About Iran


Iran (pronounced ee-RAHN), formerly known as Persia, is situated at the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia, and the Arab states of the Middle East. This strategic position—and its access to the Persian Gulf in the south—have made Iran an important country throughout its history.

Much of Iran is cut off from the outside world by a beautiful but often lonely landscape. High, rugged mountains create a barrier with Iran's neighbors in the west, and the eastern region is covered by a barren, salty desert.

In Iran's north, a narrow, fertile strip borders the Caspian Sea, and in the south, lowlands rim the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Most people in Iran live along the edges of a high plateau that runs through the middle of the country.

Map created by National GeographiPEOPLE & CULTURE

Strong religious beliefs have been part of Iranians' lives for thousands of years. Almost all Iranians are Muslim, or followers of Islam. The religion is central to daily life.

Iran has a long history of scholarship that has created a rich culture of art, literature, poetry, music, cuisine, and architecture. Ancient Iranian thinkers wrote influential texts on philosophy and medicine, and it was an Iranian mathematician who invented algebra. Iran's universities are among the most respected in the Middle EaNATURE

Not long ago, Iran was home to many lions, tigers, and other big cats. Unfortunately these sleek hunters are now very rare, and some species have gone extinct. Only a handful of Asiatic cheetahs and Persian leopards remain.

Iran has several reserves and parks where wildlife thrives. One, called Kavir National Park, is located in the north-central region and is known as "Little Africa" because its plants and animals resemble those of Africa. This park is home to Iran's only cheetahs.

Iran's mountains in the north and west have dense forests that offer habitat for brown bears, wild goats, wolves, and leopards. The country's central plateau is home to deer, gazelles, hyenas, and jackals, among other animals.st.c Maps

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