The Islamic Republic of Iran forms part of the group of Western Asia’s sovereign states. The country is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, and Turkey. Iran has a total land area of 1648.2 square kilometers, making it the 18th largest country in the world and the second largest in the Middle East. With a population of 78.4 million, the country is the 17th most populous country in the world. Its geostrategic importance is due to its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz. Iran exerts considerable influence on international energy security due to its supply of natural gas. Iran has cities spread across the country. The capital city of Iran is Tehran. Some of the biggest Iranian cities are looked at below.
Tehran is the capital city of both the nation of Iran and Tehran Province. It is the also the country's biggest and its most populated city with a population of 15,232,564. The city is the second largest in Western Asia, third largest in the Middle East, and the world’s 29th most populous city. In 1776, Agha Mohammad Khan, who was king of Qajar, chose Tehran as the capital of Iran. Currently, the city is home to diverse ethnic groups. Tehrani accent of the Persian language is the native language spoken in the city. The majority of Tehran population is Twelver Shia Muslims with Sunni and Christians forming the minority. The city is the economic hub of Iran with 30% of the workforce and 45% of industrial firms in the country. Tehran is also a major tourist’s destination in the country because of the wealth of cultural attractions.
Mashhad is the capital of Razavi Khorasan Province and Iran’s second most populous city with a population of 2,782,976. Mashhad is an Arabic name meaning “the place of martyrdom” because the eighth Iman of Shia Muslim, Ali ar-Ridha, was martyred there. The outstanding mosque, which still stands to date, was built in 1418 during the reign of Timurid Shahrukh Mirza. Mashhad played a significant role as a political and religious city in the 18th Century. The city is currently under the administration of Mashhad County. Mashhad is the second largest automobile production hub in Iran. Its economy is based on fruits, sweets, precious stones, and religious souvenirs. Mashhad is also the tourism hub in Iran with over 55% of hotels.
Isfahan is the capital of Isfahan Province and a home to 2,391,738 inhabitants. The city was once the largest in the world and flourished between 1050 and 1722 under Safavid dynasty. The city has retained some of its past glory including Persian-Islamic Architecture. Isfahan city center is currently the world’s fifth largest shopping mall. The city is a major tourism hub with several sites including bazaars, bridges, Cathedrals, garden parks, houses, tombs, minarets, mosques, museums, and schools. Isfahan is also known for the production of the Persian rug, beryouni dish, music, and sports.
Karaj is the capital of Alborz Province and home to 1,967,005 inhabitants. Safavid and Qajar dynasties played a significant role in the development of this city in the 30th Century BC. Karaj was initially known for summer resort but today it is one of the major industrial cities in Iran. Middle-Class migrants from Tehran prefer to settle in this city because of cheaper housing and favorable weather conditions.
Other major cities in Iran include Tabriz, Shiraz, Qom, and Ahvaz, each with over 1 million residents. Kermanshah and Urmia round out the top ten list of the populous cities in Iran with 851,405 and 963,738 inhabitants, respectively.