Iran is a country in the Middle East that borders seven countries, including Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and Turkmenistan. It also borders the Gulf of Oman, the Caspian Sea, and Persian Sea. The country is mainly arid or semi-arid and experiences subtropical climate particularly along the Caspian coast. The country has a mean elevation of 1,035 meters, and the highest point is Kuh-e Damavand with an elevation of 5,670 meters while the lowest point is in the Caspian Sea with an elevation of 28 meters below the sea level. Iran has an area of 1,648,195 square kilometers and is one of the world’s most mountainous countries. The Iranian Plateau covers an extensive area in the country. The Caucasus, Zagros, and Elburz Mountain Ranges house some of the highest mountains in Iran.
Mount Damavand stands at 18,410 feet. The volcanic mountain is in the middle of the Elburz Range. Elburz mountain range runs from west to east of Iran along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. The Elburz mountain range provides a natural barrier between the arid plateaus in central Iran and the moist slopes on the Caspian coast. Mount Damavand is integral to Persian mythology. According to a popular legend, a three-head dragon was chained to the mountain to stay there until the end times. The mountain is so significant that it is printed on Iranian 10,000 Rial banknote. Mount Damavand is also believed to have magical powers. The hot springs found on the sides of the mountain indicate volcanic activity beneath the surface. The mountain has a wealth of wildlife that includes wild goats and sheep, bears, and leopards. Multiple bird species are also found on the mountain. Wildflowers such as Mountain Tulips can be found all over Damavand. A group of mountaineers has proposed to have Mount Damavand declared a national heritage site. An ancient festivity known as Tabari Nowruz is set to be named after the Mountain.
Mount Alam-Kuh is the second highest mountain in Iran at the height of 15.906 feet. It is also part of the Elburz Mountain Range in northern Iran. The northern slopes facing the Caspian Sea are humid and covered with vegetation while the southern slopes facing Iranian desert are dry and barren. The mountain top is covered with snow throughout the year.
Mount Sabalan is an inactive volcano, also in the Elburz mountain range. It stands at 15,748 feet and is the third highest mountain in Iran. The mountain is endowed with magnificent scenes. The mountain has a lake at the top which is frozen for the most of the year. Mineral springs said to have healing properties run down the mountain slopes. The mountain has a majestic Eagle Statue carved out by nature. The mountain is a famous tourist attraction in Iran. Additionally, it has religious significance for people who practice Zoroastrianism. These people believe that Zoroaster, founder of Zoroastrianism, meditated on Mount Sabalan.
Mount Azud Kuh is among the highest mountains in Iran, standing at a height of 14,288 feet. Azud Kuh means ‘free mountain’ in Persian. Iranian natives gave it the name due to its prominent peak that stands alone. The mountain has beautiful vegetation comprising of meadows. Mount Azud Kuh is often visited by mountain climbers due to its unique landscapes.
Geopolitical Significance of Iran's Mountains
Half of Iran’s landscape is covered by mountain ranges. The Elburz and Zagros are the two most significant of these mountain ranges. The mountain ranges provide enormous benefits to Iran. The mountains form natural barriers to the central region in Iran. Spring water that runs down the mountains is said to have healing properties. Nomadic communities graze on the mountain slopes. Also, ardent mountain climbers who flock Iran contribute to the country’s ecotourism sector. Iran has protested Afghan’s limiting flow of water on Helmand River because of the dammed river tributaries, particularly during the dry seasons. A lack of a maritime boundary of Iraq with Iran has created some jurisdiction disputes between the two countries that go beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf. On the other hand, the United Arab Emirates and Iran have been disputing the Abu Musa Island and Tunb Islands. The Caspian Sea has been the center of a dispute between some countries, including Azerbaijan, Russia, and Kazakhstan, who have ratified the Caspian seabed delimitation treaty based on the equidistant proximity of each country, though Iran insists on a one-fifth share of the sea.