Your comprehensive travel guide to Iran - All in one place!
Iran is home to one of the oldest civilizations on Earth, where turquoise-domed mosques, glittering palaces, and the tombs of long gone poets reveal the mysteries and intrigues of the ancients. Yet beneath the footprints of man lies an even lesser known, wilder Iran, brimming with remarkable geologic formations, ancient forests, and overgrown monuments that nature has reclaimed as its own.
Iran formerly known as Persia is situated at the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia, and the Arab states of the Middle East. This strategic position and its access to the Persian Gulf in the south have made Iran an important country throughout its history.
Much of Iran is cut off from the outside world by a beautiful but often lonely landscape. High, rugged mountains create a barrier with Iran's neighbors in the west, and the eastern region is covered by a barren, salty desert.
In Iran's north, a narrow, fertile strip borders the Caspian Sea, and in the south, lowlands rim the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Most people in Iran live along the edges of a high plateau that runs through the middle of the country.
As one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Iranians and Persians have contributed much to the historical timeline of mankind. They had a huge hand in developing the textile industry, which commenced in the region as early as the Neolithic Era. In modern times, Iranian craftspeople are quite famous for their beautiful, and elaborately designed, Persian rugs and carpets. Iranians were also said to have given the world such delicacies as ice cream, cookies, and wine. Private banking was first developed in Persia over 2,000 years ago, as were standardized weights, money, and measures. In 537 BC, Cyrus the Great created a written declaration of human rights. Following him, King Darius I had a far-reaching human rights charter written only shortly thereafter. These are among the earliest human rights documents to be discovered to date.
Iran is home to approximately 72 million people of dozens of different ethnic backgrounds. Important ethnic groups include the Persians (51%), Azeris (24%), Mazandarani and Gilaki (8%), Kurds (7%), Iraqi Arabs (3%), and Lurs, Balochis, and Turkmens (2% each). Smaller populations of Armenians, Persian Jews, Assyrians, Circassians, Georgians, Mandaeans, Kazakhs, and Romany also live in various enclaves within Iran.
With an increased educational opportunity for women, Iran's birth rate has declined markedly in recent years after booming in the late 20th century.