Iran (Persian: ایران) is a country in southwest Asia with an area of 1,648,195 km2 (about one-fifth the size of the contiguous United States) and a population of 75 million (about one-fourth that of the United States). Farsi (Persian) is spoken by the majority of the population in Iran, though a significant portion of the population also speaks other languages/dialects such as Turkish, Kurdish, Lori, Arabic, Baluchi, Gilaki, Mazandarani, and Turkmen. The capital of Iran is Tehran (with a population of around 10 million), and other major cities include Mashhad, Esfahan, Tabriz, Karaj, and Shiraz. Although nearly three quarters of Iranians live in urban areas, Iran also has one of the largest nomadic populations in the world (an estimated 1.5 million).
Iran is bordered by the Caspian Sea (the largest inland body of water on Earth) to the north and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. It consists of a high central basin (with mountains and deserts) that is bordered by rugged mountain ranges on two sides; Alborz mountains to the north and Zagros mountains to the west. About 10% of Iran’s landscape is forested, mostly located in the north.
Culture and traditions
Noe-rooz (Persian for “the new day”) represents the arrival of the New Year in Iranian calendar (also referred to as “the Persian New Year), and is the most cherished national festival in Iran
Yalda is the Persian winter solstice celebration with an ancient historical background. Yalda Night is the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and marks the beginning of winter. It is usually celebrated on December 20 or 21 each year.
Chahar-Shanbeh-Soori (Persian for Wednesday Feast) is an ancient Iranian festival that dates back to at least 1700 BC of the early Zoroastrian era. Also called the Festival of Fire, it is a prelude to Noe-rooz, and is celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Iranian year.
Poem: Persian literature is considered to be one of the great literatures of mankind. Many of the most greatest poets were born in this country including: Sa’adi, Hafez, Ferdowsi, Rudaki, Rumi and so on.
Blue tile work: The color “Persian blue” is named after the blue color of tiles used on mosques and palaces in Iran. The best known blue tile work masterpiece in Iran is the Shah Mosque in Isfahan, dating back to the Safavid dynasty (17th century).
Miniature: The ancient Persian miniature dates back to the 3rd century when Mani (a professional artist) made considerable use of images in his sacred book. Since then, illustrated books have represented a major art form in Iran. One of the most famous illustrated books is the Shahnameh written by Ferdowsi.
Iran’s economy is based mainly on the oil and gas industry. Tourism and export of agricultural products like saffron and pistachio, as well as non-petroleum products such as carpets, are also an important part of the Iranian economy.
Here are a few Iranians or Iranian-Americans you might know:
Shirin Ebadi, the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.
Asghar Farhadi, an Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011.
Anousheh Ansari, co-founder and chairwoman of Prodea Systems, and the first female space tourist to fly to the International Space Station.
Professor sami’i: Madjid Samii received the “World Physician” award by the north German city of Hannover. He is currently the president of the International Neuroscience Institute (INI) at the Otto-von-Guericke-University.
This is Iran’s number-one tourist destination for good reason. Its profusion of tree-lined boulevards, Persian gardens and important Islamic buildings gives it a visual appeal unmatched by any other Iranian city, and the many artisans working here underpin its reputation as a living museum of traditional culture. Walking through the historic bazaar, over the picturesque bridges and across the Unesco-listed central square are sure to be highlights of your holiday.
Celebrated as the heartland of Persian culture for more than 2000 years, Shiraz has become synonymous with education, nightingales, poetry and wine. It was one of the most important cities in the medieval Islamic world and also the Iranian capital during the Zand dynasty (AD 1747–79), when many of its most beautiful buildings were built or restored.
Mashhad is Iran’s holiest and second-biggest city. Its raison d’être and main sight is the beautiful, massive and ever-growing Haram (shrine complex) commemorating the AD 817 martyrdom of Shia Islam’s eighth Imam, Imam Reza.
A fascinating bazaar, a deeply human heart and passionately helpful freelance guides make this gigantic, sprawling city a surprisingly positive introduction to Iran. It had a spell as the Iranian capital and has proven extremely influential in the country’s recent history.
For more information you can visit the Persia Port website: