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Iran: ancient Persia, the cradle of ancient civilizations

Iran (Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Irān) is an Islamic republic in Central Asia with as capital the city of Tehran, the country is bordered to the west by Iraq and Turkey, to the north by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, in the east with Afghanistan and Pakistan, is washed to the north from the Caspian Sea and to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Iran is divided into 30 provinces (Tehran, Qom, Markazi, Qazvin, Gilan, Ardabil, Zanjan, Eastern Azarbaijan, Western Azarbaijan, Kurdistan, Hamadan, Kermanshah, Ilam, Lorestan, Khuzestan, Chahar Mahal and Bakhtiari, Kohkiluyeh and Buyer Ahmad, Bushehr, Fars, Hormozgan, Sistan and Baluchestan, Kerman, Yazd, Isfahan, Semnan, Māzandarān, Golestan, northern Khorasan, Razavi Khorasan, Southern Khorasan).

Tehran is the capital and the main city of the country, other cities are Tabriz, Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz, Abadan, Bandar Abbas, Rasht, Yazd, Kerman. The Iranian territory is largely made up of mountains, in the central part of the country, extends the Iranian plateau, high on average over 1,000 metres, which is bordered by two major mountain ranges that goes from the north-west. The plateau is closed to the west by the Zagros mountains, rushing for 1500 km, from north-west to the Straits of Hormuz. The highest peaks in the chain are the Zard Kuh (4,548 meters) and Mount Dena (4,359 metres).

To the north of the Iranian plateau, close to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea is the Elburz Mountains (Alborz), which extends from the borders with Azerbaijan in the north-west and ending in the east at the borders of Turkmenistan, in this massif is the highest iranian mountain, the volcano Damavand (5,604 metres). Continuation of Elburz mountains (Alborz), along the border with Turkmenistan, is the mountains of Kopet-Dağ that in Iran exceeds 3,000 m in height.

Part of the eastern territory of the country consists of vast desert areas such as the saline Dasht-e Kavir (76,600 sq km), a salt desert in the north-central part of the country, and the Dasht-e Lut (51,800 sq km), a sandy-rocky desert in the east. The few flat areas are located along the coast of the Caspian Sea and in Khuzestan, the area behind the Shatt al-Arab along the border with Iraq. Besides the southern side of the Caspian Sea, Iran has several salty lake basins, the largest is Lake Urmia (5,200 sq km) situated in western Azerbaijan province, in the north-west of the country.

Iran is rich in oil and natural gas, other resources of the subsoil are coal, iron, lead, bauxite, zinc, copper, chromium, manganese and uranium. Great importance has breeding (sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, camels and buffaloes) and agriculture (wheat, barley, rice, cotton, tobacco, sugar beet, sesame, dates, tea, citrus fruit, fruit). Among the industries most developed sectors are textiles (wool, carpets, fabrics), steel, petrochemical, chemical and processing of agricultural products.

  • Area: 1,648,175 sqkm. (Arable 11%, Pastures 27%, Forests and Woodlands 7%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 55%).
  • Population: 71,200,000 (2007 data) (Persians 51%, Azeris 24%, Gilaki e Mazandarani 8%, Kurds 7%, Arabs 3%, Baluchi 2%, Lurs 2%, Turkmens 2%).
  • State Capital: Tehran.
  • Languages: The official language is Farsi (Persian).
  • Religion: Muslim 98% (Shi’a 90%, Sunni 8%).
  • Currency: Iranian Rial (IRR)
  • Time: UTC +3,30 hours.

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