Persia, a land of ancient monuments and stunning works of art. A land joining the Mediterranean and India. A land of many contrast – ancient and modern, snow covered mountains and deserts. 

Read our list of 19 Interesting Facts about this land of crossroads, formerly known as Persia.

Mt. Damavand


1. The official name of Iran is the Islamic Republic of Iran. In Persian, the word Iran means “Land of the Aryans.” It became an Islamic republic in 1979 when the monarchy was overthrown. The former name of Iran was Persia, which was in use till 1935.

2. Iran is one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations. Its settlements date back to 4000 B.C.

3. The capital and Iran’s largest city is Tehran, which means “warm slope”. It has some of the worst air pollution in the world. It’s even estimated that 27 people die a day from air pollution-related diseases.

4. Current Iranian flag has three horizontal bands of green, white and red. Green respresent growth, white symbolizes honesty and peace, and red is for bravery and martyrdom. In the middle of the white band is the stylized representation of the word “Allah” and the phrase La ilaha illa Allah (“None is worthy of worship but Allah”) in the shape of a tulip. Along the inner edges of the green and red bands are 22 copies of the phrase Allahu Akbar (“God is great”).

5. Almost half of Iran has an arid desert climate – it receives less than 4 inches of precipitation each year.

6. The main mountain chain in Iran is the Zagros Mountains, a series of parallel ridges that bisect the country from northwast to southeast. Many peaks are over 3,000m (9,843 ft), and at least 5 peaks are over 4,000m (13,123 ft).

7. Rimming the Caspian Sea litoral is the other major chain of Mountains, called Elburz Mountains (also spelled Alborz, Albourz, and in Persian Reshteh-ye Kūhhā-ye Alborz). It’s 900 km long and traverses virtually all of the north portions of the country. In the center of the Elborz Mountains is the volcanic Mount Damavand (5,610m (18,406ft)) – country’s highest peak, and also the highest mountain on the Eurasian landmass.

8. The river Karun is the only river in Iran that can be navigated by boat, and then only for short distances.

9. 60% of the world’s oil reserves lie in the Persian Gulf. Iran alone reserves 10% of the world’s total reserves. It pumps nearly 4 million barrels of oil daily.

10. In 1979, Iran reverted from a legal system to Islamic law. Women under this law are not considered legally or mentally equal to the males. Children are perceived as the “substance of male”. In the case of divorce, women lose all custody of children.

11. All females over the age of nine must wear hijab in public. The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) banned the hijab in 2007, which prevented the Iranian women’s soccer team from playing in 2012 Olympics.

12. Iran is famous for its luxurious rugs that are wovwe for over 2,500 years. Iranian weavers often make a mistake intentionally to show their belief that “only God is perfect”.

13. Besides carpets and beautiful; poetry, Iran is also famous for its lush gardens. The English word “paradise” comes from a Persian words that means “enclosed garden”.

14. The game of Polo was played in Iran as early as the 6th century B.C., mainly as training for the cavalry.

15. The largest desert in Iran is Dast-e-Kavir, in the north-central part of the country. All of Iran’s deserts are classified as “rain shadow” because the mountain ranges that surround them are too high for rain to reach them.  

16. Lūt Desert (Persian Dasht-e Lūt) stretches for about 320km from northwest to southeast of Iran. In its lowest, salt-filled depression (only 300m above sea level), the heat and low humidity are believed to be unsurpassed anywhere.

17. Iran built the earliest known windmills in 9th century. They resembled large paddle wheels.

18. Satellite television is banned in Iran, but you can still see receiver dishes on top of many houses.

19. Couples that want to marry in Iran are required to take an hour long lecture on contraception.

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