystan and southwest Kazakhstan. Geographically, it is the region between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers...

 and Khorasan
Greater Khorasan
Greater Khorasan or Ancient Khorasan is a historical region of Greater Iran mentioned in sources from Sassanid and Islamic eras which "frequently" had a denotation wider than current three provinces of Khorasan in Iran...

 suffered a devastating invasion
Invasion
An invasion is a military offensive consisting of all, or large parts of the armed forces of one geopolitical entity aggressively entering territory controlled by another such entity, generally with the objective of either conquering, liberating or re-establishing control or authority over a...

 by Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

. During this period more than half of Iran's population was killed, turning the streets of Persian cities such as Nishapur
Nishapur
Nishapur or Nishabur , is a city in the Razavi Khorasan province in northeastern Iran, situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains, near the regional capital of Mashhad...

 into "rivers of blood", as the severed heads of men, women, and children were "neatly stacked into carefully constructed pyramids around which the carcasses of the city's dogs and cats were placed".

According to Steven R. Ward, "Overall, the Mongol
Mongol Conquests
Mongol invasions progressed throughout the 13th century, resulting in the vast Mongol Empire which covered much of Asia and Eastern Europe by 1300....

 violence and depredations killed up to three-fourths of the population of the Iranian plateau, possibly 10 to 15 million people. Some historians have estimated that Iran's population did not again reach its pre-Mongol levels until the mid-20th century."
In a letter to King Louis IX of France
Louis IX of France
Louis IX , commonly Saint Louis, was King of France from 1226 until his death. He was also styled Louis II, Count of Artois from 1226 to 1237. Born at Poissy, near Paris, he was an eighth-generation descendant of Hugh Capet, and thus a member of the House of Capet, and the son of Louis VIII and...

, Holaku
Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü, Hulegu , was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia...

, one of the Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan
Genghis Khan , born Temujin and occasionally known by his temple name Taizu , was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death....

's grandsons, took sole responsibility for 200,000 deaths in his raids of Iran and the Caliphate. He was followed by yet another conqueror, Tamerlane
Timur
Timur , historically known as Tamerlane in English , was a 14th-century conqueror of West, South and Central Asia, and the founder of the Timurid dynasty in Central Asia, and great-great-grandfather of Babur, the founder of the Mughal Dynasty, which survived as the Mughal Empire in India until...

, who established his capital in Samarkand
Samarkand
Although a Persian-speaking region, it was not united politically with Iran most of the times between the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire and the Arab conquest . In the 6th century it was within the domain of the Turkic kingdom of the Göktürks.At the start of the 8th century Samarkand came...

. The waves of devastation prevented many cities such as Nishapur
Nishapur
Nishapur or Nishabur , is a city in the Razavi Khorasan province in northeastern Iran, situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains, near the regional capital of Mashhad...

 from reaching their pre-invasion population levels until the 20th century, eight centuries later.

In 1387, Tamerlane avenged a revolt in Isfahan by massacring 70,000 people. But both Hulagu
Hulagu Khan
Hulagu Khan, also known as Hülegü, Hulegu , was a Mongol ruler who conquered much of Southwest Asia...

, Tamerlane, and their successors soon came to adopt the ways and customs of that which they had conquered, choosing to surround themselves with a culture that was distinctively Persian. The mid-14th-century Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 killed about 30% of the country's population.

Iran was gradually Islamized after the collapse of the Sassanid Empire; however, it was not Arabized. Iranian culture re-emerged with a separate and distinctive character and made an immense contribution to the Islamic civilization. When Islam came through Iran, what developed was an Iranian Islam or Persian Islam rather than the original Arab Islam, and this new Islam is sometimes referred to by scholars as Islam-i Ajam (Persian Islam).

It was this Persian Islam and Sufism which was brought to new areas and new peoples such as the Turks of Central Asia, the Ottoman Empire, and the Indian subcontinent. Among the major Iranian
Iranian peoples
The Iranian peoples are an Indo-European ethnic-linguistic group, consisting of the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of Indo-European-speaking peoples...

 Muslims who cultivated Sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 and helped the spread of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 through Sufism, one can mention Habib Ajami, Hallaj, Hasan Basri, Junayd Baghdadi
Junayd Baghdadi
Junayd of Baghdad was one of the most famous of the early Persian Muslim mystics, or Sufis, of Islam and is a central figure in the golden chain of many Sufi orders. Junayd taught in Baghdad throughout his spiritual lifetime and was an important figure in the development of central Sufi doctrine...

, Bayazid Bastami
Bayazid Bastami
Bayazid Bastami , also known as Abu Yazid Bistami or Tayfur Abu Yazid al-Bustami, was a Persian Sufi born in Bastam, Iran.- Background :...

, Maruf Karkhi
Maruf Karkhi
Maruf Karkhi , known also by his full name Abu Mahfuz Maruf Ibn Firuz al-Karkhi, was a Sufi Saint who is a pivotal figure in Sufism. He came from a Christian background and the story of his conversion to Islam is one of the most famous in Islamic lore....

, Abdul-Qadir Gilani, Moinuddin Chishti
Moinuddin Chishti
Sultan-ul-Hind, Moinuddin Chishti was born in 1141 and died in 1230 CE. Also known as Gharīb Nawāz "Benefactor of the Poor" , he is the most famous Sufi saint of the Chishti Order of the Indian Subcontinent. He introduced and established the order in South Asia...

, Jalaluddin Rumi, Najmuddin Kubra, and Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari
Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari
Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari was the founder of what would become the Naqshbandi. He was born in Bukhara which is located in Uzbekistan...

. Note should also be made of Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafi
Hanafi
The Hanafi school is one of the four Madhhab in jurisprudence within Sunni Islam. The Hanafi madhhab is named after the Persian scholar Abu Hanifa an-Nu‘man ibn Thābit , a Tabi‘i whose legal views were preserved primarily by his two most important disciples, Abu Yusuf and Muhammad al-Shaybani...

 school of thought which is followed by most Muslims today.

Arabic writer Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldūn or Ibn Khaldoun was an Arab Tunisian historiographer and historian who is often viewed as one of the forerunners of modern historiography, sociology and economics...

 has remarked that the sedentary culture which was necessary for the development of civilization was rooted in the Persian empire.

One of the main developments after the advent of Islam in Iran was the rise of the New Persian language
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 as an important Indo-European language. The New Persian language was an evolution of Middle Persian
Middle Persian
Middle Persian , indigenously known as "Pârsig" sometimes referred to as Pahlavi or Pehlevi, is the Middle Iranian language/ethnolect of Southwestern Iran that during Sassanid times became a prestige dialect and so came to be spoken in other regions as well. Middle Persian is classified as a...

, which in turn was derived from Old Persian. New Persian absorbed a considerable amount of Arabic vocabulary during this era, although the Arabic vocabulary that was Persianized often took a different meaning than the Arabic origin. In terms of contribution to the Arabic language, Iranians like Sibawayhi pioneered writing books of grammar of the Arabic language.

Culturally, Iranians preserved their language, while they used Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 for scientific and philosophical discourses; this enabled them to reach a worldwide audience for the first time. After the 10th century, Persian, written in the modified Perso-Arabic script alongside Arabic, was used for scientific, philosophical, historical, mathematical, musical, and medical works, as important Iranian writers such as Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi
Khawaja Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Ḥasan Ṭūsī , better known as Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī , was a Persian polymath and prolific writer: an astronomer, biologist, chemist, mathematician, philosopher, physician, physicist, scientist, theologian and Marja Taqleed...

, Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

, Qotb al-Din Shirazi, Gurgani
Zakhira-i Khwarizmshahi
Zakhireye Khwarazmshahi is a Persian medical encyclopedia written by the Persian scholar Ismail Gorgani . It was composed between 1111 AD and 1136.-Organization:...

, Nasir Khusraw
Nasir Khusraw
Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Nāsir Khusraw Qubādiyānī [also spelled as Nasir Khusrow and Naser Khosrow] Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Nāsir Khusraw Qubādiyānī [also spelled as Nasir Khusrow and Naser Khosrow] Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn...

, Biruni, Abd al-Qadir Maraghi
Abd al-Qadir Maraghi
Abd al-Qadir al-Maraghi b. Ghaybi ), was a Persian musician and artist. According to the Encyclopedia of Islam, he was the greatest of the Persian writers on music.-Life:...

 made contributions to Persian scientific writing.

During this era, Iranians continued on a much larger scale the cultural and scientific enterprises set up by the Sassanids. The blossoming Persian literature
Persian literature
Persian literature spans two-and-a-half millennia, though much of the pre-Islamic material has been lost. Its sources have been within historical Persia including present-day Iran as well as regions of Central Asia where the Persian language has historically been the national language...

, philosophy
Iranian philosophy
Iranian philosophy or Persian philosophy can be traced back as far as to Old Iranian philosophical traditions and thoughts which originated in ancient Indo-Iranian roots and were considerably influenced by Zarathustra's teachings...

, medicine
Science and technology in Iran
Persia was a cradle of science in earlier times. Persian scientists contributed to the current understanding of nature, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. Persians made important contributions to algebra and chemistry, invented the wind-power machine, and the first distillation of alcohol...

, and art became major elements in the forming Muslim civilization. The Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

, which is characterized by developments in science, owed to a large extent its importance to vital contributions made by Iranians. The Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

 reached its peak in the 10th and 11th centuries, during which Persia was the main theatre of scientific activity. The Persian influence of this period relied heavily upon the achievements of the Sassanids, and the weight of this influence has led the Muslim world to accept Islamic civilization as the Perso-Islamic civilization.

Even in the development of Arabic scientific prose itself, which differs in style from that of the Quran, Persian scholars such as Abdullah Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ had a major role. Indeed, the class of clerks and civil administrators that was responsible for the cultivation of the sciences in the early Islamic centuries consisted mostly of Persians. The contributions of Iranians to the Arabic language are however not limited to scientific prose but are also found in Arabic poetry. The contributions by Iranians are characterised as "the lively and graceful fancy, elegance of diction, depth and tenderness of feeling, and a rich store of ideas".

Iranian philosophy
Iranian philosophy
Iranian philosophy or Persian philosophy can be traced back as far as to Old Iranian philosophical traditions and thoughts which originated in ancient Indo-Iranian roots and were considerably influenced by Zarathustra's teachings...

 after the Islamic conquest is characterized by different interactions with Old Iranian philosophy, with Ancient Greek philosophy, and with the development of Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy is a branch of Islamic studies. It is the continuous search for Hekma in the light of Islamic view of life, universe, ethics, society, and so on...

. Illuminationism
Illuminationism
Illuminationism is a doctrine in theology according to which the process of human thought needs to be aided by God. It is the oldest and most influential alternative to naturalism in the theory of mind and epistemology...

 and transcendent theosophy
Transcendent Theosophy
Transcendent theosophy or al-hikmat al-muta’li , the doctrine and philosophy developed by Persian philosopher, Mulla Sadra, is one of two main disciplines of Islamic philosophy that is currently live and active....

 are regarded as two of the main philosophical traditions of this era in Persia. These movements continued well into the 11th century, during which the Nizamiyya University was founded, and hundreds of Iranian scholars and scientists contributed greatly to technology, science, and medicine, later influencing the rise of European sciences during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

.

Early modern era (1501–1925)


Iran's first encompassing Shia Islamic state was established under the Safavid dynasty (1501–1722) by Shah Ismail I
Ismail I
Ismail I , known in Persian as Shāh Ismāʿil , was a Shah of Iran and the founder of the Safavid dynasty which survived until 1736. Isma'il started his campaign in Azerbaijan in 1500 as the leader of the Safaviyya, an extremist heterodox Twelver Shi'i militant religious order and unified all of Iran...

. The Safavid dynasty soon became a major political power and promoted the flow of bilateral state contacts. The Safavid peak was during the rule of Shah Abbas The Great. The Safavid dynasty frequently warred with the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, Uzbek
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan , officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country in Central Asia and one of the six independent Turkic states. It shares borders with Kazakhstan to the west and to the north, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to the east, and Afghanistan and Turkmenistan to the south....

 tribes and the Portuguese Empire
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

.

The Safavids moved their capital from Tabriz
Tabriz
Tabriz is the fourth largest city and one of the historical capitals of Iran and the capital of East Azerbaijan Province. Situated at an altitude of 1,350 meters at the junction of the Quri River and Aji River, it was the second largest city in Iran until the late 1960s, one of its former...

 to Qazvin
Qazvin
Qazvin is the largest city and capital of the Province of Qazvin in Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 349,821, in 96,420 families....

 and then to Isfahan, where their patronage for the arts propelled Iran into one of its most aesthetically productive eras. Under their rule, the state became highly centralized, the first attempts to modernize the military were made, and even a distinct style of architecture developed
Isfahani style (Iranian architecture)
The "Esfahani style" is a style of architecture when categorizing Iranian architecture development in history. Landmarks of this style span through the Safavid, Afsharid, Zand, and Qajarid dynasties starting from the 16th century onward...

. In 1722 Pashtun
Pashtun people
Pashtuns or Pathans , also known as ethnic Afghans , are an Eastern Iranic ethnic group with populations primarily between the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan and the Indus River in Pakistan...

 rebels headed by the Hotakis of Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

 defeated Sultan Husayn and ended the Safavid dynasty, but in 1735, Nader Shah
Nader Shah
Nāder Shāh Afshār ruled as Shah of Iran and was the founder of the Afsharid dynasty. Because of his military genius, some historians have described him as the Napoleon of Persia or the Second Alexander...

 successfully drove out the Pashtuns from Isfahan and established the Afsharid Dynasty
Afsharid dynasty
The Afsharids were members of an Iranian dynasty of Turkmen origin from Khorasan who ruled Persia in the 18th century. The dynasty was founded in 1736 by the military commander Nader Shah who deposed the last member of the Safavid dynasty and proclaimed himself King of Iran. During Nader's reign,...

.

He then staged an incursion into India in 1738, securing the Peacock Throne
Peacock Throne
The Peacock Throne, called Takht-e Tâvus in Persian, is the name originally given to a Mughal throne of India, which was later adopted and used to describe the thrones of the Persian emperors from Nader Shah Afshari and erroneously to Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi whose throne was a reconstruction of...

, Koh-i-Noor
Koh-i-Noor
The Kōh-i Nūr which means "Mountain of Light" in Persian, also spelled Koh-i-noor, Koh-e Noor or Koh-i-Nur, is a 105 carat diamond that was once the largest known diamond in the world. The Kōh-i Nūr originated in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India along with its double, the Darya-ye Noor...

, and Darya-ye Noor
Darya-ye Noor
The Darya-ye Noor is one of the largest diamonds in the world, weighing an estimated . Its colour, pale pink, is one of the rarest to be found in diamonds...

 among other royal
Royal family
A royal family is the extended family of a king or queen regnant. The term imperial family appropriately describes the extended family of an emperor or empress, while the terms "ducal family", "grand ducal family" or "princely family" are more appropriate to describe the relatives of a reigning...

 treasures. His rule did not last long, however, as he was assassinated in 1747. The Mashhad
Mashhad
Mashhad , is the second largest city in Iran and one of the holiest cities in the Shia Muslim world. It is also the only major Iranian city with an Arabic name. It is located east of Tehran, at the center of the Razavi Khorasan Province close to the borders of Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. Its...

 based Afshar Dynasty was succeeded by the Zand dynasty
Zand dynasty
The Zand dynasty ruled southern and central Iran in the 18th century.- Karim Khan Zand :The dynasty was founded by Karim Khan, chief of the Zand tribe which was Lur or Lak deportees. Modern scholarships such as Wadie Jwaideh suggested his Kurdishness. He became one of Nader Shah's generals...

 in 1750, founded by Karim Khan
Karim Khan
Karim Khan Zand, , , was a ruler of Iran, and the founder of the Zand Dynasty.He was born to a family of the Zand tribe of Lur or Lak deportees...

, who established his capital at Shiraz
Shiraz
Shiraz may refer to:* Shiraz, Iran, a city in Iran* Shiraz County, an administrative subdivision of Iran* Vosketap, Armenia, formerly called ShirazPeople:* Hovhannes Shiraz, Armenian poet* Ara Shiraz, Armenian sculptor...

. His rule brought a period of relative peace and renewed prosperity.

The Zand dynasty lasted three generations, until Aga Muhammad Khan
Mohammad Khan Qajar
Agha Muḥammad Khān Qājār ‎‎ was the chief of the Qajar tribe, succeeding his father Mohammad Hassan Khan, who was killed on the orders of Adil Shah. He became the Emperor/Shah of Persia in 1794 and established the Qajar dynasty...

 executed Lotf Ali Khan
Lotf Ali Khan
Lutf or Lotf Ali Khan was the last Shah of Persia of the Zand dynasty.Lotf Ali Khan Zand came to power after a decade of infighting among a succession of violent and inept Zand chiefs following the death in 1779 of the dynasty's founder, Karim Khan Zand...

, and founded his new capital in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, marking the dawn of the Qajar dynasty
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

 in 1794. The Qajar chancellor Amir Kabir
Amir Kabir
Amir Kabir , also known as Mirza Taghi Khan Amir-Nezam , also known by the titles of Atabak and Amir-e Nezam; chief minister to Naser al-Din Shah Qajar for the first three years of his reign and one of the most capable and innovative figures to appear in the whole Qajar period...

 established Iran's first modern college system, among other modernizing reforms. Iran suffered several wars with Imperial Russia during the Qajar era, resulting in Iran losing almost half of its territories to Imperial Russia and the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

, via the treaties of Gulistan, Turkmenchay
Treaty of Turkmenchay
The Treaty of Turkmenchay was a treaty negotiated in Turkmenchay by which the Qajar Empire recognized Russian suzerainty over the Erivan khanate, the Nakhchivan khanate, and the remainder of the Talysh khanate, establishing the Aras River as the common boundary between the empires, after its...

 and Akhal. The Great Persian Famine of 1870–1871 is believed to have caused the death of 2 million persons.

In spite of The Great Game
The Great Game
The Great Game or Tournament of Shadows in Russia, were terms for the strategic rivalry and conflict between the British Empire and the Russian Empire for supremacy in Central Asia. The classic Great Game period is generally regarded as running approximately from the Russo-Persian Treaty of 1813...

 Iran managed to maintain her sovereignty and was never colonized, unlike neighbouring states in the region. Repeated foreign intervention and a corrupt and weakened Qajar rule led to various protests
Tobacco Protest
The Tobacco Protest, was a Shi'a cleric-led revolt in Iran against an 1890 tobacco concession granted by the Shah to the Western imperial power of Great Britain. The protest climaxed in a widely-obeyed December 1891 fatwa against tobacco use supposedly issued by Grand Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi...

 and constitutionalization efforts
Attempts at Constitutionalization in Iran
The Iranian Constitutional Revolution was a short-lived push for democratic rule in the form of a constitutional monarchy within a highly elitist yet decentralized society under the Qajars...

 which eventually resulted in the establishment of the nation's first parliament in 1906. This was followed by the Jangal movement of Gilan which lead to the short-lived Gilan Republic
Persian Socialist Soviet Republic
The Persian Socialist Soviet Republic was a short-lived Soviet republic in the Iranian province of Gilan that lasted from June 1920 until September 1921...

.

Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979)


In 1925, Reza Khan
Reza Shah
Rezā Shāh, also known as Rezā Shāh Pahlavi and Rezā Shāh Kabir , , was the Shah of the Imperial State of Iran from December 15, 1925, until he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran on September 16, 1941.In 1925, Reza Shah overthrew Ahmad Shah Qajar, the last Shah of the Qajar...

 overthrew the weakening Qajar dynasty
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

 and became Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

. Rezā Shāh initiated industrialization, railroad
Rail transport
Rail transport is a means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In contrast to road transport, where vehicles merely run on a prepared surface, rail vehicles are also directionally guided by the tracks they run on...

 construction, and the establishment of a national education
Higher education in Iran
Iran has a large network of private, public, and state affiliated universities offering degrees in higher education. State-run universities of Iran are under the direct supervision of Iran's Ministry of Science, Research and Technology and Ministry of Health and Medical Education .-Pre-Islamic...

 system. Rezā Shāh sought to balance Russian and British influence, but when World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 started, his nascent ties to Germany alarmed Britain and Russia. In 1941, Britain and the USSR invaded Iran
Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran
The Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran was the Allied invasion of the Imperial State of Iran during World War II, by British, Commonwealth, and Soviet armed forces. The invasion from August 25 to September 17, 1941, was codenamed Operation Countenance...

 to use Iranian railroad capacity during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. The Shah was forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

.

In 1951, after the assassination of prime minister Ali Razmara, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh was elected prime minister
Prime Minister of Iran
Prime Minister of Iran was a political post in Iran that had existed during several different periods of time starting with the Qajar era until its most recent revival from 1979 to 1989 following the Iranian Revolution.-Prime Ministers of Qajar era:In the Qajar era, prime ministers were known by...

 by a parliamentary vote which was then ratified by the Shah. As prime minister, Mosaddegh became enormously popular in Iran after he nationalized Iran's petroleum industry
Petroleum industry in Iran
In 2004 Iran produced 5.1 percent of the world’s total crude oil , which generated revenues of US$25 billion to US$30 billion and was the country’s primary source of foreign currency. At 2006 levels of production, oil proceeds represented about 18.7 percent of gross domestic product . However, the...

 and oil reserves. In response, the British government, headed by Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a predominantly Conservative British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the century and served as Prime Minister twice...

, embargoed Iranian oil and successfully enlisted the United States to join in a plot to depose the democratically elected
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

 government of Mosaddegh. In 1953 US President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 authorized Operation Ajax
Operation Ajax
The 1953 Iranian coup d'état was the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh on 19 August 1953, orchestrated by the intelligence agencies of the United Kingdom and the United States under the name TPAJAX Project...

. The operation was successful, and Mosaddegh was arrested on 19 August 1953. The coup was the first time the US had openly overthrown an elected, civilian government.

After Operation Ajax, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's rule became increasingly autocratic
Autocracy
An autocracy is a form of government in which one person is the supreme power within the state. It is derived from the Greek : and , and may be translated as "one who rules by himself". It is distinct from oligarchy and democracy...

. With American support, the Shah was able to rapidly modernize Iranian infrastructure, but he simultaneously crushed all forms of political opposition with his intelligence agency, SAVAK
SAVAK
SAVAK was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service established by Iran's Mohammad Reza Shah on the recommendation of the British Government and with the help of the United States' Central Intelligence Agency SAVAK (Persian: ساواک, short for سازمان اطلاعات و امنیت کشور...

. Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

 became an active critic of the Shah's White Revolution
White Revolution
The White Revolution was a far-reaching series of reforms in Iran launched in 1963 by the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. Mohammad Reza Shah’s reform program was built especially to strengthen those classes that supported the traditional system...

 and publicly denounced the government.

Khomeini was arrested and imprisoned for 18 months. After his release in 1964 Khomeini publicly criticized the United States government. The Shah was persuaded to send him into exile by General Hassan Pakravan
Hassan Pakravan
Hassan Pakravan was a well known diplomat and minister in the Pahlavi pre-revolutionary government of Iran...

. Khomeini was sent first to Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, then to Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and finally to France. While in exile, he continued to denounce the Shah.

Islamic Republic (1979-present)


The Iranian Revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution, began in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations against the Shah. After strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country and its economy, the Shah fled the country in January 1979 and Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile to Tehran. The Pahlavi Dynasty
Pahlavi dynasty
The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty consisted of two Iranian/Persian monarchs, father and son Reza Shah Pahlavi (reg. 1925–1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi The Pahlavi dynasty ...

 collapsed ten days later, on 11 February, when Iran's military declared itself "neutral" after guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran officially became an Islamic Republic on 1 April 1979, when Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum to make it so.

In December 1979, the country approved a theocratic constitution, whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader
Supreme leader
A supreme leader typically refers to a figure in the highest leadership position of an entity, group, organization, or state, who exercises strong or all-powerful authority over it. In religion, the supreme leader or supreme leaders is God or Gods...

 of the country.
The speed and success of the revolution surprised many throughout the world, as it had not been precipitated by a military defeat, a financial crisis, or a peasant rebellion. Although both nationalists and Marxists joined with Islamic traditionalists to overthrow the Shah, tens of thousands were killed and executed by the Islamic regime afterward, and the revolution ultimately resulted in an Islamic Republic under Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Ruhollah Khomeini
Ruhollah Khomeini
Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini was an Iranian religious leader and politician, and leader of the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran...

.

Iran – United States relations deteriorated rapidly during the revolution. On 4 November 1979, a group of Iranian students seized US embassy personnel
Iran hostage crisis
The Iran hostage crisis was a diplomatic crisis between Iran and the United States where 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981, after a group of Islamist students and militants took over the American Embassy in Tehran in support of the Iranian...

, labeling the embassy a "den of spies". They accused its personnel of being CIA agents plotting to overthrow the revolutionary government, as the CIA had done to Mosaddegh in 1953. While the student ringleaders had not asked for permission from Khomeini to seize the embassy, Khomeini nonetheless supported the embassy takeover after hearing of its success.

While most of the female
Female
Female is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, which produces non-mobile ova .- Defining characteristics :The ova are defined as the larger gametes in a heterogamous reproduction system, while the smaller, usually motile gamete, the spermatozoon, is produced by the male...

 and African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 hostages were released within the first months, the remaining 52 hostages were held for 444 days. Subsequent attempts by the Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 administration to negotiate or rescue
Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw was an American military operation ordered by President Jimmy Carter to attempt to put an end to the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 Americans held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran on 24 April 1980...

 were unsuccessful. In January 1981 the hostages were set free according to the Algiers Accords
Algiers Accords
The Algiers Accords of January 19, 1981, were brokered by the Algerian government between the United States and Iran to resolve the Iran hostage crisis. The crisis arose from the takeover of the American embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979, and the taking hostage of the American staff there...

.

Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein
Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti was the fifth President of Iraq, serving in this capacity from 16 July 1979 until 9 April 2003...

 decided to take advantage of what he perceived to be disorder in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and its unpopularity with Western governments. The once-strong Iranian military had been disbanded during the revolution. Saddam sought to expand Iraq's access to the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 by acquiring territories that Iraq had claimed earlier from Iran during the Shah's rule. Of chief importance to Iraq was Khuzestan
Khuzestan Province
Khuzestan Province is one of the 31 provinces of Iran. It is in the southwest of the country, bordering Iraq's Basra Province and the Persian Gulf. Its capital is Ahwaz and covers an area of 63,238 km²...

 which not only has a substantial Arab
Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 population, but boasted rich oil fields as well. On the unilateral behalf of the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

, the islands of Abu Musa
Abu Musa
Abu Musa is a 12-km² island in the eastern Persian Gulf, part of a six-island archipelago near the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz. The island is administered by Iran as part of the Iranian province of Hormozgan, but is also claimed by the United Arab Emirates .Abu Musa's inhabitants call it...

 and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs
Greater and Lesser Tunbs
Greater Tunb and Lesser Tunb are two small islands in the eastern Persian Gulf, close to the Strait of Hormuz. They lie at and respectively, some 12 kilometers from each other and 20 south of the Iranian island of Qeshm...

 became objectives as well. On 22 September 1980 the Iraqi army invaded Iran at Khuzestan, precipitating the Iran–Iraq War.

Although Saddam Hussein's forces made several early advances, by 1982, Iranian forces managed to push the Iraqi army back into Iraq. Khomeini sought to export his Islamic revolution
Export of revolution
Export of revolution is actions by a victorious revolutionary government of one country to promote similar revolutions in other countries, as a manifestation of revolutionary internationalism of certain kind, e.g., the Marxist proletarian internationalism....

 westward into Iraq, especially on the majority Shia Arabs living in the country. The war then continued for six more years until 1988, when Khomeini, in his words, "drank the cup of poison" and accepted a truce mediated by the United Nations. The total Iranian casualties of the war were estimated to be anywhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000; with more than 100,000 Iranians being victims of Iraq's chemical weapons. Almost all relevant international agencies have confirmed that Saddam engaged in chemical warfare to blunt Iranian human wave attack
Human wave attack
Human wave attack, also known as human sea attack, is an offensive infantry tactic, in which an attacker conducts an unprotected frontal assault with densely concentrated infantry formations against the enemy line, intended to overrun the defenders by engaging in melee combat.-Definition:According...

s; these agencies unanimously confirmed that Iran never used chemical weapons during the war.

Following the Iran–Iraq War President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

 and his administration concentrated on a pragmatic pro-business policy of rebuilding and strengthening the economy without making any dramatic break with the ideology of the revolution. Rafsanjani served until 1997 when he was succeeded by the moderate reformist Mohammad Khatami
Mohammad Khatami
Sayyid Mohammad Khātamī is an Iranian scholar, philosopher, Shiite theologian and Reformist politician. He served as the fifth President of Iran from August 2, 1997 to August 3, 2005. He also served as Iran's Minister of Culture in both the 1980s and 1990s...

. During his two terms as president, Khatami advocated freedom of expression, tolerance and civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

, constructive diplomatic relations with other states including European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n governments, and an economic policy that supported free market
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

 and foreign investment. However, Khatami is widely regarded as having been unsuccessful in achieving his goal of making Iran more free and democratic. In the 2005 presidential elections
Iranian presidential election, 2005
Iran's ninth presidential election took place in two rounds, the first on June 17, 2005, the run-off on June 24. Mohammad Khatami, the previous President of Iran, stepped down on August 2, 2005, after serving his maximum two consecutive four-year terms according to the Islamic Republic's constitution...

, Iran made yet another change in political direction, when conservative populist candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected over Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an influential Iranian politician and writer, who was the fourth President of Iran. He was a member of the Assembly of Experts until his resignation in 2011...

.

A significant challenge to Ahmadinejad's political power, and the foundations of the Islamic Republic itself occurred during the 2009 Iranian presidential election that was held on 12 June 2009, the tenth presidential election to be held in the country. The Interior Ministry
Ministry of Interior (Iran)
The Ministry of Interior of the Islamic Republic of Iran is in charge of performing, supervising and reporting elections, and policing, among other responsibilities related to the interior....

, announced incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won the election with 62.63% receiving 24.5 million vote, while Mir-Hossein Mousavi
Mir-Hossein Mousavi
Mir-Hossein Mousavi Khameneh is an Iranian reformist politician, artist and architect who served as the seventy-ninth and last Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989. He was a Reformist candidate for the 2009 presidential election and eventually the leader of the opposition in the post-election...

 had come in second place with 13.2 million votes 33.75%.
There were large irregularities in the results and people were surprised by them, which resulted in protests gathering millions of Iranians in every Iranian city and around the world.

Many Iranian figures directly supported the protests and declared the votes were fraudulent. Among them, many film directors like Jafar Panahi
Jafar Panahi
Jafar Panahi is an Iranian filmmaker and is one of the most influential filmmakers in the Iranian New Wave movement. He has gained recognition from film theorists and critics worldwide and received numerous awards including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the Silver Bear at the...

 (who was consequently banned from making movies for 20 years and condemned to 6 years imprisonment), Mohammad Rasoulof (also condemned to 6 years imprisonment), actors and actresses like Pegah Ahangarani
Pegah Ahangarani
Pegah Ahangarani is an Iranian actress. She is the daughter of actress and director Manijeh Hekmat and movie director Jamshid Ahangarani. She has acted in 11 Iranian feature films since 2001 and made at least one documentary.- Filmography:...

 (who was consequently imprisoned), Ramin Parchami (who was consequently condemned to one year imprisonment), sportsmen like the whole Iran national football team
Iran national football team
The national football team of Iran represents Iran in international football competitions and is controlled by the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran...

 who wore green wristbands in their game against South Korea to support the movement , scholars like Mostafa Tajzadeh
Mostafa Tajzadeh
Seyyed Mostafa Tajzadeh is an Iranian progressive, reformist politician, and a member of Islamic Iran Participation Front .-Political career:...

, Mohsen Aminzadeh
Mohsen Aminzadeh
Mohsen Aminzadeh , born 1957 in Mashhad, Iran, is an Iranian reformist diplomat and politician. Aminzadeh was a founding member of the largest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front...

, Akbar Ganji
Akbar Ganji
Akbar Ganji is an Iranian journalist and writer. He has been described as "Iran’s preeminent political dissident", and a "wildly popular pro-democracy journalist" who has crossed press censorship "red lines" regularly...

, Mohsen Sazegara
Mohsen Sazegara
Mohsen Sazegara is an Iranian journalist and pro-democracy political activist. Dr. Sazegara held several high ranking positions in the Government of Mir-Hossein Mousavi, such as deputy prime minister, minister of industry, deputy chairman of the budget and planning department, and many more before...

, many religious figures like Mohsen Kadivar
Mohsen Kadivar
Mohsen Kadivar is an Iranian philosopher, University lecturer, cleric and activist. A political dissident, Kadivar has been a vocal critic of the doctrine of clerical rule, also known as Velayat-e Faqih , and a strong advocate of democratic and liberal reforms in Iran...

, Grand Ayatollah Yousef Saanei, Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Mohammad Dastgheib Shirazi, traditional singers like Mohammad Reza Shajarian
Mohammad Reza Shajarian
Mohammad-Reza Shajarian is an internationally and critically acclaimed Persian traditional singer, composer and ostad of Persian music...

, defected Basiji and Iranian Revolutionary Guards like Amir Farshad Ebrahimi
Amir Farshad Ebrahimi
Amir Farshad Ebrahimi is a former member of Quds Force of Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution and is currently a peace and human rights activist living in Germany.-Paramilitary career:...

 and those who confessed with covered faces.

A letter from the Interior Ministry was also exposed, showing the alleged real votes (Mousavi won with 20,000,000 votes followed by Karroubi who had 14,000,000 and Ahmadinejad only had 5,500,000).

The European Union and several western countries expressed concern over alleged irregularities during the vote, and many analysts and journalists from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 news media voiced doubts about the authenticity of the results.

Mousavi issued a statement accusing the Interior Ministry, which was responsible for conducting the election, of widespread election fraud and urged his supporters to engage in peaceful protests. He also lodged an official appeal with the Guardian Council for new and more transparent elections.
Supreme Leader
Supreme Leader of Iran
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

 Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

 Ali Khamenei
Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Seyed Ali Hoseyni Khāmene’i is the Supreme Leader of Iran and the figurative head of the Muslim conservative establishment in Iran and Twelver Shi'a marja...

 urged the nation to unite behind Ahmadinejad, labeling his victory as a "divine assessment". Khamenei then announced there would be an investigation into vote-rigging claims.

On 16 June, the Guardian Council
Guardian Council
The Guardian Council of the Constitution , also known as the Guardian Council or Council of Guardians, is an appointed and constitutionally-mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence in the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 announced it would recount 10% of the votes and concluded there were no irregularities at all, dismissing all election complaints. However, Mousavi stated that a recount would not be sufficient since he claimed 14 million unused ballots were missing, giving the Interior Ministry an opportunity to manipulate the results. On 19 June, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced the pro-Mousavi demonstrations as illegal, and protests the next day were met with stiff resistance from government forces, with many reported deaths.

The Green Movement of Iran continued its peaceful protests until 14 February 2011 and radicalized itself demanding a total regime change and departure of Seyyed Ali Khamenei from power.

Culture



The culture of Iran is a mix of ancient pre-Islamic culture and Islamic culture. Iranian culture has long been a predominant culture of the Middle East and Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, with Persian considered the language of intellectuals during much of the 2nd millennium, and the language of religion and the populace before that.

The Sassanid era was an important and influential historical period in Iran as Iranian culture influenced China, India and Roman civilization considerably, and so influenced as far as Western Europe and Africa. This influence played a prominent role in the formation of both Asiatic
Asian art
Asian art can refer to art amongst many cultures in Asia.-Various types of Asian art:*Afghan art*Azerbaijanian art*Balinese art*Bhutanese art*Buddhist art*Burmese contemporary art*Chinese art*Eastern art*Indian art*Iranian art*Islamic art...

 and European medieval art
Medieval art
The medieval art of the Western world covers a vast scope of time and place, over 1000 years of art history in Europe, and at times the Middle East and North Africa...

. This influence carried forward to the Islamic world. Much of what later became known as Islamic learning, such as philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

, literature
Islamic literature
Islamic literature is literature written with an Islamic perspective, in any language.The most well known fiction from the Islamic world was The Book of One Thousand and One Nights , which was a compilation of many earlier folk tales told by the Persian Queen Scheherazade...

, jurisprudence
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

, philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH...

, medicine
Islamic medicine
In the history of medicine, Islamic medicine, Arabic medicine or Arabian medicine refers to medicine developed in the Islamic Golden Age, and written in Arabic, the lingua franca of Islamic civilization....

, architecture
Islamic architecture
Islamic architecture encompasses a wide range of both secular and religious styles from the foundation of Islam to the present day, influencing the design and construction of buildings and structures in Islamic culture....

 and the sciences
Islamic science
Science in the medieval Islamic world, also known as Islamic science or Arabic science, is the science developed and practised in the Islamic world during the Islamic Golden Age . During this time, Indian, Iranian and especially Greek knowledge was translated into Arabic...

 were based on some of the practises taken from the Sassanid Persians to the broader Muslim world.

After Islamization of Iran Islamic rituals have penetrated in the Iranian culture. The most noticeable one of them is commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali. Every year in Day of Ashura
Day of Ashura
The Day of Ashura is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram.It is commemorated by Shia Muslims as a day of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala on 10...

 most of Iranians, including Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

 and Zoroastrians participate in mourning for the martyrs of battle of Karbala
Battle of Karbala
The Battle of Karbala took place on Muharram 10, in the year 61 of the Islamic calendar in Karbala, in present day Iraq. On one side of the highly uneven battle were a small group of supporters and relatives of Muhammad's grandson Husain ibn Ali, and on the other was a large military detachment...

. Daily life in modern Iran is closely interwoven with Shia Islam and the country's art, literature, and architecture are an ever-present reminder of its deep national tradition and of a broader literary culture.

The Iranian New Year (Nowruz
Nowruz
Nowrūz is the name of the Iranian New Year in Iranian calendars and the corresponding traditional celebrations. Nowruz is also widely referred to as the Persian New Year....

) is an ancient tradition celebrated on 21 March to mark the beginning of spring in Iran. It is also celebrated in Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and previously also in Georgia and Armenia. It is also celebrated by the Iraqi and Anatolian Kurds. Nowruz
Nowruz
Nowrūz is the name of the Iranian New Year in Iranian calendars and the corresponding traditional celebrations. Nowruz is also widely referred to as the Persian New Year....

 was registered on the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
The Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity was made by the Director-General of UNESCO starting in 2001 to raise awareness on intangible cultural heritage and encourage local communities to protect them and the local people who sustain these forms of cultural...

 and described as the Persian New Year by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009.

Language and literature


Article 15 of the Iranian constitution states that the "Official language (of Iran)... is Persian...[and]... the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian." Persian serves as a lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

in Iran and most publications and broadcastings are in this language.

Next to Persian, there are many publications and broadcastings in other relatively popular languages of Iran such as Azeri, Kurdish and even in less popular ones such as Arabic and Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

. Many languages originated in Iran, but Persian is the most used language. Persian belongs to the Iranian
Iranian languages
The Iranian languages form a subfamily of the Indo-Iranian languages which in turn is a subgroup of Indo-European language family. They have been and are spoken by Iranian peoples....

 branch of the family of Indo-European languages
Indo-European languages
The Indo-European languages are a family of several hundred related languages and dialects, including most major current languages of Europe, the Iranian plateau, and South Asia and also historically predominant in Anatolia...

. The oldest records in Old Persian date to the Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

, and examples of Old Persian have been found in present-day Iran, Iraq, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

.

In the late 8th century, Persian was highly Arabized and written in a modified Arabic script
Perso-Arabic script
The Persian or Perso-Arabic alphabet is a writing system based on the Arabic script. Originally used exclusively for the Arabic language, the Arabic alphabet was adapted to the Persian language, adding four letters: , , , and . Many languages which use the Perso-Arabic script add other letters...

. This caused a movement supporting the revival of Persian. An important event of this revival was the writing of the Shahname by Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

 (Persian: Epic of Kings), Iran's national epic, which is said to have been written entirely in native Persian. This gave rise to a strong reassertion of Iranian national identity, and is in part credited for the continued existence of Persian as a separate language.

Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi was a highly revered Persian poet. He was the author of the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran and related societies.The Shahnameh was originally composed by Ferdowsi for the princes of the Samanid dynasty, who were responsible for a revival of Persian cultural traditions after the...

(935–1020)


Persian beside Arabic has been a medium for literary and scientific contributions to the Islamic world especially in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

, central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 and Indian subcontinent. Poetry is a very important part of Persian culture. Poetry is used in many Persian classical works, whether from literature, science, or metaphysics. Persian literature has been considered by such thinkers as Goethe as one of the four main bodies of world literature.

The Persian language has produced a number of famous poets; however, only a few poets as Rumi and Omar Khayyám
Omar Khayyám
Omar Khayyám was aPersian polymath: philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet. He also wrote treatises on mechanics, geography, mineralogy, music, climatology and theology....

 have surfaced among western popular readership, even though the likes of Hafiz, Saadi
Saadi (poet)
Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī better known by his pen-name as Saʿdī or, simply, Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources...

, Nizami Attar, Sanai
Sanai
Hakim Abul-Majd Majdūd ibn Ādam Sanā'ī Ghaznavi was a Afghan Sufi poet who lived in Ghazna, in what is now Afghanistan between the 11th century and the 12th century. Some people spell his name as Sanayee. He died around 1131.-Life:...

, Nasir Khusraw
Nasir Khusraw
Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Nāsir Khusraw Qubādiyānī [also spelled as Nasir Khusrow and Naser Khosrow] Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Nāsir Khusraw Qubādiyānī [also spelled as Nasir Khusrow and Naser Khosrow] Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn...

, Jami
Jami
Nur ad-Dīn Abd ar-Rahmān Jāmī also known as DJāmī, Mawlanā Nūr al-Dīn 'Abd al-Rahmān or Abd-Al-Rahmān Nur-Al-Din Muhammad Dashti who is commonly known as Jami , is known for his achievements as a scholar, mystic, writer, composer of numerous lyrics and idylls, historian, and one of the greatest...

, Taleb Amoli
Taleb Amoli
-Bioghraphy:Sayyed Mohammad Taleb-e-Amoliand died in Kashmir, India .Taleb was one of the most distressed poets in the Sibk e Hindi Indian poetry, and had taken refuge in India. He was very skilful in mathematics, astronomy, wisdom, and philosophy in Indian style...

 are considered by many Iranians to be just as influential. The books of famous poets have been translated into western languages since 1634. An example of Persian poetic influence is the poem below which is widely popular:

Saadi
Saadi (poet)
Abū-Muḥammad Muṣliḥ al-Dīn bin Abdallāh Shīrāzī better known by his pen-name as Saʿdī or, simply, Saadi, was one of the major Persian poets of the medieval period. He is not only famous in Persian-speaking countries, but he has also been quoted in western sources...

(1184–1283)

Philosophy


While there are ancient relations between the Indian Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

 and the Iranian Avesta
Avesta
The Avesta is the primary collection of sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, composed in the Avestan language.-Early transmission:The texts of the Avesta — which are all in the Avestan language — were composed over the course of several hundred years. The most important portion, the Gathas,...

, the two main families of the ancient Indo-Iranian philosophical traditions were characterized by fundamental differences in their implications for the human being's position in society and their view on the role of man in the universe.

Iranian philosophy after the acceptance of Islam in Persia, is characterized by different interactions with the Ancient Iranian Philosophy, the Ancient Greek philosophy and with the development of Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy
Islamic philosophy is a branch of Islamic studies. It is the continuous search for Hekma in the light of Islamic view of life, universe, ethics, society, and so on...

. Illuminationism
Illuminationism
Illuminationism is a doctrine in theology according to which the process of human thought needs to be aided by God. It is the oldest and most influential alternative to naturalism in the theory of mind and epistemology...

 and transcendent theosophy
Transcendent Theosophy
Transcendent theosophy or al-hikmat al-muta’li , the doctrine and philosophy developed by Persian philosopher, Mulla Sadra, is one of two main disciplines of Islamic philosophy that is currently live and active....

 are regarded as two of the main philosophical traditions of that era in Persia. Among important contributors to philosophy in Iran are Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

, Jamasp
Jamasp
Jamasp was an Iranian philosopher in the time of Zarathustra.Jamasp was the Grand Vizier of Gushtasp.The book Jamasp Namag is about him.More info needed.-Sources:...

, Mardan-Farrux Ohrmazddadan
Shikand-gumanic Vichar
Shikand-gumanic Vichar is a Zoroastrian theology book of 9th century Iran, written by Mardan-Farrukh. Part apology, part polemic, the book contains nascent elements of an academic discipline: comparative religion.-The Author:...

, Adurfarnbag Farroxzadan, Adurbad Emedan, Iranshahri
Iranshahri
Abu al-Abbas Iranshahri was a 9th-century Persian philosopher, mathematician, natural scientist, historian of religion, astronomer and author. According to traditional sources, he is the first figure in the wider Muslim world to be associated with philosophy after the advent of Islam.-Life:He...

, Farabi, Avicenna
Avicenna
Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥusayn ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Sīnā , commonly known as Ibn Sīnā or by his Latinized name Avicenna, was a Persian polymath, who wrote almost 450 treatises on a wide range of subjects, of which around 240 have survived...

, Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari
Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari
Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari also given as 810-855 and 783-858 was a Persian Muslim hakim, Islamic scholar, physician and psychologist of Zoroastrian descent, who produced one of the first encyclopedia of medicine. He was a pioneer of pediatrics and the field of child development...

, Suhrawardi
Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi
Other important Muslim mystics carry the name Suhrawardi, particularly Abu 'l-Najib al-Suhrawardi and his paternal nephew Abu Hafs Umar al-Suhrawardi."Shahāb ad-Dīn" Yahya ibn Habash as-Suhrawardī was a Persian...

, Nasir Khusraw
Nasir Khusraw
Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Nāsir Khusraw Qubādiyānī [also spelled as Nasir Khusrow and Naser Khosrow] Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn Khusraw al-Qubadiani or Nāsir Khusraw Qubādiyānī [also spelled as Nasir Khusrow and Naser Khosrow] Abu Mo’in Hamid ad-Din Nasir ibn...

, Biruni, Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, Abu Yaqub al-Sijistani, Nasir al-Din Tusi, Qutb al-Din Shirazi, Mir Damad
Mir Damad
Mir Damad , known also as Mir Mohammad Baqer Esterabadi, or Asterabadi, was an Iranian philosopher in the Neoplatonizing Islamic Peripatetic traditions of Avicenna and Suhrawardi, a scholar of the traditional Islamic sciences, and foremost figure , of the cultural renaissance of Iran undertaken...

, Mulla Sadra
Mulla Sadra
Ṣadr ad-Dīn Muḥammad Shīrāzī also called Mulla Sadrā was a Persian Shia Islamic philosopher, theologian and ‘Ālim who led the Iranian cultural renaissance in the 17th century...

, Mir Fendereski
Mir Fendereski
Mir Fendereski was a renowned Iranian philosopher, poet and mystic of the Safavid era. His full name is given as Sayyed Mir Abulqasim Astarabadi , and he is famously known as Fendereski...

 and Hadi Sabzevari.

Music



The musical culture of Persia, while distinct, is closely related to other musical systems of the Middle East and Central Asia. It has also affinities to the music cultures of the Indian subcontinent, to a certain degree even to those of Africa, and, in the period after 1800 particularly, to that of Europe. Its history can be traced to some extent through these relationships. Like that of most of the world’s cultures, the music of Persia has depended on oral/aural transmission and learning.

Cinema



Iranian cinema has thrived in modern Iran, and many Iranian directors have garnered worldwide recognition for their work. Iranian movies have won over three hundred awards in the past twenty-five years. One of the best-known directors is Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami is an internationally acclaimed Iranian film director, screenwriter, photographer and film producer. An active filmmaker since 1970, Kiarostami has been involved in over forty films, including shorts and documentaries...

. The media of Iran is a mixture of private and state-owned, but books and movies must be approved by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance
Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance
The Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is the ministry of Culture of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is responsible for restricting access to any media of which the Islamic Regime in Tehran does not approve....

 before being released to the public. The Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 has become enormously popular among the Iranian youth. Iran is now the world's fourth largest country of bloggers
Iranian blogs
Blogging in Iran operates under special circumstances because the government restricts certain views. Blogs in general tend to be unregulated compared to other forms of expression in Iranian society. This characteristic can account for the huge popularity of blogs especially among Iranian youths...

.

Art and architecture


Greater Iran
Greater Iran
Greater Iran refers to the regions that have significant Iranian cultural influence. It roughly corresponds to the territory on the Iranian plateau and its bordering plains, stretching from Iraq, the Caucasus, and Turkey in the west to the Indus River in the east...

 is home to one of the richest art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

istic traditions in world history and encompasses many disciplines, including architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, painting
Painting
Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface . The application of the medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush but other objects can be used. In art, the term painting describes both the act and the result of the action. However, painting is...

, weaving
Weaving
Weaving is a method of fabric production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The other methods are knitting, lace making and felting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling...

, pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

, calligraphy
Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

, metalworking
Metalworking
Metalworking is the process of working with metals to create individual parts, assemblies, or large scale structures. The term covers a wide range of work from large ships and bridges to precise engine parts and delicate jewelry. It therefore includes a correspondingly wide range of skills,...

 and stonemasonry
Stonemasonry
The craft of stonemasonry has existed since the dawn of civilization - creating buildings, structures, and sculpture using stone from the earth. These materials have been used to construct many of the long-lasting, ancient monuments, artifacts, cathedrals, and cities in a wide variety of cultures...

. Carpet-weaving is one of the most distinguished manifestations of Persian culture and art, and dates back to ancient Persia. Persians were among the first to use mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, geometry
Geometry
Geometry arose as the field of knowledge dealing with spatial relationships. Geometry was one of the two fields of pre-modern mathematics, the other being the study of numbers ....

, and astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 in architecture and also have extraordinary skills in making massive domes which can be seen frequently in the structure of bazaars and mosques. The main building types of classical Iranian architecture
Iranian architecture
Iranian architecture or Persian architecture is the architecture of Iran . It has a continuous history from at least 5000 BCE to the present, with characteristic examples distributed over a vast area from Turkey to North India and the borders of China and from the Caucasus to Zanzibar...

 are the mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

 and the palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

. Besides being home to a large number of art houses and galleries, Iran also holds one of the largest and most valuable jewel collections
Iranian Crown Jewels
The Imperial crown jewels of Iran include several elaborate crowns and decorative thrones, thirty tiaras, and numerous aigrettes, a dozen bejewelled swords and shields, a vast number of unset precious gems, numerous plates and other dining services cast in precious metals and encrusted with gems,...

 in the world.

Iran ranks seventh among countries in the world with the most archeological architectural ruins and attractions from antiquity as recognized by UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

. Fifteen of UNESCO's World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

s are creations of Iranian architecture.

Cuisine



The cuisine of Iran is diverse, with each province featuring dishes, as well as culinary traditions and styles, distinct to their regions. The main Persian cuisines are combinations of rice with meat, chicken or fish and some onion, vegetables, nuts, and herbs. Herbs are frequently used along with fruits such as plums, pomegranates, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins. Iranians also usually eat plain yoghurt
Yoghurt
Yoghurt, yogurt or yogourt is a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria used to make yoghurt are known as "yoghurt cultures"...

  with lunch and dinner; it is a staple of the diet in Iran. To achieve a balanced taste, characteristic flavourings such as saffron, dried limes, cinnamon, and parsley are mixed delicately and used in some special dishes. Onions and garlic are normally used in the preparation of the accompanying course, but are also served separately during meals, either in raw or pickled form. Iran is also famous for its caviar
Caviar
Caviar, sometimes called black caviar, is a luxury delicacy, consisting of processed, salted, non-fertilized sturgeon roe. The roe can be "fresh" or pasteurized, the latter having much less culinary and economic value....

. Iranian food is not piquant.

Sports


With two thirds of Iran's population under the age of 25, many sports are practised in Iran, both traditional and modern. Iran is the birthplace of polo
Polo
Polo is a team sport played on horseback in which the objective is to score goals against an opposing team. Sometimes called, "The Sport of Kings", it was highly popularized by the British. Players score by driving a small white plastic or wooden ball into the opposing team's goal using a...

, and Varzesh-e Pahlavani
Varzesh-e Pahlavani
Varzesh-e Bastani is a traditional style of folk wrestling practiced in Iran....

. Freestyle wrestling
Freestyle wrestling
Freestyle wrestling is a style of amateur wrestling that is practised throughout the world. Along with Greco-Roman, it is one of the two styles of wrestling contested in the Olympic games. It is, along with track and field, one of the oldest organized sports in history...

 has been traditionally regarded as Iran's national sport
National sport
A national sport or national pastime is a sport or game that is considered to be an intrinsic part of the culture of a nation. Some sports are de facto national sports, as baseball is in the U.S., while others are de jure as lacrosse and ice hockey are in Canada.-De jure national sports:-De facto...

, however today, the most popular sport in Iran is football (soccer)
Football (soccer)
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a sport played between two teams of eleven players with a spherical ball...

, with the national team
Iran national football team
The national football team of Iran represents Iran in international football competitions and is controlled by the Football Federation Islamic Republic of Iran...

 having reached the World Cup Final Tournament three times, and having won the Asian Cup on three occasions. In 1974
1974 Asian Games
The 7th Asian Games were held from September 1, 1974 to September 16, 1974 in Tehran, Iran. The Aryamehr sports complex was made for the Games. The Asian Games were hosted in the Middle East for the first time...

, Iran became the first country in the Middle East to host the Asian Games
Asian Games
The Asian Games, officially known as Asiad, is a multi-sport event held every four years among athletes from all over Asia. The Games were regulated by the Asian Games Federation from the first Games in New Delhi, India, until the 1978 Games. Since the 1982 Games they have been organised by the...

. Iran is home to several unique skiing resorts, with the Tochal
Tochal
Mount Tochal is a mountain in the Alborz range and a ski resort adjacent to metropolitan Tehran, Iran. The mountain has a 12 km long ridgeline...

 resort being the world's fifth-highest ski resort (3730 m (12,238 ft) at its highest station), and located only fifteen minutes away from Tehran. Being a mountainous country, Iran is a venue for hiking, rock climbing, and mountain climbing.

Government and politics


The political system of the Islamic Republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

 is based on the 1979 Constitution. Accordingly, it is the duty of the Islamic government to furnish all citizens with equal and appropriate opportunities, to provide them with work, and to satisfy their essential needs, so that the course of their progress may be assured.

The system comprises several intricately connected governing bodies. The Leader of the Revolution
Supreme Leader of Iran
The Supreme Leader of Iran is the highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The post was established by the constitution in accordance with the concept of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists...

 (commonly called "Supreme Leader" in the US and the UK) is responsible for delineation and supervision of the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Supreme Leader is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, controls the military intelligence and security operations; and has sole power to declare war or peace.

The heads of the judiciary, state radio and television networks, the commanders of the police and military forces and six of the twelve members of the Guardian Council
Guardian Council
The Guardian Council of the Constitution , also known as the Guardian Council or Council of Guardians, is an appointed and constitutionally-mandated 12-member council that wields considerable power and influence in the Islamic Republic of Iran....

 are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts
The Assembly of Experts of Iran , also translated as Council of Experts, is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities.Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by...

 elects and dismisses the Supreme Leader on the basis of qualifications and popular esteem. The Assembly of Experts is responsible for supervising the Supreme Leader in the performance of legal duties.

After the Supreme Leader, the Constitution defines the President of Iran
President of Iran
The President of Iran is the highest popularly elected official in, and the head of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; although subordinate to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state...

 as the highest state authority. The President is elected by universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 for a term of four years and can only be re-elected for one term. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Guardian Council prior to running in order to ensure their allegiance to the ideals of the Islamic revolution.

The President is responsible for the implementation of the Constitution and for the exercise of executive powers, except for matters directly related to the Supreme Leader, who has the final say in all matters. The President appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers, coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the legislature. Eight Vice-Presidents serve under the President, as well as a cabinet of twenty two ministers, who must all be approved by the legislature.
Unlike many other states, the executive branch in Iran does not control the armed forces. Although the President appoints the Ministers of Intelligence and Defense, it is customary for the President to obtain explicit approval from the Supreme Leader for these two ministers before presenting them to the legislature for a vote of confidence. Iran's current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was first elected in a run-off poll in the 2005 presidential elections
Iranian presidential election, 2005
Iran's ninth presidential election took place in two rounds, the first on June 17, 2005, the run-off on June 24. Mohammad Khatami, the previous President of Iran, stepped down on August 2, 2005, after serving his maximum two consecutive four-year terms according to the Islamic Republic's constitution...

 and re-elected in the 2009 presidential elections.

As of 2011, the legislature of Iran (known in English as the Islamic Consultative Assembly) is a unicameral body. Before the Iranian Revolution
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

, the legislature was bicameral, but the upper house was removed under the new constitution. The Majlis of Iran comprises 290 members elected for four-year terms. The Majlis drafts legislation
Legislation
Legislation is law which has been promulgated by a legislature or other governing body, or the process of making it...

, ratifies international treaties, and approves the national budget. All Majlis candidates and all legislation from the assembly must be approved by the Guardian Council.

The Guardian Council comprises twelve jurists including six appointed by the Supreme Leader. The others are elected by the Parliament
Majlis
' , is an Arabic term meaning "a place of sitting", used in the context of "council", to describe various types of special gatherings among common interest groups be it administrative, social or religious in countries with linguistic or cultural connections to Islamic countries...

 from among the jurists nominated by the Head of the Judiciary
Judicial system of Iran
A nationwide judicial system in Iran was first implemented and established by Abdolhossein Teymourtash under Reza Shah, with further changes during the second Pahlavi era....

. The Council interprets the constitution and may veto
Veto
A veto, Latin for "I forbid", is the power of an officer of the state to unilaterally stop an official action, especially enactment of a piece of legislation...

 Parliament. If a law is deemed incompatible with the constitution or Sharia
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 (Islamic law), it is referred back to Parliament for revision. In a controversial exercise of its authority, the Council has drawn upon a narrow interpretation of Iran's constitution to veto parliamentary candidates. The Expediency Council
Expediency Discernment Council
The Expediency Discernment Council of the System is an administrative assembly appointed by the Supreme Leader and was created upon the revision to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran on 6 February 1988...

 has the authority to mediate disputes between Parliament and the Guardian Council, and serves as an advisory body to the Supreme Leader, making it one of the most powerful governing bodies in the country.

The Supreme Leader appoints the head of Iran's Judiciary
Judicial system of Iran
A nationwide judicial system in Iran was first implemented and established by Abdolhossein Teymourtash under Reza Shah, with further changes during the second Pahlavi era....

, who in turn appoints the head of the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor. There are several types of courts including public courts that deal with civil and criminal cases, and "revolutionary courts" which deal with certain categories of offenses, including crimes against national security
National security
National security is the requirement to maintain the survival of the state through the use of economic, diplomacy, power projection and political power. The concept developed mostly in the United States of America after World War II...

. The decisions of the revolutionary courts are final and cannot be appealed. The Special Clerical Court handles crimes allegedly committed by clerics, although it has also taken on cases involving lay people. The Special Clerical Court functions independently of the regular judicial framework and is accountable only to the Supreme Leader. The Court's rulings are final and cannot be appealed.

The Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts
The Assembly of Experts of Iran , also translated as Council of Experts, is a deliberative body of 86 Mujtahids that is charged with electing and removing the Supreme Leader of Iran and supervising his activities.Members of the assembly are elected from a government-screened list of candidates by...

, which meets for one week annually, comprises 86 "virtuous and learned" clerics elected by adult suffrage for eight-year terms. As with the presidential and parliamentary elections, the Guardian Council determines candidates' eligibility. The Assembly elects the Supreme Leader and has the constitutional authority to remove the Supreme Leader from power at any time. It has not challenged any of the Supreme Leader's decisions.

Local City Councils
City and Village Councils of Iran
City and Village Councils are local councils which are elected by public vote in all cities and villages throughout Iran....

 are elected by public vote to four-year terms in all cities and villages of Iran. According to article seven of Iran's Constitution, these local councils together with the Parliament are "decision-making and administrative organs of the State". This section of the constitution was not implemented until 1999 when the first local council elections were held across the country. Councils have many different responsibilities including electing mayors, supervising the activities of municipalities; studying, planning, co-ordinating and implementing of social, cultural, educational, health, economic, and welfare requirements of their constituencies.

Foreign relations and military


Iran's foreign relations are based on two strategic principles: eliminating outside influences in the region and pursuing extensive diplomatic contacts with developing and non-aligned countries
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

. Iran maintains diplomatic relations with almost every member of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, except for Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, which Iran does not recognize, and the United States since the Iranian Revolution. Since 2005, Iran's nuclear program
Nuclear program of Iran
The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The support, encouragement and participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran's nuclear program continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution...

 has become the subject of contention with the Western world due to suspicions that Iran could divert the civilian nuclear technology to a weapons program. This has led the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against Iran
Sanctions against Iran
This article outlines economic, trade, scientific and military sanctions against Iran, which have been imposed by the U.S. government, or under U.S. pressure by the international community through the United Nations Security Council...

 on select companies linked to this program, thus furthering its economic isolation on the international scene. The US Director of National Intelligence said in February 2009 that Iran would not realistically be able to a get a nuclear weapon until 2013, if it chose to develop one.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has two types of armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

: the regular forces Islamic Republic of Iran Army
Islamic Republic of Iran Army
The Islamic Republic of Iran Army is the ground force of the Military of Islamic Republic of Iran. In Iran, it is also called Artesh, which is Persian for "army." As of 2007, the regular Iranian Army was estimated to have 465,000 personnel plus around 350,000 reservists for a total of 815,000...

, Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force ' is the aviation branch of the Iranian armed forces. The present Air Force came into being in the early 1980s when the former Imperial Iranian Air Force was renamed....

, Islamic Republic of Iran Navy
Islamic Republic of Iran Navy
The Iranian Navy has traditionally been the smallest branch of Iran's armed forces and is designed mainly for securing its own ports and coast.- Overview :...

 and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution , often called Revolutionary Guards, is a branch of Iran's military, founded after the Iranian revolution...

 (IRGC), totaling about 545,000 active troops. Iran also has around 350,000 Reserve Force totaling around 900,000 trained troops. Iran has a paramilitary, volunteer militia force within the IRGC, called the Basij
Basij
The Basij is a paramilitary volunteer militia established in 1979 by order of the Islamic Revolution's leader Ayatollah Khomeini. The force consists of young Iranians who have volunteered, often in exchange for official benefits...

, which includes about 90,000 full-time, active-duty uniformed members. Up to 11 million men and women are members of the Basij who could potentially be called up for service; GlobalSecurity.org
GlobalSecurity.org
GlobalSecurity.org, launched in 2000, is a public policy organization focusing on the fields of defense, space exploration, intelligence, weapons of mass destruction and homeland security...

 estimates Iran could mobilize "up to one million men". This would be among the largest troop mobilizations in the world. In 2007, Iran's military spending represented 2.6% of the GDP or $102 per capita, the lowest figure of the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 nations. Iran's military doctrine is based on deterrence
Deterrence theory
Deterrence theory gained increased prominence as a military strategy during the Cold War with regard to the use of nuclear weapons, and features prominently in current United States foreign policy regarding the development of nuclear technology in North Korea and Iran. Deterrence theory however was...

.

Since the Iranian Revolution, to overcome foreign embargo, Iran has developed its own military industry, produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, guided missile
Guided Missile
Guided Missile is a London based independent record label set up by Paul Kearney in 1994.Guided Missile has always focused on 'the underground', preferring to put out a steady flow of releases and developing the numerous GM events around London and beyond....

s, submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s, military vessels, guided missile destroyer
Iranian destroyer Jamaran
Jamaran is the name of a domestically produced Mowj class guided missile frigate launched in early 2010 in Bandar-e-Abbas, Iran. Iran said that the design and building of Jamaran and the missile boat were among the greatest achievements of the Iranian Navy and the ship's launch marks a major...

, radar systems, helicopters and fighter planes. In recent years, official announcements have highlighted the development of weapons such as the Hoot
Hoot (missile)
Hoot is an Iranian supercavitation torpedo that travels at approximately 360 km/h, several times faster than a conventional torpedo. It was test-fired successfully from a surface ship against a dummy submarine during the Iranian military exercise "Great Prophet" ) on 2 April 2006 and 3 April...

, Kowsar
Kowsar
Kowsar is a medium-range, land-based anti-ship missile made by Iran. It can defeat electronic jamming systems and "cannot be thrown off course", according to Iranian officials....

, Zelzal, Fateh-110
Fateh-110
The Fateh-110 , is a single-stage solid-propellant, surface-to-surface missile with at least a 200 km range, and it is produced domestically within Iran, including the solid fuel propellant. The Aerospace Industries Organization is capable of producing many types of liquid and solid propellants...

, Shahab-3
Shahab-3
The Shahab-3 is a medium-range ballistic missile developed by Iran and based on the Nodong-1. The Shahab-3 has a range of ; a MRBM variant can now reach...

 and Sajjil
Sajjil
The Sejil missile , also known as Sajjil, is a family of Iranian solid-fueled ballistic missiles. The Sejil are replacements for the Shahab liquid-fueled ballistic missiles...

 missiles, and a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The Fajr-3 (MIRV) is currently Iran's most advanced ballistic missile
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

, it is a liquid fuel missile with an undisclosed range which was developed and produced domestically.

Economy



The economy of Iran is the eighteenth largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

 (PPP). Iran's economy is a mixture
Mixed economy
Mixed economy is an economic system in which both the state and private sector direct the economy, reflecting characteristics of both market economies and planned economies. Most mixed economies can be described as market economies with strong regulatory oversight, in addition to having a variety...

 of central planning
Planned economy
A planned economy is an economic system in which decisions regarding production and investment are embodied in a plan formulated by a central authority, usually by a government agency...

, state ownership
State ownership
State ownership, also called public ownership, government ownership or state property, are property interests that are vested in the state, rather than an individual or communities....

 of oil and other large enterprises
Business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

, village agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. Its economic infrastructure
Communications in Iran
Iran’s telecommunications industry is almost entirely state-owned, dominated by the Telecommunication Company of Iran . Fixed-line penetration in 2004 was relatively well-developed by regional standards, standing at 22 lines per 100 people, higher than Egypt with 14 and Saudi Arabia with 15,...

 has been improving steadily over the past two decades but continues to be affected by inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 and unemployment
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

. In the early 21st century the service sector contributed the largest percentage of the GDP, followed by industry (mining
Mining in Iran
Mining in Iran is under-developed. Yet the country is one of the most important mineral producers in the world, ranked among 15 major mineral rich countries, holding some 68 types of minerals, 37 billion tonnes of proven reserves and more than 57 billion tonnes of potential reservoirs....

 and manufacturing) and agriculture. In 2006, about 45% of the government's budget came from oil and natural gas revenues, and 31% came from taxes and fees.

Government spending contributed to an average annual inflation rate of 14% in the period 2000–2004. As at 2007, Iran had earned $70 billion in foreign exchange reserves
Foreign exchange reserves
Foreign-exchange reserves in a strict sense are 'only' the foreign currency deposits and bonds held by central banks and monetary authorities. However, the term in popular usage commonly includes foreign exchange and gold, Special Drawing Rights and International Monetary Fund reserve positions...

 mostly (80%) from crude oil exports. In 2009 GDP was $336 billion ($876 billion at PPP), or $12,900 at PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

 per capita. In 2008, Iran's official annual growth rate was 6%. Because of these figures and the country’s diversified but small industrial base, the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 classifies Iran's economy as semi-developed (1998).

Close to 1.8% of national employment is generated in the tourism sector which is slated to increase to 10% in the next five years. About 1,659,000 foreign tourists visited Iran in 2004; most came from Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n countries, including the republics of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, while a small share came from the countries of the European Union and North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. Iran currently ranks 89th in tourist income, but is rated among the "10 most touristic countries" in the world in terms of its history
History of Iran
The history of Iran has been intertwined with the history of a larger historical region, comprising the area from the Danube River in the west to the Indus River and Jaxartes in the east and from the Caucasus, Caspian Sea, and Aral Sea in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and Egypt...

. Weak advertising, unstable regional conditions, a poor public image in some parts of the world, and absence of efficient planning schemes in the tourism sector have all hindered the growth of tourism.

The administration continues to follow the market reform plans
Iranian Economic Reform Plan
The Iranian targeted subsidy plan also known as the subsidy reform plan was passed by the Iranian Parliament on January 5, 2010. The government has described the subsidy plan as the "biggest surgery" to the nation's economy in half a century and "one of the most important undertakings in Iran's...

 of the previous one and indicated that it will diversify Iran's oil-reliant economy. Iran has also developed a biotechnology, nanotechnology, and pharmaceuticals industry. The strong oil market since 1996 helped ease financial pressures on Iran and allowed for Tehran's timely debt service payments.

Iranian budget deficits have been a chronic problem, mostly due to large-scale state subsidies, that include foodstuffs and especially gasoline, totaling more than $84 billion in 2008 for the energy sector alone. In 2010, the economic reform plan was approved by parliament to cut subsidies gradually and replace them with targeted social assistance. The objective is to move towards free market
Free market
A free market is a competitive market where prices are determined by supply and demand. However, the term is also commonly used for markets in which economic intervention and regulation by the state is limited to tax collection, and enforcement of private ownership and contracts...

 prices in a 5-year period and increase productivity and social justice
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

.

Over the past 15 years, the authorities have placed an emphasis on the local production of domestic-consumption oriented goods such as home appliances, cars, agricultural products, pharmaceutical, etc. Today, Iran possesses a good manufacturing industry
Industry of Iran
According to a report by the Economist, Iran has been ranked 39th for producing $23 billion of industrial products in 2008. From 2008 to 2009 Iran has leaped to 28th place from 69th place in annual industrial production growth rate. A recent report by the World Fact Book ranks Iran 3rd among...

, despite restrictions imposed by foreign countries
Sanctions against Iran
This article outlines economic, trade, scientific and military sanctions against Iran, which have been imposed by the U.S. government, or under U.S. pressure by the international community through the United Nations Security Council...

. However, nationalized industries such as the bonyad
Bonyad
Bonyads are charitable trusts in Iran that play a significant role in Iran's non-petroleum economy, controlling an estimated 20% of Iran's GDP. Exempt from taxes, they have been called "bloated", and "a major weakness of Iran’s economy", and criticized for reaping "huge subsidies from government",...

s have often been managed badly, making them ineffective and uncompetitive with years. Currently, the government is trying to privatize these industries
Privatization in Iran
According to the Fourth Five-Year Economic Development Plan , the Privatization Organization of Iran affiliated to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance is in charge of setting prices and ceding shares to the general public and on the Tehran Stock Exchange...

, and, despite successes, there are still several problems to be overcome, such as the lagging corruption in the public sector
Corruption in Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran suffers from widespread corruption.- Corruption levels :According to Transparency International, which publishes the annual Corruption Perception Index, in 2009 Iran fell from 141st on the list of 180 countries to eighth from bottom – one of the most marked...

 and lack of competitiveness. Iran ranks 69th out of 139 in Global Competitiveness Report
Global Competitiveness Report
The Global Competitiveness Report is a yearly report published by the World Economic Forum. The first report was released in 1979. The 2011–2012 report covers 142 major and emerging economies....

.

Iran has leading manufacture industry
Industry of Iran
According to a report by the Economist, Iran has been ranked 39th for producing $23 billion of industrial products in 2008. From 2008 to 2009 Iran has leaped to 28th place from 69th place in annual industrial production growth rate. A recent report by the World Fact Book ranks Iran 3rd among...

 in the fields of car-manufacture and transportation, construction materials, home appliances, food and agricultural goods, armaments, pharmaceuticals, information technology, power and petrochemicals in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

.

Energy



Iran ranks second in the world in natural gas reserves
Natural gas reserves in Iran
According to Iran Petroleum Ministry, Iran's proved natural gas reserves are about or about 15.8% of world's total reserves, of which 33% are as associated gas and 67% is in non associated gas fields...

 and third in oil reserves
Oil reserves in Iran
Oil reserves in Iran, according to its government, rank third largest in the world at approximately as of 2007, although it ranks second if Canadian reserves of unconventional oil are excluded. This is roughly 10% of the world's total proven petroleum reserves. Iran is the world's fourth largest...

. It is OPEC
OPEC
OPEC is an intergovernmental organization of twelve developing countries made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. OPEC has maintained its headquarters in Vienna since 1965, and hosts regular meetings...

's 2nd largest oil exporter and it has the potential to become an energy superpower.
In 2005, Iran spent $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

4 billion on fuel imports, because of contraband
Contraband
The word contraband, reported in English since 1529, from Medieval French contrebande "a smuggling," denotes any item which, relating to its nature, is illegal to be possessed or sold....

 and inefficient domestic use. Oil industry output averaged 4 Moilbbl/d in 2005, compared with the peak of six million barrels per day reached in 1974. In the early 2000s, industry infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

 was increasingly inefficient because of technological lags. Few exploratory wells
Oil well
An oil well is a general term for any boring through the earth's surface that is designed to find and acquire petroleum oil hydrocarbons. Usually some natural gas is produced along with the oil. A well that is designed to produce mainly or only gas may be termed a gas well.-History:The earliest...

 were drilled in 2005.

In 2004, a large share of Natural gas reserves in Iran
Natural gas reserves in Iran
According to Iran Petroleum Ministry, Iran's proved natural gas reserves are about or about 15.8% of world's total reserves, of which 33% are as associated gas and 67% is in non associated gas fields...

 were untapped. The addition of new hydroelectric stations and the streamlining of conventional coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 and oil-fired stations increased installed capacity to 33,000 megawatts. Of that amount, about 75% was based on natural gas, 18% on oil, and 7% on hydroelectric power. In 2004, Iran opened its first wind
Wind
Wind is the flow of gases on a large scale. On Earth, wind consists of the bulk movement of air. In outer space, solar wind is the movement of gases or charged particles from the sun through space, while planetary wind is the outgassing of light chemical elements from a planet's atmosphere into space...

-powered and geothermal plants, and the first solar
Solar power
Solar energy, radiant light and heat from the sun, has been harnessed by humans since ancient times using a range of ever-evolving technologies. Solar radiation, along with secondary solar-powered resources such as wind and wave power, hydroelectricity and biomass, account for most of the available...

 thermal plant is to come online in 2009.

Demographic
Demographics of Iran
Iran's population increased dramatically during the later half of the 20th century, reaching about 75 million by 2011. In recent years, however, Iran's birth rate has dropped significantly. Studies project that Iran's rate of population growth will continue to slow until it stabilizes above 100...

 trends and intensified industrialization have caused electric power
Electric power
Electric power is the rate at which electric energy is transferred by an electric circuit. The SI unit of power is the watt.-Circuits:Electric power, like mechanical power, is represented by the letter P in electrical equations...

 demand to grow by 8% per year. The government’s goal of 53,000 megawatts of installed capacity by 2010 is to be reached by bringing on line new gas-fired plants and by adding hydroelectric, and nuclear power generating capacity
Nuclear program of Iran
The nuclear program of Iran was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program. The support, encouragement and participation of the United States and Western European governments in Iran's nuclear program continued until the 1979 Iranian Revolution...

. Iran’s first nuclear power plant
Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant
The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is a nuclear power plant in Iran southeast of the city of Bushehr, between the fishing villages of Halileh and Bandargeh along the Persian Gulf. The plant is located at the junction of three tectonic plates....

 at Bushehr
Bushehr
Bushehr Bushehr lies in a vast plain running along the coastal region on the Persian Gulf coast of southwestern Iran. It is the chief seaport of the country and the administrative centre of its province. Its location is about south of Tehran. The local climate is hot and humid.The city...

 is set to go online by 2010.

Science and technology


Ancient Iranians built Qanat
Qanat
A qanāt is a water management system used to provide a reliable supply of water for human settlements and irrigation in hot, arid and semi-arid climates...

s and Yakhchal
Yakhchal
Yakhchāl is an ancient type of refrigerator. The word also means "glacier" in Persian.In 400 BC Persian engineers had already mastered the technique of storing ice in the middle of summer in the desert....

 to provide and keep water. The first windmill
Windmill
A windmill is a machine which converts the energy of wind into rotational energy by means of vanes called sails or blades. Originally windmills were developed for milling grain for food production. In the course of history the windmill was adapted to many other industrial uses. An important...

 appeared in Iran in the 9th century. Iranians contributed significantly to the current understanding of astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, natural science
Natural science
The natural sciences are branches of science that seek to elucidate the rules that govern the natural world by using empirical and scientific methods...

, medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

, mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

, and philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

. Khwarizmi
Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi
'There is some confusion in the literature on whether al-Khwārizmī's full name is ' or '. Ibn Khaldun notes in his encyclopedic work: "The first who wrote upon this branch was Abu ʿAbdallah al-Khowarizmi, after whom came Abu Kamil Shojaʿ ibn Aslam." . 'There is some confusion in the literature on...

 is widely hailed as the father of algebra. Ethanol (alcohol) was first identified by Persian alchemists such as Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi. Throughout the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, the natural philosophy
Natural philosophy
Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature , is a term applied to the study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science...

 and mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...

 of the Ancient Greeks and Persians were furthered and preserved within Persia. The Academy of Gundishapur
Academy of Gundishapur
The Academy of Gondishapur , also Jondishapur , was a renowned academy of learning in the city of Gundeshapur during late antiquity, the intellectual center of the Sassanid empire. It offered training in medicine, philosophy, theology and science. The faculty were versed in the Zoroastrian and...

 was a renowned centre of learning in the city of Gundeshapur
Gundeshapur
Gundeshapur Gundeshapur Gundeshapur (Persian گندی‌شاپور, Gund-ī Shāh Pūr, Gondeshapur, Jondishapoor, Jondishapur, and Jondishapour, Gundishapur, Gondêšâpur, Jund-e Shapur, Jundê-Shâpûr, etc...

 during late antiquity and was the most important medical centre of the ancient world during the 6th and 7th centuries. During this period, Persia became a centre for the manufacture of scientific instruments
Measuring instrument
In the physical sciences, quality assurance, and engineering, measurement is the activity of obtaining and comparing physical quantities of real-world objects and events. Established standard objects and events are used as units, and the process of measurement gives a number relating the item...

, retaining its reputation for quality well into the 19th century.

Iran strives to revive the golden age of Persian science. The country has increased its publication output nearly tenfold from 1996 through 2004, and has been ranked first in terms of output growth rate followed by China. Despite the limitations in funds, facilities, and international collaborations, Iranian scientists remain highly productive in several experimental fields, such as pharmacology
Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function...

, pharmaceutical chemistry, organic chemistry
Organic chemistry
Organic chemistry is a subdiscipline within chemistry involving the scientific study of the structure, properties, composition, reactions, and preparation of carbon-based compounds, hydrocarbons, and their derivatives...

, and polymer chemistry
Polymer chemistry
Polymer chemistry or macromolecular chemistry is a multidisciplinary science that deals with the chemical synthesis and chemical properties of polymers or macromolecules. According to IUPAC recommendations, macromolecules refer to the individual molecular chains and are the domain of chemistry...

. Iranian scientists are also helping construct the Compact Muon Solenoid
Compact Muon Solenoid
The Compact Muon Solenoid experiment is one of two large general-purpose particle physics detectors built on the proton-proton Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland and France. Approximately 3,600 people from 183 scientific institutes, representing 38 countries form the CMS collaboration...

, a detector for CERN
CERN
The European Organization for Nuclear Research , known as CERN , is an international organization whose purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border...

's Large Hadron Collider
Large Hadron Collider
The Large Hadron Collider is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator. It is expected to address some of the most fundamental questions of physics, advancing the understanding of the deepest laws of nature....

. In 2009, a SUSE Linux-based HPC system made by the Aerospace Research Institute of Iran (ARI) was launched with 32 cores and now runs 96 cores. Its performance was pegged at 192 GFLOPS.

In the biomedical sciences, Iran's Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics is a research institute in Iran founded in 1976 to conduct research in biological sciences and related fields. It is affiliated with the University of Tehran and is located in its main campus....

 is a UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 chair in biology. In late 2006, Iranian scientists successfully cloned
Cloning
Cloning in biology is the process of producing similar populations of genetically identical individuals that occurs in nature when organisms such as bacteria, insects or plants reproduce asexually. Cloning in biotechnology refers to processes used to create copies of DNA fragments , cells , or...

 a sheep by somatic cell nuclear transfer, at the Rouyan research centre
Royan Institute
Royan Institute for Reproductive Biomedicine, Stem Cell Biology and Technology is a leading Iranian biomedical research center involved in stem cell technology and regenerative medicine....

 in Tehran. According to a study by David Morrison and Ali Khademhosseini (Harvard-MIT and Cambridge), stem cell
Stem cell
This article is about the cell type. For the medical therapy, see Stem Cell TreatmentsStem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells...

 research in Iran is amongst the top 10 in the world. Iran ranks 15th in the world in nanotechnologies.

The Iranian nuclear program was launched in the 1950s. Iran is the 7th country in production of uranium hexafluoride
Uranium hexafluoride
Uranium hexafluoride , referred to as "hex" in the nuclear industry, is a compound used in the uranium enrichment process that produces fuel for nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. It forms solid grey crystals at standard temperature and pressure , is highly toxic, reacts violently with water...

. Iran now controls the entire cycle for producing nuclear fuel
Nuclear fuel cycle
The nuclear fuel cycle, also called nuclear fuel chain, is the progression of nuclear fuel through a series of differing stages. It consists of steps in the front end, which are the preparation of the fuel, steps in the service period in which the fuel is used during reactor operation, and steps in...

. Iran's current facilities includes several research reactors, a uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 mine, an almost complete commercial nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

, and uranium processing facilities that include a uranium enrichment plant.

The Iranian Space Agency
Iranian Space Agency
The Iranian Space Agency is Iran's governmental space agency. Iran is an active participant in the Asian space race and became an orbital-launch-capable nation in 2009...

 launched its first reconnaissance satellite named Sina-1 in 2006, and a space rocket in 2007, which aimed at improving science and research for university students. Iran placed its domestically built satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

, Omid
Omid
Omid is a common Persian male given name, meaning hope...

 into orbit on the 30th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, on 2 February 2009, through Safir rocket, becoming the ninth country in the world capable of both producing a satellite
Satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

 and sending it into space
Space
Space is the boundless, three-dimensional extent in which objects and events occur and have relative position and direction. Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum...

 from a domestically made launcher
Launch pad
A launch pad is the area and facilities where rockets or spacecraft lift off. A spaceport can contain one or many launch pads. A typical launch pad consists of the service and umbilical structures. The service structure provides an access platform to inspect the launch vehicle prior to launch....

.

Iranian scientists outside Iran have also made some major contributions to science. In 1960, Ali Javan
Ali Javan
Ali Mortimer Javan , born December 26, 1926 in Tehran, Iran is an Iranian American inventor and physicist at MIT. He co-invented the gas laser in 1960, with William R. Bennett...

 co-invented the first gas laser
Gas laser
A gas laser is a laser in which an electric current is discharged through a gas to produce coherent light. The gas laser was the first continuous-light laser and the first laser to operate "on the principle of converting electrical energy to a laser light output...

 and fuzzy set theory
Fuzzy set
Fuzzy sets are sets whose elements have degrees of membership. Fuzzy sets were introduced simultaneously by Lotfi A. Zadeh and Dieter Klaua in 1965 as an extension of the classical notion of set. In classical set theory, the membership of elements in a set is assessed in binary terms according to...

 was introduced by Lotfi Zadeh. Iranian cardiologist, Tofy Mussivand invented and developed the first artificial cardiac pump, the precursor of the artificial heart
Artificial heart
An artificial heart is a mechanical device that replaces the heart. Artificial hearts are typically used in order to bridge the time to heart transplantation, or to permanently replace the heart in case transplantation is impossible...

. Furthering research and treatment of diabetes, HbA1c was discovered by Samuel Rahbar
Samuel Rahbar
Samuel Rahbar is an Iranian born scientist who discovered the linkage between diabetes and HbA1C, a form of hemoglobin used primarily to identify plasma glucose concentration over time....

. Iranian physics is especially strong in string theory
String theory
String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything , a manner of describing the known fundamental forces and matter in a mathematically complete system...

, with many papers being published in Iran. Iranian-American
Iranian-American
Iranian-Americans are Americans of Iranian ancestry or people possessing Iranian and American dual citizenship.Iranian-Americans are amongst the most highly educated groups in the United States...

 string theorist Cumrun Vafa
Cumrun Vafa
Cumrun Vafa is an Iranian-American leading string theorist from Harvard University where he started as a Harvard Junior Fellow. He is a recipient of the 2008 Dirac Medal.-Birth and education:...

 proposed the Vafa-Witten theorem
Vafa-Witten theorem
In theoretical physics, the Vafa–Witten theorem, named after Cumrun Vafa and Edward Witten, is a theorem that shows that vector-like global symmetries such as isospin and baryon number cannot be spontanteously broken as long as the theta angle is zero.-References:...

 together with Edward Witten
Edward Witten
Edward Witten is an American theoretical physicist with a focus on mathematical physics who is currently a professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study....

.

Demographics




Iran is a diverse country consisting of people of many religions and ethnic backgrounds cemented by the Persian culture. The majority of the population speaks the Persian language
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, which is also the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 of the country, as well as other Iranian languages or dialects. Turkic languages
Turkic languages
The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

 and dialects, most importantly Azeri language, are spoken in different areas in Iran. Additionally, Arabic is spoken in the southwestern parts of the country.

The exact ethnic breakdown of Iran is unknown as there are no official numbers, however some organizations have made estimates. The World Factbook
The World Factbook
The World Factbook is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official paper copy version is available from the National Technical Information Service and the Government Printing Office...

 released the estimate: Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 (61%), Azerbaijanis
Azerbaijani people
The Azerbaijanis are a Turkic-speaking people living mainly in northwestern Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as in the neighbourhood states, Georgia, Russia and formerly Armenia. Commonly referred to as Azeris or Azerbaijani Turks , they also live in a wider area from the Caucasus to...

 (16%), Kurds (10%), Lurs
Lurs
Lurs are an Iranic people living mainly in south-western Iran. Their population is estimated at above two million. They occupy Lorestan, Bakhtiari, and Kuh-Gilu-Boir Ahmed. "....

 (6%), Arabs (2%), Balochs
Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch are an ethnic group that belong to the larger Iranian peoples. Baluch people mainly inhabit the Balochistan region and Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Western Asia....

 (2%), Turkmens
Turkmen people
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai,...

 and Turkic tribes
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 (2%), Laks
Lak people (Iran)
The Laks are an Iranian group in southwestern Iran. They speak Laki , a Northwestern Iranian language, that is usually grouped with Southern Kurdish dialects...

, Qashqai
Qashqai
Qashqai are the largest group of nomadic pastoralists people of Azeri descent who mainly live in the provinces of Fars, Khuzestan and southern Isfahan on the territory of modern Iran, especially around the city of Shiraz in Fars. They speak the Qashqai language which is a member of the Turkic...

, Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

, Persian Jews
Persian Jews
Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

, Georgians
Georgians
The Georgians are an ethnic group that have originated in Georgia, where they constitute a majority of the population. Large Georgian communities are also present throughout Russia, European Union, United States, and South America....

, Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

, Circassians, Tats
Tats
Tats are an Iranian people, presently living within Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Russia ....

, Mandaeans, Gypsies, Brahuis
Brahui people
The Brahui or Brohi are ethnic Baloch group of about 2.2 million people with the majority found in Kalat, Baluchistan, Pakistan, but they are also found in smaller numbers in neighboring Afghanistan and Iran. The Brahuis are almost entirely Sunni Muslims.-Origins:The ethnonym "Brahui" is a very...

, Kazakhs and others (1%). However according to them Persian is spoken as first language by 53%, while Azeri and other Turkic dialects is spoken by 18%, Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 by 10%, Gilaki
Gilaki language
The Gilaki language is a Caspian language, and a member of the northwestern Iranian language branch, spoken in Iran's Gīlān Province.The language is divided into three dialects: Western Gilaki, Eastern Gilaki, and Galeshi . Furthermore, the Gilaki language is closely related to Mazanderani, and the...

 and Mazandarani
Mazandarani language
Mazandarani or Tabari is an Iranian language of the Northwestern branch, spoken mainly in Iran's Mazandaran, Gilan and Golestan provinces...

 by 7%, Luri by 6%, Balochi
Balochi language
Balochi is a Northwestern Iranian language. It is the principal language of the Baloch of Balochistan, Pakistan, eastern Iran and southern Afghanistan. It is also spoken as a second language by some Brahui. It is designated as one of nine official languages of Pakistan.-Vowels:The Balochi vowel...

 by 2%, Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 by 2% and that some 2% have other languages as first language.

The Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 estimates are as following: Persians (65%), Azerbaijanis (16%), Kurds (7%), Lurs (6%), Arabs (2%), Baluchi (2%), Turkmens (1%), Turkic tribal groups such as the Qashqai (1%), and non-Iranian, non-Turkic groups such as Armenians, Assyrians, and Georgians (less than 1%). According to them Persian is spoken as a mother tongue by at least 65% of the population and as a second language by a large proportion of the remaining 35%.

Iran's population increased dramatically during the latter half of the 20th century, reaching about 75 million by 2009. According to the 1956 census the population of Iran was about 19 million. In recent years, however, Iran's birth rate
Birth rate
Crude birth rate is the nativity or childbirths per 1,000 people per year . Another word used interchangeably with "birth rate" is "natality". When the crude birth rate is subtracted from the crude death rate, it reveals the rate of natural increase...

 has dropped significantly. Studies project that Iran's rate of population growth will continue to slow until it stabilizes above 105 million by 2050. More than two-thirds of the population is under the age of 30, and the literacy rate is 83%. Women today compose more than half of the incoming classes for universities around the country and increasingly continue to play pivotal roles in society.

Iran hosts one of the largest refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

 populations in the world, with more than one million refugees, mostly from Afghanistan and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Since 2006, Iranian officials have been working with the UNHCR and Afghan officials for their repatriation
Repatriation
Repatriation is the process of returning a person back to one's place of origin or citizenship. This includes the process of returning refugees or soldiers to their place of origin following a war...

. According to estimates, about five million Iranian citizens
Iranian citizens abroad
The term Iranians abroad or Iranian diaspora refers to the Iranian people born in Iran but living outside of Iran with their children.As of 2010, there are an estimated four to five million Iranians living abroad, mostly in North America, Europe, Persian Gulf States, Turkey, Australia and the...

 have emigrated to other countries, mostly since the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

According to the Iranian Constitution, the government is required to provide every citizen of the country with access to social security
Social security
Social security is primarily a social insurance program providing social protection or protection against socially recognized conditions, including poverty, old age, disability, unemployment and others. Social security may refer to:...

 that covers retirement
Retirement
Retirement is the point where a person stops employment completely. A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours.Many people choose to retire when they are eligible for private or public pension benefits, although some are forced to retire when physical conditions don't allow the person to...

, unemployment
Unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

, old age, disability
Disability
A disability may be physical, cognitive, mental, sensory, emotional, developmental or some combination of these.Many people would rather be referred to as a person with a disability instead of handicapped...

, accidents, calamities, health
Health
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living being. In humans, it is the general condition of a person's mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain...

 and medical treatment and care services. This is covered by public revenues and income derived from public contributions. The World Health Organization
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. Established on 7 April 1948, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, the agency inherited the mandate and resources of its predecessor, the Health...

 in on health systems ranked Iran's performance on health level 58th, and its overall health system
Health care in Iran
Health care in Iran and medical sector's market value was almost US $24 billion in 2002 and was forecast to rise to US $31 billion by 2007. With a population of almost 70 million, Iran is one of the most populous countries in the Middle East...

 performance 93rd among the world's nations in 2000.

Religion



Religion in Iran
Religion in Iran
Most Iranians are Muslims. Around 89% belong to Shi'a branch of Islam, the official state religion, and about 9% belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. The remaining 2% are non-Muslim religious minorities, including Bahá'ís, Mandeans, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians, Jews, and Christians...

 is dominated by the Twelver Shia branch of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, which is the official state religion
State religion
A state religion is a religious body or creed officially endorsed by the state...

 and to which about 90% to 95% of Iranians belong. About 4% to 8% of Iranians belong to the Sunni
Sunni Islam
Sunni Islam is the largest branch of Islam. Sunni Muslims are referred to in Arabic as ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah wa āl-Ǧamāʿah or ʾAhl ūs-Sunnah for short; in English, they are known as Sunni Muslims, Sunnis or Sunnites....

 branch of Islam, mainly Kurds and Iran's Balochi Sunni. The remaining 2% are non-Muslim religious minorities, including Bahá'ís
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

, Mandeans
Mandaeism
Mandaeism or Mandaeanism is a Gnostic religion with a strongly dualistic worldview. Its adherents, the Mandaeans, revere Adam, Abel, Seth, Enosh, Noah, Shem, Aram and especially John the Baptist...

, Hindus, Yezidis, Yarsanis, Zoroastrians
Zoroastrians in Iran
Zoroastrians in Iran are the oldest religious community of the nation, with a long history continuing up to the present day.Prior to the Islamization of Iran, Zoroastrianism was the primary religion of the Iranian peoples...

, Jews
Persian Jews
Persian Jews , are Jews historically associated with Iran, traditionally known as Persia in Western sources.Judaism is one of the oldest religions practiced in Iran. The Book of Esther contains some references to the experiences of Jews in Persia...

, and Christians.

The latter three minority
Minority group
A minority is a sociological group within a demographic. The demographic could be based on many factors from ethnicity, gender, wealth, power, etc. The term extends to numerous situations, and civilizations within history, despite the misnomer of minorities associated with a numerical statistic...

 religions are officially recognized and protected, and have reserved seats in the Majlis
Majlis
' , is an Arabic term meaning "a place of sitting", used in the context of "council", to describe various types of special gatherings among common interest groups be it administrative, social or religious in countries with linguistic or cultural connections to Islamic countries...

(Parliament). However the Bahá'í Faith
Bahá'í Faith
The Bahá'í Faith is a monotheistic religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in 19th-century Persia, emphasizing the spiritual unity of all humankind. There are an estimated five to six million Bahá'ís around the world in more than 200 countries and territories....

, Iran's largest religious minority, is not officially recognized, and has been persecuted during its existence in Iran. Since the 1979 revolution the persecution of Bahá'ís
Persecution of Bahá'ís
The persecution of Bahá'ís is the religious persecution of Bahá'ís in various countries, especially in Iran, where the Bahá'í Faith originated and the location of one of the largest Bahá'í populations in the world...

 has increased with executions, the denial
Denial of request
Denial of request is the refusal of one party to grant the request of another. Some acts that can be considered denial may include the refusal of a person or a group of people representing a company, organization, or government agency to provide what a client or one seeking to be a client has...

 of civil rights and liberties, and the denial of access to higher education and employment.

See also


Further reading

  • A. Christian Van Gorder. Christianity in Persia and the Status of Non-Muslims in Iran (Lexington Books; 2010) 329 pages. Traces the role of Persians in Persia and later Iran since ancient times, with additional discussion of other non-Muslim groups.
  • Benjamin Walker
    Benjamin Walker
    Benjamin Walker is the truncated pen name of George Benjamin Walker, who also writes under the pseudonym Jivan Bhakar...

    , Persian Pageant: A Cultural History of Iran, Arya Press, Calcutta, 1950.
  • A. Khanbaghi. The Fire, the Star and the Cross: Minority Religions in Medieval and Early Modern Iran (IB Tauris; 2006) 268 pages. Social, political and cultural history of religious minorities in Iran, c. 226–1722 AD.

External links