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"Persia" redirects here. For other uses, see Persia (disambiguation).
This article is about the modern state of Iran. For historical uses, see Greater Iran.
Coordinates: 32°N 53°E
Islamic Republic of Iran
جمهوری اسلامی ایران
Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān
Motto: استقلال. آزادی. جمهوری اسلامی
Independence, Freedom, Islamic Republic
Anthem: National Anthem of Islamic Republic of Iran
(and largest city) Tehran
Official language(s) Persian
Spoken languages Persian, Azeri, Kurdish, Lori, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Balochi, Arabic, Turkmen, Khalaj, Küresünni, Qashqai, Afshar, Pashto, Armenian, Aramaic, Talysh
Government Unitary state, Islamic republic
- Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
- First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi
- Speaker of the Parliament Ali Larijani
- Chief Justice Sadeq Larijani
Legislature Islamic Consultative Assembly
- Median Empire 625 BCE
- Achaemenid Empire 550 BCE
- Safavid Empire 1501
- Islamic Republic 24 October 1979
- Current constitution
- Total 1,648,195 km2 (18th)
636,372 sq mi
- Water (%) 0.7
- 2012 estimate 78,868,711 (18th)
- 2011 census 74,961,702
- Density 48/km2 (162rd)
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
- Total $990.219 billion
- Per capita $13,053
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
- Total $482.445 billion
- Per capita $6,359
Gini (2008) 38 (medium)
HDI (2011) 0.707 (high) (88th)
Currency Rial (﷼) (IRR)
Time zone IRST (UTC+3:30)
- Summer (DST) IRDT (UTC+4:30)
Drives on the right
ISO 3166 code IR
Internet TLD .ir, ایران.
Calling code 98
3 Statistical Center of Iran. "جمعيت و متوسط رشد سالانه" (in Persian). Retrieved 13 February 2009.[dead link][dead link]
4 CIA Factbook
This article contains Persian text, written from right to left with some letters joined. Without proper rendering support, you may see unjoined letters written left-to-right, instead of right-to-left or other symbols instead of Persian script.
Iran (i/ɪˈrɑːn/ or /aɪˈræn/; Persian: ایران [ʔiˈɾɒn] ( listen)), officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ایران Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān), is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran", which in Persian means "Land of the Aryans", has been in use natively since the Sassanian era. It came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia ( /ˈpɜrʒə/ or /ˈpɜrʃə/). Both "Persia" and "Iran" are used interchangeably in cultural contexts; however, "Iran" is the name used officially in political contexts.
The 18th-largest country in the world in terms of area at 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), Iran has a population of around 79 million. It is a country of particular geopolitical significance owing to its location in the Middle East and central 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, 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, on the west by Iraq and on the northwest by Turkey. 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 has the second largest proven natural gas reserves in the world and the fourth largest proven petroleum reserves.
Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations. The first dynasty in Iran formed during the Elamite kingdom in 2800 BC. The Iranian Medes unified Iran into an empire in 625 BC. They were succeeded by the Iranian Achaemenid Empire, the Hellenic Seleucid Empire and two subsequent Iranian empires, the Parthians and the Sassanids, before the Muslim conquest in 651 AD. 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. Iranian identity continued despite foreign rule in the ensuing centuries and Persian culture was adopted also by the Ghaznavids, Seljuk, Ilkhanid and Timurid rulers. The emergence in 1501 of the Safavid dynasty, which promoted Twelver Shia Islam as the official religion of their empire, marked one of the most important turning points in Iranian and Muslim history. The Persian Constitutional Revolution established the nation's first parliament in 1906, within a constitutional monarchy. In 1953 Iran became an authoritarian regime, following a coup d'état instigated by the UK and US. Growing dissent with foreign influence culminated during the Iranian Revolution which led to establishment of an Islamic republic on 1 April 1979.
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.
2.1 Pre-Historic era
2.2 Early history (3200 BC – 625 BC)
2.3 Pre-Islamic statehood (625 BC – 651 AD)
2.4 Middle Ages (652–1501)
2.5 Early modern era (1501–1925)
2.6 Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979)
2.7 Islamic Republic (1979–present)
3.3 Provinces and cities
4.1 Language and literature
4.5 Art and architecture
5 Government and politics
6 Foreign relations and military
7.2 Science and technology
9 See also
11 External links
Main articles: Iran (word) and Name of Iran
The name of Iran (ایران) is the Modern Persian derivative from the Proto-Iranian term Aryānā,, meaning "Land of the Aryans", first attested in Zoroastrianism's Avesta tradition. The term Ērān is found to refer to Iran in a 3rd century Sassanid inscription, and the Parthian inscription that accompanies it uses the Parthian term "aryān" in reference to Iranians. However historically Iran has been referred to as Persia or similar (La Perse, Persien, Perzië, etc.) by the Western world, mainly due to the writings of Greek historians who called Iran Persis (Περσίς), meaning land of the Persians. In 1935 Rezā Shāh requested that the international community should refer to the country as Iran. Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision, and in 1959 both names were to be used interchangeably. Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 the official name of the country has been the "Islamic Republic of Iran."
Main article: History of Iran
Further information: Archaeological sites in Iran, Tepe Sialk, Jiroft culture, and Shahr-e Sukhteh
The earliest archaeological artifacts in Iran were found in the Kashafrud and Ganj Par sites that date back to the Lower Paleolithic era. Mousterian Stone tools made by Neanderthal man have also been found. There are more cultural remains of Neanderthal man dating back to the Middle Paleolithic period, which have been found mainly in the Zagros region and less frequently in central Iran at sites such as Shanidar, Kobeh, Kunji, Bisetun, Tamtama, Warwasi, Palegawra, and Yafteh Cave. Discovery of human skeletons in the Huto cave and the adjacent Kamarband cave near the town of Behshahr in the Mazandaran Province, and Amol and Babol old cities north of Iran, south of the Caspian Sea, suggest human habitation of the area as early as 75,000 years ago. However, recent studies in the valleys of Shuresh, around the earlier mentioned caves, led to the discovery of 400,000 year old stone tools. Evidence for Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic periods are known mainly from the Zagros region in the caves of Kermanshah and Khorramabad.
Early agricultural communities such as Chogha Bonut in 8000 BC, Susa (now a city still existing since 7000 BC) and Chogha Mish dating back to 6800 BC. started to form in the western Iran. Dozens of pre-historic sites across the Iranian plateau point to the existence of ancient cultures and urban settlements in the 4th millennium BC, centuries before the earliest civilizations arose in nearby Mesopotamia.
Early history (3200 BC – 625 BC)
Main articles: Tepe Sialk, Jiroft culture, Elam, and Mannaeans
19th century reconstruction of a map of the world by Eratosthenes, c.200 BC. The name Ariana (Aryânâ) was used to describe the region where the Iranian plateau is found.
Elam was part of the early urbanization during the Chalcolithic. The emergence of written records from around 3000 BC also parallels Mesopotamian history. In the Old Elamite period (Middle Bronze Age), from around 2800 BC, Elam consisted of kingdoms on the Iranian plateau, centered in Anshan, and from the mid-2nd millennium BC, it was centered in Susa in the Khuzestan lowlands. The Elamite kingdom continued its existence until the emergence of the Median and Achaemenid Empires.
Proto-Iranians first emerged following the separation of Indo-Iranians, and are traced to the Andronovo culture. 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 the 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)
Main articles: Medes, Achaemenid Empire, Seleucid Empire, Parthian Empire, and Sassanid Empire
See also: Greco-Persian Wars, Roman-Persian Wars, and Roman-Persian relations
The Cyrus Cylinder a document issued by Cyrus the Great and regarded by some as the first charter of human rights
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 II continued his father's work of conquest, making significant gains in Egypt.
Following a power struggle after Cambyses' death, Darius the Great was declared king (ruled 522–486 BC). Under Cyrus and Darius, 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.
The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest extent, at about 500 BC
In 499 BC, Athens lent support to a revolt in Miletus which resulted in the sacking of Sardis. This led to an Achaemenid campaign against Greece known as the Greco-Persian Wars which continued through the first half of the 5th century BC. During the Greco-Persian Wars Persia made some major advances and razed Athens in 480 BC, but after a string of Greek victories the Persians were forced to withdraw. Fighting ended with the peace of Callias in 449 BC.
The rules and ethics emanating from Zoroaster's teachings were strictly followed by the Achaemenids who introduced and adopted policies based on human rights, equality and banning of slavery. Zoroastrianism spread unimposed during the time of the Achaemenids and through contacts with the exiled Jewish people in Babylon freed by Cyrus, Zoroastrian concepts further propagated and influenced the Abrahamic religions. The Golden Age of Athens marked by Aristotle, Plato and Socrates also came about during the Achaemenid period while their contacts with Persia and the Near East abounded. The peace, tranquility, security and prosperity that were afforded to the people of the Near East and Southeast Europe proved to be a rare historical occurrence, an unparalleled period where commerce prospered and the standard of living for all people of the region improved.
In 334 BC, Alexander the Great invaded the Achaemenid Empire, defeating the last Achaemenid Emperor Darius III at the Battle of Issus in 333 BC. He left the annexed territory in 328–327. In each of the former Achaemenid territories he installed his own officers as caretakers, which led to friction and ultimately to the partitioning of the former empire after Alexander's death, and the subsequent formation of the Seleucid Empire.
A bust from the National Museum of Iran of Musa of Parthia
The Parthian Empire (238 BC–226 AD), led by the Arsacid Dynasty, was the third Iranian kingdom to dominate the Iranian plateau, after defeating the Greek Seleucid Empire, beginning in the late 3rd century BC, and intermittently controlled Mesopotamia between ca. 150 BC and 224 AD. This was the third native dynasty of ancient Iran and lasted five centuries. After the conquests of Media, Assyria, Babylonia and Elam, the Parthians had to organize their empire. The former elites of these countries were Greek, and the new rulers had to adapt to their customs if they wanted their rule to last. As a result, the cities retained their ancient rights and civil administrations remained more or less undisturbed.
Parthia was the arch-enemy of the Roman Empire in the east, limiting Rome's expansion beyond Cappadocia (central Anatolia). By using a heavily armed and armoured cataphract cavalry, and lightly armed but highly mobile mounted archers, the Parthians "held their own against Rome for almost 300 years". Rome's acclaimed general Mark Antony led a disastrous campaign against the Parthians in 36 BC, in which he lost 32,000 men. By the time of Roman emperor Augustus, Rome and Parthia were settling some of their differences through diplomacy. By this time, Parthia had acquired an assortment of golden eagles, the cherished standards of Rome's legions, captured from Mark Antony, and Crassus, who was defeated by General Surena in the Battle of Carrhae in 53 BC.
Persian and Median soldiers at Persepolis
The end of the Parthian Empire came in 224 AD, when the empire was loosely organized and the last king was defeated by Ardashir I, one of the empire's vassals. Ardashir I then went on to create the Sassanid Empire. Soon he started reforming the country both economically and militarily. The Sassanids established an empire roughly within the frontiers achieved by the Achaemenids, referring to it as Erânshahr or Iranshahr, , "Dominion of the Iranians", (i.e. of Iranians), with their capital at Ctesiphon. Unlike the diadochic Seleucids and the succeeding Arsacids, who used a vassalary system, the Sassanids—like the Achaemenids—had a system of governors (MP: shahrab) personally appointed by the Emperor and directed by the central government. The Romans suffered repeated losses particularly by Ardashir I, Shapur I, and Shapur II. During their reign, Sassanid battles with the Roman Empire caused such pessimism in Rome that the historian Cassius Dio wrote:
Geographical extent of Iranian influence in the 1st century BC. The Parthian Empire (mostly Western Iranian) is shown in red, other areas, dominated by Scythia (mostly Eastern Iranian), in orange.
Here was a source of great fear to us. So formidable does the Sassanid king seem to our eastern legions, that some are liable to go over to him, and others are unwilling to fight at all.
In 632 raiders from the Arab peninsula began attacking the Sassanid Empire. Iran was defeated in the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah, paving way for the Muslim conquest of Persia.
During the Parthian and later Sassanid eras, trade on the Silk Road was a significant factor in the development of the great civilizations of China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia, Indian subcontinent, and Rome, and helped to lay the foundations for the modern world. Parthian remains display classical Greek influences in some instances and retain their oriental mode in others, a clear expression of the cultural diversity that characterized Parthian art and life.
The Parthians were innovators of many architecture designs such as that of Ctesiphon, which later influenced European Romanesque architecture. Under the Sassanids, Iran expanded relations with China. Arts, music, and architecture greatly flourished, and centers such as the School of Nisibis and Academy of Gundishapur became world renowned centers of science and scholarship.
Middle Ages (652–1501)
Main articles: Islamization in Iran, Abbasid Caliphate, Tahirid dynasty, Saffarid dynasty, Samanids, Ziyarid dynasty, Buyid dynasty, Ghaznavids, Great Seljuq Empire, and Khwārazm-Shāh dynasty
Map of Iranian Dynasties c. 1000
After the Muslim conquest of Persia, most of the urban lands of the Sassanid Empire, with the exception of Caspian provinces and Transoxiana, came under Islamic rule. Many provinces in Iran defended themselves against the Arab invaders, although none in the end were able to repulse the invaders. However, when the Arabs had subdued the country, many of the cities rose in rebellion, killing Arab governors, although reinforcement by Arab armies succeeded in putting down the rebellions.
However, the Iranians' conversion to Islam was a complex process and is generally considered to have been gradual; the notion of force has largely baeen discredited, although occasional acts of violence did take place, with Zoroastrian scriptures being burned and Zoroastrian priests being executed.
By the 9th century, Islam became a dominant religion in Persia and the conversion of Iranians to Islam brought profound changes to their life and culture. However, in some regions, such as the Fars province, Zoroastrianism remained strong up to the 9th century, although Sufis such as Abu Eshaq Kazeruni, the founder of Kazeruni Sufi order, brought mass conversion of Zoroastrians to Islam in the 10th century.
Persian manuscript describing how an ambassador from India brought chess to the Persian court.
During the Abbasid caliphate decline, independent and semi-independent native Iranian dynasties arose in different parts of Persia including the Tahirids, Saffarids, Samanids, Afrighids, Ghurids, Sallarids, Justanids, Shaddadids and Buyids. Socially, the Arabs abolished the previous social class system of Sassanians while later, especially under the Ummayyads, another form of discrimination and exclusion against non-Arabs evolved. In reaction to these, Abu Moslem, an Iranian general, expelled the Umayyads from Damascus and helped the Abbasid caliphs to conquer Baghdad. The Abbasid caliphs frequently chose their Iranians as their "wazirs" (viziers), and Iranian governors acquired a certain amount of local autonomy. Thus in 822, the governor of Khorasan, Tahir, proclaimed his independence and founded a new Persian dynasty of Tahirids. And by the Samanid era, Iran's efforts to regain its independence had been well solidified.
Attempts at Arabization thus never succeeded in Iran, and movements such as the Shu'ubiyya became catalysts for Iranians to regain their independence