20 Interesting Facts about Iran
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Formal name: Islamic Republic of Iran
Location of Iran: Iran is situated in Western Central Asia in the area commonly referred to as the Middle East. It was geographically known as Persia until as recently as the twentieth century. In the North and Northwest, it is bordered by the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan (not to be confused with its own Iranian Azerbaijan region), Armenia and the autonomous Nakhchivan enclave. To the West lie Turkey and Iraq. Its southern boundaries extend to the scenic shores of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. It is adjacent to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the East and Turkmenistan to the Northeast.
Capital: Tehran (located in its titular province).
Language: Linguistically diverse, Persian (Farsi) is spoken by the majority of Iranians. Several other related Indo-Iranian languages belonging to the Indo-European language family are spoken – Kurdish, Gilaki, Mazandarani, et al. Sizeable minority languages include Armenian, Azeri Turkish, Caucasian languages such as Georgian and Circadian, and Arabic, among others.
A large percentage of millennial Iranians speak moderate to advanced English. Tourist information is available in English at many hotels and cultural attractions. As expected, signs, services and general information in rural and remote areas are less likely to accommodate the Anglophone tourist than in more populated areas.
The Perso-Arabic alphabet is the national standard. However, some signs, menus and general information are posted in English.
20 Interesting Facts about Iran
In Persian, the word Iran means “Land of the Aryans.”
2In 2012, Iran’s police chief announced that Google is a tool for spying. Additionally, the Iranian government wants to form a “national Internet” that would be under state control.
3 In Iran, couples that want a marriage license are required to take an hour-long lecture on contraception.
Iran first participated in the Olympics in 1948 and has sent athletes to every Summer Olympic Games since then, except for 1980 and 1984. Iran has also participated in the winter Olympics multiple times since 1956.
5Approximately 14.2% of Iranians are obese, making it the 41st most obese country in the world. American Samoa is the largest, with 75% of its population obese. The United States is 6th in the world, with 33.9% of the population obese.
6The official name of Iran is the Islamic Republic of Iran. It became an Islamic republic in 1979 when the monarchy was overthrown and religious clerics assumed political power under supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
7Iran’s capital and largest city, Tehran, has some of the worst air pollution in the world. An estimated 27 people die a day from air pollution-related diseases.
8The current Iranian flag was adopted in 1980 and has three equal horizontal bands of green, white, and red. Green is the color of Islam and represents growth, white symbolizes honesty and peace, and red stands for bravery and martyrdom. Centered in the middle 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”).
9In 1953, the CIA was involved in a covert operation code named Operation Ajax to overthrow the democratically elected Iranian government of Prime Minister Masaddegh. In return, the Shah rewarded the United States with a 40% stake in Iran’s oil industry. When the Iranians learned of the United State’s role, they would distrust the United States for years to come.
10In 1979, a group of Islamist students and militants overtook the American Embassy in Tehran. In support of the Iranian revolution, they demanded that the United States hand over Shah Pahlavi, who was dying of cancer and receiving medical treatment in the U.S. After 444 days, just minutes after President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office, the hostages were released.
11During the Iran-Iraq War, the United States officially supported Iraq and put pressure on other countries to stop selling weapons to Iran. However, the U.S. itself was later found to have been quietly selling weapons to the country. The resulting scandal was Iran-gate, or the Iran-Contra scandal.
12Nearly half of Iran has an arid desert climate. It receives less than 4 inches of precipitation each year.
13The Persian Gulf holds 60% of the world’s oil reserves. Iran alone has reserves of 125 billion barrels of oil, or 10% of the world’s total reserves. Iran pumps nearly 4 million barrels of oil each day.
14Only one river in Iran, the Karun, may be navigated by boat, and then only for short distances.
15Iran is one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations, with settlements dating back to 4000 B.C.
16Approximately 70% of Iran’s population is under the age of 30.
17Girls and women over the age of nine must wear a hijab when out in public, even tourists.
18In Iran, men who do not marry stay with their natal family their entire life and are described as na-mard (not-men).
19An Iranian organization offered a reward of $3 million to anyone who killed Salman Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses. The book hinted that some of the verses of the Koran might not be real revelations from God and that the devil disguised himself to give Mohammed false ideas.
20Since ancient times, people in Iran have used a water supply system called a qanat (or kanat). It collects underground water and moves it through tunnels to places where people need it.