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Walls, Meybod, Iran. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini
Walls, Meybod, Iran. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini

Iran: ancient Persia, the cradle of ancient civilizations

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Iran (Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Irān) is an Islamic republic of Central Asia with the capital Tehran. The country is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to the north, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east. Finally, it is bathed in the north by the Caspian Sea, in the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Administratively Iran is divided into 30 provinces.


Tehran is the capital and main city of the country. Other important cities are Tabriz, Esfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz, Abadan, Bandar-Abbas, Rasht, Yazd, Kerman. The Iranian territory is largely made up of mountains. In the central part of the country, the Iranian plateau extends, on average over 1,000 meters high, which is delimited by two main mountain ranges that branch off from the north-west.

The plateau is closed to the west by the chain of Zagros mountains, which flow for 1,500 km from the north-west to the Strait of Hormuz. The highest peaks in the chain are the Zard Kuh (4,548 meters) and Monte Dena (4,359 meters).

To the north of the plateau, close to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea is the chain of the Elburz mountains (Alborz), which extends along an arch that from the borders with Azerbaijan reaches the borders with Turkmenistan. Here is Iran’s highest mountain, Damavand volcano (5,604 meters). The continuation of the Elburz Mountains (Alborz), along the border with Turkmenistan, is the Kopet-Dağ mountain range, which in Iran exceeds 3,000 meters in height.

Part of the eastern territory of the country is formed by vast desert areas such as the 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 desert of rock and sand to the east.

The scarce flat areas are located along the coast of the Caspian Sea and in Khuzestan, the area close to the course of the Shatt al-Arab along the border with Iraq. In addition to the Caspian Sea, Iran has several salty lake basins, the largest being Lake Urmia (5,200 sq km), located in western Azerbaijan in the north-west of the country.


Iran is rich in oil and natural gas fields, other subsoil resources are coal, iron, lead, bauxite, zinc, copper, chromium, manganese and uranium. Breeding (sheep, goats, cattle, donkeys, camels and buffaloes) and agriculture (wheat, barley, rice, cotton, tobacco, beets, sesame, dates, tea, citrus fruits, fruit) are of great importance. Among the industries, the most developed sectors are textiles (wool, rugs, fabrics), iron and steel, petrochemical, chemical and agricultural products processing. Tourism in recent years has had an important increase.

Page of the Presidency of the Iranian Republic.

  • 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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