The Islamic Republic of Iran, also called Persia, is a Western Asian country with a population of 82 million. Iran's history spans thousands of years. Hundreds of empires including some of the ancient world's most powerful ones have ruled in Persia and left their mark in the art, architecture, and culture of the country. Iran has great ethnic diversity and some of the most spectacular human-made creations. Below is a list of some of the most interesting facts about Iran.
10. Iran Is The Birthplace Of One Of The World's Oldest Civilizations
The Elamite kingdoms in the 4th millennium BCE were some of the oldest civilizations in the world. Iran was part of the Achaemenid Empire or the First Persian Empire from about 550 BC to 330 BC. Later, the region was ruled by the Hellenistic states, Parthian Empire, Sasanian Empire, and finally the Arab Muslims in the 7th century CE who ruled for several centuries.
9. Iran Is One Of The Few Muslim Countries With Shia Muslims As A Majority
Twelver Shia Islam is the official state religion of Iran. 90 to 95% of the Iranian population adhere to this religion. Only 4 to 8% of the Iranian Muslims are Sunni Muslims. The remaining population includes Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews, Bahais, and others. The religious demographics of the country were different in the past. During the Median to the Sasanian eras, Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism were Iran's dominant religions. Following the Muslim conquest, however, Islamization of the population occurred. The region was predominantly Sunni until the 16th century when the population was converted to Shia Islam by the order of the Safavid dynasty.
8. Iran Is An Energy Superpower
Iran is known for its massive reserves of fossil fuels. It has the world's second-biggest proved gas reserves after Russia and ranks third in the world in natural gas production. It also has the world's fourth-biggest oil reserves. Iran is also developing renewable sources of energy to meet its future needs. In 2008, Iran opened its first geothermal and wind-powered plants. Iran also built the second nuclear power in the Middle East in 2011 in Bushire.
7. Iran Has The Third Highest Number Of UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Asia
Iran is known for its rich history that spans thousands of years. As such, it is not surprising that the country hosts numerous sites that bear witness to the country's past. Thus, Iran has 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the third-highest in Asia after China and India. Of these 24 sites, 22 are cultural sites and the remaining 2 are natural. In 1979, the Meidan Emam, Persepolis, and Tchogha Zanbil were the first sites in Iran to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site. As of August 2019, the Hyrcanian Forests, a natural site, was the most recent site to be inscribed by the UNESCO.
6. Iran Is The Only Home To The Critically Endangered Asiatic Cheetah
The Asiatic cheetah or Persian cheetah is a subspecies of the cheetah that is on the brink of extinction. It was once widespread in the Arabian Peninsula and into the Near East and the Indian subcontinent. However, today Iran is the last home of this majestic predator. It survives in some protected areas in Iran's eastern-central arid region. Fewer than 50 individuals of these cheetahs are thought to remain in the wild. The image of the cheetah was printed on the jerseys of the Iran national football team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It was done to raise awareness about the need to conserve this animal.
5. Iranian Or Persian Carpets Are World Famous
The carpet weaving craft of Iran traces its origins in the Bronze Age. Later, it became famous worldwide and trade in Persian carpets has thrived since ancient times. Handmade Iranian carpets are praised for their exquisite beauty and finesse and treated as luxury items. These carpets can be seen in the royal palaces and highly affluent households in different parts of the world. Iran is the world's largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets. It has a 30% share in the carpet export markets of the world.
4. The Adorable Persian Cat Breed Originated In Iran
The Persian Longhair is a breed of cat characterized by long hair, round face, and short muzzle. The first documented ancestors of this breed were brought to Italy from Rome in the first half of the 17th century. The cat was then bred by Europeans and soon became a pet on high demand.
3. Iranian Cuisine Is Known For Its Numerous Delicacies
The cooking traditions of Iran, also called Persian cuisine, is praised worldwide. The cuisine includes a wide range of dishes like kebab, pilaf, mast-o-khiar, salad Shirazi, torshi, etc. The Iranian dishes are usually prepared with a generous addition of various spices. The intense flavors and mouthwatering aromas of such food are the delights of any food lover. Iranian cuisine has also influenced other cuisines worldwide.
2. Iran Is The Birthplace Of The Unique Pahlevani And Zourkhaneh Rituals
A traditional system of athletics was used to train the ancient Persian warriors. It was called "Pahlevani And Zourkhaneh." Today, these rituals are performed in parts of Iran, Azerbaijan, and Iraq. It combines martial arts, strength training, music, and calisthenics. UNESCO recognizes this system as the world's longest-running form of such training. Elements from the pre-Islamic Persian culture, Sufism, and spirituality of Shia Islam are combined to give Pahlevani And Zourkhaneh.
1. Iran Has The Highest Volcano In Asia
Mount Damavand, the highest peak in Iran, is Asia's highest volcano. It is 5,609.2 m tall. The volcano is located in the Alborz range near the southern coast of the Caspian Sea in Iran's Mazandaran Province. Mount Damavand is also Asia's second most prominent peak after Mount Everest and the 12th most prominent in the world.
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