IRAN...


Iran also known as Persia, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran since 1980, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered on the north by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, with Kazakhstan and Russia across the Caspian Sea on the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan on the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman on the west by Iraq and on the northwest by Turkey. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second-largest nation in the Middle East and the 18th-largest in the world with over 77 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 17th most populous nation. It is the only country that has both a Caspian Sea and Indian Ocean coastline.


Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Proto-Elamite and Elamite kingdom in 3200 &ndash 2800 BCE. The Iranian Medes unified the country into the first of many empires in 625 BCE, after which it became the dominant cultural and political power in the region. Iran reached the pinnacle of its power during the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BCE, which at its greatest extent comprised major portions of the ancient world, stretching from the Indus Valley in the east, to Thrace and Macedon on the northeastern border of Greece, making it the largest empire the world had yet seen. The empire collapsed in 330 BCE following the conquests of Alexander the Great. The area eventually regained influence under the Parthian Empire and rose to prominence once more after the establishment of the Sasanian dynasty in 224 CE, under which Iran became one of the leading powers of Western and Central Asia for the next four centuries.

Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism were largely replaced after Arab Muslims invaded Persia in 633 CE, and conquered it by 651 CE. Iran thereafter played a vital role in the subsequent Islamic Golden Age, producing numerous influential scientists, scholars, artists, and thinkers. The emergence in 1501 of the Safavid dynasty, which promoted the Twelver school of thought as the official religion, marked one of the most important turning points in Iranian and Muslim history. It also culminated into tensions, which in 1514 led to the Battle of Chaldiran. The Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906 established the nation's first parliament, which operated within a constitutional monarchy. Following a coup d'état instigated by the UK and the US in 1953, Iran gradually became autocratic. Growing dissent against foreign influence and political repression culminated in the Iranian Revolution, which led to the establishment of an Islamic republic on 1 April 1979.

Tehran is the capital and largest city, serving as the cultural, commercial, and industrial center of the nation. Iran is a major regional and middle power, exerting considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy through its large reserves of fossil fuels, which include the largest natural gas supply in the world and the fourth-largest proven petroleum reserves. It hosts Asia's fourth-largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 


 

Geography...

Iran is the eighteenth largest country in the world, with an area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi). Its area roughly equals that of the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany combined, or somewhat more than the US state of Alaska. Its borders are with Azerbaijan (611 km) (with Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave (179 km)) and Armenia (35 km) to the north-west the Caspian Sea to the north Turkmenistan (992 km) to the north-east Pakistan (909 km) and Afghanistan (936 km) to the east Turkey (499 km) and Iraq (1,458 km) to the west and finally the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. Iran consists of the Iranian Plateau with the exception of the coasts of the Caspian Sea and Khuzestan Province. 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 Mountains the last contains Iran's highest point, Mount Damavand at 5,610 m (18,406 ft), which is also the highest mountain on the Eurasian landmass west of the Hindu Kush. The northern part of Iran is covered by dense rain forests called Shomal or the Jungles of Iran. The eastern part consists mostly of desert basins such as the Dasht-e Kavir, Iran's largest desert, in the north-central portion of the country, and the Dasht-e Lut, in the east, as well as some salt lakes. This is because the mountain ranges are too high for rain clouds to reach these regions. The only large plains are found along the coast of the Caspian Sea and at the northern of the Persian Gulf, where Iran borders the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab river. Smaller, discontinuous plains are found along the remaining coast of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.


 

Iran's Attractions...

Iran is one of the few countries that have all four distinguished seasons. And at any time of the year, in each section of the country, one of the four seasons is visible. Iran's variety in terms of temperature, humidity and rainfall differs from place to place and season to season. Length of the seasons differs in different regions. As one of the world's most mountainous countries, Iran contains two major ranges of mountains, the Alborz with the highest peak in Asia west of the Himalayas, Damavand (5671 m above sea level) and the Zagros that cuts across the country for more than 1,600 km extending from north west to the south east of the country. The peaks exceeding 2,300 m in these two ranges capture a considerable amount of moisture coming either from the Caspian Sea southward or the Mediterranean eastward. Deserts of Iran: Iran is situated in a high-altitude plateau surrounded by connected ranges of mountains. The well-known deserts of Iran are at two major regions: Dasht-e-Kavir, and Kavir-e-Lut. They are both some of the most arid and maybe hottest areas of their kinds in the world. The Desert Pits of Iran: Kavir-e-Lut is the largest pit inside the Iranian plateau and probably one of the largest ones in the world. Kavir-e-Lut is a pit formed by broken layers of the earth.

 

Culture...


Iranian culture has long been a predominant culture of the region, with Persian considered the language of intellectuals during much of the 2nd millennium, and the language of religion and the populace before that. The Sassanid era was an important and influential historical period in Iran as Iranian culture influenced China, India and Roman civilization considerably, and so influenced as far as Western Europe and Africa. This influence played a prominent role in the formation of both Asiatic and European medieval art. This influence carried forward to the Islamic world. Much of what later became known as Islamic learning, such as philology, literature, jurisprudence, philosophy, medicine, architecture and the sciences were based on some of the practises taken from the Sassanid Persians to the broader Muslim world. Daily life in modern Iran is closely interwoven with Shia Islam and the country's art, literature, and architecture are an ever-present reminder of its deep national tradition and of a broader literary culture. The Iranian New Year (Nowruz) is an ancient tradition celebrated on 21 March to mark the beginning of spring in Iran. Nowruz was registered on the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and described as the Persian New Year by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009.

 

Arts and literature...

 

Iran is home to one of the richest artistic traditions in world history and encompasses many disciplines, including architecture, painting, weaving, pottery, calligraphy, metalworking and stonemasonry. Carpet-weaving is one of the most distinguished manifestations of Persian culture and art, and dates back to ancient Persia. Persians were among the first to use mathematics, geometry, and astronomy in architecture and also have extraordinary ss in making massive domes which can be seen frequently in the structure of bazaars and mosques. This greatly inspired the architecture of Iran's neighbors as well. The main building types of classical Iranian architecture are the mosque and the palace. Besides being home to a large number of art houses and galleries, Iran also holds one of the largest and most valuable jewel collections in the world.

Iran ranks seventh among countries in the world with the most archeological architectural ruins and attractions from antiquity as recognized by UNESCO. Fifteen of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites are creations of Iranian architecture.

Poetry is used in many Persian classical works, whether from literature, science, or metaphysics. Persian literature has been considered by such thinkers as Goethe as one of the four main bodies of world literature. The Persian language has produced a number of famous poets however, only a few poets as Rumi and Omar Khayyám have surfaced among western popular readership, even though the likes of Hafiz, Saadi, Nizami, Attar, Sanai, Nasir Khusraw and Jami are considered by many Iranians to be just as influential.

 

 


 

Sports...

With two thirds of Iran's population under the age of 25, many sports are practised in Iran, both traditional and modern. Iran is the birthplace of polo, (Naqsh-i Jahan Square in Isfahan is a polo field which was built by king Abbas I in the 17th century.) and Varzesh-e Pahlavani. Freestyle wrestling has been traditionally regarded as Iran's national sport. However, the most popular sport in Iran is football with the country having won the Asian Cup on three occasions. Basketball is also very popular in Iran where the national team won two of the last three Asian Championships. In 1974, Iran became the first country in West Asia to host the Asian Games. Iran is home to several unique skiing resorts. 13 ski resorts operate in Iran, the most famous being Tochal, Dizin, and Shemshak. All are within one to three hours traveling time of Tehran. Tochal resort is the world's fifth-highest ski resort (3,730 m or 12,238 ft at its highest station). Being a mountainous country, Iran is a venue for hiking, rock climbing, and mountain climbing. Among the most popular athletes in the country is Hossein Rezazadeh. Mohammad Mousavi is also a famous Volleyball player who plays as a middle-blocker for the Men's National Team and was named Best Blocker at the 2008 Olympic Qualification Tournament. Sportspeople in the Iranian diaspora, such as Leila Vaziri, Adam Gemili, Andre Agassi and Iron Sheik are also popular.


 

Many sports are practiced in Iran, both traditional and modern. Tehran, for example, was the first city in West Asia to host the Asian Games in 1974, and continues to host and participate in major international sporting events to this day. Freestyle wrestling has been traditionally regarded as Iran's national sport, however today, football is the most popular sport in Iran. Because of economic sanctions, the annual government's budget for sport was about $80 million in 2010 or about $1 per person.


Wrestling: Wrestling has a very long tradition and history in Iran and often even referred to as its national sport. There are many styles of folk wrestling, from Varzesh-e Pahlavani to Zurkhaneh which have similarities with modern freestyle wrestling. Both freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, particularly freestyle, are popular in Iran. Mazandaran is the main power in the country and wrestling is part of its culture. Tehran, Kermanshah, Khorasan and Hamedan also produce many talented wrestlers. With a history of great wrestlers, such as Gholamreza Takhti (two-time champion at freestyle wrestling World Championships: 1959 and 1961), Iran is considered among the elite nations in this sport.


 

Bodybuilding: Bodybuilding is very popular among the younger generation.


 

Volleyball: In volleyball, Iran has a national team, and a professional league. The Iran national volleyball team is among the strongest teams in the world, and the Iranian Youth and Junior (Under-19 and Under-21) national teams are among the top three strongest teams in the world, winning medals in Boys' U19 Volleyball World Championship and Men's U21 Volleyball World Championship in recent years. In the 2007 Men's U21 Volleyball World Championship, the Iranians were successful at earning a bronze medal. Also, in late August 2007, the Iran national under-19 volleyball team surprised many by winning the gold medal in the Volleyball World Championship in Mexico, after beating France and China in the semi-finals and finals respectively and marking the first such international gold medal for an Iranian team sport.


 

Association football: Football is the most popular sport in Iran. Iran has been able to reach the FIFA World Cup four times (1978, 1998, 2006 and 2014), won the AFC Asian Cup three times (1968, 1972 and 1976), and four times has reached to gold medal at the Asian Games (1974, 1990, 1998 and 2002).

 

 

Futsal: Futsal is practiced both at the amateur and professional level, partly because of lacking suitable soccer fields. The Iran national futsal team, that presently is the fourth strongest national team after Brazil, Spain and Italy according to the FIFA Rankings. This team has won the AFC Futsal Championship nine times out of the ten times held and reached five times to FIFA Futsal World Cup. Iran also has a nationwide Super Futsal League.


 

Skiing: Iran is home to numerous mountainous regions, many of which are suitable for skiing, and snowboarding and are gaining increasing popularity among foreign visitors. Skiing began in Iran in 1938 through the efforts of two German railway engineers. Today, 13 ski resorts operate in Iran, the most famous being Tochal, Dizin, and Shemshak. All are within one to three hours traveling time of Tehran. Potentially suitable terrain can also be found in Lorestan, Mazandaran, and other provinces. The Tochal resort is the world's fifth-highest ski resort at over 3,730 m at its highest Seventh station. The resort was completed in 1976 shortly before the overthrow of the Shah. It is only 15 minutes away from Tehran's northern districts, and operates seven months a year. Here, one must first ride the 8 km (5.0 mi) long gondola lift which covers a huge vertical. The Seventh station has three slopes. The resort's longest slope is the south side U shaped slope which goes from the Seventh station to Fifth station. The other two slopes are located on the north side of the Seventh station. Here, there are two parallel chair ski lifts that go up to 3,900 m near Tochal's peak (at 4,000 m), rising higher than the gondola Seventh station stations. This altitude is said to be higher than any of the European resorts. From the Tochal peak, one has a spectacular view of the Alborz range, including the 5,610 metres (18,406 ft) high Mount Damavand, a dormant volcano. At the bottom of the lifts in a valley behind the Tochal peak is Tochal hotel, located at 3,500 m altitude. From there a T lift takes skiers up the 3,800 metres of Shahneshin peak, where the third slope of Tochal is.


 

Hiking and climbing sports: Due to the wealth of mountains, climbing sports are widely popular in Iran. Both the Zagros and Alborz ranges provide plenty of opportunities for the novice and advanced alike. Hiking and trekking enthusiasts find opportunities in locations like Alamut and Tangeh Savashi to enjoy the rustic surroundings, as well as a relatively challenging climb.

 

Polo: It is believed that Polo first originated in Persia ages ago. The poet Firdowsi described royal polo tournaments in his 9th century epic, the Shahnameh. Polo competitions are the subject of many traditional paintings in Iran.

 

 

Backgammon: Backgammon is a game that has had a following in Persia since ancient times.

 

Chess: The origin of chess is a disputed issue, but evidence exists to give credence to the theory that chess originated in Persia, and later found its way into the Indian subcontinent. For example, the earliest recorded history of chess is to be found in Persian writing, and the earliest chess pieces found also being from Persia. All of this evidence lends weight to the theory that chess in Persia (Shatranj) pre-dated chess in India (Chatrang). Chess later spread from Persia into other nations in the Islamic world.


 

Martial arts: Martial arts have gained popularity in Iran in the past 20 years. Kyokushin, shotokan, wushu, and taekwondo are the most popular. One can find a dojo from almost every martial arts style in Iran, with large numbers of followers. The Kung Fu To'a originated in Iran, though banned after the Iranian Revolution.

 

 

Basketball: In basketball, Iran has a particularly strong national team, and a professional league, with competitive players in Asia. The clubs have begun hiring strong foreign players and coaches into their roster. The national team participated in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, finishing 1-3. They competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, thanks to their gold medal in the 2007 FIBA Asia Championship, their first ever continental crown. The first ever Iranian NBA-player is Hamed Haddadi.


 

Fauna... 

Iran's wildlife is composed of several animal species including bears, gazelles, wild pigs, wolves, jackals, panthers, Eurasian Lynx, and foxes. Domestic animals include, sheep, goats, cattle, horses, water buffalo, donkeys, and camels. The pheasant, partridge, stork, eagles and falcon are also native to Iran. One of the most famous members of Iranian wildlife is the critically angered Asiatic cheetah, also known as the Iranian Cheetah, whose numbers were greatly reduced after the Iranian Revolution. Today there are ongoing efforts to increase its population and introduce it back in India. Iran had lost all its Asiatic Lion and the now extinct Caspian Tigers by the earlier part of the 20th century.

 

 

 



Agriculture...

Roughly one-third of Iran's total surface area is arable farmland, Less than one-third of the cultivated area is irrigated the rest is devoted to dry farming. The western and northwestern portions of the country have the most fertile soils. At the of the 20th century, agricultural activities accounted for about one-fifth of Iran's gross domestic product (GDP) and employed a comparable proportion of the workforce. Progressive government efforts during the 1990s, has improved the agricultural productivity, helping Iran toward its goal of reestablishing national self-sufficiency in food production. Wide range of temperature fluctuation in different parts of the country and the multiplicity of climatic zones make it possible to cultivate a diverse variety of crops, including cereals (wheat, barley, rice, and corn [maize]), fruits (dates, figs, pomegranates, melons, and grapes), veges, cotton, sugar beets and sugarcane, nuts, olives, spices, tea, tobacco, and medicinal herbs. Iran's forests cover approximately the same amount of land as its agricultural crops&mdashabout one-tenth of its total surface area. The largest and most valuable woodland areas are in the Caspian region, where many of the forests are commercially exploi and include both hardwoods and softwoods. 
More than 200 species of fish are found in the Persian Gulf, 150 of which are edible, including shrimps and prawns. Of the country's livestock, sheep are by far the most numerous, followed by goats, cattle, asses, horses, water buffalo, and mules. The raising of poultry for eggs and meat is prevalent, and camels are still raised and bred for use in transport. Agriculture has a long history and tradition in Iran. Fifth century BCE Persia was even the source for introduction of the domesticated chicken into Europe. The mid fifth century BCE poet Cratinus (according to the later Greek author "Athenaeus") for example calls the chicken The Qanāts, a subterranean aqueduct used for irrigation in agriculture, was one of the most significant and successful achievements of the Persian tradition. Qanāts were in use millennia ago, and are still in use in contemporary Iran."the Persian alarm". In Aristophanes&rsquo comedy The Birds (414 BC) a chicken is called "the Median bird", which points to its introduction from Persia. The wide range of temperature fluctuation in different parts of the country and the multiplicity of climatic zones make it possible to cultivate a diverse variety of crops, including cereals (wheat, barley, rice, and maize (corn), fruits (dates, figs, pomegranates, melons, and grapes), veges, cotton, sugar beets and sugarcane, pistachios (World's largest producer with 40% of the world's output in 2005), nuts, olives, spices e.g. saffron (World's largest producer with 81% of the world's total output), tea, tobacco, and medicinal herbs. More than 2,000 plant species are grown in Iran only 100 of which are being used in pharmaceutical industries.

  

 

 

People...

The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are a diverse Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that comprise the speakers of Iranian languages. Their areas of settlement were on the Iranian plateau (mainly Iran and Afghanistan) and certain neighbouring areas of Asia (such as parts of the Caucasus, Eastern Turkey, Northeast Syria, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Bahrain, Oman, northern Iraq, Northwestern and Western Pakistan) reflecting changing geopolitical range of the Iranian dynasties and the Iranian history.  Their current distribution spreads across the Iranian plateau, and stretches from the Caucasus in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south, and from the Xinjiang in the east to eastern Turkey in the west – a region that is sometimes called the "Iranian cultural continent", or Greater Iran by some scholars, and represents the extent of the Iranian languages and significant influence of the Iranian peoples, through the geopolitical reach of the Iranian empire. The Iranian peoples comprise the present day Persians, Ossetians, Kurds, Pashtuns, Tajiks, Balochs, Lurs, and their sub-groups of the historic Medes, Massagetaes, Sarmatians, Scythians, Parthians, Alans, Bactrians, Soghdians and other people of Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Iranian plateau. Other possible groups are the Cimmerians who are mostly supposed to have been related to either Iranian or Thracian speaking groups, or at least to have been ruled by an Iranian elite and Xiongnu of probable Saka origin.

 

Ethnicities in Iran: Approximately 75-80% of Iran's peoples speak Iranian languages. The major groups in this category include Persians, Kurds, Gilakiss, Mazandaranis, Lurs, Tats, Talyshs and Baluchs. Turkic speakers, such as the Azerbaijani, Turkmen and the Qashqai peoples, constitute a substantial minority. The remainder are primarily Semitics such as Arabs and Assyrians or other Indo-Europeans such as Armenians and Europeans. The Georgian language is the only Caucasian language fully functioning in Iran and it's spoken only by those Iranian Georgians that live in Fereydan and Fereydunshahr, and in smaller sockets all over Iran. Almost all other communities of Iranian Georgians in Iran apart those in Fereydan and Fereydunshahr have already lost their language, but remain a clear Georgian conscious. There are also scattered sockets of Circassians, but as the vast majority of them have become highly assimilated, no sizeable amount speak the Circassian language anymore. Mandaeans are estimated to be between 5,000 and 10,000 Mandaeans in Iran. There are also communities of Talysh people in northern Iran. There are no statistical data on the numbers of Talysh-speakers in Iran, but estimates show their number to be around 1 million. According to the CIA World Factbook, the ethnic breakdown of Iran is as follows: Persian 61%, Azeri 16%, Kurd 10%, Lur 6%, Baloch 2%, Arab 2%, Turkmen and Turkic tribes 2%, other 1%. Another source, Library of Congress states Iran's ethnic group as following: Persians (65 percent), Azeri Turks (16 percent), Kurds (7 percent), Lurs (6 percent), Arabs (2 percent), Baluchis (2 percent), Turkmens (1 percent), Turkish tribal groups such as the Qashqai (1 percent), and non-Persian, non-Turkic groups such as Armenians, Assyrians, and Georgians (less than 1 percent).  Other sources mention different statistics: Persians 51%, Azeris 24%, Kurds 7%, Lurs 6%, Baloch 2%, Arabs 9.6%,  Turkmens 2%, Turkic tribal groups (e.g. Qashqai and Kazakhs) 1%, and other groups (e.g. Tats, Talysh, Armenians, Georgians, Assyrians, Circassians, Jews) 1%. At the turn of 1900, the approximate population of Iran was: 6 million Persians, 2.5 million Azeris, 200,000 Mazandaranis, 200,000 Gilakis, 20,000 Taleshis and 20,000 Tatis.

  

     

 

Energy...

Miners worked primarily by hand until the early 1960s, and mine owners moved the ore to refining centers by truck, rail, donkey, or camel. As public and private concerns opened new mines and quarries, they introduced mechanized methods of production. The mineral industries encompass both refining and manufacturing.Petroleum is moved by pipeline to the terminal of Khārk Island in the Persian Gulf and from there is shipped by tanker throughout the world.
Iran's vast natural gas reserves constitute more than one-tent h of the world's total. The two state-owned Iranian Gas Trunk lines are the largest gas pipelines in the Middle East, and Iran is under contract to supply natural gas to Russia, Eastern Europe, Pakistan, Turkey, and India through pipelines, under construction in neighboring countries, that are inted to connect Iran's trunk lines with those of its customers.Petroleum, natural gas, and coal are now used to supply heat and produce the bulk of the country's electricity. Iran&rsquos domestic consumption and production have steadily grown together since 1984 and it is still heavily reliant on traditional thermal energy sources of electricity, with a small fraction being produced by hydroelectric plants. For 2005, Iranian power generation capacity is expected to reach 36 GW) currently, around 94 percent of Iran's rural population has access to electricity. With power demand growing rapidly, Iran is building significant new generation capacity, with the goal of adding 18 GW over the next five years. As a result of significant state investment in this sector, a number of new power plants (mainly hydroelectric and combined cycle) have come online in recent year. This latter project is significant, as it is being privately financed and built by a regional - as opposed to national - company. The plant is expected to be completed in 2007. In May 2004, a gas-fired power plant was inaugurated in Abādān. In January 2006, it was reported that Iran is to build a gas power plant in the western province of Khorramābād. Construction work is planned to start by the of the current Iranian fiscal year and will be completed within four years.

  

 

Industry...


As of 2001, there were 13 public and privately owned automakers in Iran, of which two - Iran Khodro and Saipa - accounted for 94% of the total domestic production. Iran Khodro, which produced the most sold car brand in the country - the Peykān, which has been replaced in 2005 by the Samand which is recognized as the country&rsquos national car brand. 

There are other automakers that produce a wide range of automobiles including motorbikes, passenger cars, vans, mini trucks, medium sized trucks, heavy duty trucks, minibuses, large size buses and other heavy automobiles used in commercial and private activities in the country. Iran ranked the world&rsquos 16th biggest automaker in 2006 and has a fleet of 7 million cars, which translates to almost one car per ten persons in the country. The annual turnover in the construction industry amounted to $38.4 billion in 2005. Increased income from oil and gas and the availability of easy credit, however, triggered a subsequent building boom that attracted major international construction firms to Iran. The petrochemical industry has expanded considerably in recent decades. It has been the main element of the post-war industrialization program. The heavy metals industry began in 1972 with the start of steel production at Esfehān National Steel Mill in Esfehān. It was also given priority by the government. Manufactured goods include diesel engines, motor vehicles, television sets, refrigerators, washing machines, and other consumer items. The textile industry has prospered in recent years with increased production of cotton, woolen, and synthetic fabrics. The making of hand-woven carpets is a traditional industry in Iran that flourishes despite acute competition from machine-made products. However, carpet exports declined throughout the war years.

 



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