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President Hassan Rouhani

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Official Language

»Iranian, Persian

»Unitary theocratic presidential republic

»1,648,195 km2 (18th)

»78,192,200 (17th)

»$1.284 trillion (17th)
» Per capita -$16,463 (72nd)

GDP (nominal)
»$402.700 billion(20th)
» Per capita -$5,165 (98th)

»Rial (﷼) (IRR)

Time Zone
»IRST (UTC+3:30)

Iran  also known as Persia  officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia.

It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia, the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and Azerbaijan; with Kazakhstan and Russia across 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. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second-largest nation in the Middle East and the 18th-largest in the world; with 78.4 million inhabitants, Iran is the world’s 17th most populous nation. It is the only country that has both a Caspian Sea and Indian Ocean coastline. Iran has been of geostrategic importance because of its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia and the Strait of Hormuz.


Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Proto-Elamite and Elamite kingdom in 3200–2800 BC. The Iranian Medes unified the country into the first of many empires in 625 BC, after which it became the dominant cultural and political power in the region.

Iran reached the pinnacle of its power during the Achaemenid Empire (First Persian Empire) founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC, which at its greatest extent comprised major portions of the ancient world, stretching from parts of the Balkans (Bulgaria-Pannonia) and Thrace-Macedonia in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east, making it the largest empire the world had yet seen.

The empire collapsed in 330 BC following the conquests of Alexander the Great. The area eventually regained influence under the Parthian Empire and rose to prominence once more after the establishment of the Sasanian dynasty (Neo-Persian empire) in 224 AD, under which Iran again became one of the leading powers in the world along with the Byzantine Empire for the next four centuries.

Iran’s economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures.In 2011 GDP was $482.4 billion ($1.003 trillion at PPP), or $13,200 at PPP per capita.

Iran is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank. In the early 21st century, the service sector contributed the largest percentage of the GDP, followed by industry (mining and manufacturing) and agriculture.

The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for developing and maintaining the Iranian rial, which serves as the country’s currency.

The government doesn’t recognize trade unions other than the Islamic Labour Councils, which are subject to the approval of employers and the security services. The minimum wage in June 2013 was 487 million rials a month ($134). Unemployment has remained above 10% since 1997, and the unemployment rate for women is almost double that of the men.


In 2006, about 45% of the government’s budget came from oil and natural gas revenues, and 31% came from taxes and fees. As of 2007, Iran had earned $70 billion in foreign exchange reserves mostly (80%) from crude oil exports.

Iranian budget deficits have been a chronic problem, mostly due to large-scale state subsidies, that include foodstuffs and especially gasoline, totaling more than $84 billion in 2008 for the energy sector alone.

In 2010, the economic reform plan was approved by parliament to cut subsidies gradually and replace them with targeted social assistance. The objective is to move towards free market prices in a 5-year period and increase productivity and social justice.

The administration continues to follow the market reform plans of the previous one and indicated that it will diversify Iran’s oil-reliant economy.

Iran has also developed a biotechnology, nanotechnology, and pharmaceuticals industry. However, nationalized industries such as the bonyads have often been managed badly, making them ineffective and uncompetitive with years. Currently, the government is trying to privatize these industries, and, despite successes, there are still several problems to be overcome, such as the lagging corruption in the public sector and lack of competitiveness. In 2010, Iran was ranked 69, out of 139 nations, in the Global Competitiveness Report.

Top 5 Products exported by Iran

  1. Crude Petroleum (72%),
  2. Petroleum Gas (3.4%),
  3. Refined Petroleum (3.4%),
  4. Ethylene Polymers (3.3%),
  5. Iron Ore (2.4%)

Top 5 Export destinations of Iran

  1. China (35%),
  2. India (19%),
  3. South Korea (12%),
  4. Japan (11%),
  5. Italy (4.1%)

Top 5 Products imported by Iran

  1. Gold (13%),
  2. Wheat (3.3%),
  3. Semi-Finished Iron (2.6%),
  4. Corn (2.4%),
  5. Rice (1.9%)

Top 5 Import origins of Iran

  1. China (21%),
  2. Turkey (19%),
  3. South Korea (12%),
  4. Germany (6.2%),
  5. India (5.0%)

If travel is most rewarding when it surprises, then Iran might just be the most rewarding destination on Earth. If you fancy travelling somewhere neither East nor West, and exotic and fascinating yet perfectly comfortable.


Before you come to Iran, you might be thinking the main reasons to visit the Islamic Republic are because it’s a bit adventurous and there’s a lot to see from the years when Persia was a great world power. At some levels you’d be right.

Walking around the sublime, turquoise-tiled domes and minarets of Esfahan’s Naqsh-e Jahan (Imam) Square, the awesome power and beauty of the Achaemenid’s ancient capital at Persepolis, the mud-brick alleys and rooftops in Yazd, and the wonderfully immense Elamite ziggurat at Choqa Zanbil will put you in the footsteps of some of history’s most outstanding figures.

And certainly you won’t find yourself crowded out of any sights. Which is fun.


These highlights, together with the atmospheric teahouses, bustling bazaars, deserts punctuated by historic oases and rugged mountain ranges, gives Iran more than its fair share of fantastic places to see. But to think of Iran only in terms of ‘sights’ is to miss the real story.

If you like people, you’ll like Iran. The Iranians, a nation made up of numerous ethnic groups and influenced over thousands of years by Greek, Arab, Turkic and Mongol occupiers, are endlessly welcoming. For those who have grown up on an endless diet of images depicting

Iran as a dark, dangerous place full of fundamentalist fanatics, discovering the real Iran is the most wonderful surprise. Before long you’re asking yourself: how can somewhere supposedly so bad be so good?

Beyond the stereotypes is a country desperate to been seen for what it is, rather than what it is depicted to be. Sure, not every Iranian you meet is going to invite you around to dinner. But if you’re open to the idea, you probably will be, and through it experience the ancient and sophisticated Iranian culture first-hand. It’s these experiences that will live longest in the memory.

To See

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