Iran

Islamic Republic of Iran

جمهوری اسلامی ایران (Persian)
Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān
Motto: 
استقلال، آزادی، جمهوری اسلامی
Esteqlāl, Āzādi, Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi
("Independence, freedom, the Islamic Republic")
(de facto)[1]
Anthem: 
سرود ملی جمهوری اسلامی ایران
Sorud-e Melli-ye Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān
("National Anthem of the Islamic Republic of Iran")
Location of Iran
Capital
and largest city
Tehran
35°41′N 51°25′E / 35°41′N 51°25′E / 35.683; 51.417
Official languagesPersian
Recognised regional languages
Ethnic groups
Religion
State religion:
Islam (Twelver Shia)
Constitutionally recognized minorities:
Islam (Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki, Hanbali, Zaydi),
Christianity (Armenian, Assyrian, Chaldean),
Judaism,
Zoroastrianism
Demonym(s)Iranian,
Persian (historically)
Governmentde jure:
Unitary Khomeinist presidential Islamic republic
de facto:
Unitary theocratic-republican authoritarian[3][4][5] presidential system subject to a Supreme Leader[6]
Ali Khamenei
• President
Hassan Rouhani
Eshaq Jahangiri
Ali Larijani
Ebrahim Raisi
Expediency Discernment Council[7]
Guardian Council
Assembly of Experts
Islamic Consultative Assembly
Establishment history
c. 678 BC
550 BC
247 BC
224 AD[8]
934 AD
1501[9]
15 December 1925
7 January 1978 – 11 February 1979
24 October 1979
28 July 1989
Area
• Total
1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi) (17th)
• Water (%)
7.07
Population
• 2018 estimate
82,531,700[10] (18th)
• Density
48/km2 (124.3/sq mi) (162nd)
GDP (PPP)2019 estimate
• Total
$1.540 trillion[11] (18th)
• Per capita
$18,504[11]
GDP (nominal)2019 estimate
• Total
$484 billion[11] (27th)
• Per capita
$5,820[11]
Gini (2016)40.0[12]
medium
HDI (2017)Increase 0.798[13]
high · 60th
CurrencyRial (ریال) (IRR)
Time zoneUTC+3:30 (IRST)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+4:30 (IRDT)
Date formatyyyy/mm/dd (SH)
Driving sideright
Calling code+98
ISO 3166 codeIR
Internet TLD

Iran,[a] also called Persia,[14] and officially the Islamic Republic of Iran,[b] is a country in Western Asia.[15][16] With 82 million inhabitants,[10] Iran is the world's 18th most populous country.[17] Its territory spans 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), making it the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan,[c] to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, 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. Its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance.[18] Tehran is the political and economic center of Iran, and the largest and most populous city in Western Asia with more than 8.8 million residents in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area.[19]

Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations,[20][21] beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BCE. It was first unified by the Iranian Medes in the seventh century BCE,[22] and reached its territorial height in the sixth century BCE under Cyrus the Great, whose Achaemenid Empire stretched from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley, one of the largest empires in history.[23] The empire fell to Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE and was divided into several Hellenistic states. An Iranian rebellion established the Parthian Empire in the third century BCE, which was succeeded in the third century CE by the Sasanian Empire, a leading world power for the next four centuries.[24][25]

Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century CE, and the subsequent Islamization of Iran led to the decline of the once dominant Zoroastrian religion. Iran's major contributions to art, philosophy, and science spread throughout the Muslim world and beyond during the Islamic Golden Age. Over the next two centuries, a series of native Muslim dynasties emerged before the Seljuq Turks and the Ilkhanate Mongols conquered the region. The rise of the native Safavids in the 15th century led to the reestablishment of a unified Iranian state and national identity,[8] with the country's conversion to Shia Islam marking a turning point in Iranian and Muslim history.[9][26]

Under Nader Shah, Iran was one of the most powerful states in the 18th century,[27] though by the 19th century, a series of conflicts with the Russian Empire led to significant territorial losses.[28][29] The Persian Constitutional Revolution in the early 20th century created a constitutional monarchy and the country's first legislature. A 1953 coup instigated by the United Kingdom and the United States resulted in greater autocratic rule under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and growing Western political influence.[30] A far-reaching series of reforms known as the White Revolution was launched by the Shah in 1963, prompting industrial growth, land reforms, and increased women's rights.[31] Nevertheless, widespread dissatisfaction and unrest against the monarchy persisted, leading to the Iranian Revolution, which established the current Islamic Republic.[32] For most of the 1980s, Iran fought a war with Iraq that resulted in severe casualties and economic devastation for both sides.

Iran's political system has elements of a presidential democracy with a theocracy governed by an autocratic "Supreme Leader".[33] It has been described as authoritarian, with significant constraints and abuses against human rights.[34][35][36][37]

Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, and OPEC. It is a major regional and middle power,[38][39] and its large reserves of fossil fuels—including the world's largest natural gas supply and the fourth largest proven oil reserves—exert considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy.[40][41] The country's rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 22 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the third largest number in Asia and 11th largest in the world.[42] Historically a multi-ethnic country, Iran remains a pluralistic society comprising numerous ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups, the largest being Persians, Azeris, Kurds, Mazandaranis and Lurs.[43][2]

Name

The term Iran derives directly from Middle Persian Ērān, first attested in a third-century inscription at Rustam Relief, with the accompanying Parthian inscription using the term Aryān, in reference to the Iranians.[44] The Middle Iranian ērān and aryān are oblique plural forms of gentilic nouns ēr- (Middle Persian) and ary- (Parthian), both deriving from Proto-Iranian *arya- (meaning "Aryan", i.e. "of the Iranians"),[44][45] recognized as a derivative of Proto-Indo-European *ar-yo-, meaning "one who assembles (skilfully)".[46] In the Iranian languages, the gentilic is attested as a self-identifier, included in ancient inscriptions and the literature of the Avesta,[47][d] and remains also in other Iranian ethnic names Alan (Ossetian: Ир Ir) and Iron (Ирон).[45] According to the Iranian mythology, the country's name comes from name of Iraj, a legendary prince and shah who was killed by his brothers.[48]

Historically, Iran has been referred to as Persia by the West, due mainly to the writings of Greek historians who referred to all of Iran as Persís (Ancient Greek: Περσίς; from Old Persian 𐎱𐎠𐎼𐎿 Pārsa),[49] meaning "land of the Persians", while Persis itself was one of the provinces of ancient Iran that is today defined as Fars.[50] As the most extensive interaction the Ancient Greeks had with any outsider was with the Persians, the term persisted, even long after the Greco-Persian Wars (499–449 BC).

In 1935, Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, Iran, effective March 22 that year.[51] Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision in 1959, and Professor Ehsan Yarshater, editor of Encyclopædia Iranica, propagated a move to use Persia and Iran interchangeably.[52][unreliable source?] Today, both Iran and Persia are used in cultural contexts, while Iran remains irreplaceable in official state contexts.[53]

Historical and cultural usage of the word Iran is not restricted to the modern state proper.[54][55][56] "Greater Iran" (Irānzamīn or Irān e Bozorg)[57] refers to territories of the Iranian cultural and linguistic zones. In addition to modern Iran, it includes portions of the Caucasus, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.[58]

Pronunciation

The Persian pronunciation of Iran is [ʔiːˈɾɒːn]. Common Commonwealth English pronunciations of Iran are listed in the Oxford English Dictionary as n/ and n/,[59] while American English dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster's provide pronunciations which map to n/,[60] or likewise in Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary as n/. The Cambridge Dictionary lists n/ as the British pronunciation and n/ as the American pronunciation. Similarly, Glasgow-based Collins English Dictionary provides both English English and American English pronunciations. The pronunciation guide from Voice of America also provides n/.[61]

The American English pronunciation n/ RAN may be heard in U.S. media. Max Fisher in The Washington Post[62] prescribed n/ for Iran, while proscribing n/. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, in the dictionary's 2014 Usage Ballot, addressed the topic of the pronunciations of Iran and Iraq.[63] According to this survey, the pronunciations n/ and n/ were deemed almost equally acceptable, while n/ was preferred by most panelists participating in the ballot. With regard to the n/ pronunciation, more than 70% of the panelists deemed it unacceptable. Among the reasons given by those panelists were that n/ has "hawkish connotations" and sounds "angrier", "xenophobic", "ignorant", and "not...cosmopolitan". The n/ pronunciation remains standard and acceptable, reflected in the entry for Iran in the American Heritage Dictionary itself, as well as in each of the other major dictionaries of American English.