Iran, commonly known as Persia, is a sovereign state in Western Asia. It is formally known as the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is bounded on the northwest by Armenia, the de facto Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan; on the northeast by Turkmenistan; on the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan; on the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman; on the north by the Caspian Sea; and on the west by Turkey and Iraq. It is the second-largest nation in the Middle East and the 18th-largest country in the world, with a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi). Iran is the world’s seventeenth most populated nation, with 78.4 million people. It is the only nation having a coastline on both the Caspian Sea and the Indian Ocean. The country’s pivotal position in Eurasia and Western Asia, as well as its closeness to the Strait of Hormuz, making it very important geostrategically. Tehran is the capital and biggest city of Iran, as well as the country’s economic hub.
Iran is descended from one of the world’s oldest civilizations, dating all the way back to 3200–2800 BC, when the Proto-Elamite and Elamite kingdoms were formed. The territory was initially united by the Iranian Medes in 625 BC, who established themselves as the region’s main cultural and political force. Iran attained its greatest geographic extent under Cyrus the Great’s Achaemenid Empire, which extended from portions of Eastern Europe in the west to the Indus Valley in the east, making it the world’s biggest empire at the time. The empire fell around 330 BC as a result of Alexander the Great’s conquests, but quickly reemerged as the Parthian Empire. Iran regained prominence in the globe over the following four centuries under the Sassanid Dynasty.
Sunni Islam mainly replaced the indigenous religions of Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism when the Rashidun Arabs invaded Iran in 633 AD. Iran was a significant contribution to the subsequent Islamic Golden Age, generating many important scientists, philosophers, artists, and thinkers. In 1501, the emergence of the Safavid Dynasty resulted in the foundation of Twelver Shia Islam as Iran’s official religion, a watershed moment in Iranian and Muslim history. Iran had its largest geographical extent since the Sassanid Empire during the 18th century, temporarily possessing what was probably the world’s most powerful empire at the time under Nader Shah. Throughout the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a series of wars with Russia resulted in substantial territory losses and sovereignty degradation. Popular discontent culminated in 1906 with the establishment of a constitutional monarchy and the country’s first legislative body, the Majles. Following a coup sponsored by the United Kingdom and the United States in 1953, Iran progressively allied with the West but became more authoritarian. Dissent against foreign influence and political repression grew in strength, culminating in the 1979 Revolution and the creation of an Islamic republic.
Iran is a significant regional and intermediate power, and its vast fossil fuel deposits — which include the world’s biggest known natural gas reserves and the fourth-largest proved oil reserves — have a significant impact on worldwide energy security and the global economy. Iran’s illustrious cultural heritage is represented in part by its 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which rank third in Asia and eleventh globally.
Iran is a founding member of the United Nations, the Economic Cooperation Organization, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and OPEC. Its political system is founded on the 1979 Constitution, which blends aspects of parliamentary democracy with a theocracy ruled by Islamic jurists under the idea of a Supreme Leader. A multiethnic and linguistically diverse nation, the majority of its people are Shia Muslims, and Persian is the official language.
Although tourism suffered severely during the Iraq war, it has now rebounded. In 2004, approximately 1,659,000 international visitors visited Iran, and 2.3 million in 2009, mainly from Asian nations, including Central Asian republics, with roughly 10% from the European Union and North America. Over five million visitors visited Iran in the fiscal year 2014–2015, which ended March 21, a 4% increase year on year.
Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shiraz are the most popular tourist attractions in addition to the capital. The sector had significant constraints in infrastructure, communications, industry standards, and staff training in the early 2000s. Asian Muslims received the vast majority of the 300,000 tourist visas issued in 2003, probably to visit key pilgrimage sites in Mashhad and Qom. Annually, many organized groups from Germany, France, and other European nations visit Iran to see ancient sites and monuments. In 2003, Iran ranked 68th in the world in terms of tourist income. According to UNESCO and the deputy director of research for the Iran Travel and Tourism Organization (ITTO), Iran is ranked fourth among the top ten Middle Eastern destinations. Iran has one of the world’s biggest domestic tourist industries. Weak advertising, unpredictable regional circumstances, a bad public image in some areas of the globe, and a lack of effective tourist planning schemes have all hampered tourism development.
Iran is a varied nation with numerous religious and ethnic groups that are united by a common Iranian language and culture.
Iran’s population increased significantly in the second part of the twentieth century, rising from about 19 million in 1956 to over 75 million by 2009. However, Iran’s birth rate has fallen considerably in recent years, resulting in a population growth rate of approximately 1.29 percent as of July 2012. According to studies, growth will continue to decrease until it reaches 105 million by 2050.
Iran has one of the world’s biggest refugee populations, with over one million refugees, the majority of them are from Afghanistan and Iraq. Iranian authorities have been collaborating with the UNHCR and Afghan officials for their return since 2006. According to estimates, about five million Iranian people have emigrated to other nations, the majority of them have done so after the 1979 Revolution.
The Iranian Constitution requires the government to give every person of the nation with access to social security, which includes retirement, unemployment, old age, disability, accidents, catastrophes, health and medical treatment and care services. This is paid for through tax revenues and money from public donations.
Due to the absence of ethnicity-based official censuses in Iran, the makeup of ethnic groupings, like spoken languages, is a source of contention, particularly for the biggest and second largest ethnic groups, the Persians and Azerbaijanis. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, approximately 79 percent of Iran’s population is a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that includes speakers of Iranian languages, with Persians (including Mazenderanis and Gilaks) accounting for 61 percent, Kurds 10 percent, Lurs 6 percent, and Balochs 2 percent. The remaining 21% is made up of people from various ethno-linguistic groups, with Azerbaijanis accounting for 16%, Arabs 2%, Turkmens and Turkic tribes 2%, and others 1%. (such as Armenians, Talysh, Georgians, Circassians, Assyrians).
Persians 65 percent (including Mazenderanis, Gilaks, and Talysh people), Azerbaijanis 16 percent, Kurds 7 percent, Lurs 6 percent, Baluchi 2 percent; Turkic tribal groups such as Qashqai 1 percent, and Turkmens 1 percent; and non-Iranian, non-Turkic groups such as Armenians, Georgians, Assyrians, Circassians, and Arabs less than 3 percent It was discovered that Persian is the primary language of at least 65 percent of the country’s people and the second language of the majority of the remaining 35 percent.
Other non-governmental estimates, with the exception of Persians and Azerbaijanis, generally correspond to the World Factbook and the Library of Congress. Many academic and organizational estimates of the size of these two groups, however, vary considerably from the stated census. According to several of them, the ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran make up between 21.6 and 30 percent of the overall population, with the majority claiming 25 percent. In any event, Iran has the world’s biggest population of Azerbaijanis.
Iran has a variety of climates. Winters in the northwest are harsh, with significant snowfall and subzero temperatures in December and January. The seasons are pleasant in the spring and autumn, but dry and scorching in the summer. The winters in the south are moderate, while the summers are very hot, with average daily temperatures in July surpassing 38° C (100° F) and reaching 50° C in certain areas of the desert. Summer heat is accompanied by heavy humidity in the Khuzestan plain.
Iran has a dry climate in general, with the majority of the year’s precipitation falling from October to April. The average annual precipitation in much of the nation is 25cm or less. The upper mountain valleys of the Zagros and the Caspian coastal plain are notable outliers, with annual precipitation averaging at least 50 cm. Rainfall in the western Caspian surpasses 100cm per year and is spread fairly evenly throughout the year.
When to go in Iran
When to travel to Iran varies from time to time. The best time to visit Iran also depends on where you want to go. Depending on location, the climate in this area varies from subtropical to arid and semiarid. Iran is a cultural region renowned for its intriguing nature and diverse animal species, so you will see something noteworthy no matter when you visit. More information about the weather to anticipate in Iran at various periods of the year may be found below.
Iran’s Variable Climate
Iran has a changing environment, and the weather you will experience will change from area to region. In December and January, the northwestern region of Iran is renowned for its harsh winters, with significant snowfall and subfreezing temperatures. The northwest’s fall and spring seasons are mild, but the summers are very hot and dry.
Winters in southern Iran are mild and pleasant, but summers are very hot. In July, temperatures in the southern area have been recorded to reach 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Certain places in southern Iran may also be humid in addition to hot.
Iran has an arid environment for the most part; the bulk of its yearly precipitation falls between October and April and averages around 25 millimeters. In comparison, the Zagros mountain valleys and the Caspian coastal plain get an average of 50 millimeters of rain each year. The western portion of the Caspian Sea, however, gets over 100 cm of rain each year.
Arid Climate and Temperatures
Because Iran has a mostly dry environment, summers in this region are notoriously scorching, regardless of where you go. If you are sensitive to heat and prefer a more temperate environment, summer is definitely not the ideal season to visit Iran. Ideally, you should visit Iran in the spring or autumn, when the weather is mildest and the temperatures are most reasonable. If you’re planning a trip to Iran’s southern area, winter is a great season to go since the weather is typically pleasant and chilly. If you’re planning a trip to the northwest, you should avoid the winter months since it may be very cold and snowy there.
What to Wear In Iran
When visiting Iran in the summer, you should wear clothing that is lightweight and breathable. Because temperatures in the fall and spring are often moderate, clothes should be lightweight, cotton, and comfy. Winter clothes may vary depending on where you go, but it will be considerably heavier than summer gear. The northwest region becomes the coldest, so if you visit during the winter, bring plenty of warm clothing.
Rugged, rocky rim; high, middle basin with deserts and mountains; and tiny, discontinuous lowlands on both sides Mount Damavand is the highest point (5,610 m).
Desert: The Dasht-e Lut, which is mostly made up of sand and rocks, and the Dasht-e Kavir, which is mostly made up of salt, cover most of central Iran. Both deserts are inhospitable and almost completely uninhabited.
The Zagros mountain range extends from the Republic of Armenia’s border in the north-west to the Persian Gulf, then eastward into Baluchistan. Zagros is a harsh, difficult-to-access region inhabited mostly by pastoral nomads. The Alborz mountain range, smaller than the Zagros, extends along the Caspian’s southern coast, meeting the border mountains of Khorasan to the east.
Forest: Approximately 11% of Iran is wooded, with the Caspian area being the most densely inhabited. Broad-leafed, robust deciduous trees, typically oak, beech, linden, elm, walnut, ash, and hornbeam, as well as a few broad-leafed evergreens, may be found here. Thorny bushes and ferns occur as well. With contrast, the narrow Caspian coastal plain is covered in rich brown forest soil.
Shi’a and Sunni are the two major sects of Islam. The schism dates back to shortly after the Prophet’s death; would the movement be headed by some of his most ardent supporters (Sunni), or by his family, most notably his son-in-law Ali (Shi’a)? (The term “Shi’a” is derived from “shiat Ali,” which refers to Ali’s faction/party.) There was a lengthy, complicated, and violent battle over this. Today, Iran is one of a few mainly Shi’a nations, and the only one where Shi’a Islam is the official religion. The Iranian government, among other things, supports the Shi’a Hezbollah organization, and therefore America accuses it of fomenting terrorism.
The Day of Ashura, which occurs on the 10th of the month of Moharram, is a significant occasion in Shi’a religious life; “ashura” means “tenth.” It recalls Ali’s son Hussein’s death in the Battle of Karbala in 61 AH (680 AD). This is not a joyous occasion, but rather a solemn day of atonement. Travelers should refrain from playing loud music or being unusually happy in public at this time.
Traditional events include parades in which people perform’matham’ — chest-beating, self-flagellation, and even striking oneself with a sword — to commemorate Imam Hussein, who was killed with his half brother, cousins, friends, and two young kids. Dramatic re-enactments of the fight are also performed on occasion.
While Shi’a Islam is unquestionably the major religion in Iran, there are a number of religious minorities. Sunni Islam is mostly practiced by ethnic minorities in Iran, such as Arabs, Kurds, Balushis, and Turkmens. Non-Islamic faiths are also present in lesser numbers, the most prominent of which being Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Judaism, all of which are recognized as minority religions under the Iranian constitution and are given representation in parliament. Despite the fact that Iran is an Islamic republic, fire temples, churches, and synagogues continue to function lawfully. The majority of Iranian Christians are Armenians who practice Eastern Orthodoxy. Iran also boasts the biggest Jewish population outside of Israel in the Middle East. While there are a considerable number of Baha’is in Iran, they are not recognized by the constitution and are instead labeled as heretics of Islam, which means they are still persecuted today despite being Iran’s biggest non-Muslim faith. The meeting of wedleases (temporary weddings) called locally as mut’ah is a unique tradition among Iranian men and women.
The Iranian economy is a blend of central planning, state ownership of oil and other major businesses, village agriculture, and small-scale private trade and service operations. GDP in 2014 was $404.1 billion ($1.334 trillion at PPP), or $17,100 per capita at PPP. The World Bank classifies Iran’s economy as upper-middle income. The service sector contributed the most to GDP in the early twenty-first century, followed by industry (mining and manufacturing) and agriculture.
The Islamic Republic of Iran’s Central Bank is in charge of creating and maintaining the Iranian rial, the country’s currency. Other than the Islamic Labour Councils, which must be approved by employers and security agencies, the government does not recognize labor unions. In June 2013, the monthly minimum wage was 487 million rials ($134). Since 1997, unemployment has stayed over 10%, and the jobless rate for women is almost twice that of males.
In 2006, oil and natural gas income accounted for about 45 percent of the government’s budget, while taxes and fees accounted for 31 percent. As of 2007, Iran had $70 billion in foreign currency reserves, the majority of which (80 percent) came from crude oil exports. Iranian budget deficits have been a persistent issue, owing mostly to large-scale state subsidies for groceries and, in particular, fuel, which totaled more than $84 billion in 2008 for the energy sector alone. Parliament adopted an economic reform plan in 2010 that called for progressively reducing subsidies and replacing them with targeted social assistance. The goal is to achieve free market pricing in five years while increasing productivity and social fairness.
The government is sticking to the previous administration’s market reform objectives and has said that it intends to diversify Iran’s oil-dependent economy. Iran has also established industries in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and pharmaceuticals. However, nationalized businesses, like as the bonyads, have often been mismanaged, rendering them inefficient and uncompetitive over time. The government is now attempting to privatize these sectors, and despite some progress, there are still many issues to address, such as lagging corruption in the public sector and a lack of competitiveness. Iran was rated 69th out of 139 countries in the Global Competitiveness Report in 2010.
In the Middle East, Iran has the top manufacturing sector in automobile production and transportation, building materials, home appliances, food and agricultural products, weapons, medicines, information technology, electricity, and petrochemicals. Iran was a top five producer of the following agricultural goods in the world in 2012, according to FAO: apricots, cherries, sour cherries, cucumbers and gherkins, dates, eggplants, figs, pistachios, quinces, walnuts, and watermelons.
Economic sanctions imposed on Iran, such as the ban on Iranian crude oil, have had an impact on the economy. Sanctions have caused the rial’s value to plummet, and one US dollar is now worth 36,000 rials, up from 16,000 in early 2012. Iran and the P5+1 struck a nuclear agreement in 2015, removing the major restrictions related to Iran’s nuclear program by 2016.