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Most Interesting Facts about Iran

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The Islamic Republic of Iran, also called Persia, is a Western Asian country. Iran shares its border with seven countries – Iraq, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. It also borders the Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman.

Did you know that “Iran” translated into Persian means “Land of the Aryans”? The country’s history spans thousands of years. Hundreds of empires including some of the ancient world’s most powerful ones have ruled in Persia. It really is an interesting place, with a rich culture, and seriously delicious food. Here are few interesting facts about Iran:

14 Interesting facts about Iran

1. Iran has one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations that date back to 4000 BC.

Most Iranians are Persians, but other Iranian folk groups include Baloch, Gilaks, Kurds, Lurs, Mazanderanis, Ossetians, Pamiris, Pashtuns, Tajiks, the Talysh, Wakhis, and Yaghnobis.

2. Polo was first played in the Persian Empire. Polo was originally a training game for cavalry units and was played in Persia as early as 6th century BC.

3. One of the most interesting things about Iran is ‘The art of Taroof’. It is an art of etiquette where politeness is shown by everyone irrespective of their social standing. Taarof revolves around treating guests with the utmost respect. It’s all about one party refusing things offered to him or her out of politeness so as not to come across as greedy even if he or she desires it. If you are invited for a hearty meal to a Persian home, you have to refuse a second helping even if you are hungry for more or if your host offers you more. If the offer is made a third time, you can accept.

4. The internet is censored in Iran. Since 2012, Iran has used its very own state-controlled national Internet, or rather a private Intranet network, for everyone to use. It doesn’t support social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram,and has blocked 35% of the world’s most visited websites. People here have a workaround and anyone who wishes to use those sites and applications needs to use a private VPN.

5. Air pollution in the capital city of Tehran is one of the worst in the world. Most parts in the city are covered in smog (Delhi people will relate). The bad air quality is responsible for 30,000 deaths every year in the country.

6. Iran has massive reserves of fossil fuels. It contains 10 percent of the world’s oil reserves and is the fifth largest oil producer in the world.

7. The United States officially supported Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War and put pressure on other countries to stop selling weapons to Iran. However it was later found that US was secretly selling weapons to Iran. Shady sneaky US!

8. In 1979, Iran abandoned a legal system and established Islamic Law. There are many rules and regulations which are followed in the country.

Under this law women are not considered mentally or legally equal to men. Additionally, children are perceived as the “substance of the male”.  In the case of divorce, women lose all custody of children.

There is a strict dress code where females over the age of nine must wear a hijab in public. Iranians prefer not to wear ties as they feel it’s too much of a Western symbol. In fact that on Iranian television shows, only villains are shown wearing neckties stating how negative the ties are.

Polygamy is legal in Iran. A man can marry up to four women as long as each wife is okay with that. The minimum age for marriage is 13 years for girls and 15 years for boys.

9. Iran has one of the youngest populations in the world with 70 percent population being under 30 years old. In 1979, after the Islamic Law was established in the country, religious leaders encouraged younger married couples to reproduce and provided incentives like vehicles, televisions, and food on a per-person basis. The program ended in 1988 and birth rates have declined since then.

The Iranian youth are also the most politically active compared to all the 57 nations of the Islamic world and the minimum age for voting is 15 years.

10. Today the government is taking steps to educate the society about family planning. Condoms, birth control pills, and permanent sterilization are provided to Iranian citizens who want them, free of cost. Couples that want a marriage license are required to take an hour-long lecture on contraception. Iran also has one of the only condom factories in the Middle East.

11. Persian rugs are famous worldwide for the intricate design and quality. They are Iran’s second-largest export after oil. The art of making beautiful carpets and rugs is over 2500 years old. The carpets are almost perfect as Iranian weavers often make an intentional mistake while creating them. They want to show their belief that “only God is perfect” and every other thing in this world has imperfection.

In 2007, Iran produced the world’s largest handmade carpet for a mosque in the United Arab Emirates. It was big enough to cover a soccer field.

12. Persian culture is renowned for its beautiful poetry, luxurious rugs, and lush gardens. In fact, the English word “paradise” comes from a Persian word meaning “enclosed garden.”

13. Iran has the highest volcano In Asia. Mount Damavand at the height of 5,609.2 m is also the highest peak in Iran. It is an active volcano but the last eruption was 7,300 years ago.

14. In recent years, child prostitution has risen 635% in Iran. In Tehran alone, an estimated 84,000 women and girls are in prostitution. Thousands are trafficked as far away as France, Germany, and the UK. Sadly the Iranian government has shown little effort in curbing sexual trafficking. Often it is the girls rather than the traffickers who are tortured and executed for violating Iran’s standards of behavior.

15. Short-term marriages known as Sigheh are legal in Iran. Basically, they’re temporary marriages that can last anywhere from few hours to several years depending on the contract. Many times they are used to satiate male pilgrims who visit holy shrines away from their families as this kind of marriage allows couples to engage in a sexual relationship without violating Iran’s strict laws against extramarital sex.

16. Homosexuality is taboo in Iran and is fiercely prohibited. However, transsexuals are allowed to have sex-change operations in the country. In fact, Iran has conducted the second-most sex-change operations in the world, after Thailand.

Iran is also known as “the nose job capital of the world”.  Rhinoplasty is incredibly popular among both men and women. Well, the face is one of the few parts of their body Iranian women are allowed to show off in public, so changing their profile becomes a method of self-expression.

17. Iran is the world’s largest producer of saffron. The saffron production in Iran accounts for about 70% of the total saffron production worldwide.

The country also produces expensive goodies like caviar and pistachios in a huge amount.

18. Everything is royal in Iran, even the cat. We all have seen furry and beautiful Persian cats. An old and regal breed of cat, they originated in the high plateaus of Iran where their long silky fur protected them from the cold. Italian traders brought the breed to Europe in the 17th century, where the cats became an exotic status symbol.

19. Almost half of the country has a desert climate. Only 7% of the country is forested but it still has a vast biodiversity and rich wildlife. Dasht-e-Kavir and Kavir-e-Lu are two Iranian deserts that are known for being some of the hottest and most arid areas on Earth.

Dasht-e-Kavir
Source: https://www.destinationiran.com/

20. Iran is the only home to the highly endangered Asiatic cheetah. The Asiatic cheetah or Persian cheetah is a subspecies of the cheetah that is on the brink of extinction. According to a report in 2017, only around 50 of these Cheetahs are left in the world, all of them in Iran.

Asiatic cheetah
Source: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/

21. In 2007, 14 squirrels were arrested in Iran for spying. The country’s intelligence operatives claimed that the squirrels were carrying spy gear of foreign agencies and were detained within the nation’s borders. This is totally NUTS!

22. Football is the most popular sport in Iran. The national team has won the Asian Cup three times and played in three World Cup Final competitions. Women of the country also enjoy and the game and they have a women national team as well.

The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) banned the hijab in 2007, which prevented the Iranian women’s soccer team from playing in a 2012 Olympics qualifier game. Today, there is no hijab ban and everyone can enjoy the game.

International Federation of Association Football
Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Iran:

Visit the many UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Iran is known for its rich history that spans thousands of years. Therefore, it is not surprising that there are numerous sites that bear witness to the country’s past. Iran has the third-highest number of UNESCO World Heritage sites In Asia, a total of 24.

Persepolis is one of them. Founded by King Darius the Great around 518 B.C., Persepolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire. Some people say that you haven’t been to Iran if you haven’t seen Persepolis.

Persepolis
Source: https://www.theguardian.com/

Naqsh-e Jahan Square is a huge and magnificent square in the center of Esfahan.  Once a royal polo field, the Square holds Ali Qapu Palace, Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, and the Imperial Bazaar. Be prepared to get mesmerized by the colours and architecture.

Camp at one of the deserts: The country has many deserts and you should not pass any opportunity to camp there. The sunrises and sunsets are magnificent and what should I tell you about sleeping under the stars. It is a one of a kind experience.

Pink Mosque: Also known as Nasir ol Molk Mosque, this is one of the most photographed places in Iran. Nicknamed “the Pink Mosque” for its rosy-hued tiles, you’ll love discovering the hidden nooks of arguably Iran’s most beautiful mosque.

Pink Mosque
Source: https://www.travelsofabookpacker.com/

Visit the colourful bazaars and sample the delicious food of the country.

Visa Process:

Iran Visa Requirements for Indians

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