Population: 70.7 million (UN, 2005) Capital: Tehran Area: 1.65 million sq km (636,313 sq miles) Major language: Persian Major religion: Islam Life expectancy: 69 years (men), 72 years (women) (UN) Monetary unit: 10 Iranian rials = 1 toman
Iran is a massive slab of Middle Eastern territory sandwiched between dangerous frontier of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the East, and Iraq to the East. Iran is a nation that suffers a serious image problem brought about by the tumult of its adjacent countries and bad international press, that is, sadly, at times true. The stigma of its official name Islamic Republic of Iran may effect on an amateur traveller some shuddering. But rest of the world perhaps remains mystified. Ever heard of Persian colours? This is a famous runner for Iran tourism promotions, and by being here in this vibrant nation of gold, red, and blue hues would enlighten the traveller as to why. Surely, anybody has heard of the Persian Gulf, where many battles were waged, or the blockbuster 300, which made waves in Iran more for the politics of the movie than the breakthrough in cinematography that it is. Just don’t cross to Iran via these aforementioned borders, or a mighty danger you’re getting yourself there.
GEOGRAPHY & CLIMATE
Iran is one of those countries one needs to take for what it is, that is the “Land of attractions.” Iran is nothing like a sand dune with uninteresting land features, where political distress and violence are exclusive past times. The vast landscape of the 18th largest country in the world by territory with all sorts of natural scenery, offers warm arid deserts, cool humid forests, even cooler snow-capped rugged mountains, and flower-filled plains, all 1,648,000 km2 of Iranian territory. The Mt. Damavand is the highest point of the country at an altitude of 5671 metres, an ordeal and an excitement to trek. To be found in the Middle East, 35 40 N, 51 25 E, the climate is so diverse in terms of region: the heat and cold extremes of north summer and winters, respectively, and the subtropical climate along the Caspian coast. The high time to enjoy the beauty-laden nation is springtime (or fall) during which weather won’t be a concern, just the visa, which most nationalities can acquire at the airport for a validity of no more than a week.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
Persians (or Iranians) refer to the modern population of Iran, specifically an ethnic group, as one might look back at its ancient name “Persia”. These people are an ancient and mysterious civilization like Egypt and China, and relevant a nation as the super powers United States and Germany, to which it was linked to for Hitler’s third Reich ideology and perverse use of “Aryan supremacy”. In truth, the Iranians are an especially sophisticated and intelligent people, who are taking baby steps toward riding with the world. A current issue however is how much of their traditions they are willing to give up to catch pace with the outside world, but with a literacy of around 80% of the population, we know they are well on their way to opening up. Persians are the dominant ethno-linguistic group that signifies more than 50% of the 70 million people, of which around 80% is the PERSIAN-speaker (also FARSI) demographic-one language out of more than 70 others. ENGLISH is a language of priority to business matters, particularly, and knowing how to speak English is synonymous to “literacy”. Also, children, as young as 7, learn the language, as English is, after all, the global language.
FOOD & ATTRACTION
Iran will capture the traveller’s heart and awaken an underlying sense of adventure, for it is “foreign” in all essence of the word in that it feels like standing in a front of a dimensional door. A feast to the eyes, the colours are popping contrasts everywhere, the red roofs, blue tile interiors, gold columns, rainbow-tainted windows, no less. Persepolis, the centre of the great Persian empire, is one of the, if not the superior highlight of Iran- what a sight! This is the most supreme creation of antiquity that basks ravishingly not only in beauty, but in significance. One cannot encompass the sophistication, intelligence, and creativity of the Persians without being here. The past and the future- these are Iran’s wealth. Modern entertainment possibilities, like the historical edifices, are countless from skiing, to surfing or diving, boat-riding, trekking, dining or simply observing the exquisite people in their wonderful villas of this great nation. Whatever your taste or choice, you will absolutely find rewarding.
Persian cuisine, to the unfamiliar will realize that the flavors are not as exotic. Persian cuisine is the mother of Turkish and Greek fast food of chelo kebabs or Turkish pizza. They were just slightly out-paced in marketing. Rice is a staple in meals and desserts, like fruits, herbs, meat, cheese, and bread. Fruits in any form, fresh or fluid, are present in meals, at times cooked with meat, sometimes as dessert, or even as a cooling drink like hajiv bastani, carrot juice float garnished with cinnamon. Ice cream is a universal favorite, as it is in these parts. Iranian desserts are also inspired by the West like their use of dollops of whipped cream, food toppings, custard fillings, and cakes. Another class is the traditional desserts like rice cookies and sweet breads. Baagh Lava is delectable! Iranians have obviously great dental and overall health considering their sweet tooth.
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