When you hear the four-letter-word ‘Iran’, most probably the images that start appearing on your mind do not represent the country as it really is. The truth is, Iran is a land of stunning architecture, rich culture, glorious ancient sites, delicate gardens, and natural landscapes that can leave you speechless and make an everlasting memory in your heart. Once you get to know this country on your own, you will definitely find it as one of the friendliest countries on the face of the planet filled with fascinating experiences you will never forget.
Location and Geography
Iran is located on the southwestern part of Asia. Its borders are marked by the Caspian Sea on the north, and the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman on the south. Iran is known to be one of the largest countries in Asia, with the land area of 1,648,195 km2 and is home to almost 80 million people.
Being located on a vast desert and a mountainous terrain at the same time, has made Iran a geographically diverse country. Almost every natural phenomenon you could think of can be found in Iran including seas, rivers, lakes, salt lakes, deserts, mountains, volcanos, forests, jungles, etc. Iran is a country with a nature full of surprises and dramatic landscapes.
History of Iran stretches far back to the Elamites about 6000 years ago, making it one of the oldest civilizations in the world. During its ancient existence on the face of the earth until now, it has been subject to a lot of victories and defeats.
About 1000 B.C. an Indo-European nomadic tribe called ‘Aryans’ settled on what was known as “the land of Persia” and marked the beginning of the Iranian civilization. Ancient Iran reached its peak of power during the reign of Cyrus the great, the founder of Achaemenid Empire, when the borders of the country were extended from northern India to Egypt. But the majestic kingdom didn’t last forever. Alexander the great defeated the empire and took control over the country.
Hundreds of years after Achaemenids, a dynasty under the name of ‘Sassanids’ brought the long lost glory back to this country. Under their reign Iran had the chance of becoming one of the strongest powers in the world again. They ruled over the country for almost 300 years.
Following the downfall of Sassanids, Iran was invaded by Arab Muslims in 640 C.E. and they conquered the country and gradually melded with its people and established Islam as the official religion of the country.
The Islamic country of Iran, underwent many ups and downs and was ruled by many different dynasties including Safavids, Zand, and Qajars, until a series of public protests against the throne took place from the 1890s to the 1970s. These protests regularly involved religious leaders, and continued throughout the reign of the Pahlavi dynasty. These protests culminated in the Islamic Revolution of Iran in 1979.
The official language of Iran is Persian or as locals call it, Farsi. It is spoken by the majority of Iranians and some of the neighboring countries as well. Persian language belongs to the Indo-European language family and it is divided into a couple of dialects and accents. Being an ethnically diverse country, other languages such as Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic, etc. are spoken in different regions by different ethnical groups too.
Islam (mostly Shi’ism) is the national religion of Iran. The rules of the country are determined in a way that are in line with its religious standpoint, leading to some dress codes and Islamic orders. Other religions such as Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Judaism are also common in some small parts of the country.
If you love people, you are going to love Iran. When you ask the travelers who spent a couple of days in Iran about their experience in this country, it is almost impossible that they won’t mention its loving people. Iranians are most famous for their hospitality, generosity and friendly manners. Sometimes they tend to go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and safe in their country. Don’t be surprised if you keep hearing people welcoming you to Iran or saying hello to you when walking down on the streets. Some of them might even invite you to their homes for a cup of tea and offer you a place to stay. So if you think a trip to Iran is going to be all about the ancient sites or the gardens, you are missing out on one of the main points of choosing Iran as a travel destination: its people. They can make your trip to the land of Persia an unforgettable memory.
Iranian food can be the delicious surprise of anyone’s trip to Iran! No one can deny that food is one of the main reasons why we travel to other countries, and Persian cuisine is not going to let you down! The gastronomy is mostly based on fresh meat, chicken, fish, rice, bread and vegetables flavored with some spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, sumac and saffron. The meat is commonly served in the form of Kebab (minced meat) along with tomato and either rice or bread. If you decide to take a journey to Iran, don’t forget to taste the appetizing local food and drinks of the cities you visit.
Iran is a country for all seasons. Due to the geographical variety of the country, the climate can be really diverse: cold in high mountains, hot and arid on the desert parts, mild and rainy on the shores of the Caspian Sea, and warm and humid on the southern coasts of the Persian Gulf. Iran’s diverse climate allows for an amazing array of leisure and adventure activities.
July and August are the warmest months of the year, with December and January as the coldest. But, generally speaking, one can enjoy a temperate weather in many parts of the country most year.