Iran (Persian: ايران ), officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Central Asia, located on the northeastern shore of the Persian Gulf, northwestern shore of the Gulf of Oman, and the southern shore of the Caspian Sea. The name Iran has been in use natively since the Sassanid period and came into international use from 1935, before which the country was known as Persia. Both "Persia" and "Iran" are used interchangeably in cultural context; however, Iran is the name used officially in political context.
The 18th largest country in the world in terms of area at 1,648,195 km², Iran has a population of over seventy million. It is a country of special geostrategic significance due to its central location in Eurasia. Iran is bordered on the north by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. As Iran is a littoral state of the Caspian Sea, which is an inland sea and condominium, Kazakhstan and Russia are also Iran's direct neighbors to the north. Iran is bordered on the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and on the west by Turkey and Iraq. Tehran is the capital, the country's largest city and the political, cultural, commercial, and industrial center of the nation. Iran is a regional power,and holds an important position in international energy security and world economy as a result of its large reserves of petroleum and natural gas.
Iran is home to one of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 7000 BC. The first Iranian dynasty formed during the Elamite kingdom in 2800 BC. The Iranian Medes unified Iran into an empire in 625 BC. They were succeeded by three Iranian Empires, the Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids, which governed Iran for more than 1000 years. Iranian post-Islamic dynasties and empires expanded the Persian language and culture throughout the Iranian plateau. Early Iranian dynasties which re-asserted Iranian independence included the Tahirids, Saffarids, Samanids and Buyids. The blossoming of Persian literature, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, mathematics and art became major elements of Muslim civilization and started with the Saffarids and Samanids. Iran was once again reunified as an independent state in 1501 by the Safavid dynasty—who promoted Twelver Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in the history of Islam. "Persia's Constitutional Revolution" established the nation's first parliament in 1906, within a constitutional monarchy. Iran officially became an Islamic republic on 1 April 1979, following the Iranian Revolution.
Iran is a founding member of the UN, NAM, OIC and OPEC. The political system of Iran, based on the 1979 Constitution, comprises several intricately connected governing bodies. The highest state authority is the Supreme Leader. Shia Islam is the official religion and Persian is the official language.
History of IRAN
Early history (3200 BC – 625 BC)
Dozens of pre-historic sites across the Iranian plateau point to the existence of ancient cultures and urban settlements in the fourth millennium BC, centuries before the earliest civilizations arose in nearby Mesopotamia. Proto-Iranians first emerged following the separation of Indo-Iranians, and are traced to the Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex. Aryan, (Proto-Iranian) tribes arrived in the Iranian plateau in the third and second millennium BC, probably in more than one wave of emigration, and settled as nomads. Further separation of Proto-Iranians into "Eastern" and "Western" groups occurred due to migration. By the first millennium BC, Medes, Persians, Bactrians and Parthians populated the western part, while Cimmerians, Sarmatians and Alans populated the steppes north of the Black Sea. Other tribes began to settle on the eastern edge, as far as on the mountainous frontier of north-western Indian subcontinent and into the area which is now Balochistan. Others, such as the Scythian tribes spread as far west as the Balkans and as far east as Xinjiang. Avestan is an eastern Old Iranian language that was used to compose the sacred hymns and canon of the Zoroastrian Gathas in c. 1000 BC.
Pre-Islamic statehood (625 BC – 651 AD)
The Medes are credited with the unification of Iran as a nation and empire (625–559 BC), the largest of its day, until Cyrus the Great established a unified empire of the Medes and Persians leading to the Achaemenid Empire (559–330 BC), and further unification between peoples and cultures. After Cyrus' death, his son Cambyses continued his father's work of conquest, making significant gains in Egypt. Following a power struggle after Cambyses' death, Darius I was declared king (ruled 522–486 BC). Under Cyrus the Great and Darius the Great, the Persian Empire eventually became the largest and most powerful empire in human history up until that point. The borders of the Persian empire stretched from the Indus and Oxus Rivers in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, extending through Anatolia (modern day Turkey) and Egypt.
Art and Architecture
Greater 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 stone masonry. 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 skills in making massive domes which can be seen frequently in the structure of bazaars and mosques. The main building types of classical Iranian architecture are the mosque and the palace. Iran, besides being home to a large number of art houses and galleries, also holds one of the largest and 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
World Heritage Sites are creations of
Iranian architecture and the
mausoleum of Maussollos was identified as one
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Science and Technology
Ancient Iranians built Qanats and Yakhchal to provide and keep water. The first windmill appeared in Iran in the 9th century. Iranians contributed significantly to the current understanding of astronomy, natural science, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī is widely hailed as the father of algebra. Ethanol (alcohol) was first identified by Persian alchemists such as Muhammad ibn Zakarīya Rāzi. Throughout the Middle Ages, the natural philosophy and mathematics of the Ancient Greeks and Persians were furthered and preserved within Persia. The Academy of Gundishapur was a renowned centre of learning in the city of Gundeshapur during late antiquity and was the most important medical centre of the ancient world during the sixth and seventh centuries. During this period, Persia became a centre for the manufacture of scientific instruments, retaining its reputation for quality well into the 19th century.
Iran strives to revive the golden age of Persian science. The country has increased its publication output nearly tenfold from 1996 through 2004, and has been ranked first in terms of output growth rate followed by China. Despite the limitations in funds, facilities, and international collaborations, Iranian scientists remain highly productive in several experimental fields as pharmacology, pharmaceutical chemistry, organic chemistry, and polymer chemistry. Iranian scientists are also helping construct the Compact Muon Solenoid, a detector for CERN's Large Hadron Collider.
In the biomedical sciences, Iran's Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics is a UNESCO chair in biology. in late 2006, Iranian scientists successfully cloned a sheep by somatic cell nuclear transfer, at the Rouyan research centre in Tehran. According to a study by David Morrison and Ali Khademhosseini (Harvard-MIT and Cambridge), stem cell research in Iran is amongst the top 10 in the world.
Iranian scientists outside of Iran have also made some major contributions to science. In 1960, Ali Javan co-invented the first gas laser and fuzzy set theory was introduced by Lotfi Zadeh. Iranian cardiologist, Tofy Mussivand invented and developed the first artificial cardiac pump, the precursor of the artificial heart. Furthering research and treatment of diabetes, HbA1c was discovered by Samuel Rahbar. Iranian physics is especially strong in string theory, with many papers being published in Iran.Iranian-American string theorist Cumrun Vafa proposed the Vafa-Witten theorem together with Edward Witten.
With two thirds of Iran's population under the age of 25, sports, many sports are practiced in Iran, both traditional and modern. Iran is the birthplace of polo, and Varzesh-e Pahlavani. Freestyle wrestling has been traditionally regarded as Iran's national sport, however today, the most popular sport in Iran is football (soccer), with the national team having reached the World Cup Final Tournament three times, and having won the Asian Cup on three occasions. In 1974, Iran became the first country in the Middle East to host the Asian Games. Iran is home to several unique skiing resorts, with the Tochal resort being the world's fifth-highest ski resort (3,730 m/12,238 ft at its highest station), and located only fifteen minutes away from Tehran. Being a mountainous country, Iran is a venue for hiking, rock climbing, and mountain climbing. Iranian women are also active in sports.