Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmenistan to the north, by Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east, and by the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf to the south. It covers an area of 1.64 million square kilometers (0.63 million square miles), making it the 17th-largest country. Iran has a population of 86 million, making it the 17th-most populous country in the world, and the second-largest in the Middle East. Its largest cities, in descending order, are the capital Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Karaj, Shiraz, and Tabriz.
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 2017, GDP was $427.7 billion ($1.631 trillion at PPP), or $20,000 at PPP per capita. Iran is ranked as a lower-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.
Country core competencies
Iran has two major resource competences which can be used serves the world:
_Highly professional and physicians and surgeons
_Talented engineers especially in energy industries
These competences are based on cultural tendencies toward medicine and engineering among the Iranian families. Almost All talented intelligent students in Iran compete for these two professions.
These two advantages make Iran shining in:
Engineering and construction services
Although tourism declined significantly during the war with Iraq, it has been subsequently recovered. About 1,659,000 foreign tourists visited Iran in 2004, and 2.3 million in 2009, mostly from Asian countries, including the republics of Central Asia, while about 10% came from the European Union and North America. Since the removal of some sanctions against Iran in 2015, tourism has re-surged in the country. Over five million tourists visited Iran in the fiscal year of 2014–2015, four percent more than the previous year.
Alongside the capital, the most popular tourist destinations are Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shiraz. In the early 2000s, the industry faced serious limitations in infrastructure, communications, industry standards, and personnel training. The majority of the 300,000 travel visas granted in 2003 were obtained by Asian Muslims, who presumably intended to visit pilgrimage sites in Mashhad and Qom. Several organized tours from Germany, France, and other European countries come to Iran annually to visit archaeological sites and monuments. In 2003, Iran ranked 68th in tourism revenues worldwide. According to the UNESCO and the deputy head of research for Iran’s Tourism Organization, Iran is rated fourth among the top 10 destinations in the Middle East. Domestic tourism in Iran is one of the largest in the world.
Iran’s official calendar is the Solar Hejri calendar, beginning at the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, which was first enacted by the Iranian Parliament on 31 March 1925. Each of the 12 months of the Solar Hejri calendar correspond with a zodiac sign, and the length of each year is absolutely solar. The months are named after the ancient Iranian months, namely Farvardin (Fravaši), Ordibehešt (Aša Vahišta), Xordād (Haurvatāt), Tir (Tištrya), Amordād (Amərətāt), Šahrivar (Xšaθra Vairya), Mehr (Miθra), Ābān (Āpō), Āzar (Ātar), Dey (Daθuš), Bahman (Vohu Manah), and Esfand (Spəntā Ārmaiti).
Legal public holidays based on the Iranian solar calendar include the cultural celebrations of Nowruz (Farvardin 1–4; 21–24 March) and Sizdebedar (Farvardin 13; 2 April), and the political events of Islamic Republic Day (Farvardin 12; 1 April), the death of Ruhollah Khomeini (Khordad 14; 4 June), the Khordad 15 event (Khordad 15; 5 June), the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution (Bahman 22; 10 February), and Oil Nationalization Day (Esfand 29; 19 March).
Lunar Islamic public holidays include Tasua (Muharram 9), Ashura (Muharram 10), Arba’een (Safar 20), the death of Muhammad (Safar 28), the death of Ali al-Ridha (Safar 29 or 30), the birthday of Muhammad (Rabi-al-Awwal 17), the death of Fatimah (Jumada-al-Thani 3), the birthday of Ali (Rajab 13), Muhammad’s first revelation (Rajab 27), the birthday of Muhammad al-Mahdi (Sha’ban 15), the death of Ali (Ramadan 21), Eid al-Fitr (Shawwal 1–2), the death of Ja’far al-Sadiq (Shawwal 25), Eid al-Qurban (Zulhijja 10), and Eid al-Qadir (Zulhijja 18).
Chelow kabab (rice and kebab), one of Iran’s national dishes
Due to its variety of ethnic groups and the influences from the neighboring cultures, the cuisine of Iran is diverse. Herbs, along with fruits such as plums, pomegranate, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins, are frequently used. To achieve a balanced taste, characteristic flavorings such as saffron, dried lime, cinnamon, and parsley are mixed delicately and used in some special dishes. Onion and garlic are commonly used in the preparation of the accompanying course, but are also served separately during meals, either in raw or pickled form.
Iranian cuisine includes a wide range of main dishes, including various types of kebab, pilaf, stew (khoresh), soup and āsh, and omelette. Lunch and dinner meals are commonly accompanied by side dishes such as plain yogurt or mast-o-khiar, sabzi, salad Shirazi, and torshi, and might follow dishes such as borani, Mirza Qasemi, or kashk e bademjan as the appetizer.
An Iranian tea (čāy) tray served near Garden of Mausoleum of Omar Khayyam in Nishapur
In Iranian culture, tea (čāy) is widely consumed. Iran is the world’s seventh major tea producer, and a cup of tea is typically the first thing offered to a guest. One of Iran’s most popular desserts is the falude, consisting of vermicelli in a rose water syrup, which has its roots in the fourth century BC. There is also the popular saffron ice cream, known as bastani sonnati (“traditional ice cream”), which is sometimes accompanied with carrot juice. Iran is also famous for its caviar.
Iran is most likely the birthplace of polo, locally known as čowgān, with its earliest records attributed to the ancient Medes. Freestyle wrestling is traditionally considered the national sport of Iran, and the national wrestlers have been world champions on many occasions. Iran’s traditional wrestling, called košti e pahlevāni (“heroic wrestling”), is registered on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Skiers at the Dizin Ski Resort
Being a mountainous country, Iran is a venue for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing, and mountain climbing. It is home to several ski resorts, the most famous being Tochal, Dizin, and Shemshak, all within one to three hours traveling from the capital city Tehran. The resort of Tochal, located in the Alborz mountain rage, is the world’s fifth-highest ski resort (3,730 m or 12,238 ft at its highest station).
Iran’s National Olympic Committee was founded in 1947. Wrestlers and weightlifters have achieved the country’s highest records at the Olympics. In September 1974, Iran became the first country in West Asia to host the Asian Games. The Azadi Sport Complex, the largest sports complex in Iran, was originally built for this occasion.
The Azadi Stadium in Tehran is West Asia’s largest football stadium.
Football has been regarded as the most popular sport in Iran, with the men’s national team having won the Asian Cup on three occasions. The men’s national team has maintained its position as Asia’s best team, ranking first in Asia and 22nd in the world according to the FIFA World Rankings (as of September 2021).
Volleyball is the second most popular sport in Iran. Having won the 2011 and 2013 Asian Men’s Volleyball Championships, the men’s national team is currently the strongest team in Asia, and ranks eighth in the FIVB World Rankings (as of July 2017).
Basketball is also popular, with the men’s national team having won three Asian Championships since 2007.
In 2016, Iran made global headlines for international female champions boycotting tournaments in Iran in chess (U.S. Woman Grandmaster Nazí Paikidze) and in shooting (Indian world champion Heena Sidhu), as they refused to enter a country where they would be forced to wear a hijab.