Where is Iran located?

What countries border Iran?

Iran Weather

What is the current weather in Iran?


Iran Facts and Culture

What is Iran famous for?

  • Food and Recipes: During the entire month of Ramadan, devout Muslims do not eat or drink anything from sunrise to sundown; later in... More
  • Family: It is legal for a man to have up to four wives. However, most men have only one wife.... More
  • Fashion: Men often wear Western styles, although traditional robes and turbans or hats are also worn in parts of the North... More
  • Visiting: A guest is considered a gift from Allah, thus showing kindness towards a guest is a way of respecting Allah.... More
  • Recreation: Iranians enjoy chess and many argue it was invented in Iran. Wrestling, weightlifting and squash are popular among urban Iranians.... More
  • Cultural Attributes: Iranians have a rich cultural heritage, including the great Persian Empire, of which they are proud. The people are hospitable... More
  • Dating: Daughters are usually "protected" by their families to the point that they often do not speak to male strangers until... More
  • Diet: The diet varies throughout the country. Muslims do not eat pork or drink alcohol. Under current law, alcohol consumption is... More

Iran Facts

What is the capital of Iran?

Capital Tehran
Government Type theocratic republic
Currency Iranian Rial (IRR)
Total Area 636,368 Square Miles
1,648,195 Square Kilometers
Location Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan
Language Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%
GDP - real growth rate 0.8%
GDP - per capita (PPP) $17,800.00 (USD)

Iran Demographics

What is the population of Iran?

Ethnic Groups Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%
Languages The official language in Iran is Persian, but many other languages or dialects are spoken.
Nationality Adjective Iranian
Nationality Noun Iranian(s)
Population 84,923,314
Population Growth Rate 1.24%
Population in Major Urban Areas TEHRAN (capital) 7.304 million; Mashhad 2.713 million; Esfahan 1.781 million; Karaj 1.635 million; Tabriz 1.509 million; Shiraz 1.321 million
Predominant Language Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%
Urban Population 69.1%

Iran Government

What type of government does Iran have?

  • Executive Branch: chief of state: Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 4 June 1989) head of government: President Hasan Fereidun ROHANI (since 3 August... More
  • Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal More
  • Citizenship: citizenship by birth: no citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Iran dual citizenship recognized: no residency requirement for... More
  • National Holiday: Republic Day, 1 April (1979) More
  • Constitution: previous 1906; latest adopted 24 October 1979, effective 3 December 1979; amended 1989 More
  • Independence: 1 April 1979 (Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed); notable earlier dates: ca. 550 B.C. (Achaemenid (Persian) Empire established); A.D. 1501... More

Iran Geography

What environmental issues does Iran have?

  • Climate: mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast More
  • Border Countries: Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan-proper 432 km, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1,458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey... More
  • Environment - Current Issues: air pollution, especially in urban areas, from vehicle emissions, refinery operations, and industrial effluents; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; oil pollution in... More
  • Environment - International Agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution,... More
  • Terrain: rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts More

Iran Economy

How big is the Iran economy?

  • Economic Overview: Iran's economy is marked by statist policies, inefficiencies, and reliance on oil and gas exports, but Iran also possesses significant... More
  • Industries: petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabricating, armaments More
  • Currency Name and Code: Iranian Rial (IRR) More
  • Export Partners: Japan 20.1%, China 9.9%, Italy 7.6%, South Korea 5.7% More
  • Import Partners: Germany 17.1%, Switzerland 9.3%, UAE 9.1%, France 5.9%, Italy 5.8%, South Korea 4.8%, China 4.7%, Russia 4.3% More

Iran News & Current Events

What current events are happening in Iran?
Source: Google News

Interesting Iran Facts

What unique things can you discover about Iran?

  • At the end of Ramadan, Muslims give a small gift of money, called the Fetrich, to the poor.
  • For thousands of years, Iranian farmers have irrigated land on the central plateau by using qanats, or underground water channels. People sometimes had to dig down 100 meters to reach a water source.
  • In the 6th century BC, Iran became the first country to issue coins with a ruler's portrait on them. The country also had a regular courier service operated by messengers on horseback.
  • In the No Ruz tradition of haft seen or the Seven S's, people set their table with seven articles whose names in Farsi begin with the letter s. The items include seeds, apples, garlic, vinegar, a gold coin and a bowl with a goldfish inside.
  • Iran contained part of the Silk Road, a 6,400-kilometre ancient trading route linking China to the Mediterranean. Aside from allowing cross-cultural trade, the road inspired the interchange of ideas, technologies and religions.
  • Iran is a modern country infused with rich traditions. Cities offer fast-food restaurants and international business districts alongside bazaars selling spices and carpets.
  • Iran produces the world's best dates, which are one of the country's most lucrative exports. The prophet Mohammed recommended eating dates, and they are often eaten as a way of breaking the fast of Ramadan. Iranians also use dates to produce date juice, date honey and date vinegar.
  • Iran was formerly called Persia, a name which comes from the Fars province where the Aryan tribes lived. In 1934, Reza Shah officially changed the name to Iran, an Aryan word meaning “of noble origin.” However, the word Persia is often still used to refer to the country's arts and architecture.
  • Iranian Shi'ites recognize 12 imams as direct successors of Mohammed. Only these imams have been permitted to interpret the Koran.
  • Iranians are very hospitable people and often go to great lengths to avoid offending a visitor or guest. The ta-arouf is a set of polite behaviors followed particularly when dealing with guests or strangers. A shopkeeper, for example, may at first “ refuse” payment, but does not seriously expect a customer to leave with unpaid-for merchandise.
  • Iranians use the spice saffron to help relieve digestive and nervous disorders. The country has produced and exported saffron since ancient times. Two to three thousand crocus flowers are needed to produce 15 grams of the highly expensive spice.
  • The Caspian Sea (Darya-ye-Khazar) is actually the world's largest lake, covering an area of 370,000 square kilometers-five times the size of Lake Superior, the world's second largest lake.
  • The desert city of Yazd has houses built below ground to escape the heat. The houses have special “ wind towers” designed to catch every breath of wind and send it downward to refresh the living areas.
  • The famous philosopher and physician Avicenna (Bu Ali Sina) moved to Iran in 1002, where he worked for the Shah. Avicenna's numerous medical texts were published in Europe and used in universities until the 17th century.
  • The Iranian zurkhaneh, which means “ house of power and strength,” is a unique tradition. Built with lavish decoration, the zurkhaneh contains a lowered pit in which a group of men performs wrestling, dances and feats of strength to the beat of a drummer.
  • The most famous Persian carpet is the Ardabil Carpet from 1568, on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Measuring 10.7 by 5.3 meters, it contains one million knots (an excellent carpet today will have 500).
  • Working women in Iran can take their preschool-aged children to a subsidized kindergarten school.
  • Zoroastrians do not bury their dead, but leave them on the “towers of silence” to be consumed by vultures. This practice is based on the belief that all elements are sacred and pure, and thus both the earth and air would be polluted by burial or cremation.

  • Founded in the Sixth Century BC by the Kings of the First Persian Empire (the Achaemenids), Persepolis is located 60 km northeast of Shiraz in Iran. The present-day Persian name, Takht-e-Jamshid, means “Throne of Jamshid”, a legendary Iranian King. However, the ancient name of the city was Parsa, or Pars' City, hence the Greek name Persepolis.
    Construction of the city began under Kings Cyrus the Great (ca. 550 BC) and Darius I (ca. 520 BC) to possibly serve as a ceremonial and spiritual Capital of the Persian Empire. Susa, the administrative Capital, was located 500 km north of Persepolis. The growth of the city continued under later Kings such as Artaxerxes I (ca. 450 BC) who finished the Hall of 100 Columns and Artaxerxes II (ca. 350 BC) who built the Unfinished Palace. However, the most glorious monuments in Persepolis were commissioned by Xerxes I (ca. 470 BC): the Gate of All Nations, and the Throne Hall.
    Persepolis continued to flourish under the later Achaemenian

Watch video on Iran

What can you learn about Iran in this video?

Iran YouTube, Rick Steves

Iran Travel Information

What makes Iran a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

Iran is a constitutional Islamic republic with a theocratic system of government where ultimate political authority is vested in the highest religious authority, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He is the final authority on all domestic, foreign, and security policies for Iran, though he establishes and supervises those policies in consultation with other political bodies. Shia Islam is the official religion of Iran, and Islamic law is the basis of the authority of the state. The Iranian constitution guarantees freedom of worship to Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, though they and followers of other faiths are often the subject of discrimination and repression. The work week in Iran is Saturday through Thursday; however, many government offices and private companies are closed on Thursdays. Friday is the day of rest when all establishments are closed. Offices in Iran are generally open to the public during the morning hours only.

Crime

Major crime is generally not a problem for travelers in Iran, although foreigners occasionally become victims of petty street crime. Young men in unmarked cars have robbed foreigners and young men on motor bikes have snatched bags. There have been reports of robberies by police impersonators, usually in civilian clothing. Insist on seeing the officer’s identity card and request the presence of a uniformed officer/marked patrol car. Travelers should not surrender any documents or cash. You are advised to make a copy of your U.S. passport (biographical data page and the page with your Iranian visa) and to keep it separate from your original passport.



Travelers should not carry large amounts of hard currency while on the streets. In view of the possibility of theft, passports, other important documents, and valuables should be kept in hotel safes or other secure locations. Pre-booked taxis are safer than those hailed from the street. U.S. citizens should check with their hotel or tour guide for information on local scams.

Don’t buy counterfeit or pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, purchasing them may also violate local law.

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Iran, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you do not have your passport with you. In some places, it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminal penalties will vary from country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit but still illegal in the United States; for example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Iran, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not in your destination country.

U.S. citizens in Iran who violate Iranian laws, even unknowingly, including laws unfamiliar to Westerners (such as those regarding the proper wearing of apparel), may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Fines, public floggings, and long prison terms are common. Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, as well as persons who encourage Muslims to convert, are subject to arrest and possible execution. Drinking, possession of alcoholic beverages and drugs, un-Islamic dress, as well as public displays of affection with a member of the opposite sex are considered to be crimes. Relations between non-Muslim men and Muslim women are illegal, as are adultery and sex outside of marriage. DVDs depicting sexual relations and magazines showing unveiled women are forbidden. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Iran are severe and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Iran executes many people each year on drug-related charges.

The Iranian government reportedly has the names of all individuals who filed claims against Iran at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at The Hague pursuant to the 1981 Algerian Accords. In addition, the Iranian government reportedly has compiled a list of the claimants who were awarded compensation in the Iran Claims Program administered by the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. The Iranian government has allegedly been targeting award-holders who travel to Iran. It has been reported that upon some claimants' entry into Iran, Iranian authorities have questioned them as to the status of payment of their respective awards with a view to recouping the award money. The Iranian government has also reportedly threatened to prevent U.S. claimants who visit Iran from departing the country until they make arrangements to repay their award either in part or its entirety.

While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the U.S. Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran as soon as you are arrested or detained in Iran.

Languages

The official language in Iran is Persian, but many other languages or dialects are spoken.

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Basic medical care and medicines are available in the principal cities, but may not be available in rural areas. Medical facilities do not meet U.S. standards and sometimes lack medicines and supplies. Iranian authorities confirmed outbreaks of avian influenza (bird flu) in January 2008 in northern Iran, as well as earlier reports of outbreaks among wild swans in the Anzali Wetlands and in domestic poultry in the northern provinces of Azerbaijan and Gilan. There were a number of confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza in 2009.

Safety and Security

U.S. citizens who travel to Iran despite the Travel Warning should exercise caution throughout the country, but especially in the southeastern region where Westerners have been victims of criminal gangs often involved in the smuggling of drugs and other contraband. Terrorist explosions have killed a number of people in Iran in past years. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to areas within 100 kilometers of the border with Afghanistan, within 10 kilometers of the border with Iraq, and generally anywhere east of the line from Bam and Bandar Abbas toward the Pakistan border.



U.S. citizens are advised to avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings. Increased tension between Iran and the West over the past several years is a cause of concern for U.S. citizen travelers. Large-scale demonstrations in response to politically motivated events have taken place sporadically throughout the country, resulting in a significant security presence, arrests, and occasional clashes between demonstrators and security officials. U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. U.S. passport holders who are arrested or detained by Iranian authorities should request assistance from the U.S. Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.



Iranian security personnel may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance. Hotel rooms, telephones, and fax machines may be monitored, and personal possessions in hotel rooms may be searched. Photography near military and other government installations is strictly prohibited and could result in serious criminal charges, including espionage, which carries the death penalty.

The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) has advised that elevated regional tensions have increased the risk of maritime attacks being conducted by extremists to vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions.

MARAD recommends vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or at slow speeds should be especially vigilant and report suspicious activity. U.S. flag vessels that observe suspicious activity in the area are advised to report such suspicious activity or any hostile or potentially hostile action to COMUSNAVCENT battlewatch captain at phone number 011-973-1785-3879. All suspicious activities and events are also to be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at the following toll free telephone: 1-800-424-8802, direct telephone 202-267-2675, or TDD 202-267-4477. The complete advisory is available on the MARAD website at www.MARAD.DOT.gov.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in Iran, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Travelers in possession of International Driver’s Permits may drive in Iran, though the U.S. Interests Section in Iran does not recommend that tourists drive in Iran. Iran has a very high rate of traffic accidents, the second highest cause of mortality in the country. Drivers throughout Iran tend to ignore traffic lights, traffic signs, and lane markers. Urban streets are not well lit; it is therefore particularly dangerous to drive at night. Sidewalks in urban areas exist only on main roads and are usually obstructed by parked cars. In residential areas, few sidewalks exist. Drivers almost never yield to pedestrians at crosswalks. If you are involved in an accident, no matter how minor, do not leave the scene; wait until the police arrive to file a report.

Iranian authorities sometimes set up informal roadblocks, both in cities and on highways, often manned by young, inexperienced officers who are suspicious of foreigners. Ensure you carry a form of identification with you and avoid getting into disputes.

Very high pollution levels from cars, particularly in Tehran, can trigger respiratory problems.

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