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Welcome to the Iran Page!
The basic purpose of this page is to provide an information sheet about Iran. On the left hand bar, you can see a menu for different sections of this page. Please notice that the information used here were correct at the time the article was written. Not everything that is mentioned here necessarily reflects the personal political beliefs of the author.
Iran is located on the south-western edge of Asia
and is almost at the centre of the Eurasian landmass. It is also
considered art of the famous Middle
East/Near East region. Iran is 1,648,912 sq. km in area and has
a population of 67 million (1996, Iran Institute of Statistics).
The Capital is Tehran
and the official language is Persian
(courtesy of the University of Michigan)
Persian is the official language, being part of the Iranian language Family, itself a member of the greater Indo-European language family. Various dialects of Persian, such as Lori, are spoken in localities, as well as other Iranian languages like Kurdish, and Baluchi . Persian is the language spoken by virtually all of the inhabitants and is the language of education and major publications. Azarbaijani Turkish, the most wide spread minor language, is spoken by roughly 25 per-cent of the population. Minor enclaves of Arabic (in the South-West) and Turkoman Turkish (in the north) also exist.
Officially, most Iranians are Muslim and they follow the Shi'it branch of this religion (ca. 75%). Other religions are Sunni Islam, Judaism (called Kalimi in Iran), Christianity (Armenian and Assyrian churches), and Zoroasterianism.
Around 3000 BCE, the ancestors of Iranians first immigrated from their Central Asian homeland - where they lived with their Indian kin as one people - to the Iranian Plateau. There they came into contact with the already established civilisations such as the Kassites or the Elamites, the latter having over 2000 years of political presence in the plateau. Probably mostly through integration and taking advantage of the weakness of these civilisations because of their constant warfare with the empires of Mesopotamia, the Aryans came to dominate the society, although at the same time adopting much of the existing culture and social norms. The integration of Aryans with the locals and the settlement of the tribes all around the plateau gave raise to the first Iranian civilisations. Throughout its long history, people of Iran have intermarried with Greeks, Arabs, Mongols, Turks, and other tribes. Today, most of the population have similar characteristics and obvious differences are rare. The worthy exceptions are the members of the semi-nomadic Turkman tribes who show clear Turko-Mongolian anatomies. For more information about the history of Iran, please see the History Page.
Currently the government of Iran is Islamic Republic, headed by Sayyed Ali Khameneii as the leader of Islamic Revolution (since 1989) and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the president since 2005. By going to my Link Page, you can get more current news about the present political situation.
The legislative body of the government is the Parliament known as the Majles whose members are chosen by direct election. Structurally, Iran lacks any official parties and the candidates are all independent. However, it is common and often the practice for the candidates to be part of one of the various informal political interest groups or factions.
The upper house or "the Council of the Guardians" is officially an advisory body which has the task of controlling the legislation to make sure of its compatibility with the constitution and the Islamic laws. The 12 members of the Council of the Guardians are divided to six lawyers and six theologians, all of whom are selected and appointed by the Leader of the Islamic Revolution. The Council of the Guardians has the power of veto over the legislations of the Majles.
The Head of the Judiciary is also appointed by the Leader and virtually has no over-seer. The judges are appointed at the discretion of the Head of the Judiciary. The Head of the High Court, a periodic position, is appointed by the leader as well and practices nominal authority over all other branches of the government.
Today, Persia/Persian is the same as Iran/Iranian. Historically, Persia is the province of Iran in which the Persian Empire was founded. Persia thus became the common name for Iran in Ancient and Medieval Europe, but for Iranians it has always been Iran, the Land of the Nobles (seriously, that's what it means!). Even in ancient sources from the time of the Sasanians (1800 years ago), the country has been called Iran.
In 1937, Reza Shah Pahlavi, king of Iran, declared that the official, international name of the country should be Iran, which was the native name used by the Iranian themselves. This action caused a great misunderstanding in the West as if the name of the country was changed, when in fact, it was only announced that the country's real name is Iran, not Persia. To understand the situation better, think of Iran as the Great Britain and Persia as England. Interestingly enough, Tehran, the current capital of Iran, is placed in historical Media, not Persia.
Iran has a very divers climate. Roughly fifty per-cent of the country is covered with mountains. There are two deserts in the south east and central regions, beautiful beaches in the north, and great plains in the south, just by the Persian Gulf. You can see a map of Iran and its major cities here. Most of the population live in the west, north, and north-western regions where it is mountainous rather than desert like. Iran is also one of the few countries that has complete four seasons. For more information about Iran's weather and cultural characteristics, look at Iran Tourism web site. Please also visit the web page of two interesting Dutch world travelers who went to Iran awhile ago: BamJam Pictures of Iran. Thomas Maurer's Iran Stories has some interesting and unbiased observations of Iran.
Iran's major export is unprocessed petroleum. After petrol, petrochemical products, natural gas, and machinery, as well as Persian Carpets, Saffron, Pistachio, fresh fruits, and other agricultural products are the major export items.
Although having extensive tourist potentials, from beaches to hunting grounds, exotic bazaars, and ancient monuments, due to the political system and lack of proper organization, Iran's tourism industry has had a hard time catching up with leading countries in the industry.
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28109 up to March 2002)