History of Iran
Iran's history dates back to some of the earliest known civilizations, with prehistoric archaeological evidence from cultures of the Stone Age. Iran's long history shows many changes in leadership and a trend of invasions, with various empires and dynasties arising over the centuries. One of Iran's early settlements was the Elam civilization, which began around 2800 BC and lasted for many centuries, making important advances, including writing.
The ancient people of Iran included the Medes, who arose during the 2nd millennium BC, as well as the Persians and Parthians. The Medians united and formed the Median Empire in 728 BC, which became the Achaemenid empire in 550 BC, led by Cyrus the Great. Alexander the Great conquered the empire in 334 BC, and the country was ruled by the Seleucid and Sassanid Empires over the next centuries. Wars with Rome weakened the empire, and during the Muslim invasion in the 7th century, Iran was easily defeated. Genghis Khan led the Mongols in an invasion of Iran in 1219, devastating the population and ruling it for many years. A series of dynasties followed from the 16th century Safavid dynasty, marked by wars with the Ottoman Empire, to the Pahlavi dynasty, led by Reza Shah in 1921.
The nation was occupied by the British and Soviets during World War I and World War II. In 1941, the Soviet Union and Britain forced the abdication of the Shah, replacing him with his son, Mohammad Shah. The US and Britain staged a coup in 1953, during the Cold War, to depose the Prime Minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh. The Shah's oppressive regime caused the Iranian Revolution in 1978, and with the Shah's exit, the country became an Islamic Republic in 1979.
War broke out between Iran and Iraq in 1880, persisting through 1988 until the UN stepped in and called for a ceasefire.
The name Iran is derived from an early Persian word meaning Land of the Aryans, and the term Persia was the way the Greeks and other outsiders referred to the country.
Neighboring Countries :
Iran shares borders with many other countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Turkey. Iran also has a water boundary along the Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf, and the Gulf of Oman.
Major Cities :
- Tehran (capital)
The terrain of Iran is very mountainous, with the western ranges including the Caucasus, Zagros, Alborz mountain ranges. The highest point in Iran is within the Alborz range at Mount Damavand, which towers 5,610 meters (18,400 feet) above sea level. East of these ranges are deserts, created by the rain shadow from the mountains. The largest deserts in Iran are Dasht-e Kavir and Dasht-e Lut, which are one of the last remaining habitats of the Asiatic cheetah. In the north, along the Caspian Sea, are the lush jungles of Iran, which are home to many species of wildlife, including the Caucasus leopard, lynx, jungle cat and many types of birds. Coastal plains line the Persian Gulf, into which flow the waters of the Shatt al-Arab river.
Points of Interest :
Many of Iran's greatest attractions are those displaying its long history, including 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Pasargadae and Persepolis, which are ruins of ancient cities. Other historical cities are Shahr-e Rey and Susa, which is home to sites such as Daniel's temple, the Zigurat of Chughazanbil, and the palace of Darius the Great.
Aside from these historical sites, there are shopping opportunities, like the malls of Kish Island, which also offers resorts and fine beaches. As for other natural attractions, Qeshm Island is home to Hara Marine Forests, while Rasht holds Golestan National Park among other national treasures like Shahrdari and several museums. In the winter, Dizin is a popular destination, boasting one of the highest ski resorts in the world.
Iran's international airport is the Imam Khomeini International Airport outside of Tehran. Flights from some locations such as Saudi Arabia and Dubai may land in one of the smaller airports in other cities, like Shiraz, Isfahan, and Mashhad. Travel within Iran is also manageable via the country's domestic airlines for longer distances.
Train is another option for entering Iran, with service to cities in Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, and several other nearby nations, and buses from some countries, including Armenia, are also available. Trains and buses are a recommended method of traveling within the country. Tehran has a metro rail system, but taxis and car rentals are also available in many Iranian cities.
Last Updated on: February 20, 2019