Iran is a desert country (10% of arable land) consisting of a plateau and mountain ranges to the west (Zagros), north (Alborz) and east.
The highest point is Mt Damavand 5.671 m near Tehran, the lowest is the coast of the Caspian Sea (-28m).
The climate is dry everywhere except on the coast of the Caspian, where it is humid subtropical.
Its total area is: 1,648,195 km2 or 636,000 sq mi (Iran is the 18th largest country in the world).
The country has land borders with Afghanistan 935 km, Armenia 35 km (22mi), Azerbaijan 611 km (268mi), Iraq 1,458 km (906mi), Pakistan 909 km (565mi), Turkey 499 km (310mi), Turkmenistan 992 km (616mi).
In 2010 population is estimated at 76,923,300, 70% living in cities. Capital Tehran is a city of more than 12 million inhabitants, Mashhad 2,926,000, Isfahan 1,598,000, Shiraz 1,271,000, Tabriz 1,222,000.
33% of the population is under 18.
Several ethnic groups make up the Iranian people: Persians 51%, Azeri 24%, Mazandaran & Gilaki 8%, Kurds 7%, Arabs 3%, Lurs 2%, Balochs 2%, Turkmen 2%, others 1%.
So there are several languages spoken in Iran: Persian 58%, Turkish 27%, Kurdish 9%, Lur 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, other 2%
The dominant religion is Shia 89%, Sunni 9%, others (Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian and Baha'i (forbidden) under 2%).
Economic sectors: industry: 45% services: 44%, agriculture 11%.
3rd largest producer of gas, fourth for oil, Iran also produces coal, copper, lead, manganese, sulfur, zinc.
The country seems self-sufficient in staple food: rice, wheat, dairy, sugar, water, cattle, sheep, poultry.
The country is a big exporter to China 16.58%, Japan 11.9%, India 10.54% South Korea 7.54%, 4.36% Turkey.
The most important imports are from the UAE 15.14%, China 13.48%, Germany 9.66% South Korea 7.16%, Italy 5.27%, Russia 4.81% and India 4.12%.
Administrative divisions: 31 provinces
Alborz, Ardabil, West Azerbaijan, is Azerbaijan, Bushehr, Chahar Mahal Bakhtiari will, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshah, South Khorasan Razavi Khorasan, North Khorasan, Khuzestan, Bowyer will Kohgiluyeh Ahmad, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan.
The exact name of the country: Islamic Republic of Iran since April 1, 1979, when the revolution.
Iranian Flag: three equal bands green (color of Islam), white (color of honesty) and red (color of martyrdom) with the national emblem in the center: the word "Allah" written in calligraphy in the shape of a tulip. "Allah Akbar" (God is great) in Arabic is written 11 times on the upper edge of the red band and the lower edge of the green band.
Iran is the only country where power belongs to the religious.
There are two leaders in Iran: the Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Khamenei, and President of the Republic, elected by universal suffrage, now Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He is head of government and appoints his ministers (there is more than Prime Minister).
The Supreme Leader, as its name suggests is the number one, it is a religious leader, army chief, he may remove the President of the Republic. He is chosen by an Assembly of Experts composed exclusively of religious (Shia clercs) and elected by universal suffrage.
Khamenei Ahmadinejad Rohani
There is a elected legislature, the Majlis, which passes laws that have not undergone the veto of the Council of Guardians.
The Guardian Council ensures compliance with the 1979 Constitution and respect for Islamic law (Sharia).
The head of the judiciary is appointed by the Supreme Leader.
There are public courts, revolutionary tribunals and special clerical court. The last two are final. The death penalty (usually by hanging) is used to arm circumference (Iran is the second country that practice the most after China). The stoning of adulterers seems to be no longer practiced since 2002.
If the police obey the political authorities, the army depends on the religious power. It can also count on the Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran), para-military institution with a high social and economic influence (the Basijis are a subset of tasks including providing policing).
Long known as Persia, Iran is so named since 1935. "Iran" comes from the Persian "Eran shahr": kingdom of Aryan (people of Central Asia who settled in Iran in the 3rd millennium BC).
-2000 The region known occupation of the Elamites, Assyrians and Medes nomads.
-612 First Persian Empire established by the tribe Achaemenid Persian: kings Cyrus I, II, Cambyses, Darius I, II, III, Xerxes I, II, Artaxerxes I, II ... Wars (medication) against the Greeks.
-332 Conquest by Alexander the Great. Burning of Persepolis.
-323 Seleucid kingdom established by General Alexander Seleucus.
- 62 Domination by the Parthians nomadic tribes.
224 Second Persian Empire under the reign of the Sassanid empire calling them "Iranshahr" (Kingdom of Aryans).
Period of prosperity and cultural influence abroad.
642 Arab invasion and Islamization of the country but not Arabization: conservation of cultural identity Persian.
1051 Domination by Turkish Seljuks.
1219 Mongol invasion by Genghis Khan and devastation of the country.
1380 Invasion by the Turco-Mongol Timur and Timurid reign.
1507 Third Persian Empire with the Safavids. Iran is Shiite.
1736 Afghan invasion by Nadir Shah and release.
1750 reunification of the country by Karim Khan Zand.
1795 Qajar Dynasty. Period of prosperity but passing under the influences imperialist Russian and British.
1925 Dynasty Pahvlavi. Iran is modernizing, but is subject to British and American interests.
1979 Revolution and establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Imam Khomeini returned from exile in France, became Supreme Leader of the Revolution.
1980 Iran-Iraq War.
1989 End of war and death of Khomeini. Imam Khamenei to the highest functions.
2005 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Teheran's mayor) is elected président.
2009 Controversial reelection of Ahmadinejad.
2013 Hassan Rohani (moderate cleric) is elected president.
2015 Historic agreement between the United States and Iran on the nuclear program and economic sanctions.
2016 january 16: Iran sanctions lifted
Sources: Cia World Factbook, Wikipedia