Iran (Persian: ایران Irān
[ʔiːˈɾɒːn] ( listen)), also known as Persia
(/ˈpɜːrʒə/), officially the
Islamic Republic of Iran
(Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ایران Jomhuri-ye
Eslāmi-ye Irān ( listen)), is a sovereign state in Western
Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants,
Iran is the world's
18th-most-populous country. Comprising a land area of
1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second-largest
country in the
Middle East and the 17th-largest in the world.
bordered to the northwest by
Armenia and the Republic of
Azerbaijan,[a] to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by
Turkmenistan, to the east by
Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by
Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by
Iraq. The country's central location in
Eurasia and Western Asia, and
its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic
Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as
well as its leading economic and cultural center.
Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations,
beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth
millennium BC. It was first unified by the Iranian
Medes in the
seventh century BC, and reached its greatest extent during the
Achaemenid Empire founded by
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great in the sixth century BC,
Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley, becoming a larger
empire than previously ever existed in the world. The Iranian
realm fell to
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC, but
reemerged shortly after as the Parthian Empire, followed by the
Sasanian Empire, which became a leading world power for the next four
Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century AD,
ultimately leading to the displacement of the indigenous faiths of
Manichaeism with Islam.
Iran made major
contributions to the
Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age that followed, producing many
influential figures in art and science. After two centuries, a period
of various native Muslim dynasties began, which were later conquered
by the Turks and the Mongols. The rise of the Safavids in the 15th
century led to the reestablishment of a unified Iranian state and
national identity, which followed the country's conversion to Shia
Islam, marking a turning point in Iranian and Muslim history.
By the 18th century, under Nader Shah,
Iran briefly possessed what was
arguably the most powerful empire at the time. The 19th-century
conflicts with the
Russian Empire led to significant territorial
losses. Popular unrest culminated in the Constitutional
Revolution of 1906, which established a constitutional monarchy and
the country's first legislature. Following the coup of 1953 instigated
by the United Kingdom and the United States,
Iran gradually became
closely aligned with the West, and grew increasingly autocratic.
Growing dissent against foreign influence and political repression led
to the 1979 Revolution, which followed the establishment of an Islamic
republic, a political system which includes elements of a
parliamentary democracy vetted and supervised by a theocracy governed
by an autocratic "Supreme Leader". During the 1980s, the country
was engaged in a war with Iraq, which lasted for almost nine years and
resulted in a high number of casualties and financial loss for both
According to international reports, Iran's human rights record is
exceptionally poor. The regime in
Iran has frequently persecuted and
arrested critics of the government and its Supreme Leader. Women's
Iran are described as seriously inadequate, and
children's rights have been severely violated, with more child
offenders being executed in
Iran than in any other country in the
world. Since the 2000s, Iran's controversial nuclear program
has raised concerns, which is part of the basis of the international
sanctions against the country. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,
an agreement reached between
Iran and the P5+1, was created on 14 July
2015, aimed to loosen the nuclear sanctions in exchange for Iran's
restriction in producing enriched uranium.
Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, and OPEC. It is a
major regional and middle power, and its large reserves of
fossil fuels – which include the world's largest natural gas supply
and the fourth-largest proven oil reserves – exert
considerable influence in international energy security and the world
The country's rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 22
UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the third-largest number in Asia and
eleventh-largest in the world.
Iran is a multicultural country
comprising numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, the largest being
Persians (61%), Azeris (16%),
Kurds (10%), and
2.2 Classical antiquity
2.3 Medieval period
2.4 Early modern period
2.5 From the 1800s to the 1940s
2.6 Contemporary era
3.3 Regions, provinces and cities
4 Government and politics
4.2 Guardian Council
4.6 Foreign relations
6 Education, science and technology
7.2 Ethnic groups
8.9 Cinema and animation
8.10.1 Public Holidays
9 See also
13 External links
Main article: Name of Iran
Iran derives directly from
Middle Persian Ērān, first
attested in a third-century inscription at Rustam Relief, with the
accompanying Parthian inscription using the term Aryān, in reference
to the Iranians. The Middle Iranian ērān and aryān are oblique
plural forms of gentilic nouns ēr- (Middle Persian) and ary-
(Parthian), both deriving from Proto-Iranian *arya- (meaning "Aryan",
i.e. "of the Iranians"), recognized as a derivative of
Proto-Indo-European *ar-yo-, meaning "(skillfully) assembler". In
the Iranian languages, the gentilic is attested as a self-identifier,
included in ancient inscriptions and the literature of the
Avesta,[b] and remains also in other Iranian ethnic names Alan
(Ossetian: Ир Ir) and Iron (Ирон).
Iran has been referred to as Persia by the West, due
mainly to the writings of Greek historians who referred to all of Iran
as Persís (Ancient Greek: Περσίς; from Old Persian
𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿 Pārsa), meaning "land of the Persians", while
Persis itself was one of the provinces of ancient
Iran that is today
defined as Fars. As the most extensive interaction the Ancient
Greeks had with any outsider was with the Persians, the term
persisted, even long after the Persian rule in Greece.
Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to
the country by its native name, Iran. As
The New York Times
The New York Times explained
at the time, "At the suggestion of the Persian Legation in Berlin, the
Tehran government, on the Persian New Year, Nowruz, March 21, 1935,
Iran for Persia as the official name of the country."
Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision, and
Professor Ehsan Yarshater, editor of Encyclopædia Iranica, propagated
a move to use Persia and
Iran interchangeably. Today, both Iran
and Persia are used in cultural contexts, while
irreplaceable in official state contexts.
Historical and cultural usage of the word
Iran is not restricted to
the modern state proper. "Greater Iran" (Irānzamīn or
Irān e Bozorg) refers to territories of the Iranian cultural and
linguistic zones. In addition to modern Iran, it includes portions of
the Caucasus, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, and Central
The Persian pronunciation of
Iran is [ʔiːˈɾɒːn]. Common English
Iran are listed in the
Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary as
/ɪˈrɑːn/ and /ɪˈræn/, in Merriam-Webster's online
dictionary as /i-ˈrän, -ˈran; ī-ˈran/, and in Random House
Webster's Unabridged Dictionary as /i-ran', i-rän', ī-ran'/. The
Cambridge Dictionary lists /ɪˈrɑːn/ as the British pronunciation
and /ɪˈræn/ as the American pronunciation. The Collins English
Dictionary lists the pronunciation solely as /ɪˈrɑːn/, and the
pronunciation guide from the
Voice of America
Voice of America provides
The English pronunciation /aɪˈræn/ eye-RAN is sometimes heard in
U.S. media. According to an article published by The Washington
Post, the correct pronunciation of
Iran is /iːˈrɑːn/, while
/aɪˈræn/ is listed as the incorrect pronunciation. The American
Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, in the dictionary's 2014
Usage Ballot, addressed the topic of the pronunciations of
Iraq. According to this study, the pronunciations /ɪˈrɑːn/ and
/ɪˈræn/ were almost equally acceptable, while /ɪˈrɑːn/ was
preferred by most panelists participating in the ballot. With regard
to the /aɪˈræn/ pronunciation, however, more than 70% of the
panelists deemed it unacceptable. Among the reasons given by those
panelists were that /aɪˈræn/ has "hawkish connotations" and sounds
"angrier", "xenophobic", "ignorant", and "not...cosmopolitan".
Main article: History of Iran
Prehistory of Iran
Prehistory of Iran and Archaeological sites in
A cave painting in Doushe cave, Lorestan, from the 8th millennium BC.
The earliest attested archaeological artifacts in Iran, like those
Ganj Par in northern Iran, confirm a human
Iran since the Lower Paleolithic. Iran's Neanderthal
artifacts from the
Middle Paleolithic have been found mainly in the
Zagros region, at sites such as
Yafteh.[page needed] From the 10th to the seventh
millennium BC, early agricultural communities began to flourish in and
around the Zagros region in western Iran, including Chogha
Golan, Chogha Bonut, and Chogha
The emergence of
Susa as a city, as determined by radiocarbon dating,
dates back to early 4,395 BC. There are dozens of prehistoric
sites across the Iranian Plateau, pointing to the existence of ancient
cultures and urban settlements in the fourth millennium
BC. During the Bronze Age, the territory of present-day
Iran was home to several civilizations, including Elam, Jiroft, and
Zayanderud. Elam, the most prominent of these civilizations, developed
in the southwest alongside those in Mesopotamia, and continued its
existence until the emergence of the Iranian empires. The advent of
Elam was paralleled to Sumer, and the
Elamite cuneiform was
developed since the third millennium BC.
From the 34th to the 20th century BC, northwestern
Iran was part of
the Kura-Araxes culture, which stretched into the neighboring Caucasus
and Anatolia. Since the earliest second millennium BC, Assyrians
settled in swaths of western Iran, and incorporated the region into
Main articles: Median Empire, Achaemenid Empire, Seleucid Empire,
Parthian Empire, and Sasanian Empire
See also: Indo-European migrations
A bas-relief at Persepolis, depicting the united
Medes and Persians.
By the second millennium BC, the ancient
Iranian peoples arrived in
what is now
Iran from the Eurasian Steppe, rivaling the native
settlers of the region. As the Iranians dispersed into the
wider area of
Greater Iran and beyond, the boundaries of modern-day
Iran were dominated by Median, Persian, and Parthian tribes.
From the late 10th to the late seventh century BC, the Iranian
peoples, together with the "pre-Iranian" kingdoms, fell under the
domination of the Assyrian Empire, based in northern Mesopotamia.
Under king Cyaxares, the
Medes and Persians entered into an alliance
with Babylonian ruler Nabopolassar, as well as the fellow Iranian
Scythians and Cimmerians, and together they attacked the Assyrian
Empire. The civil war ravaged the Assyrian Empire between 616 and
605 BC, thus freeing their respective peoples from three
centuries of Assyrian rule. The unification of the Median tribes
Deioces in 728 BC led to the foundation of the Median
Empire which, by 612 BC, controlled almost the entire territory
Iran and eastern Anatolia. This marked the end of
the Kingdom of
Urartu as well, which was subsequently conquered and
In 550 BC, Cyrus the Great, the son of Mandane and Cambyses I,
took over the Median Empire, and founded the
Achaemenid Empire by
unifying other city states. The conquest of Media was a result of what
is called the Persian Revolt. The brouhaha was initially triggered by
the actions of Median ruler Astyages, and was quickly spread to other
provinces, as they allied with the Persians. Later conquests under
Cyrus and his successors expanded the empire to include Lydia,
Babylon, Egypt, parts of the
Eastern Europe proper, as
well as the lands to the west of the Indus and Oxus rivers.
539 BC was the year in which Persian forces defeated the Babylonian
army at Opis, and marked the end of around four centuries of
Mesopotamian domination of the region by conquering the Neo-Babylonian
Empire. Cyrus entered
Babylon and presented himself as a traditional
Mesopotamian monarch. Subsequent Achaemenid art and iconography
reflect the influence of the new political reality in Mesopotamia.
Achaemenid Empire around the time of
Darius I and Xerxes I.
At its greatest extent, the
Achaemenid Empire included territories of
modern-day Iran, Republic of
Azerbaijan (Arran and Shirvan), Armenia,
Turkey (Anatolia), much of the
Black Sea coastal regions,
Greece and southern
Bulgaria (Thrace), northern Greece
Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia (Paeonia and Macedon), Iraq, Syria,
Israel and the Palestinian territories, all
significant population centers of ancient
Egypt as far west as Libya,
Kuwait, northern Saudi Arabia, parts of the
United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates and
Oman, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and much of Central Asia, making it the
first world government and the largest empire the world had yet
It is estimated that in 480 BC, 50 million people lived in the
Achaemenid Empire. The empire at its peak ruled over 44% of
the world's population, the highest such figure for any empire in
Ruins of the Gate of All Nations, Persepolis.
Achaemenid Empire is noted for the release of the Jewish exiles in
Babylon, building infrastructures such as the
Royal Road and the
Chapar (postal service), and the use of an official language, Imperial
Aramaic, throughout its territories. The empire had a centralized,
bureaucratic administration under the emperor, a large professional
army, and civil services, inspiring similar developments in later
Eventual conflict on the western borders began with the Ionian Revolt,
which erupted into the
Greco-Persian Wars and continued through the
first half of the fifth century BC, and ended with the withdrawal of
the Achaemenids from all of the territories in the
Balkans and Eastern
In 334 BC,
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great invaded the Achaemenid Empire,
defeating the last Achaemenid emperor, Darius III, at the Battle of
Issus. Following the premature death of Alexander,
Iran came under the
control of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. In the middle of the
second century BC, the
Parthian Empire rose to become the main power
in Iran, and the century-long geopolitical arch-rivalry between the
Romans and the Parthians began, culminating in the Roman–Parthian
Parthian Empire continued as a feudal monarchy for nearly
five centuries, until 224 CE, when it was succeeded by the
Sasanian Empire. Together with their neighboring arch-rival, the
Roman-Byzantines, they made up the world's two most dominant powers at
the time, for over four centuries.
Sasanian rock reliefs at Taq Bostan, in the heart of the Zagros
The Sasanians established an empire within the frontiers achieved by
the Achaemenids, with their capital at Ctesiphon. Late-antiquity
Sasanian Empire is considered one of the most influential periods of
Iran, as their influence reached the culture of ancient Rome (and
through that as far as Western Europe), Africa, China, and
India, and played a prominent role in the formation of the
medieval art of both Europe and Asia.
A bas-relief at Naqsh-e Rostam, depicting the victory of Sasanian
Shapur I over Roman ruler Valerian.
Most of the era of the
Sasanian Empire was overshadowed by the
Roman–Persian Wars, which raged on the western borders at Anatolia,
the Western Caucasus, Mesopotamia, and the Levant, for over 700 years.
These wars exhausted both the Romans and the Sasanians, and led to the
defeat of both by the Muslim invasion.
Throughout the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian eras, several
offshoots of the Iranian dynasties established eponymous branches in
Anatolia and the Caucasus, including the Pontic Kingdom, the
Mihranids, and the Arsacid dynasties of Armenia, Iberia (Georgia), and
Albania (present-day Republic of
Azerbaijan and southern
Muslim conquest of Persia
Muslim conquest of Persia and Medieval Iran
The prolonged Byzantine–Sasanian wars, most importantly the
climactic war of 602–628, as well as the social conflict within the
Sasanian Empire, opened the way for an Arab invasion of
Iran in the
seventh century. The empire was initially defeated by the
Rashidun Caliphate, which was succeeded by the Umayyad Caliphate,
followed by the Abbasid Caliphate. Meanwhile, the prolonged and
gradual process of Islamization was followed, which targeted Iran's
then Zoroastrian majority and included religious
persecution, demolition of libraries and fire
temples, a special tax penalty ("jizya"), and language
In 750, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads, notably by the support
from the "mawali" (converted Iranians). The mawali formed the
majority of the rebel army, which was led by converted Iranian general
Abu Muslim. The arrival of the Abbasid Caliphs saw a
relative revival of Iranian culture and influence, as the role of the
old Arab aristocracy was partially replaced by a Muslim Iranian
After two centuries of Arab rule, semi-independent and independent
Iranian kingdoms—including the Tahirids, Saffarids, Samanids, and
Buyids—began to appear on the fringes of the declining Abbasid
Caliphate. By the Samanid era in the ninth and 10th centuries, the
efforts of Iranians to regain their independence had been well
Tomb of Hafez, the popular Iranian poet whose works are regarded as a
Persian literature and have left a considerable mark on
later Western writers, most notably Goethe, Thoreau, and
The blossoming literature, philosophy, medicine, and art of Iran
became major elements in the formation of a new age for the Iranian
civilization, during a period known as the Islamic Golden
Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age reached its peak by the 10th and
11th centuries, during which
Iran was the main theater of scientific
activities. After the 10th century, Persian, alongside Arabic,
was used for scientific, medical, philosophical, historical, and
musical works, and renowned Iranian writers—such as Tusi, Avicenna,
Qotb-od-Din Shirazi, and Biruni—had major contributions in
The cultural revival that began in the Abbasid period led to a
resurfacing of the Iranian national identity; thus, the attempts of
Arabization never succeeded in Iran. The
Shu'ubiyya movement became a
catalyst for Iranians to regain independence in their relations with
the Arab invaders. The most notable effect of this movement was
the continuation of the
Persian language attested to the works of epic
poet Ferdowsi, now considered the most prominent figure in Iranian
Tuğrul Tower, a 12th-century monument at Rhages.
The 10th century saw a mass migration of Turkic tribes from Central
Asia into the Iranian Plateau. Turkic tribesmen were first used
in the Abbasid army as mamluks (slave-warriors), replacing Iranian and
Arab elements within the army. As a result, the mamluks gained a
significant political power. In 999, large portions of
briefly under the rule of the Ghaznavids, whose rulers were of mamluk
Turkic origin, and longer subsequently under the Seljuk and
Khwarezmian empires. These dynasties had been Persianized, and had
adopted Persian models of administration and rulership. The
Seljuks subsequently gave rise to the
Sultanate of Rum
Sultanate of Rum in Anatolia,
while taking their thoroughly Persianized identity with
them. The result of the adoption and patronage of Iranian
culture by Turkish rulers was the development of a distinct
From 1219 to 1221, under the Khwarezmian Empire,
Iran suffered a
devastating invasion by the Mongol army of Genghis Khan. According to
Steven R. Ward, "Mongol 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
Following the fracture of the
Mongol Empire in 1256, Hulagu Khan,
grandson of Genghis Khan, established the
Ilkhanate in Iran. In 1370,
yet another conqueror, Timur, followed the example of Hulagu,
Timurid Empire which lasted for another 156 years. In
Timur ordered the complete massacre of Isfahan, reportedly
killing 70,000 citizens. The Ilkhans and the Timurids soon came
to adopt the ways and customs of the Iranians, surrounding themselves
with a culture that was distinctively Iranian.
Early modern period
Main articles: Safavid dynasty, Afsharid dynasty, Zand dynasty, and
Venetian portrait of Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid Empire, kept
at the Uffizi.
By the 1500s,
Ismail I of
Ardabil established the Safavid Empire, with
his capital at Tabriz. Beginning with Azerbaijan, he subsequently
extended his authority over all of the Iranian territories, and
established an intermittent Iranian hegemony over the vast relative
regions, reasserting the Iranian identity within large parts of
Iran was predominantly Sunni, but Ismail
instigated a forced conversion to the
Shia branch of Islam,
spreading throughout the Safavid territories in the Caucasus, Iran,
Anatolia, and Mesopotamia. As a result, thereof, modern-day
the only official
Shia nation of the world, with it holding an
absolute majority in
Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan, having there
the first and the second highest number of
Shia inhabitants by
population percentage in the world. Meanwhile, the
centuries-long geopolitical and ideological rivalry between Safavid
Iran and the neighboring
Ottoman Empire led to numerous
A portrait of Abbas I, the powerful, pragmatic Safavid ruler who
reinforced Iran's military, political, and economic power.
The Safavid era peaked in the reign of Abbas I
(1587–1629), surpassing their Turkish archrivals in
strength, and making
Iran a leading science and art hub in western
Eurasia. The Safavid era saw the start of mass integration from
Caucasian populations into new layers of the society of Iran, as well
as mass resettlement of them within the heartlands of Iran, playing a
pivotal role in the history of
Iran for centuries onwards. Following a
gradual decline in the late 1600s and the early 1700s, which was
caused by internal conflicts, the continuous wars with the Ottomans,
and the foreign interference (most notably the Russian interference),
the Safavid rule was ended by the Pashtun rebels who besieged Isfahan
Sultan Husayn in 1722.
In 1729, Nader Shah, a chieftain and military genius from Khorasan,
successfully drove out and conquered the Pashtun invaders. He
subsequently took back the annexed Caucasian territories which were
divided among the Ottoman and Russian authorities by the ongoing chaos
in Iran. During the reign of Nader Shah,
Iran reached its greatest
extent since the Sasanian Empire, reestablishing the Iranian hegemony
all over the Caucasus, as well as other major parts of the west and
central Asia, and briefly possessing what was arguably the most
powerful empire at the time.
Statue of Nader Shah, the powerful Afsharid ruler, at Naderi Museum.
Nader Shah invaded
India and sacked far off Delhi by the late 1730s.
His territorial expansion, as well as his military successes, went
into a decline following the final campaigns in the Northern Caucasus
against then revolting Lezgins. The assassination of Nader Shah
sparked a brief period of civil war and turmoil, after which Karim
Khan of the
Zand dynasty came to power in 1750, bringing a period of
relative peace and prosperity.
Compared to its preceding dynasties, the geopolitical reach of the
Zand dynasty was limited. Many of the Iranian territories in the
Caucasus gained de facto independence, and were locally ruled through
various Caucasian khanates. However, despite the self-ruling, they all
remained subjects and vassals to the Zand king. The khanates
exercised control over their affairs via international trade routes
Central Asia and the West.
Another civil war ensued after the death of Karim Khan in 1779, out of
which Agha Mohammad Khan emerged, founding the
Qajar dynasty in 1794.
In 1795, following the disobedience of the Georgian subjects and their
alliance with the Russians, the Qajars captured
Tbilisi by the Battle
of Krtsanisi, and drove the Russians out of the entire Caucasus,
reestablishing the Iranian suzerainty over the region.
From the 1800s to the 1940s
Main articles: Russo-Iranian wars, Iranian Constitutional Revolution,
Persian Campaign, and Pahlavi dynasty
A map showing the 19th-century northwestern borders of Iran,
comprising modern-day eastern Georgia, Dagestan, Armenia, and the
Republic of Azerbaijan, before being ceded to the neighboring Russian
Empire by the Russo-Iranian wars.
The Russo-Iranian wars of 1804–1813 and 1826–1828 resulted in
large irrevocable territorial losses for
Iran in the Caucasus,
comprising all of
Transcaucasia and Dagestan, which made part of the
very concept of
Iran for centuries, and thus substantial gains for
the neighboring Russian Empire.
As a result of the 19th-century Russo-Iranian wars, the Russians took
over the Caucasus, and
Iran irrevocably lost control over its integral
territories in the region (comprising modern-day Dagestan, Georgia,
Armenia, and Republic of Azerbaijan), which got confirmed per the
treaties of Gulistan and Turkmenchay. The area to the north
of Aras River, among which the contemporary Republic of Azerbaijan,
eastern Georgia, Dagestan, and
Armenia are located, were Iranian
territory until they were occupied by
Russia in the course of the 19th
Iran shrank, many Transcaucasian and North Caucasian Muslims moved
towards Iran, especially until the aftermath of the
Circassian Genocide, and the decades afterwards, while Iran's
Armenians were encouraged to settle in the newly incorporated Russian
territories, causing significant demographic shifts.
Around 1.5 million people—20 to 25% of the population of Iran—died
as a result of the Great Famine of 1870–1871.
The first national Iranian Parliament, established in 1906.
Between 1872 and 1905, a series of protests took place in response to
the sale of concessions to foreigners by Qajar monarchs Naser-ed-Din
and Mozaffar-ed-Din, and led to the Constitutional Revolution in 1905.
The first Iranian constitution and the first national parliament of
Iran were founded in 1906, through the ongoing revolution. The
Constitution included the official recognition of Iran's three
religious minorities, namely Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians,
which has remained a basis in the legislation of
Iran since then. The
struggle related to the constitutional movement was followed by the
Tehran in 1909, when Mohammad Ali Shah was defeated and
forced to abdicate. On the pretext of restoring order, the Russians
Iran in 1911, and maintained a military presence in
the region for years to come. But this did not put an end to the civil
uprisings, and was soon followed by Mirza Kuchik Khan's Jungle
Movement against both the Qajar monarchy and foreign invaders.
During World War I, the British occupied much of the territory of
western Iran, and fully withdrew in 1921. Meanwhile, a famine in
Iran killed between eight and 10 million people. The Persian
Campaign commenced furthermore in northwestern
Iran after an Ottoman
invasion, as part of the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. In the
course of the
Assyrian Genocide of 1914–1920 and the Armenian
Genocide of 1915–1917, a large number of
Iranian Assyrians and
Armenians were subjected to mass murders committed by the Ottoman
troops that were crossing the northwestern border, notably in and
around Khoy, Maku, Salmas, and Urmia.
Apart from the rule of Agha Mohammad Khan, the Qajar rule is
characterized as a century of misrule. The Iranian Cossack
Brigade, which was the most effective military force available to the
crown, began a military coup supported by the British in February
Qajar dynasty was subsequently overthrown, and Reza Khan,
the former general of the Cossack Brigade, became the new Prime
Minister of Iran. Eventually, he was declared the new monarch in
1925—thence known as Reza Shah—establishing the Pahlavi dynasty.
In the midst of World War II, in 1941,
Nazi Germany began the
Operation Barbarossa and invaded the Soviet Union, breaking
the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. This had a major impact on Iran, which
had declared neutrality in the conflicts. Later that year,
following an Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran,
Reza Shah was forced to
abdicate in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
Iran became a major conduit for British and American aid
to the Soviet Union, until the end of the ongoing war.
The Allied "Big Three" at the 1943
At the 1943
Tehran Conference, the Allied "Big Three"—Joseph Stalin,
Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill—issued the Tehran
Declaration to guarantee the post-war independence and boundaries of
Iran. However, at the end of the war, Soviet troops remained in Iran
and local pro-Soviet groups established two puppet states in
north-western Iran, namely the People's Government of
the Republic of Mahabad. Receiving a promise of oil concessions, the
Soviets withdrew from
Iran proper in May 1946. The two puppet states
were soon overthrown following the
Iran crisis of 1946, and the oil
concessions were revoked.
Main articles: 1953 Iranian coup d'état, 1979 Revolution, History of
Islamic Republic of Iran, and Iran–
Mohammad Mosaddegh, Iranian democracy advocate and deposed Prime
Mohammad Mosaddegh was appointed as the Prime Minister. He
became enormously popular in
Iran after he nationalized Iran's
petroleum industry and oil reserves. He was deposed in the 1953
Iranian coup d'état, an Anglo-American covert operation that marked
the first time the United States had overthrown a foreign government
during the Cold War.
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and the Imperial Family during the coronation
ceremony of the Shah of
Iran in 1967.
After the coup, the Shah became increasingly autocratic and
Iran entered a phase of decades-long controversial
close relations with the United States and some other foreign
governments. While the Shah increasingly modernized
claimed to retain it as a fully secular state, arbitrary arrests
and torture by his secret police, the SAVAK, were used to crush all
forms of political opposition.
Ruhollah Khomeini, a radical Muslim cleric, became an active critic of
the Shah's far-reaching series of reforms known as the White
Revolution. Khomeini publicly denounced the government, and was
arrested and imprisoned for 18 months. After his release in 1964, he
refused to apologize, and was eventually sent into exile.
Due to the 1973 spike in oil prices, the economy of
Iran was flooded
with foreign currency, which caused inflation. By 1974, the economy of
Iran was experiencing double digit inflation, and despite the many
large projects to modernize the country, corruption was rampant and
caused large amounts of waste. By 1975 and 1976, an economic recession
led to increased unemployment, especially among millions of youth who
had migrated to the cities of
Iran looking for construction jobs
during the boom years of the early 1970s. By the late 1970s, many of
these people opposed the Shah's regime and began to organize and join
the protests against it.
Ruhollah Khomeini's return to Iran
Ruhollah Khomeini's return to Iran from exile, on February 1, 1979.
The 1979 Revolution, later known as the Islamic
Revolution, began in January 1978 with the first major
demonstrations against the Shah. After a year of strikes and
demonstrations paralyzing the country and its economy, Mohammad Reza
Pahlavi fled the country and
Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile to
Tehran in February 1979, forming a new government. After holding
Iran officially became an
Islamic republic in April
1979. A second referendum in December 1979 approved a theocratic
The immediate nationwide uprisings against the new government began
with the 1979 Kurdish rebellion and the
Khuzestan uprisings, along
with the uprisings in Sistan and Baluchestan and other areas. Over the
next several years, these uprisings were subdued in a violent manner
by the new Islamic government. The new government began purging itself
of the non-Islamist political opposition, as well as of those
Islamists who were not considered radical enough. Although both
nationalists and Marxists had initially joined with Islamists to
overthrow the Shah, tens of thousands were executed by the new regime
afterwards. Many former ministers and officials in the Shah's
government, including former prime minister Amir-Abbas Hoveyda, were
brutally shot dead by firing squads on Khomeini's order to purge the
new Iranian government of any remaining officials still loyal to the
On 4 November 1979, a group of Muslim students seized the United
States Embassy and took the embassy with 52 personnel and citizens
hostage, after the United States refused to return Mohammad Reza
Iran to face trial in the court of the new regime and all
but certain execution. Attempts by the
Jimmy Carter administration to
negotiate for the release of the hostages, and a failed rescue
attempt, helped force Carter out of office and brought Ronald Reagan
to power. On Jimmy Carter's final day in office, the last hostages
were finally set free as a result of the Algiers Accords.
The Cultural Revolution began in 1980, with an initial closure of
universities for three years, in order to perform an inspection and
clean up in the cultural policy of the education and training
Iranian soldier with chemical mask at front-line of the Iran–Iraq
On 22 September 1980, the Iraqi army invaded the western Iranian
province of Khuzestan, launching the Iran–
Iraq War. Although the
forces of Saddam Hussein made several early advances, by mid 1982, the
Iranian forces successfully managed to drive the Iraqi army back into
Iraq. In July 1982, with
Iraq thrown on the defensive, the Iranian
regime took the decision to invade
Iraq and conducted countless
offensives in a bid to conquer Iraqi territory and capture cities,
such as Basra. The war continued until 1988, when the Iraqi army
defeated the Iranian forces inside
Iraq and pushed the remaining
Iranian troops back across the border. Subsequently, Khomeini accepted
a truce mediated by the United Nations. The total Iranian casualties
in the war were estimated to be 123,220–160,000 KIA, 60,711 MIA, and
11,000–16,000 civilians killed.
Following the Iran–
Iraq War, in 1989,
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani 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. In 1997, Rafsanjani was
succeeded by moderate reformist Mohammad Khatami, whose government
attempted, unsuccessfully, to make the country more free and
The Green Movement's Silent Demonstration during the 2009–10 Iranian
The 2005 presidential election brought conservative populist
candidate, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to power. By the time of the 2009
Iranian presidential election, the Interior Ministry announced
incumbent president Ahmadinejad had won 62.63% of the vote, while
Mir-Hossein Mousavi had come in second place with 33.75%.
The election results were widely disputed, and resulted in
widespread protests, both within
Iran and in major cities outside the
country, and the creation of the Iranian Green Movement.
Hassan Rouhani was elected as the president on 15 June 2013, defeating
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf
Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and four other candidates. The
electoral victory of Rouhani has relatively improved the relations of
Iran with other countries.
Main article: Geography of Iran
Agriculture in Iran
Agriculture in Iran and Environmental issues in Iran
Mount Damavand, Iran's highest point, is located in Amol, Mazenderan.
Iran has an area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi).
It lies between latitudes 24° and 40° N, and longitudes 44° and
64° E. It is bordered to the northwest by
Armenia (35 km or
22 mi), the Azeri exclave of Nakhchivan (179 km or
111 mi), and the Republic of
Azerbaijan (611 km or
380 mi); to the north by the Caspian Sea; to the northeast by
Turkmenistan (992 km or 616 mi); to the east by Afghanistan
(936 km or 582 mi) and
Pakistan (909 km or
565 mi); to the south by the
Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman;
and to the west by
Iraq (1,458 km or 906 mi) and Turkey
(499 km or 310 mi).
Provinces of Iran
Provinces of Iran by area (km2)
Iran consists of the Iranian Plateau, with the exception of the coasts
Caspian Sea and Khuzestan. It is one of the world's most
mountainous countries, its landscape dominated by rugged mountain
ranges that separate various basins or plateaux from one another. The
populous western part is the most mountainous, with ranges such as the
Caucasus, Zagros, and Alborz, the last containing Mount Damavand,
Iran's highest point at 5,610 m (18,406 ft), which is also
the highest mountain on the Eurasian landmass west of the Hindu
The northern part of
Iran is covered by the lush lowland Caspian
Hyrcanian mixed forests, located near the southern shores of the
Caspian Sea. The eastern part consists mostly of desert basins, such
as the Kavir Desert, which is the country's largest desert, and the
Lut Desert, as well as some salt lakes.
The only large plains are found along the coast of the
Caspian Sea and
at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, where the country borders the
mouth of the Arvand river. Smaller, discontinuous plains are found
along the remaining coast of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz,
and the Gulf of Oman.
Caspian forests in Maklavan, Gilan.
Shirz Canyon, Lurestan.
Lut Desert, Sistan.
Hormuz Island, Persian Gulf.
Climate map of
Hot desert climate
Cold desert climate
Hot semi-arid climate
Cold semi-arid climate
Hot-summer Mediterranean climate
Continental Mediterranean climate
Having 11 climates out of the world's 13, Iran's climate is
diverse, ranging from arid and semi-arid, 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
1,700 mm (66.9 in) in the western part. Gary Lewis, the
United Nations Resident Coordinator for Iran, has said that "Water
scarcity poses the most severe human security challenge in Iran
To the west, settlements in the Zagros 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 rarely exceed
38 °C (100.4 °F). The coastal plains of the Persian
Gulf of Oman
Gulf of Oman in southern
Iran have mild winters, and very
humid and hot summers. The annual precipitation ranges from 135 to
355 mm (5.3 to 14.0 in).
See also: Wildlife of Iran
The Asiatic cheetah, a critically endangered species living only in
The wildlife of
Iran is composed of several animal species, including
bears, the Eurasian lynx, foxes, gazelles, gray wolves, jackals,
panthers, and wild pigs. Other domestic animals of Iran
include Asian water buffaloes, camels, cattle, donkeys, goats, horses,
and the sheep. Eagles, falcons, partridges, pheasants, and storks are
also native to the wildlife of Iran.
One of the most famous members of the Iranian wildlife is the
critically endangered Asiatic cheetah, also known as the Iranian
cheetah, whose numbers were greatly reduced after the 1979
Revolution. The Persian leopard, which is the world's largest
leopard subspecies living primarily in northern Iran, is also listed
as an endangered species.
Iran lost all its Asiatic lions and the
now extinct Caspian tigers by the earlier part of the 20th
At least 74 species of the Iranian wildlife are on the red list of the
International Union for Conservation of Nature, a sign of serious
threats against the country's biodiversity. The Iranian Parliament has
been showing disregard for wildlife by passing laws and regulations
such as the act that lets the Ministry of Industries and Mines exploit
mines without the involvement of the Department of Environment, and by
approving large national development projects without demanding
comprehensive study of their impact on wildlife habitats.
Regions, provinces and cities
Main articles: Regions of Iran, Provinces of Iran, and Counties of
See also: List of Iranian cities by population
Iran is divided into five regions with thirty one provinces
(ostān), each governed by an appointed governor (ostāndār).
The provinces are divided into counties (šahrestān), and subdivided
into districts (baxš) and sub-districts (dehestān).
The country 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.[not in citation given] Most
internal migrants have settled around the cities of Tehran, Isfahan,
Ahvaz, and Qom. The listed populations are from the 2006/07
(1385 AP) census.[not in citation given]
Iran's most populated cities (2010)
Tehran, with a population of around 8.8 million (2016 census), is the
capital and largest city of Iran. It is an economical and cultural
center, and is the hub of the country's communication and transport
The country's second most populous city, Mashhad, has a population of
around 3.3 million (2016 census), and is capital of the province of
Razavi Khorasan. Being the site of the Imam Reza Shrine, it is a holy
Shia Islam. About 15 to 20 million pilgrims visit the shrine
Isfahan has a population of around 2.2 million (2016 census), and is
Iran's third most populous city. It is the capital of the province of
Isfahan, and was also the third capital of the Safavid Empire. It is
home to a wide variety of historical sites, including the famous Shah
Square, Siosepol, and the churches at the Armenian district of New
Julfa. It is also home to the world's seventh-largest shopping mall,
Isfahan City Center.
The fourth most populous city of Iran, Karaj, has a population of
around 1.9 million (2016 census). It is the capital of the province of
Alborz, and is situated 20 km west of Tehran, at the foot of the
Alborz mountain range. It is a major industrial city in Iran, with
large factories producing sugar, textiles, wire, and alcohol.
With a population of around 1.7 million (2016 census),
Tabriz is the
fifth most populous city of Iran, and had been the second most
populous until the late 1960s. It was the first capital of the Safavid
Empire, and is now the capital of the province of East Azerbaijan. It
is also considered the country's second major industrial city (after
Shiraz, with a population of around 1.8 million (2016 census), is
Iran's sixth most populous city. It is the capital of the province of
Fars, and was also the capital of
Iran under the reign of the Zand
dynasty. It is located near the ruins of
Persepolis and Pasargadae,
two of the four capitals of the Achaemenid Empire.
Largest cities or towns in Iran
Sistan and Baluchestan
Government and politics
Main article: Politics of Iran
Iran's syncretic political system combines elements of an Islamic
theocracy with vetted democracy.
The political system of the
Islamic Republic is based on the 1979
Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, meeting with Chinese
Xi Jinping on January 23, 2016.
Iran and China are strategic
The Leader of the Revolution ("Supreme Leader") is responsible for
delineation and supervision of the policies of the
Islamic Republic of
Iran. The Iranian president has little power compared to the
Supreme Leader Khamenei. The current longtime Supreme Leader, Ali
Khamenei, has been issuing decrees and making the final decisions on
the economy, environment, foreign policy, education, national
plannings, and everything else in the
outlines elections guidelines, and has fired and reinstated
presidential cabinet appointments. Key ministers are
selected with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's agreement and he has
the ultimate say on Iran’s foreign policy. The president-elect
is required to gain the Leader Khamenei's official approval before
being sworn in before the Parliament (Majlis). Through this process,
known as Tanfiz (validation), the Leader agrees to the outcome of the
presidential election. The Supreme Leader
Ali Khamenei directly
chooses the ministries of Defense, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs,
as well as certain other ministries, such as the Science
Ministry. Iran’s regional policy is directly controlled by the
office of the Supreme Leader with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’
task limited to protocol and ceremonial occasions. All of Iran’s
ambassadors to Arab countries, for example, are chosen by the Quds
Corps, which directly reports to the Supreme Leader. The budget
bill for every year, as well as withdrawing money from the National
Development Fund of Iran, require Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's
approval and permission. Setad, estimated at $95 billion in 2013,
accounts of which are secret even to the Iranian parliament,
is controlled only by the Supreme Leader.
The Supreme Leader is the 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,
the state radio and television networks, the commanders of the police
and military forces, and six of the 12 members of the Guardian Council
are directly appointed by the Supreme Leader.
Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts elects and dismisses (to date, never did) the
Supreme Leader on the basis of qualifications and popular esteem.
To date, the
Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts has not challenged any of the Supreme
Leader's decisions. The current head of the judicial system,
Sadeq Larijani, appointed by the longtime Supreme Leader, said that it
is illegal for the
Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts to supervise the Supreme
Leader. Due to Khamenei's very longtime unchallenged rule, many
Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts has become a ceremonial body without
any real power. There have been instances when the
current Supreme Leader publicly criticized members of the Assembly of
Experts, resulting in their arrest and dismissal. For example,
Khamenei publicly called then-member of the
Assembly of Experts
Assembly of Experts Ahmad
Azari Qomi a traitor, resulting in Qomi's arrest and eventual
dismissal from the Assembly of Experts. Another instance is when
Khamenei indirectly called
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani a traitor for a
statement he made, resulting Rafsanjani to retract it.
Presidential candidates and parliamentary candidates must be approved
Guardian Council (all members of which are directly or
indirectly elected by the Leader) or the Leader before running, in
order to ensure their allegiance to the Supreme Leader. The
Leader very rarely does the vetting himself directly, but has the
power to do so, in which case additional approval of the Guardian
Council would not be needed. The Leader can also revert the decisions
of the Guardian Council. The
Guardian Council can, and has
dismissed some elected members of the
Iranian parliament in the
past. For example,
Minoo Khaleghi was disqualified by Guardian
Council even after winning election, as she had been photographed in a
meeting without wearing headscarf.
Hassan Rouhani meeting with Russian President
Vladimir Putin –
Russia are strategic
After the Supreme Leader, the Constitution defines the President of
Iran as the highest state authority. The President is
elected by universal suffrage for a term of four years, however, the
president is still required to gain the Leader’s official approval
before being sworn in before the Parliament (Majlis). The Leader also
has the power to dismiss the elected president anytime. The
President can only be re-elected for one term.[dubious –
The President is responsible for the implementation of the
constitution, and for the exercise of executive powers in implementing
the decrees and general policies as outlined by the Supreme Leader,
except for matters directly related to the Supreme Leader, who has the
final say in all matters. Unlike the executive in other
President of Iran
President of Iran does not have full control over
anything, as these are ultimately under the control of the Supreme
Leader. Chapter IX of the Constitution of the
Islamic Republic of
Iran sets forth the qualifications for presidential candidates. The
procedures for presidential election and all other elections in Iran
are outlined by the Supreme Leader. The President functions
as the executive of affairs such as signing treaties and other
international agreements, and administering national planning, budget,
and state employment affairs, all as approved by the Supreme
Leader. The President
appoints the ministers, subject to the approval of the Parliament, as
well as the approval of the Supreme Leader, who can dismiss or
reinstate any of the ministers at any time, regardless of the
decisions made by the President or the Parliament. The
President supervises the Council of Ministers, coordinates government
decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the
legislature. The current Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has fired
as well as reinstated Council of Ministers members. Eight
Vice Presidents serve under the President, as well as a cabinet of
twenty-two ministers, who must all be approved by the
The Islamic Consultative Assembly, also known as the Iranian
The legislature of Iran, known as the Islamic Consultative Assembly,
is a unicameral body comprising 290 members elected for four-year
terms. It drafts legislation, ratifies international treaties,
and approves the national budget. All parliamentary candidates and all
legislation from the assembly must be approved by the Guardian
Guardian Council comprises twelve jurists, including six appointed
by the Supreme Leader. Others are elected by the Parliament, from
among the jurists nominated by the Head of the Judiciary.
The Council interprets the constitution and may veto the Parliament.
If a law is deemed incompatible with the constitution or Sharia
(Islamic law), it is referred back to the Parliament for
revision. The Expediency Council has the authority to mediate
disputes between the 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. Local city councils are
elected by public vote to four-year terms in all cities and villages
Main article: Judicial system of Iran
The Supreme Leader appoints the head of the country's judiciary, 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, such as crimes
against national security. The decisions of the revolutionary courts
are final and cannot be appealed.
Special Clerical Court handles crimes allegedly committed by
clerics, although it has also taken on cases involving laypeople. 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, which meets for one week annually, comprises 86 "virtuous and
learned" clerics elected by adult suffrage for eight-year terms.
Main article: Foreign relations of Iran
The Iranian government's officially stated goal is to establish a new
world order based on world peace, global collective security, and
justice. Since the time of the 1979 Revolution, Iran's
foreign relations have often been portrayed as being based on two
strategic principles; eliminating outside influences in the region,
and pursuing extensive diplomatic contacts with developing and
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shaking hands with United States
Secretary of State
John Kerry during the Iranian nuclear talks.
Since 2005, Iran's nuclear program has become the subject of
contention with the international community, mainly the United States,
following earlier quotes of Iranian leadership favoring the use of an
atomic bomb against Iran's enemies and in particular Israel.[citation
needed] Many countries have expressed concern that Iran's nuclear
program could divert civilian nuclear technology into a weapons
program. This has led the
United Nations Security Council to impose
Iran which had further isolated
Iran politically and
economically from the rest of the global community. In 2009, the U.S.
Director of National Intelligence
Director of National Intelligence said that Iran, if choosing to,
would not be able to develop a nuclear weapon until 2013.
As of 2009[update],
Iran maintains diplomatic relations with 99
members of the United Nations, but not with the United States,
and not with Israel—a state which Iran's government has derecognized
since the 1979 Revolution.
On 14 July 2015,
Tehran and the
P5+1 came to a historic agreement to
end economic sanctions after demonstrating a peaceful nuclear research
project that would meet the International Atomic Energy Agency
Iran is a member of dozens of international organizations, including
the G-15, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, IDA, IDB, IFC, ILO, IMF, IMO,
Interpol, OIC, OPEC, WHO, and the United Nations, and currently
has observer status at the World Trade Organization.
Main article: Armed Forces of the
Islamic Republic of Iran
Islamic Republic of
Iran has two types of armed forces: the
regular forces of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy, and the
Revolutionary Guards, totaling about 545,000 active troops.
has around 350,000 Reserve Force, totaling around 900,000 trained
The Iranian government has a paramilitary, volunteer militia force
within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, called the Basij, 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 estimates
Iran could mobilize "up to one million men", which 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 nations. Iran's military
doctrine is based on deterrence. In 2014, arms spending the
country spent $15 billion and were outspent by the states of the Gulf
Cooperation Council by a factor of 13.
The Iranian government supports the military activities of its allies
in Syria, Iraq, and
Lebanon (Hezbollah) with military and financial
Since the 1979 Revolution, to overcome foreign embargoes, the Iranian
government has developed its own military industry, produced its own
tanks, armored personnel carriers, missiles, submarines, military
vessels, missile destroyer, radar systems, helicopters, and fighter
planes. In recent years, official announcements have highlighted
the development of weapons such as the Hoot, Kowsar, Zelzal,
Fateh-110, Shahab-3, Sejjil, and a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles
Iran has the largest and most diverse ballistic missile
arsenal in the Middle East. The Fajr-3, a liquid fuel missile
with an undisclosed range which was developed and produced
domestically, is currently the most advanced ballistic missile of the
Main article: Economy of Iran
See also: Iranian subsidy reform plan, Banking and insurance in Iran,
Transport in Iran, and Communications in Iran
Iran's provinces by their contribution to national GDP (2014)
Iran's economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of
oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale
private trading and service ventures. In 2014, GDP was $404.1
billion ($1.334 trillion at PPP), or $17,100 at PPP per capita.
Iran is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World
Bank. In the early 21st century, the service sector contributed
the largest percentage of the GDP, followed by industry (mining and
manufacturing) and agriculture.
The Central Bank of the
Islamic Republic of
Iran is responsible for
developing and maintaining the Iranian rial, which serves as the
country's currency. The government doesn't recognize trade unions
other than the Islamic labour councils, which are subject to the
approval of employers and the security services. The minimum wage
in June 2013 was 487 million rials a month ($134). Unemployment
has remained above 10% since 1997, and the unemployment rate for women
is almost double that of the men.
In 2006, about 45% of the government's budget came from oil and
natural gas revenues, and 31% came from taxes and fees. As of
Iran had earned $70 billion in foreign-exchange
reserves, mostly (80%) from crude oil exports. 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 prices in a 5-year period
and increase productivity and social justice.
Tehran is the economic center of Iran, hosting 45% of the country's
The administration continues to follow the market reform plans of the
previous one, and indicates that it will diversify Iran's oil-reliant
Iran has also developed a biotechnology, nanotechnology, and
pharmaceutical industry. However, nationalized industries such as
the bonyads have often been managed badly, making them ineffective and
uncompetitive with years. Currently, the government is trying to
privatize these industries, and, despite successes, there are still
several problems to be overcome, such as the lagging corruption in the
public sector and lack of competitiveness. In 2010,
Iran was ranked
69, out of 139 nations, in the Global Competitiveness Report.
Iran has leading manufacturing industries in the fields of automobile
manufacture, transportation, construction materials, home appliances,
food and agricultural goods, armaments, pharmaceuticals, information
technology, and petrochemicals in the Middle East. According to
the 2012 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization,
been among the world's top five producers of apricots, cherries, sour
cherries, cucumbers and gherkins, dates, eggplants, figs, pistachios,
quinces, walnuts, and watermelons.
Economic sanctions against Iran, such as the embargo against Iranian
crude oil, have affected the economy. Sanctions have led to a
steep fall in the value of the rial, and as of April 2013, one US
dollar is worth 36,000 rial, compared with 16,000 in early 2012.
Iran and the
P5+1 reached a deal on the nuclear program that
removed the main sanctions pertaining to Iran's nuclear program by
Main article: Tourism in Iran
Over 1 million tourists visit
Kish Island each year.
Although tourism declined significantly during the war with Iraq, it
has been subsequently recovered. About 1,659,000 foreign tourists
Iran in 2004, and 2.3 million in 2009, mostly from Asian
countries, including the republics of Central Asia, while about 10%
came from the
European Union and North America. Since
the removal of some sanctions against
Iran in 2015, tourism has
re-surged in the country. Over five million tourists visited
the fiscal year of 2014–2015, four percent more than the previous
Alongside the capital, the most popular tourist destinations are
Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shiraz. In the early 2000s, the industry
faced serious limitations in infrastructure, communications, industry
standards, and personnel training. The majority of the 300,000
travel visas granted in 2003 were obtained by Asian Muslims, who
presumably intended to visit pilgrimage sites in
Mashhad and Qom.
Several organized tours from Germany, France, and other European
countries come to
Iran annually to visit archaeological sites and
monuments. In 2003,
Iran ranked 68th in tourism revenues
worldwide. According to the
UNESCO and the deputy head of
research for Iran's Tourism Organization,
Iran is rated fourth among
the top 10 destinations in the Middle East.
Domestic tourism in
Iran is one of the largest in the world. 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.
Main articles: Energy in Iran, Petroleum industry in Iran, Nuclear
program of Iran, and Foreign direct investment in Iran
Iran holds 10% of the world's proven oil reserves and 15% of its gas.
It is OPEC's 2nd-largest exporter and the world's 7th largest oil
Iran has the world's second-largest proved gas reserves after Russia,
with 33.6 trillion cubic metres, and the third-largest natural
gas production after
Indonesia and Russia. It also ranks fourth in oil
reserves with an estimated 153,600,000,000 barrels. It is
OPEC's second-largest oil exporter, and is an energy
superpower. In 2005,
Iran spent US$4 billion on fuel
imports, because of contraband and inefficient domestic use. Oil
industry output averaged 4 million barrels per day (640,000 m3/d)
in 2005, compared with the peak of six million barrels per day reached
in 1974. In the early 2000s, industry infrastructure was increasingly
inefficient because of technological lags. Few exploratory wells were
drilled in 2005.
In 2004, a large share of Iran's natural gas reserves were untapped.
The addition of new hydroelectric stations and the streamlining of
conventional coal 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,
its first wind-powered and geothermal plants, and the first solar
thermal plant was to come online in 2009.
Iran is the world's third
country to have developed GTL technology.
Demographic trends and intensified industrialization have caused
electric power 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 adding hydropower and
nuclear power generation capacity. Iran’s first nuclear power plant
Bushire went online in 2011. It is the second nuclear power plant
ever built in the
Middle East after the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant
Education, science and technology
Education in Iran
Education in Iran and Science and technology in Iran
Literacy rate of Iran's population plus 15, 1975–2015, according to
UNESCO Institute of Statistics
Education in Iran
Education in Iran is highly centralized.
K–12 is supervised by the
Ministry of Education, and higher education is under the supervision
of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The adult literacy rated
93.0% in September 2015, while it had rated 85.0% in 2008, up
from 36.5% in 1976.
The requirement to enter into higher education is to have a high
school diploma and pass the
Iranian University Entrance Exam
Iranian University Entrance Exam (known as
konkur), which is the equivalent of the
SAT exams of the United
States. Many students do a 1–2 year course of pre-university
(piš-dānešgāh), which is the equivalent of the GCE A-levels and
the International Baccalaureate. The completion of the pre-university
course earns students the Pre-University Certificate.
Sharif University of Technology, one of Iran's most prestigious higher
Iran's higher education is sanctioned by different levels of diplomas,
including an associate degree (kārdāni; also known as fowq e diplom)
delivered in two years, a bachelor's degree (kāršenāsi; also known
as lisāns) delivered in four years, and a master's degree
(kāršenāsi e aršad) delivered in two years, after which another
exam allows the candidate to pursue a doctoral program (PhD; known as
According to the
Webometrics Ranking of World Universities (as of
January 2017), Iran's top five universities include
of Medical Sciences (478th worldwide), the University of
Sharif University of Technology
Sharif University of Technology (605th worldwide),
Amirkabir University of Technology
Amirkabir University of Technology (726th worldwide), and the Tarbiat
Modares University (789th worldwide).
Iran 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. According to a study by SCImago in 2012,
Iran would rank fourth in the world in terms of research output by
2018, if the current trend persists.
The production line for AryoSeven at the Iranian biopharmaceutical
company of AryoGen.
In 2009, a SUSE Linux-based HPC system made by the Aerospace Research
Iran (ARI) was launched with 32 cores, and now runs 96
cores. Its performance was pegged at 192 GFLOPS. The Iranian
humanoid robot Sorena 2, which was designed by engineers at the
University of Tehran, was unveiled in 2010. The Institute of
Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has placed the name of
Surena among the five prominent robots of the world after analyzing
Safir, Iran's first expendable launch vehicle. —
Iran is the 9th
country to put a domestically built satellite into orbit and the 6th
to send animals in space.
In the biomedical sciences, Iran's Institute of Biochemistry and
Biophysics has a
UNESCO chair in biology. In late 2006, Iranian
scientists successfully cloned a sheep by somatic cell nuclear
transfer, at the Royan Research Center in Tehran.
According to a study by David Morrison and Ali Khadem Hosseini
(Harvard-MIT and Cambridge), stem cell research in
Iran is amongst the
top 10 in the world.
Iran ranks 15th in the world in
Iran placed its domestically built satellite
Omid into orbit on the
30th anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, on 2 February 2009,
through its first expendable launch vehicle Safir, becoming the ninth
country in the world capable of both producing a satellite and sending
it into space from a domestically made launcher.
Iranian nuclear program
Iranian nuclear program was launched in the 1950s.
Iran is the
seventh country to produce uranium hexafluoride, and controls the
entire nuclear fuel cycle.
Iranian scientists outside
Iran have also made some major
contributions to science. In 1960,
Ali Javan co-invented the first gas
laser, and fuzzy set theory was introduced by Lotfi A. Zadeh.
Iranian cardiologist Tofigh Mussivand invented and developed the first
artificial cardiac pump, the precursor of the artificial heart.
Furthering research and treatment of diabetes, the HbA1c was
discovered by Samuel Rahbar. Iranian physics is especially strong in
string theory, with many papers being published in Iran. Iranian
American string theorist Kamran Vafa proposed the Vafa–Witten
theorem together with Edward Witten. In August 2014, Iranian
Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman, as well as the
first Iranian, to receive the Fields Medal, the highest prize in
Main article: Demographics of Iran
See also: Healthcare in Iran
Iran's population growth (1880–2016)
Iran's provinces by population (2014)
Iran is a diverse country, consisting of numerous ethnic and
linguistic groups that are unified through a shared Iranian
United Nations Demographic Yearbook
Iran's provinces by population density (2013)
Iran's population grew rapidly during the latter half of the 20th
century, increasing from about 19 million in 1956 to around 75
million by 2009. However, Iran's birth rate has dropped
significantly in recent years, leading to a population growth
rate—recorded from July 2012—of about 1.29%. Studies project
that the growth will continue to slow until it stabilizes above
105 million by 2050.
Iran hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world, with
more than one million refugees, mostly from
Afghanistan and Iraq.
Since 2006, Iranian officials have been working with the
Afghan officials for their repatriation. According to estimates,
about five million Iranian citizens have emigrated to other countries,
mostly since the 1979 Revolution.
According to the Iranian Constitution, the government is required to
provide every citizen of the country with access to social security,
covering retirement, unemployment, old age, disability, accidents,
calamities, health and medical treatment and care services. This
is covered by tax revenues and income derived from public
Main article: Languages of Iran
The majority of the population speak Persian, which is also the
official language of the country. Others include speakers of a number
Iranian languages within the greater Indo-European family,
and languages belonging to some other ethnicities living in Iran.
In northern Iran, mostly confined to Gilan and Mazenderan, the Gilaki
and Mazenderani languages are widely spoken, both having affinities to
the neighboring Caucasian languages. In parts of Gilan, the Talysh
language is also widely spoken, which stretches up to the neighboring
Republic of Azerbaijan. Varieties of Kurdish is widely spoken in the
province of Kurdistan and nearby areas. In Khuzestan, several distinct
varieties of Persian are spoken. Lurish and Lari are also spoken in
Azerbaijani Turkish, which is by far the most spoken language in the
country after Persian, as well as a number of other Turkic
languages and dialects, is spoken in various regions of Iran,
especially in the region of Azerbaijan.
Notable minority languages in
Iran include Armenian, Georgian,
Neo-Aramaic, and Arabic. Khuzi
Arabic is spoken by the
Khuzestan, as well as the wider group of Iranian Arabs. Circassian was
also once widely spoken by the large Circassian minority, but, due to
assimilation over the many years, no sizable number of Circassians
speak the language anymore.
Percentages of spoken language continue to be a point of debate, as
many opt that they are politically motivated; most notably regarding
the largest and second-largest ethnicities in Iran, the Persians and
Azerbaijanis. Percentages given by the CIA's
World Factbook include
53% Persian, 16% Azerbaijani Turkish, 10% Kurdish, 7% Mazenderani and
Gilaki, 7% Lurish, 2% Turkmen, 2% Balochi, 2% Arabic, and 2% the
remainder Armenian, Georgian, Neo-Aramaic, and Circassian.
Main article: Ethnicities in Iran
Ethnicities and religions in Iran
As with the spoken languages, the ethnic group composition also
remains a point of debate, mainly regarding the largest and
second-largest ethnic groups, the Persians and Azerbaijanis, due to
the lack of Iranian state censuses based on ethnicity. The CIA's World
Factbook has estimated that around 79% of the population of
Iran are a
diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that comprise the
speakers of the Iranian languages, with Persians (incl.
Mazenderanis and Gilaks) constituting 61% of the population, Kurds
Lurs 6%, and Balochs 2%. Peoples of other ethno-linguistic groups
make up the remaining 21%, with
Azerbaijanis constituting 16%, Arabs
Turkmens and other Turkic tribes 2%, and others (such as
Armenians, Talysh, Georgians, Circassians, Assyrians) 1%.
Library of Congress
Library of Congress issued slightly different estimates: 65%
Persians (incl. Mazenderanis, Gilaks, and the Talysh), 16%
Azerbaijanis, 7% Kurds, 6% Lurs, 2% Baloch, 1% Turkic tribal groups
(incl. Qashqai and Turkmens), and non-Iranian, non-Turkic groups
(incl. Armenians, Georgians, Assyrians, Circassians, and Arabs) less
than 3%. It determined that Persian is the first language of at least
65% of the country's population, and is the second language for most
of the remaining 35%.
Other non-governmental estimations regarding the groups other than the
Azerbaijanis roughly congruate with the World Factbook
and the Library of Congress. However, many scholarly and
organisational estimations regarding the number of these two groups
differ significantly from the mentioned census. According to many of
them, the number of ethnic
Iran comprises between
21.6–30% of the total population, with the majority holding it on
25%.cd In any case, the largest
Azerbaijanis in the world live in Iran.
Religion in Iran
Religion in Iran and Irreligion in Iran
See also: Islamization of Iran
Iranian people by religion, 2011 General Census Results
Iranian religions such as the Proto-Iranic
religion and the subsequent
Manichaeism were the
dominant religions in Iran, particularly during the Median,
Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian eras. This changed after the fall
Sasanian Empire by the centuries-long Islamization that
followed the Muslim Conquest of Iran.
Iran was predominantly Sunni
until the conversion of the country (as well as the people of what is
today the neighboring Republic of Azerbaijan) to
Islam by the
order of the
Safavid dynasty in the 16th century.
Islam is the official state religion, to which
about 90% to 95% of the population adhere. About 4% to 8% of
the population are Sunni Muslims, mainly
Kurds and Baloches. The
remaining 2% are non-Muslim religious minorities, including
Christians, Jews, Bahais, Mandeans, Yezidis, Yarsanis, and
Judaism has a long history in Iran, dating back to the Achaemenid
Conquest of Babylonia. Although many left in the wake of the
establishment of the State of
Israel and the 1979 Revolution, about
8,756 to 25,000 Jewish people live in Iran.
Iran has the
largest Jewish population in the
Middle East outside of Israel.
Around 250,000 to 370,000 Christians reside in Iran, and
Christianity is the country's largest recognized minority religion.
Most are of Armenian background, as well as a sizable minority of
Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and the Sunni branch of Islam
are officially recognized by the government, and have reserved seats
in the Iranian Parliament. But the Bahá'í Faith, which is said
to be the largest non-Muslim religious minority in Iran is not
officially recognized, and has been persecuted during its existence in
Iran since the 19th century, while according to statistics center of
Iran, Bahais constitute only about 0.37% of Iran, namely about 25.000
to 40.000 people, and it is also said that there does seem to be a
kind of exaggeration in declaration of their population by the order
of Bahais heads. Since the 1979 Revolution, the persecution
of Bahais has increased with executions and denial of civil rights,
especially the denial of access to higher education and
The government has not released statistics regarding irreligiosity.
However, irreligious figures are growing and are higher in the
diaspora, notably among Iranian Americans.
The Sasanian Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Amol.
The 9th-century Monastery of Saint Stepanos in Julfa, part of Iran's
Armenian Monastic Ensembles on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
The 15th-century Blue Mosque of Tabriz, one of Iran's few completely
Isfahan's Shah Mosque, built by the order of Abbas I in 1629, together
with the adjacent bazaar, forms an axis between trade and
Haim Synagogue was built following the Constitutional
Revolution in 1913.
Main article: Culture of Iran
The earliest attested cultures in
Iran date back to the Lower
Paleolithic. Owing to its geopolitical position,
Iran has influenced
cultures as far as
Greece and Italy to the west,
Russia to the north,
Arabian Peninsula to the south, and south and east Asia to the
Iranian art and Arts of Iran
See also: Achaemenid architecture, Parthian art, Sasanian art, Safavid
art, Qajar art, and Iranian modern and contemporary art
Iron Age gold cup from Marlik, kept at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York City.
The art of
Iran encompasses many disciplines, including architecture,
stonemasonry, metalworking, weaving, pottery, painting, and
calligraphy. Iranian works of art show a great variety in style, in
different regions and periods. The art of the
obscure, but has been theoretically attributed to the Scythian
style. The Achaemenids borrowed heavily from the art of their
neighboring civilizations, but produced a synthesis of a unique
style, with an eclectic architecture remaining at sites such as
Persepolis and Pasargadae. Greek iconography was imported by the
Seleucids, followed by the recombination of Hellenistic and earlier
Near Eastern elements in the art of the Parthians, with remains
such as the Temple of Anahita and the Statue of the Parthian Nobleman.
By the time of the Sasanians,
Iranian art came across a general
renaissance. Although of unclear development, Sasanian art
was highly influential, and spread into far regions. Taq-e-Bostan,
Taq-e-Kasra, Naqsh-e-Rostam, and the Shapur-Khwast Castle are among
the surviving monuments from the Sasanian period.
During the Middle Ages,
Sasanian art played a prominent role in the
formation of both European and Asian medieval art, which carried
forward to the Islamic world, and much of what later became known as
Islamic learning—including medicine, architecture, philosophy,
philology, and literature—were of Sasanian
A Safavid painting kept at the Abbasi Caravanserai in Isfahan.
The Safavid era is known as the Golden Age of Iranian art, and
Safavid works of art show a far more unitary development than in any
other period, as part of a political evolution that reunified
Iran as a cultural entity.
Safavid art exerted noticeable
influences upon the neighboring Ottomans, the Mughals, and the
Deccans, and was also influential through its fashion and garden
architecture on 11th–17th-century Europe.
Kamal-ol-Molk's Mirror Hall, often considered a starting point in
Iranian modern art.
Iran's contemporary art traces its origins back to the time of
Kamal-ol-Molk, a prominent realist painter at the court of the
Qajar dynasty who affected the norms of painting and adopted a
naturalistic style that would compete with photographic works. A new
Iranian school of fine art was established by Kamal-ol-Molk in
1928, and was followed by the so-called "coffeehouse" style of
Iran's avant-garde modernists emerged by the arrival of new western
influences during World War II. The vibrant contemporary art
scene originates in the late 1940s, and Tehran's first modern art
gallery, Apadana, was opened in September 1949 by painters Mahmud
Javadipur, Hosein Kazemi, and Hushang Ajudani. The new
movements received official encouragement by mid-1950s, which led
to the emergence of artists such as Marcos Grigorian, signaling a
commitment to the creation of a form of modern art grounded in
Iranian architecture and Persian gardens
The history of architecture in
Iran goes back to the seventh
millennium BC. Iranians were among the first to use mathematics,
geometry and astronomy in architecture.
Iranian architecture displays great variety, both structural and
aesthetic, developing gradually and coherently out of earlier
traditions and experience. The guiding motif of Iranian
architecture is its cosmic symbolism, "by which man is brought into
communication and participation with the powers of heaven".
Iran ranks seventh among UNESCO's list of countries with the most
archaeological ruins and attractions from antiquity.
The ruins of the Tachara, Persepolis.
Naqsh-e Jahan Square, Isfahan.
Qasemi Bath, Kashan.
Entrance of the Shah Mosque, Isfahan.
Shazdeh Garden, Mahan.
Qavam House, Shiraz.
A ceiling at the
Bazaar of Yazd.
Golestan Palace, Tehran.
Azadi Tower, Tehran.
Bazaar of Tabriz, a World Heritage Site.
Main article: Persian carpet
Iran's carpet-weaving has its origins in the Bronze Age, and is one of
the most distinguished manifestations of Iranian art.
Iran is the
world's largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets, producing
three quarters of the world's total output and having a share of 30%
of world's export markets.
Main article: Persian literature
Ferdowsi in Tus.
Iranian literature is one of the world's oldest, dating back to the
poetry of the Avesta.
Poetry is used in many Iranian classical works, whether in literature,
science, or metaphysics. The
Persian language has been dubbed as a
worthy language to serve as a conduit for poetry, and is considered
one of the four main bodies of world literature. Dialects of
Persian are sporadically spoken throughout regions from China to Syria
and Russia, though mainly in the Iranian Plateau.
Iran has a number of famous medieval poets, most notably Rumi,
Ferdowsi, Hafez, Saadi Shirazi, Omar Khayyam, and Nezami Ganjavi.
Historically, Iranian literature has inspired writers such as Johann
Wolfgang von Goethe, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo
Main articles: Ancient philosophy § Ancient Iranian philosophy,
and Iranian philosophy
Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism, depicted on Raphael's The
School of Athens.
Iranian philosophy originates from Indo-European roots, with
Zoroaster's reforms having major influences.
According to The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, the chronology of
the subject and science of philosophy starts with the Indo-Iranians,
dating this event to 1500 BC. The Oxford dictionary also states,
"Zarathushtra's philosophy entered to influence Western tradition
through Judaism, and therefore on Middle Platonism."
While there are ancient relations between the Indian
Vedas and the
Iranian Avesta, the two main families of the Indo-Iranian
philosophical traditions were characterized by fundamental
differences, especially in their implications for the human being's
position in society and their view of man's role in the universe.
The Cyrus Cylinder, which is known as "the first charter of human
rights", is often seen as a reflection of the questions and thoughts
expressed by Zoroaster, and developed in Zoroastrian schools of the
Achaemenid era. The earliest tenets of Zoroastrian schools
are part of the extant scriptures of the Zoroastrian religion in
Avestan. Among them are treatises such as the Zatspram, Shkand-gumanik
Vizar, and Denkard, as well as older passages of the
Avesta and the
Iranian mythology and Iranian folklore
Arash the Archer at the
Sa'dabad Complex in Tehran.
Iranian mythology consists of ancient
Iranian folklore and stories,
all involving extraordinary beings, reflecting attitudes towards the
confrontation of good and evil, actions of the gods, and the exploits
of heroes and fabulous creatures.
Myths play a crucial part in Iranian culture, and understanding of
them is increased when they are considered within the context of
actual events in Iranian history. The geography of Greater Iran, a
vast area covering present-day Iran, the Caucasus, Anatolia,
Mesopotamia and Central Asia, with its high mountain ranges, plays the
main role in much of Iranian mythology.
10th-century Persian poet Ferdowsi's long epic poem Šāhnāme ("Book
of Kings"), which is for the most part based on Xwadāynāmag, a
Middle Persian compilation of the history of Iranian kings and heroes
from mythical times down to the reign of Chosroes II, is
considered the national epic of Iran. It draws heavily on the stories
and characters of the Zoroastrian tradition, from the texts of the
Avesta, the Denkard, and the Bundahishn.
Main article: Music of Iran
Karna, an ancient Iranian musical instrument from the 6th century BC,
kept at the
Iran is the apparent birthplace of the earliest complex instruments,
dating back to the third millennium BC. The use of both vertical
and horizontal angular harps have been documented at the sites Madaktu
and Kul-e Farah, with the largest collection of Elamite instruments
documented at Kul-e Farah. Multiple depictions of horizontal harps
were also sculpted in Assyrian palaces, dating back between 865 and
Cyropaedia mentions a great number of singing women at the
court of the Achaemenid Empire.
Athenaeus of Naucratis, in his
Deipnosophistae, points out to the capture of Achaemenid singing girls
at the court of the last Achaemenid king
Darius III (336–330 BC) by
Macedonian general Parmenion. Under the Parthian Empire, the gōsān
(Parthian for "minstrel") had a prominent role in the society.
According to Plutarch's Life of Crassus (32.3), they praised their
national heroes and ridiculed their Roman rivals. Likewise, Strabo's
Geographica reports that the Parthian youth were taught songs about
"the deeds both of the gods and of the noblest men".
The history of
Sasanian music is better documented than the earlier
periods, and is especially more evident in
Avestan texts. By the
time of Chosroes II, the Sasanian royal court hosted a number of
prominent musicians, namely Azad, Bamshad, Barbad, Nagisa, Ramtin, and
A 'Persian miniature' depicting a late Zand or Qajar era banquet with
women playing musical instruments. Artist is a student of
Kamal-ol-molk by the name of Ibrahim Jabbar-beik.
Iranian traditional musical instruments include string instruments
such as chang (harp), qanun, santur, rud (oud, barbat), tar, dotar,
setar, tanbur, and kamanche, wind instruments such as sorna (zurna,
karna) and ney, and percussion instruments such as tompak, kus, daf
(dayere), and naqare.
The National Music Society of Iran, conducted by Khaleqi in the 1940s.
Iran's first symphony orchestra, the
Tehran Symphony Orchestra, was
founded by Qolam-Hoseyn Minbashian in 1933. It was reformed by Parviz
Mahmoud in 1946, and is currently Iran's oldest and largest symphony
orchestra. Later, by the late 1940s,
Ruhollah Khaleqi founded the
country's first national music society, and established the School of
National Music in 1949.
Iranian pop music
Iranian pop music has its origins in the Qajar era. It was
significantly developed since the 1950s, using indigenous instruments
and forms accompanied by electric guitar and other imported
characteristics. The emergence of genres such as rock in the 1960s and
hip hop in the 2000s also resulted in major movements and influences
in Iranian music.
Persian theater and Persian dance
The Roudaki Hall, constructed between 1957 and 1967 in Tehran.
The earliest recorded representations of dancing figures within Iran
were found in prehistoric sites such as Tepe Sialk and Tepe
Mūsīān. The oldest Iranian initiation of theater and the
phenomena of acting can be traced in the ancient epic ceremonial
theaters such as Sug-e Siāvuš ("mourning of Siāvaš"), as well as
dances and theater narrations of Iranian mythological tales reported
Herodotus and Xenophon.
Iran's traditional theatrical genres include Baqqāl-bāzi ("grocer
play", a form of slapstick comedy), Ruhowzi (or Taxt-howzi, comedy
performed over a courtyard pool covered with boards), Siāh-bāzi (in
which the central comedian appears in blackface), Sāye-bāzi (shadow
play), Xeyme-šab-bāzi (marionette), and Arusak-bāzi (puppetry), and
Ta'zie (religious tragedy plays).
Before the 1979 Revolution, the Iranian national stage had become a
famous performing scene for known international artists and
troupes, with the
Roudaki Hall of
Tehran constructed to function
as the national stage for opera and ballet. Opened on 26 October 1967,
the hall is home to the
Tehran Symphony Orchestra, the
Orchestra, and the Iranian National
Ballet Company, and was officially
renamed Vahdat Hall after the 1979 Revolution.
Loris Tjeknavorian's Rostam and Sohrab, based on the tragedy of Rostam
and Sohrab from Ferdowsi's epic poem Šāhnāme, is an example of
opera with Persian libretto. Tjeknavorian, a celebrated Iranian
Armenian composer and conductor, composed it in 25 years, and it was
finally performed for the first time at Tehran's Roudaki Hall, with
Darya Dadvar in the role of Tahmina.
Cinema and animation
Cinema of Iran
Cinema of Iran and History of Iranian animation
Reproduction of the 3rd-millennium BC goblet from southeastern Iran,
possibly the world's oldest example of animation.
A third-millennium BC earthen goblet discovered at the Burnt City, a
Bronze Age urban settlement in southeastern Iran, depicts what could
possibly be the world's oldest example of animation. The artifact,
associated with Jiroft, bears five sequential images depicting a wild
goat jumping up to eat the leaves of a tree. The earliest
attested Iranian examples of visual representations, however, are
traced back to the bas-reliefs of Persepolis, the ritual center of the
Achaemenid Empire. The figures at
Persepolis remain bound by the rules
of grammar and syntax of visual language. The Iranian visual arts
reached a pinnacle by the Sasanian era, and several works from this
period have been found to articulate movements and actions in a highly
sophisticated manner. It is even possible to see a progenitor of the
cinematic close-up shot in one of these works of art, which shows a
wounded wild pig escaping from the hunting ground.
By the early 20th century, the five-year-old industry of cinema came
to Iran. The first Iranian filmmaker was probably Mirza Ebrahim (Akkas
Bashi), the court photographer of Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah of the Qajar
dynasty. Mirza Ebrahim obtained a camera and filmed the Qajar ruler's
visit to Europe. Later in 1904, Mirza Ebrahim (Sahhaf Bashi), a
businessman, opened the first public movie theater in Tehran.
After him, several others like Russi Khan, Ardeshir Khan, and Ali
Vakili tried to establish new movie theaters in Tehran. Until the
early 1930s, there were around 15 cinema theaters in
Tehran and 11 in
other provinces. The first Iranian feature film, Abi and Rabi,
was a silent comedy directed by
Ovanes Ohanian in 1930. The first
sounded one, Lor Girl, was produced by
Ardeshir Irani and
Abd-ol-Hosein Sepanta in 1932.
Behrouz Vossoughi, a well-known Iranian actor who has appeared in over
Iran's animation industry began by the 1950s, and was followed by the
establishment of the influential Institute for the Intellectual
Development of Children and Young Adults in January 1965.
The 1960s was a significant decade for Iranian cinema, with 25
commercial films produced annually on average throughout the early
60s, increasing to 65 by the end of the decade. The majority of the
production focused on melodrama and thrillers. With the screening of
the films Qeysar and The Cow, directed by
Masoud Kimiai and Dariush
Mehrjui respectively in 1969, alternative films set out to establish
their status in the film industry and Bahram Beyzai's Downpour and
Nasser Taghvai's Tranquility in the Presence of Others followed soon.
Attempts to organize a film festival, which had begun in 1954 within
the framework of the Golrizan Festival, resulted in the festival of
Sepas in 1969. The endeavors also resulted in the formation of the
Tehran's World Film Festival in 1973.
Abbas Kiarostami (1940–2016), an acclaimed Iranian film director.
After the Revolution of 1979, and following the Cultural Revolution, a
new age emerged in Iranian cinema, starting with Long Live! by Khosrow
Sinai and followed by many other directors, such as Abbas Kiarostami
and Jafar Panahi. Kiarostami, an acclaimed Iranian director, planted
Iran firmly on the map of world cinema when he won the
Palme d'Or for
Cherry in 1997. The continuous presence of Iranian films
in prestigious international festivals, such as the Cannes Film
Festival, the Venice Film Festival, and the
Berlin International Film
Festival, attracted world attention to Iranian masterpieces. In
2006, six Iranian films, of six different styles, represented Iranian
cinema at the
Berlin International Film Festival. Critics considered
this a remarkable event in the history of Iranian cinema.
Asghar Farhadi, a well-known Iranian director, has received a Golden
Globe Award and two Academy Awards, representing
Iran for Best Foreign
Language Film in 2012 and 2017. In 2012, he was named as one of the
100 Most Influential People in the world by the American news magazine
See also: List of festivals in Iran
Haft-Seen, a customary of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year.
New Year begins with Nowruz, an ancient Iranian
tradition celebrated annually on the vernal equinox. It is enjoyed by
people adhering to different religions, but is considered a holiday
for the Zoroastrians. It was registered on the UNESCO's list of
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in
2009, described as the Persian New Year,
shared with a number of other countries in which it has historically
On the eve of the last Wednesday of the preceding year, as a prelude
to Nowruz, the ancient festival of Čāršanbe Suri celebrates
Ātar ("fire") by performing rituals such as jumping over bonfires and
lighting off firecrackers and fireworks. The Nowruz
celebrations last by the end of the 13th day of the Iranian year
Farvardin 13, usually coincided with 1 or 2 April), celebrating the
festival of Sizdebedar, during which the people traditionally go
outdoors to picnic.
Yaldā, another nationally celebrated ancient tradition,
commemorates the ancient goddess
Mithra and marks the longest night of
the year on the eve of the winter solstice (čelle ye zemestān;
usually falling on 20 or 21 December), during which families
gather together to recite poetry and eat fruits—particularly the red
fruits watermelon and pomegranate, as well as mixed nuts. In
some regions of the provinces of Mazanderan and
Markazi, there is also the midsummer festival of
Tirgān, which is observed on Tir 13 (2 or 3 July) as a
celebration of water.
Alongside the ancient Iranian celebrations, Islamic annual events such
as Ramezān, Eid e Fetr, and Ruz e Āšurā are marked by the
country's large Muslim population, Christian traditions such as
Noel, Čelle ye Ruze, and Eid e Pāk are observed by
the Christian communities, Jewish traditions such as Purim,
Hanukā, and Eid e Fatir (Pesah) are observed by the
Jewish communities, and Zoroastrian traditions such as Sade and
Mehrgān are observed by the Zoroastrians.
Main article: Public holidays in Iran
See also: Iranian calendars
Iran's official calendar is the Solar Hejri calendar, beginning at the
vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, which was first enacted by
the Iranian Parliament on 31 March 1925. Each of the 12 months of
the Solar Hejri calendar correspond with a zodiac sign, and the length
of each year is absolutely solar. The months are named after the
ancient Iranian months, namely
Farvardin (Fravaši), Ordibehešt
(Aša Vahišta), Xordād (Haurvatāt), Tir (Tištrya), Āmordād
(Amərətāt), Šahrivar (Xšaθra Vairya), Mehr (Miθra), Ābān
(Āpō), Āzar (Ātar), Dey (Daθuš),
Bahman (Vohu Manah), and Esfand
Alternatively, the Lunar Hejri calendar is used to indicate Islamic
events, and the
Gregorian calendar remarks the international events.
Legal public holidays based on the Iranian solar calendar include the
cultural celebrations of
Farvardin 1–4; 21–24 March) and
Farvardin 13; 2 April), and the political events of
Islamic Republic Day (
Farvardin 12; 1 April), the death of Ruhollah
Khordad 14; 4 June), the
Khordad 15 event (
Khordad 15; 5
June), the anniversary of the
1979 Revolution (
Bahman 22; 10
February), and Oil
Nationalization Day (
Esfand 29; 19 March).
Lunar Islamic public holidays include Tasua (Muharram 9; 30
Ashura (Muharram 10; 1 October), Arba'een (Safar 20; 10
November), the death of Muhammad (Safar 28; 17 November), the death of
Ali al-Ridha (Safar 29 or 30; 18 November), the birthday of Muhammad
(Rabi-al-Awwal 17; 6 December), the death of Fatimah (Jumada-al-Thani
3; 2 March), the birthday of Ali (Rajab 13; 10 April), Muhammad's
first revelation (Rajab 27; 24 April), the birthday of Muhammad
al-Mahdi (Sha'ban 15; 12 May), the death of Ali (
Ramadan 21; 16 June),
Eid al-Fitr (Shawwal 1–2; 26–27 June), the death of Ja'far
al-Sadiq (Shawwal 25; 20 July), Eid al-Qurban (Zulhijja 10; 1
September), and Eid al-Qadir (Zulhijja 18; 9 September).
Main article: Iranian cuisine
Chelow kebab (rice and kebab), one of Iran's national
Due to its variety of ethnic groups and the influences from the
neighboring cultures, the cuisine of
Iran is diverse. Herbs are
frequently used, along with fruits such as plums, pomegranate, quince,
prunes, apricots, and raisins. To achieve a balanced taste,
characteristic flavorings such as saffron, dried lime, cinnamon, and
parsley are mixed delicately and used in some special dishes. Onion
and garlic are commonly used in the preparation of the accompanying
course, but are also served separately during meals, either in raw or
Iranian cuisine includes a wide range of main dishes, including
various types of kebab, pilaf, stew (khoresh), soup and āsh, and
omelette. Lunch and dinner meals are commonly accompanied by side
dishes such as plain yogurt or mast-o-khiar, sabzi, salad Shirazi, and
torshi, and might follow dishes such as borani, Mirza Qasemi, or kashk
e bademjan as the appetizer.
In Iranian culture, tea (čāy) is so widely consumed. Iran
is the world's seventh major tea producer, and a cup of tea is
typically the first thing offered to a guest. One of Iran's most
popular desserts is the falude, consisting of vermicelli in a
rose water syrup, which has its roots in the fourth century
BC. There is also the popular saffron ice cream, known as
bastani sonnati ("traditional ice cream"), which is sometimes
accompanied with carrot juice.
Iran is also famous for its
Main article: Sport in Iran
Skiers at the
Dizin Ski Resort.
With two thirds of the population under the age of 25, many sports are
played in Iran.
Kianoush Rostami wins gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Kimia Alizadeh wins bronze at the 2016 Summer
Iran is most likely the birthplace of polo, locally known as
čowgān, with its earliest records attributed to the ancient
Freestyle wrestling is traditionally considered the
national sport of Iran, and the national wrestlers have been world
champions on many occasions. Iran's traditional wrestling, called
košti e pahlevāni ("heroic wrestling"), is registered on the
UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage list.
Being a mountainous country,
Iran is a venue for skiing, snowboarding,
hiking, rock climbing, and mountain climbing. It is
home to several ski resorts, the most famous being Tochal, Dizin, and
Shemshak, all within one to three hours traveling from the capital
city Tehran. The resort of Tochal, located in the
rage, is the world's fifth-highest ski resort (3,730 m or
12,238 ft at its highest station).
Iran's National Olympic Committee was founded in 1947. Wrestlers and
weightlifters have achieved the country's highest records at the
Olympics. In September 1974,
Iran became the first country in West
Asia to host the Asian Games. The Azadi Sport Complex, which is the
largest sport complex in Iran, was originally built for this occasion.
The Azadi Stadium, West Asia's largest football stadium, in Tehran.
Soccer has been regarded as the most popular sport in Iran, with men's
national team having won the
Asian Cup on three occasions. The
national team has maintained its position as the best Asian squad, as
it ranks first in Asia and 39th in the world according to the FIFA
World Rankings (as of August 2016[update]).
Volleyball is the second most popular sport in Iran. Having
won the 2011 and 2013 Asian Men's Volleyball Championships, men's
national team is currently the strongest team in Asia, and ranks
eighth in the
FIVB World Rankings (as of July 2016).
Basketball is also popular, with men's national team having won three
Asian Championships since 2007.
Iran made global headlines for international female champions
boycotting tournaments in
Iran in chess (U.S. Woman Grandmaster Nazi
Paikidze) and in shooting (Indian world champion Heena
Sidhu), as they refused to enter a country where they would be
forced to hijab.
Main article: Media of Iran
Iran's telecommunications are handled by the state-owned
Telecommunication Company of Iran. All sanctioned media outlets in
Iran are either state-owned or subject to monitoring. Outlets such as
books, movies, and music albums must be approved by the Ministry of
Ershad before being released to the public.
Most of the newspapers published in
Iran are in Persian. The country's
most widely circulated periodicals are based in Tehran, among which
are Etemad, Ettela'at, Kayhan, Hamshahri, Resalat, and Shargh.
Iran Daily, and
Financial Tribune are among
English-language newspapers based in Iran.
Television was introduced to
Iran in 1958. Although the 1974
Asian Games were broadcast in color, full color programming began in
1978. Since the 1979 Revolution, Iran's largest media corporation
Islamic Republic of
Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). About 65% of
the capital's residents, as well as about 30 to 40 percent of the
residents of other cities, watch television channels broadcast from
abroad through satellite dishes, although observers state that the
figures are likely to be higher.
Iran received access to the Internet in 1993. According to Internet
World Stats, as of 2016, about 68.5% of the population of
Iran ranks 19th among countries by number of
Internet users. According to the statistics provided by the web
information company of Alexa,
Google Search and
Yahoo! are the most
widely used search engines in Iran. Telegram is the most widely
used online messaging service in Iran, while
Instagram is the most
popular online social networking service. Direct access to
Facebook has been blocked in
Iran since the 2009 Iranian presidential
election protests, due to organization of the opposition movements on
the website; however,
Facebook has around 12 to 17 million users
Iran who are using virtual private networks and proxy servers to
access the website. Around 90% of Iran's e-commerce takes place
on the Iranian online store of Digikala, which has around 750,000
visitors per day and more than 2.3 million subscribers. Digikala
is the most visited online store in the Middle East, and ranks fourth
among the most visited websites in Iran.
Middle East portal
List of Iran-related topics
Outline of Iran
^ Including the de facto independent, but unrecognized Republic of
^ In the Avesta, the airiia- are members of the ethnic group of the
Avesta-reciters themselves, in contradistinction to the anairiia- (the
"non-Arya"). The word also appears four times in Old Persian: One is
in the Behistun inscription, where ariya- is the name of a language
(DB 4.89). The other three instances occur in Darius I's inscription
Naqsh-e Rustam (DNa 14–15), in Darius I's inscription at Susa
(DSe 13–14), and in the inscription of
Xerxes I at
12–13). In these, the two Achaemenid dynasties describe themselves
as pārsa pārsahyā puça ariya ariyaciça "a Persian, son of a
Persian, an Ariya, of Ariya origin." — The phrase with ciça
("origin, descendance") assures that ariya is an ethnic name wider in
meaning than pārsa and not a simple adjectival epithet.
^ Jeroen Temperman (2010). State-Religion Relationships and Human
Rights Law: Towards a Right to Religiously Neutral Governance. BRILL.
pp. 87–. ISBN 90-04-18148-2. The official motto of
Takbir ("God is the Greatest" or "God is Great"). Transliteration
Allahu Akbar. As referred to in art. 18 of the constitution of Iran
(1979). The de facto motto however is: "Independence, freedom, the
^ "Languages of Iran". Archived from the original on 19 August
^ Buchta, Wilfried. "Taking Stock of a Quarter Century of the Islamic
Republic of Iran" (PDF). Harvard Law School. Harvard Law School.
Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 2
November 2015. [...] the Islamic Republic’s political system, a
theocratic-republican hybrid [...]
^ a b Sarkhosh Curtis, Vesta; Stewart, Sarah (2005), Birth of the
Persian Empire: The Idea of Iran, London: I.B. Tauris, p. 108,
Similarly the collapse of Sassanian Eranshahr in AD 650 did not end
Iranians' national idea. The name "Iran" disappeared from official
records of the Saffarids, Samanids, Buyids, Saljuqs and their
successor. But one unofficially used the name Iran, Eranshahr, and
similar national designations, particularly Mamalek-e
Iran or "Iranian
lands", which exactly translated the old
Avestan term Ariyanam
Daihunam. On the other hand, when the Safavids (not Reza Shah, as is
popularly assumed) revived a national state officially known as Iran,
bureaucratic usage in the Ottoman empire and even
Iran itself could
still refer to it by other descriptive and traditional
appellations. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
^ a b Andrew J. Newman (21 April 2006). Safavid Iran: Rebirth of a
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Iranian speaking peoples themselves, while the latter has served as
the international name of the country in various languages
^ "Persia Pronunciation in English". dictionary.cambridge.org.
Archived from the original on 26 February 2017. Retrieved 26 February
^ Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ایران Jomhūrī-ye
Eslāmī-ye Īrān [d͡ʒomhuːˌɾije eslɒːˌmije ʔiːˈɾɒn]
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elections regularly, but they fall short of democratic standards due
to the role of the hard-line Guardian Council, which disqualifies all
candidates deemed insufficiently loyal to the clerical establishment.
Ultimate power rests in the hands of the country’s supreme leader,
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the unelected institutions under his
Human rights abuses continued unabated in 2016, with the
authorities carrying out Iran’s largest mass execution in years and
launching a renewed crackdown on women’s rights activists. The
regime maintained restrictions on freedom of expression, both offline
and online, and made further arrests of journalists, bloggers, labor
union activists, and dual nationals visiting the country, with some
facing heavy prison sentences. Hard-liners in control of powerful
institutions, including the judiciary and the Islamic Revolutionary
Guard Corps (IRGC), were behind many of the year’s abuses. There
were no indications that President Hassan Rouhani, a self-proclaimed
moderate seeking reelection in 2017, was willing or able to push back
against repressive forces and deliver the greater social freedoms he
had promised. Opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi, his wife Zahra
Rahnavard, and reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi remained under house
arrest for a sixth year without being formally charged or put on
trial. As in 2015, the media were barred from quoting or reporting on
former president Mohammad Khatami, another important reformist
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Greater Iran, the
Iran which in the past, extended all the way from
China to borders of Hungary and from other Mongolia to
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estimates over 50 million. Richard (2008, p. 34) estimates nearly 70
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^ Alipour, Sam (21 April 2012). "Mission Improbable". ESPN. Retrieved
21 April 2012.
^ "The 22-year-old chess star boycotting
Iran World Championships over
hijab". BBC. 5 October 2016. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
^ "'I will NOT wear a hijab': U.S. chess star refuses to attend world
championships in Iran". Washington Post. 6 October 2016. Retrieved 1
Heena Sidhu withdraws from tournament in Iran, says won't
wear hijab". thenewsminute. 29 October 2016. Retrieved 1 November
^ a b William Bayne Fisher; P. Avery; G. R. G. Hambly; C. Melville (10
October 1991). The Cambridge History of Iran. Cambridge University
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^ "Nothing Comes Between Iranians And Their
Satellite Dishes – Not
Even The Police". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 13 March
^ "Iran's war on satellite dishes: "We just buy new ones the next
day"". France 24. 20 December 2012.
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^ a b c "Top Sites in Iran". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 19 April
^ Etehad, Melissa (13 March 2017). "Telegram was the app where
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Foltz, Richard (2016).
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