Introduction to Iran
One of the world’s oldest civilizations is Iran and most probably this country beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BC. Iran first unified by the Iranian Medes in the seventh century BC and reached its territorial height in the sixth century BC under Cyrus the Great, whose Achaemenes Empire stretched from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley, one of the largest empires in history. Now, we have a brief introduction to Iran to know-how is amazing Iran.
Iran the beating heart of Eurasia
Iran, (officially the Islamic Republic of Iran), known internationally as Persia until 1935, is a country in Central Eurasia, located on the northeastern shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Iran is a cognate of Aryan, and means “Land of the Aryans”. The 18th largest country in the world in terms of area at 1,648,195 km², Iran has a population of over seventy million. Iran is a country of special geostrategic significance, because of its central location in Eurasia.
Iran is bordered to the north by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and the Caspian Sea; to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan; to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman; and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. Tehran is the capital, largest city and the political, cultural, commercial, and industrial center of the nation. Iran is a regional power and occupies 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 settlement dating back to 3200 BC. The Medes established the first government in Iran in 725 BC. They were succeeded by three Iranian dynasties. The Achaemenes, Parthians, and Sassanid which governed Iran for more than 1000 Years.
Iran was once again reunified as an independent state in 1551 by the Safavid dynasty who promoted Shi’a Islam as the official religion of their empire. Marking one of the most important turning points in the history of Islam. Iran had been a monarchy ruled by a shah, or Emperor, almost without interruption from 1501 until the 1979 Iranian revolution, When Iran officially became the Islamic Republic on 01 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. Shi’a Islam is the official religion, and Persian is the official language.
Provinces and Cities
Iran is divided into 31 provinces (Ostān), each governed by an appointed governor (Ostāndār). The provinces are divided into sub-provinces (Shahrestān) and subdivided into districts (Bakhsh) and sub-districts (Dehestān). Iran has one of the highest urban-growth rates in the world. From 1950 to 2002 the urban proportion of the population increased from 27% to 60 %. Most internal migrants have settled near the cities of Tehrān, Isfahan, Shiraz, Ahvaz, and Qom.
Tehran, with the highest population (Around 9 Million) is the largest city in Iran and is the Capital city. Tehran is home to around 11% of Iran’s population. Tehran, like many big cities, suffers from severe air pollution. It is the hub of the country’s communication and transport network.
Mashhad is the second largest Iranian city and is one of the holiest Shi’a cities in the world as it is the site of the Imām Rezā shrine. It is the second-largest city and with a population of 2.8 million is the center of the Khorāsān Razavi Province. Almost 20 million pilgrims go to Imām Rezā’s shrine every year.
The other major Iranian city is Isfahān. Isfahān is the capital of Esfahan Province. The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Esfahān has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The city contains a wide variety of Islamic architectural sites ranging from the eleventh to the 19th century. The growth of the suburban area around the city has turned Isfahan to the second most populous metropolitan area.
The other major Iranian cities are Karaj, Tabrīz, and Shīrāz. Tabriz is situated north of the volcanic cone of Sahand south of the Eynalī Mountain. Tabrīz is the largest city in north-western Iran and is the capital of East Āzarbāījān Province. Karaj is located in Tehrān province and is situated 35 km west of Tehrān, at the foot of Alborz Mountains, however, the city is increasingly becoming an extension of the metropolitan Tehrān.
And at last, Shiraz is the capital of Fars province, the cradle of Iran Culture and civilization. The province has recorded around 3000 monuments on the national heritage list. The existence of four Unesco heritage sites and two prominent poets, having beautiful mosques, Shrines, Known as third religious city as well as the cultural capital of the country, having very unique natural sites, different kind of handicraft, all these features of this province have turned it to one the best tourist destinations in Iran.
Nature and Climate
Iran has long been called the “Land of Seven climates,” and it still seems the best description for Iran’s climate conditions. Iran’s diverse climate conditions provide shelter for several rare and unique species of plant and animal life. In Iran, green fields, thick forests, burning deserts, vast plateaus, and snow-covered mountains are found during all four seasons. with 25 wildlife shelters, 46 nature reserves, more than 500 species of birds, 200 species of reptiles, 360 species of mammals, 12000 species of plant life, 12 rare forests and tens of thick forests, 320 thermal mineral springs, 16 ponds and lagoons, 50 lakes, 16 mountain peaks with altitudes over 4000 meters, 14 mountain peaks with altitudes over 3000 meters and historical constructions in the heart of the nature such as houses, temples, and cathedrals carved in the rock, Iran’s natural attractions rank fifth in the world. Iran’s climate ranges from humid subtropical to sub-polar. In simple words, the mountain climate can be found in the western and northwestern areas, hot and dry climate prevails in central and southern regions and a trip in the north bordering the Caspian Sean enjoys a humid and temperate climate.
Iran Mountain and Geology
Iran’s mountains belong to the Neogene period and especially the Miocene epoch, i.e. 23.7 to 5.3 million before the present time. Some of these mountains are of a volcanic origin. Mount Taftān, a massive cone reaching 4,042 meters in southeaﬆern Iran, emits gas and mud at sporadic intervals. Mount Damavand with an altitude of 5,671 meters has been inactive in hiﬆorical times. In northweﬆern Iran, Mount Sabalān with a height of 4,812 and Mount Sahand reaching 3,710 meters from the mean sea level are notable examples of dormant volcanoes. There is no active volcano in Iran today.
In Iranian mythology, mountains are depicted as sacred and myﬆerious. Alborz Mountains are the abode of the fabulous Sīmorgh—a benevolent mythical bird sharing qualities aspects of Phoenix. In Zoroaﬆrian texts, the three-headed dragon Aži Dahāka was chained within Mount Damavand, there to remain until the end of the world. Recreation
Iran’s mountains make perfect places for mountain climbing and snow skiing.
Dīzīn ski resort situated to the north of Tehran in the Alborz Mountains is Iran’s moﬆ famous ski resort. Because of the altitude, the ski season in Dīzīn laﬆs longer than European ski resorts (from December to May).
Iran would be a special place for people intereﬆed in the attractions of the deserts. Two vaﬆ deserts of a lie in the central region of Iran which together occupy 320,000 square kilometers or one ﬁfth of the country’s land area. The Dasht-e Kavīr’s soil is covered with sand and pebbles; there are marshes, lakes, and wadis. The smaller desert called Dasht-e Lūt has an area of about 51,800 square kilometers. Life is not easy in a desert, but its hard-working people forge subterranean canals– aqueducts or Qanāt in Persian– to water piﬆachio, apple sand dates orchards.
The Caspian Sea
The Caspian Sea (Persian: Daryā-ye Māzandarān) in northern Iran is the world’s largest lake. Sefīd-rūd, Atrak and Aras rivers flow into the Caspian Sea. It is the natural habitat for over 350 species of fish. the climate in the coastal areas is temperate (humid subtropical) and there is rich plant life. the Caspian Sea is a major center of producing Caviar of world-class quality.
The Persian Gulf
In the south, Iran borders the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman—connected through the Strait of Hormoz. Mangrove forests on the southern coast of Iran, commonly called Hara forests are unique features of Iran’s natural environment. the forests, found mainly near the island of Qeshm, make a major habitat for migratory birds in the cold season, and for reptiles, fish, and varieties of arthropods and bivalves. Iranian islands in the Persian gulf such as Kish, Khark, the greater and the lesser Tunbs, Abu Musa, etc are major recreational and economic centers of the country.
Besides the Caspian Sea – the world’s largest lake—there are many other lakes in Iran. Urmia lake (Persian: daryācheh-ye orūmīyeh) in West āzarbāījān province is the largest lake inside Iran. It has a surface area of approximately 5,200 km². The lake has 102 islands.
other lakes include lake Shūrābīl in Ardabil province, the lakes of lār, and āhang in Tehran province, lake hāmūn in Sīstān VA Balūchestān Province, Parishan and Maharlu lake in Fras Province, etc.
Iranian islands fall into two categories: those situated in international waters and inhabited by Iranian people and unpopulated islands inside Iran’s lakes which are habitat to various species of plant and animal life. Qeshm, Hormoz, kish, Khark, Lāvān, Abu Musa, the greater and lesser Tunbs and āshūrādeh islands are some of the major populated islands of Iran.
Flora and Fauna
Iran is a very rich country in terms of the diversity of plant and animal life. Iranian foreﬆs are habitats for wildcat, wolf, jackal, boar, fox, bear and ram as well as several rare and endangered species of animals such as the Asiatic Cheetah, which is found only in Iran. The lakes, ponds, and lagoons are habitats for frogs, snakes, tortoises, crabs and various species of birds such as duck, goose, swan, pheasant, francolin, ﬆilt, swallow, etc. The Persian leopard is said to be the largest of all the subspecies of leopards in the world. The main range of this species in Iran closely overlaps with that of Bezoar Ibex. Hence, it is found throughout Alborz and Zagros mountain ranges, as well as smaller ranges within the Iranian plateau. Leopard population is very sparse, due to loss of habitat, loss of natural prey, and population fragmentation. Apart from Bezoar Ibex, wild sheep, boar, deer (either Maral red deer or roe deer), and domestic animals constitute leopards’ diet in Iran. Approximately one-tenth of Iran is foreﬆed, moﬆly in the Caspian region. Hyrcanian foreﬆ ﬆarts ﬆretches southeaﬆern Azerbaijan and ﬆretches to Iran’s three northern provinces of Gīlān, Māzandarān, and Goleﬆān. Hyrcanian Foreﬆ contains remnants of the broadleaf foreﬆs that once covered moﬆ of the North Temperate Zone some 2550- million years ago, in the early Cenozoic Era. When Europe was covered with ice during the Pleiﬆocene, Hyrcanian Foreﬆ—or the Caspian Foreﬆ, as it is sometimes called– was alive and at the end of the frozen era, plant species of Hyrcanian Foreﬆ immigrated to Europe, which makes this foreﬆ the mother of European foreﬆs. Ten million hectares of oak foreﬆs lie in Iran’s highlands in Chahārmahāl Va Bakhtīārī, Kohgilūyeh Va Boyer Ahmad, Fārs, Kordeﬆān, Loreﬆān, īlām, and Kermānshāh provinces. Acorns, aspens, poplars, and maples would give the visitors another view of Iran’s natural environment. But Nature has much more to offer the curious visitor: cypress trees of a few thousand years of age in the village of Manjīl (in Gīlān) and the village of Abarqū (in Fars Province) or a tree which split rock overtime in the town of Arsanjān in Fars province.
water always creates wonderful scenes in Iran. The lagoons are among some of Iran’s most interesting places to visit. Anzalī lagoon in Gīlān Province is a unique site whose water lilies would catch the attention of every visitor. you can have a wonderful time riding boats on this lagoon. Choqākhor lagoon in Chahārmahāl VA Bakhtīārī is another notable example. Choqākhor has great ecological importance as it is a habitat for migrating birds. There many other lagoons including, for example, Elmāgoli, Fūshāgoli and Māhī Abād lagoons in west Azarbāījān Province and Shādegān in Khūzestān Province.
There are tens of beautiful waterfalls in Iran. A notable example is Shūshtar’s ancient waterfall. The construction of the Shushtar waterfall compound began during the Achaemenid era (circa 550-331 BC) and later it was expanded during the Sassanid dynasty (224-651 Ce). The waterfall is located near the ancient Elamite city of Susa (Shūsh) in Khuzestan province. The structure was meant to operate somewhat like a water mill. Margun waterfall in Fars province is one of Iran’s largest falls situated in a most beautiful natural environment.
There are wondrous caves in Iran. The Alisadr cave in Hamadan province is a notable example. water flows inside the cave and allows Boatriding inside the cave. in the town of Dehlorān in Ilam province, you can visit a cave which is the habitat for a rare species of bats. There are also historical caves that besides their natural beauty were shelter to primitive humans. Paintings on the walls of such caves would reveal exciting stories to archaeologists. examples of historical caves of Iran include Shekārchyān Cave in Kermanshah province, Karaftū Cave in Kordestan, the caves of Hūmyān and Kalmākareh in Lorestan province, Kataleh Khor in Zanjan and Chal Nakhjir in Markazi Province, etc. cave Pra in Kermanshah province is the deepest cave in Iran.
Hot Water Springs
There are several hot water springs in Iran. A notable example is Sar’eyn Thermal spring in Ardabīl Province. Bathing in hot water springs is traditionally believed to be useful for various physical problems and so many people travel to thermal springs to soothe their pains. Mahallāt thermal springs in Markazi province, Genū hot water springs in Hormozgān province, bābā Gohar springs in the city of Hamadān and Rāmsar hot water springs in Mazāndarān Province are some examples of Iran’s thermal springs.