"Persia" redirects here. For other uses, see Persia (disambiguation).
This article is about the modern nation. For other uses, see Iran (disambiguation).
Islamic Republic of Iran
جمهوری اسلامی ایران
Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān
Flag of Iran
Emblem of Iran
Flag Emblem
استقلال، آزادی، جمهوری اسلامی
Esteqlāl, Āzādi, Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi
"Independence, freedom, the Islamic Republic"
( de facto) [1]
Anthem: مهر خاوران
Location of Iran
and largest city
35°41′N 51°25′E / 35.683°N 51.417°E / 35°41′N 51°25′E / 35.683; 51.417
Official languages Persian
Recognised regional languages
Religion Official:
Islam ( Shia)
Other recognized religions:
Demonym Iranian, Persian
Government de jure:
Islamic Republic
de facto:
Theocratic- republican hybrid; unitary presidential republic subject to a Supreme Leader [3]
Ali Khamenei
•  President
Hassan Rouhani
Ali Larijani
Sadeq Larijani
Legislature Islamic Consultative Assembly
Unification [4]
c. 678 BC
550 BC
224 AD [5]
1501 [6]
1 April 1979
24 October 1979
28 July 1989
• Total
1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi) ( 17th)
• Water (%)
• 2016 estimate
82.8 million [7] ( 18th)
• Density
48/km2 (124.3/sq mi) ( 162nd)
GDP ( PPP) 2016 estimate
• Total
$1.459 trillion [8] ( 18th)
• Per capita
$18,135 [8]
GDP (nominal) 2016 estimate
• Total
$412.3 billion [8] ( 27th)
• Per capita
$5,124 [8]
Gini (2013) 37.4 [9]
HDI (2014) Increase 0.766 [10]
high ·  69th
Currency Rial ( ریال) ( IRR)
Time zone IRST ( UTC+3:30)
• Summer ( DST)
IRDT ( UTC+4:30)
Date format yyyy/mm/dd ( SH)
Drives on the right
Calling code +98
ISO 3166 code IR
Internet TLD

Iran ( /ɪˈrɑːn/ Listen, also /ɪˈræn/, /ˈræn/; [11] [12] Persian: ایران‎‎ Irān [ʔiːˈɾɒːn] Listen), also known as Persia ( US /ˈpɜːrʒə/, UK /ˈpɜːrʃə/), [13] officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (جمهوری اسلامی ایران Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān [d͡ʒomhuːˌɾiːje eslɒːˌmiːje ʔiːˈɾɒːn]), is a sovereign state in Western Asia. [14] [15] It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia, the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and Azerbaijan; 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. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second-largest country in the Middle East and the 18th-largest in the world. With 82.8 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 17th-most-populous country. [16] [17] It is the only country with both a Caspian Sea and an Indian Ocean coastline. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, make it of great geostrategic importance. [18] Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic center.

Iran is heir to one of the world's oldest civilizations, [19] [20] beginning with the formation of the Proto-Elamite and Elamite kingdoms in 3200–2800 BC. The area was first unified by the Iranian Medes in 625 BC, who became the dominant cultural and political power in the region. [4] Iran reached its greatest geographic extent during the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC, which at one time stretched from parts of Eastern Europe in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east, making it the largest empire the world had yet seen. [21] The empire collapsed in 330 BC following the conquests of Alexander the Great, but reemerged shortly after as the Parthian Empire. Under the Sassanid Dynasty, Iran again became one of the leading powers in the world for the next four centuries. [22] [23]

Beginning in 633 AD, Arabs conquered Iran and largely displaced the indigenous faiths of Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism by Islam. Iran became a major contributor to the Islamic Golden Age that followed, producing many influential scientists, scholars, artists, and thinkers. The rise of the Safavid Dynasty in 1501 led to the establishment of Twelver Shia Islam as the official religion of Iran, marking one of the most important turning points in Iranian and Muslim history. [6] [24] During the 18th century, Iran reached its greatest territorial extent since the Sassanid Empire, and under Nader Shah briefly possessed what was arguably the most powerful empire at the time. [25] Through the late 18th and 19th centuries, a series of conflicts with Russia led to significant territorial losses and the erosion of sovereignty. [26] [27] Popular unrest culminated in the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906, which established a constitutional monarchy and the country's first legislative body, the Majles. Following a coup d'état instigated by the U.K. and the U.S. in 1953, Iran gradually became closely aligned with the West but grew increasingly autocratic. [28] Growing dissent against foreign influence and political repression led to the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of an Islamic republic. [17]

Iran is a major regional and middle power, [29] [30] and its large reserves of fossil fuels — which include the largest natural gas supply in the world and the fourth-largest proven oil reserves [31] [32] — exert considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy. Iran's rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the third-largest number in Asia and 11th-largest in the world. [33]

Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, and OPEC. Its political system is based on the 1979 Constitution which combines elements of a parliamentary democracy with a theocracy governed by Islamic jurists under the concept of a Supreme Leadership. A multicultural country comprising numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, most inhabitants are Shia Muslims and Persian is the official language. [34]


Main article: Name of Iran

The term Iran derives directly from Middle Persian Ērān, first attested in a 3rd-century inscription at Rustam Relief, with the accompanying Parthian inscription using the term Aryān, in reference to Iranians. [35] The Middle Iranian ērān and aryān are oblique plural forms of gentilic ēr- (Middle Persian) and ary- (Parthian), both deriving from Proto-Iranian *arya- (meaning " Aryan", i.e. "of the Iranians"), [35] [36] argued to descend from Proto-Indo-European *ar-yo-, meaning "skillful assembler". [37] In the Iranian languages, the gentilic is attested as a self-identifier included in ancient inscriptions and the literature of Avesta, [38] [a] and remains also in other Iranian ethnic names such as Alans ( Ossetic: Ир – Ir) and Iron ( Ossetic: Ирон – Iron). [36]

Historically, Iran has been referred to as Persia by the West, due mainly to the writings of Greek historians who called Iran Persis ( Greek: Περσίς), [39] meaning "land of the Persians". As the most extensive interactions the Ancient Greeks had with any outsider was with the Persians, the term persisted, even long after the Persian rule in Greece. However, Persis ( Old Persian: Pārśa; Modern Persian: Pārse) was originally referred to a region settled by Persians in the west shore of Lake Urmia, in the 9th century BC. The settlement was then shifted to the southern end of the Zagros Mountains, and is today defined as Fars Province.

In 1935, Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, Iran. As the New York Times explained at the time, "At the suggestion of the Persian Legation in Berlin, the Tehran government, on the Persian New Year, Nowruz, March 21, 1935, substituted Iran for Persia as the official name of the country." Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision, and Professor Ehsan Yarshater, editor of Encyclopædia Iranica, propagated a move to use Persia and Iran interchangeably. [40] Today, both Persia and Iran are used in cultural contexts; although, Iran is the name used officially in political contexts. [41]

Historical and cultural usage of the word Iran is not restricted to the modern state proper. [42] [43] [44] " Greater Iran" (Irānzamīn or Irān e Bozorg) [45] correspond to territories of the Iranian cultural and linguistic zones. In addition to modern Iran, it includes portions of the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Central Asia. [46]