Iran, the second largest country in the Middle East, has 5,000 years of fascinating history.
Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling shah was forced into political exile.
Thrust into the worldwide spotlight in 1979, when Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran, it also struggled through a bloody and disastrous (no win) eight-year-war with Iraq in the 1980s.
Literally surrounded by the most tumultuous area on the planet, the rigidity of its own long-standing political and social policies have come under attack in recent years, and there’s now a powerful and growing internal pressure for reform.
The country is rich in natural gas and petroleum resources, and when that economic power is combined with its outwardly-friendly and hard working people, a troubled past certainly points to a bright future,
And as for tourism, international travelers rave about Iran’s natural beauty, as well as its ancient ruins, mosques and first-class museums.
Name Iran (long form) Islamic Republic of Iran
Capital City Tehran (8.2 mil) metro (11.7 mil)
Currency Iranian Rial (IRR)
Languages Persian (58%), Turkic (26%), others
National Day February 11
Religions Shi’a Muslim (89%), Sunni Muslim (9%)
Latitude/Longitude (Capital City)
35� 40′ N, 51� 26′ E
Relative Location Iran is in both the northern and eastern hemispheres. It’s positioned in the Middle East, a recognized geographical region of southwestern Asia. The country is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, and by the countries of Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Coastline 1,516 miles (2,440 km) – does not include Caspian Sea shoreline
(land) 631,663 sq miles (1,636,000sq km)
(water) 4,633 sq miles (12,000 sq km)
(TOTAL) 636,296 sq miles (1,648,000 sq km)
Landforms Iran is a very rugged country of plateaus and mountains, dominated by the Elburz Mountains in the north, and the Zagros Mountains along its western borders.
The central and eastern portion is covered by thePlateau of Iran.The Dasht-e Kavir is a sandstone and salty desert plateau, that in the heat of summer is one of the hottest places on the planet.
The most significant river is the Karun, in the southwestern corner of the country. Lake Urmia (in the far-northwest) is the country’s largest body of water.
Highest Point Mt. Damavand – 18,934 ft. (5,771m)
Lowest Point Caspian Sea – (-28 m)
Land Divisions 30 provinces, including: Ardabil, Azarbayjan-e Gharbi, Azarbayjan-e Sharqi, Bushehr, Chahar Mahall va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshah, Khorasan-e Janubi, Khorasan-e Razavi, Khorasan-e Shemali, Khuzestan, Kohgiluyeh va Buyer Ahmad, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd and Zanjan.