- Iran today is both modern and ancient. It is the most populous and the second-largest country in the Middle East located south of the Caspian Sea and north of the Persian Gulf. It shares borders with Iraq, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Armenia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
- The country is generally on a plateau averaging 1,219 meters (4,000 feet) in elevation. There are also maritime lowlands along the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. The Elburz Mountains in the north rise to 5,670 meters (18,603 feet) at Mount Damavend. From northwest to southeast, the country is crossed by a desert 1,287 kilometers (800 miles) long.
- About 11% of Iran, in the mountains bordering the Caspian Sea, is covered with mostly deciduous forest. Brown forest soils found along the coasts of the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf are used extensively for farming. Iran has extremely rich mineral resources, especially petroleum and natural gas.
- In the West, the country has been known as Persia, from the ancient Greek name for the heartland of the empire, Persis. The use of the name Iran was requested by the government in 1935. Iran became Muslim after the Arab conquest in the 7th century, and Shiite Islam became its official religion in the 16th century.
- Aryan tribes migrated into the Iranian plateau in the 2d millennium BC. Iran's official language, is Farsi, an Indo-European language, written in modified Arabic script since the 10th century. Iran's long history of continuous administration and independent rule, shared culture, and common religion, have given the large majority of Iranians a strong sense of national identity. More Iranian History.
- Tehran, the capital, is the largest city, and Mashad, Isfahan, Tabriz, and Shiraz all have populations of over one million. Other major cities include Ardabil, Bakhtaran, Kerman, Kirkuk, Orumiyeh, Qazvin, Rasht, and Yazd.
- Iran is a land of hospitality and warmness, with a rich, glorious and grand cultural heritage.
- Iran, a land of poets and poetry, ancient and modern art, and a great variety of cultures and sub-cultures in a diverse land with lakes, deserts, seas, mountains and valleys.
- Even though tourism in Iran is on the rise again, there are still many people in the world that do not believe that it is easy to travel to Iran. Nothing could be further from the truth.
- Iran has something to offer to everyone. From culture lovers to the adventurous. There are many sightseeing choices to choose from; mountain climbing, skiing, shopping at many magnificent shops and bazaars, great resturants, splendid parks, and of course historical and archaeological places of interest with over 5,000 years of history. It would take many weeks to see all that Iran has to offer the visiting tourist.
- It is easy to explore Iran with buses, trains and airplane. A major attraction of Iran is that travel is inexpensive, and so are many of the fine arts and crafts that you can buy there. It is easy to find accommodations in most places.
- Tours which visit holy shrines, ancient cities, nomads, and the best shopping and restaurants with experienced guides speaking most languages.
- Iran is a very safe country to travel in regardless of your race, religion, or gender. The crime rate in Iran is low. For your own information, check with the embassy or your travel agent about current customs and regulations.
- Iran and the West have had on and off relationship for many years. Most people distinguish between a government and the people. Iranians held a spontaneous vigil for the 9/11 victims, the only country in the Middle East to do so.
- Other information on Iran:
CIA Factbook Iran listing
Reuters Foundation AlertNet
- Official Name: Islamic Republic of Iran
Area: 1,648,000 sq. km
Capital (population): Tehran (10,400,000)
Major Cities: Tehran, Mashad, Isfahan, Tabriz
Language(s): Persian, Farsi, Kurdish, Baluchi
Monetary Unit: Rial (exchange rate)
Iranian flag and National Anthem