Although the term Persia is used in Irancultural and historical contexts, Iran is used in the political context. Iran comprises of 1,648,195 sq.km with a population of about 75 million. Iran is surrounded by such states as Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Caspian Sea on the north, Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf on the south, Pakistan and Afghanistan on the east, Iraq on the west and Turkey on the northwest. Being surrounded by so many countries and seas Iran enjoys a geo-strategic importance that few countries do.
Tehran is the capital of Iran as also her commercial, industrial, cultural and political center. Iran is considered a regional power due to its position in the fields of international energy security with its vast reserves of natural gas and petroleum. This gives the country a significant position in the world economy.
Iran is known for its ancient civilization the beginnings of which date back to 3000 B.C which began with the Elamite kingdom. For some time Iran was part of the Greek Seleucid Empire culminating in the Islamic conquest in 651 A.D. Post Islamic empires and dynasties developed the Persian language and culture. The making of Shia Islam as the official religion occurred with advent of the Safayid dynasty in 1501 which was a turning point in the history of Iran. A Parliament came into being in Iran in 1906 creating a constitutional revolution within the confines of a constitutional monarchy. The finale came with Iran becoming an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979.as a result of an Islamic revolution.
Iran has the distinction of being one of the founder members of organizations like the OPEC, NAM, OIC and UN. According to the 1979 constitution, the Iranian political system consists of various governing bodies that are intricately connected, with the Supreme Leader being Irans highest national authority. Iran Persian is the official language of the country with Shia Islam as Irans official religion.
Geographically, Iran is full of rugged mountain chains with many basins in between. The mountainous western part of Iran happens to be the post populous also. Northern Iran is enveloped by the dense forests termed Shomal or forests of Iran. However, the eastern parts consist mainly of desert basins like Dasht-e Kavir, the countrys largest desert. The only plains found in Iran are along the Caspian coast and northern fringes of Persian Gulf.
Iran comprises of 31 provinces called ostan, governed by a governor; the provinces in turn are divided into counties which are further divided into districts and sub-districts. The second largest city is Mashabad followed by Isfahan, Tabriz, Karaj and Shiraz. Ancient cities like Persepolis, Pasargadae of the Achaemenid Empire are situated in Shiraz. Actually Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the ancient dynasty. UNESCO declared Persepolis as a World Heritage Center, recently.