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Iran: The Modern Persia

World  (tags: Iran, people, places, travel )

- 1439 days ago -
Iran located in southwestern Asia is the 18th largest land mass country in the world. Officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the country is also often referred to as Persia.

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Kit B (276)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 12:41 pm
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Iran located in southwestern Asia is the 18th largest land mass country in the world. Officially known as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the country is also often referred to as Persia. As of 2012, the country boasts a population of over 78 million people. Home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, Elamite kingdom that once existed in Iran's borders dates back to 2800 BC.

---5 Facts You Might Not Know

1) Iran has a diverse climate. It boasts arid or semiarid regions. Along the Caspian see the country has a subtropical climate. The terrain features rugged mountains, deserts and plans. In the north are forests with towering trees.

2) The endangered Asiatic cheetah makes its home in Iran. often referred to as the Iranian cheetah, only 70 to 100 animals exist. Currently poaching and habitat degradation pose the most serious threat the population. The Asiatic cheetahs of Iran are comprised of two subspecies A. j. soemmeringii in the continent's north and A. j. jubatus in its south, which makes reintroduction of captive bred cheetahs from other countries impossible.

3) Tehran, the largest city in Iran, boasts a population of over 7 million people. Mashhad is the second largest city with a population of over 2 million. The country's population is predominately Muslim. Shui being the most dominate.

4) Iran started its nuclear program in the 1950s. As of publication, the country is the seventh to produce uranium hexafluoride. Through the years, Iran has spent time building its military forces and space program. They launched their first satellite in 2006 and a space rocket in 2007. It became the ninth country to have the capability to build and launch both a satellite and a rocket.

5) The country ranks second in the world for natural gas reserves and third for its oil reserves. Iran also has natural reserves of lead, sulfur, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, manganese and zinc.

Culture Name

Iranian, Persian

Alternative Names

The term "Persian" is used as an adjective— especially pertaining to the arts—and to designate the principal language spoken in Iran. The term is often used to designate the larger cultural sphere of Iranian civilization. This includes populations living in Iraq, the Persian Gulf region, the Caucasus region, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India. The formal name of the Iranian state is Jomhuri-ye Islami-ye Iran , the Islamic Republic of Iran.


The terms "Iran" as the designation for the civilization, and "Iranian" as the name for the inhabitants occupying the large plateau located between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf have been in continual use for more than twenty-five hundred years. They are related to the term "Aryan" and it is supposed that the plateau was occupied in prehistoric times by Indo-European peoples from Central Asia. Through many invasions and changes of empire, this essential designation has remained a strong identifying marker for all populations living in this region and the many neighboring territories that fell under its influence due to conquest and expansion.

Location and Geography.
Iran is located in southwestern Asia, largely on a high plateau situated between the Caspian Sea to the north and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. Its area is 636,300 square miles (1,648,000 square kilometers). Its neighbors are, on the north, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkmenistan; on the east, Pakistan and Afghanistan; and on the west Turkey and Iraq. Iran's total boundary is 4,770 miles (7,680 kilometers). Approximately 30 percent of this boundary is seacoast. The capital is Tehran (Teheran).

Emergence of the Nation.
The Iranian nation is one of the oldest continuous civilizations in the world. Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic populations occupied caves in the Zagros and Elburz mountains. The earliest civilizations in the region descended from the Zagros foothills, where they developed agriculture and animal husbandry, and established the first urban cultures in the Tigris-Euphrates basin in present day Iraq. The earliest urban peoples in what is today Iranian territory were the Elamites in the extreme southwest region of Khuzestan. The arrival of the Aryan peoples—Medes and Persians— on the Iranian plateau in the first millennium B.C.E. marked the beginning of the Iranian civilization, rising to the heights of the great Achaemenid Empire consolidated by Cyrus the Great in 550 B.C.E. Under the rulers Darius the Great and Xerxes, the Achaemenid rulers extended their empire from northern India to Egypt.

Food in Daily Life.
As one might expect from Iran's geographic situation, its food strikes a medium between Greek and Indian preparations. It is more varied than Greek food, and less spicy and subtler than Indian food with a greater use of fresh ingredients.

Iranians have a healthy diet centered on fresh fruits, greens and vegetables. Meat (usually lamb, goat, or chicken) is used as a condiment rather than as the centerpiece of a meal. Rice and fresh unleavened or semileavened whole-grain bread are staple starches. The primary beverage is black tea. The principal dietary taboo is the Islamic prohibition against pork.

Breakfast is a light meal consisting of fresh unleavened bread, tea, and perhaps butter, white (feta-style) cheese, and jam. Eggs may also be eaten fried or boiled. Meat is not common at breakfast.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions.
Ritual foods fall into two categories—foods that are eaten in celebration, and foods that are prepared and consumed as a charitable religious act.

A few foods are traditional for the New Year's celebration. Fish is widely consumed as the first meal of the New Year, along with a polow made with greens. One food appears on the ritual New Year's table, but is rarely eaten. This is a kind of sweet pudding made of ground sprouted wheat called samanou.

Iran has made the transition in the last twenty years from a nominal constitutional monarchy to a democratic theocracy. As the United States has checks and balances in its governmental system, so does Iran. There is a strong president elected for a four-year term, and a unicameral legislature ( majles ) of 270 members, elected directly by the people, with some slots reserved for recognized minorities. The position of speaker is politically important, since there is no prime minister. Suffrage is universal, and the voting age is sixteen. The president selects a Council of Ministers, an Expediency Council, and serves as the head of the Council of National Security.

Over and above these elected bodies there is a supreme jurisprudent selected by an independent Assembly of Experts—a council of religious judges. The office of chief jursiprudent ( faqih ) was created for Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini at the time of the Revolution. It was designed to implement a controversial philosophy unique to Khomeini's teachings—a "guardianship" to be implemented until the day of return of the twelfth Shi'a Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is in occultation (being hidden from view). Alongside the chief jurisprudent is a twelve-member Council of Guardians, six selected by the chief jurisprudent, and six by the Supreme Judicial Council ratified by the majles. The Council of Guardians rules on the Islamic suitability of both elected officials and the laws they pass. They can disqualify candidates for election both before and after they are elected. Another council mediates between the Council of Guardians and the legislature.

The judiciary consists of a Supreme Judge and a Supreme Judicial Council. All members must be Shi'a Muslim jurisprudence. Islamic Shari'a law is the foundation for the court's decisions. Freedom of the press and assembly are constitutionally guaranteed so long as such activities do not contradict Islamic law.

The Relative Status of Women and Men.
The question of gender roles is one of the most complex issues in contemporary Iranian society. Women have always had a strong role in Iranian life, but rarely a public role. Their prominent participation in political movements has been especially noteworthy. Brave and often ruthlessly pragmatic, women are more than willing to take to the streets for a good public cause. Moreover, although the world focuses increasingly on the question of female dress as an indicator of progress for women in Iran (and indeed, in the Islamic world altogether), this is a superficial view. In the years since the Revolution, women have made astonishing progress in nearly every area of life.

Medicine and Health Care

Health care in Iran is generally very good. Life expectancy is relatively high (70 years) and the nation does not have any severe endemic infectious diseases. The principal cause of death is heart and circulatory disease. Many physicians emigrated at the time of the Islamic Revolution, but a sufficient number, supplemented by doctors from South Asia, continue to serve the population.

Health care programs in recent years have been highly successful. Malaria has been virtually eliminated, cholera and other waterborne diseases are generally under control, and family planing programs have resulted in dramatic decreases in fertility rates. The infant mortality rate remains somewhat elevated (twenty-nine per thousand) but it has declined significantly over the past twenty years. AIDS figures are suppressed.

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Kit B (276)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 12:44 pm

Yes, Iran - and no we are not addressing the current or even past politics of Iran. This is the next stop on our journey around the world. I went through 6 videos to find one that was short enough but had enough information to satisfy curiosity. This is a beautiful country. Enjoy your trip.

Pat B (355)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 2:31 pm
The buildings, pools, plazas, open air markets were beautiful and very clean. Loved the designs on the buildings. So enjoyed viewing Iran. Thank you, Kit for our trip.


Pat B (355)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 2:32 pm
I don't know what happened Kit...sorry about that big gap there. I'm going to blame it on 'Computer malfunction'.

Justin Vale (13)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 2:43 pm
these mullahs are called mad by some and maligned by many but right from the get go they poured money into education. especially elementary education. i wonder if that had something to do with their explosion as a nation.
they've done a good job. from nothing they're building a great nation to go along with their culture and history. ironic that a bunch of steadfast mullahs are recreating persia.

Justin Vale (13)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 2:46 pm
btw thanks. if knowledge was a fruit this article was a peach tree filled with ripe fruit for the taking.

MmAway M (500)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 3:10 pm
Thank you sweetie...Love your trips!

. (0)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 4:37 pm
Those are the Iranians that I know. Very friendly and hospitable. I found the same in Istanbul when I was in Turkey.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 4:43 pm

Neither religion nor country of origin determines whether or not people will be hospitable. Though I think the culture in all of the middle eastern countries tends to be more inviting to the visitor. Just as in Israel, the Muslim tradition is offer and share with strangers. Something westerners could learn from, but I will not hold my breath on that one.

JL A (282)
Tuesday March 18, 2014, 7:42 pm
Gorgeous and so clean! Thanks Kit!

Past Member (0)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 12:49 am
Thank you Kit:)

Colin Hope (243)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 1:14 am
Politics aside, thank goodness.
I have hitched hiked travelled Iran extensively, way back in the 1972! My most amazing trip was from Mashad, in the NW to Zahedan, just a desert track through the most beautiful desert areas...Wow.
Things have changed since then, to be sure?

Jaime Alves (51)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 7:02 am
Noted, thanks.

Julie Botsch (12)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 9:30 am

Arielle S (313)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 9:39 am
Thank you for this, Kit - we tend to vilify what we don't understand so I, for one, really appreciate good, ol' information presented without prejudice. I just wish all Americans had your attitude.... we could learn a lot if we allowed ourselves to do that.

Vallee R (280)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 10:30 am
great trip - thanks -

Birgit W (160)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 12:59 pm
Interesting, thanks for sharing Kit.

jan b (5)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 2:44 pm
Iran isn't Iraq.....the Iranian people are more sophisticated and I believe their only problem is that their ridgid religious ancient values get in the way,

marie C (163)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 5:51 pm
Thank you Kit

Janis K (128)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 6:01 pm
Thanks for all your work Kat, lots of interesting info!!

Janet R (38)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 7:21 pm
Very interesting, Kit, thanks for finding the video and compiling the info on Iran.

Sherri G (128)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 7:35 pm
Thank You Kit lots of fun information to know about Iran. Noted

fly bird (26)
Wednesday March 19, 2014, 8:22 pm
thanks Kit

Past Member (0)
Thursday March 20, 2014, 8:59 am
Enjoyed the trip Kit-thanks. Don't think i'll be visiting tho.

Sergio Padilla (65)
Friday March 21, 2014, 9:46 am

Past Member (0)
Tuesday March 25, 2014, 6:05 pm
Talked to a few Iranians and they are just like us, unique but similar then, in what they like and need, the religion is a scourge of their humanity.
Raise kids in a country that cuts people heads off for little to way..that is child abuse and irresponsible.. stop making babies and kill it that way :) Or stop indoctrinating them into Islamic religious lunacy..:) a similar cure for N America etc..stop the indoctrinations..:0) Just stop.:)
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