rezashahran (link to Reza Shahran Profile),
Iran (Persian: ايران , Īrān, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ايران transliteration: Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Īrān), is a country located in west Asia, once known as Persia to the Western world. Iran borders Armenia, Azerbaijan (including its Nakhichevan exclave), and Turkmenistan to the north, Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east, and Turkey and Iraq to the west. In addition, it borders the Persian Gulf, across which lie Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Shi'a Islam is the official state religion and Persian is its official language.
Throughout history, Iran has been of great geo-strategic importance because of its central location in Eurasia. Iran is a member and co-founder of the United Nations, NAM, the OIC, and OPEC. Iran is also significant in international politics on account of its large supply of petroleum. The name Iran is a cognate of Aryan and literally means "Land of the Aryans."
In former ages, the names Āryānā and Persis were used to describe the region which is today known as the Iranian plateau. The earliest Iranian reference to the word (airya/arya/aryana etc), however, predates the Iranian prophet Zoroaster (est. anywhere between 1200 to 1800 BCE, according to Greek sources, as early as 6000 BCE  and is attested in non-Gathic Avestan; it appears as airya, meaning noble/spiritual/elevated; as airya dainhava (Yt.8.36, 52) meaning the land of the Aryans; and as airyana vaejah, the original land of the Aryans.
During the Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BCE), the Persian people called their provincial homeland Pārsa, the Old Persian name for Cyrus the Great's kingdom which belonged to the Persian tribe of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranians and which can still be found in the term Pars or Fars as part of the heartland of Iran and for example in the map by Eratosthenes and other historical or modern maps.
The written history of Persia (Iran) begins in about 3200 BCE with the Proto-Elamite civilization, followed by the Elamites. The arrival of the Aryans (Indo-Iranians), and the establishing of the Median dynasty culminated in the first Persian Empire, the Achaemenid Empire (648–330 BCE), founded by Cyrus the Great.
Cyrus the Great created the Cyrus Cylinder, considered to be the first declaration of human rights. He was the first king whose name was suffixed with the word "Great" and the first Shah of Iran to be properly called. Cyrus' seminal ideas greatly influenced later human civilizations.
Iran has been inhabited by humans since pre-historic times and recent discoveries have begun to shed light upon what ancient culture was like in Iran, centuries before the earliest civilizations arose in nearby Mesopotamia.
Before the Islamic conquest of Persia, Zoroastrianism was the national religion of the Sassanian Empire of Persia, and played an important role in the earlier Achaemenian and Parthian dynasties. The Iranian Prophet Zoroaster is considered by numerous scholars as the founder of the earliest religion based on revealed scripture. Many scholars point out that Judaism and subsequently, Christianity and Islam have borrowed from Zoroastrianism in regards to the concepts of Eschatology, Angelology and Demonology, as well as the fallen angel Satan, as the ultimate agent of evil; others insist it might have been a process of mutual influencing. Zoroastrian monotheism has had major influence on the religions of the middle eastern monotheisms in adaptations of such concepts as heavens, hells, judgment day and messianic figures. These concepts amongst many others, reflect the extreme dualism of Persian culture which has influenced Eastern and Western civilization.
After the conquest Persians began to look for ways in which they could remain Muslim but also define themselves as Persians and sought the "Persianisation" of Islam.
Also a cultural movement emerged during the 9th and 10th centuries. There was a resurgence of Persian national identity. It was not against Islamic identity but against Arabization of Islam and Muslims. The most notable effect of the movement was the decision of the continuation of the Persian language, the language of the Persians to the present day.
During this period, Persia and Persian scientists created an Islamic Golden Age.Persia was at this point of history a world center of scientific inquiry, with philosophers, scientists, engineers and historians contributing enormously to technology, science and medicine, later influencing the rise of European science in the Renaissance. The late Middle Ages however brought many critical events in the region. From 1220, Persia was again invaded and destroyed by wave after wave of calamity starting with the Mongol invasion
Geography and Climate
Iran is the 17th-largest country in the world. Its area roughly equals the size of the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany combined, one-fifth the size of the United States or roughly the size of the state of Alaska. It borders Azerbaijan (length of border: 432 km / 268 mi) and Armenia (35 km / 22 mi) to the northwest, the Caspian Sea to the north, Turkmenistan (992 km / 616 mi) to the northeast, Pakistan (909 km / 565 mi) and Afghanistan (936 km / 582 mi) to the east, Turkey (499 km / 310 mi) and Iraq (1,458 km / 906 mi) to the west, and finally the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. Iran's area is 1,648,000 km² ≈636,300 mi² (Land: 1,636,000 km² ≈631,663 mi², Water: 12,000 km² ≈4,633 mi²).
Iran is one of the world's most mountainous countries, its landscape is dominated by rugged mountain ranges that separate various basins or plateaus from one another. The populous western part is the most mountainous, with ranges such as the Caucasus, Zagros and Alborz Mountains — the latter contains Iran's highest point, Mount Damavand at 5,604 m (18,386 ft), which is not only the country's highest peak but also the highest mountain on the Eurasian landmass west of the Hindu Kush. The eastern part consists mostly of desert basins like the saline Dasht-e Kavir, and some salt lakes. Except for some scattered oases, these deserts are uninhabited.
The only large plains are found along the coast of the Caspian Sea and at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, where Iran borders the mouth of the Arvand river. Smaller, discontinuous plains are found along the remaining coast of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman.
Iran's climate is mostly arid or semiarid, to subtropical along the Caspian coast. On the northern edge of the country (the Caspian coastal plain) temperatures nearly fall below freezing and remain humid for the rest of the year. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 29°C (84°F). Annual precipitation is 680 mm (27 in) in the eastern part of the plain and more than 1,700 mm (67 in) in the western. To the west, settlements in the Zagros Mountains basin experience lower temperatures, severe winters, sub-freezing average daily temperatures and heavy snowfall. The eastern and central basins are arid, with less than 200 mm (eight in) of rain and have occasional desert. Average summer temperatures exceed 38°C (100°F). The coastal plains of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman in southern Iran have mild winters, and very humid and hot summers. The annual precipitation ranges from 135 to 355 mm (five to 14 inch).
Iran has a long history of art, music, architecture, poetry, philosophy, traditions, and ideology.
The following quotes from poets belonging to a vast chronological and geographical expanse can be a proper exemplification of the devotion to Persian culture and its multimillenial penetrating existence:
که ایران بهشت است یا بوستان
همی بوی مشک آید از دوستان
"Whether one thinks of Iran as Eden or Garden,
The smell of musk abounds there from friend and companion."
بنى آدم اعضاء يک پیکرند که در آفرينش ز يک گوهرند
چو عضوى بدرد آورد روزگار دگر عضوها را نماند قرار
"Of one Essence is the human race
thus has Creation put the base,
One Limb impacted is sufficient
For all Others to feel the Mace."
--Saadi Inscribed on the UN's Hall of Nations
Ferdowsi prompted to compose the Shahnameh (Persian: Book of Kings), Iran's national epic from its legendary prehistoric nascence till its defeat at the battle of al-Qādisiyyah. It was written entirely in Persian. This gave rise to a strong reassertion of Iranian national identity, and is in part responsible for the continued existence of Persian as a separate language.
Iran's literary tradition is rich and varied as well, although the world is most familiar with Iranian poetry. Rumi is by far the most famous of Iran's poets, although Saadi is considered by many Iranians to be just as influential. Both poets were practitioners of Sufism, and are quoted by Iranians with the same frequency and weight as the Qur'an.
The quest for social justice and equity is an important Iranian cultural trait. The Cyrus Cylinder is considered the world's first declaration of human rights, and was the basis of government for the Achaemenid dynasty. Equality of the sexes also has a strong historical precedent in Iran: from the Achaemenid to Sassanid dynasties, women were encouraged to pursue an education and study at universities; they held property, influenced the affairs of state, and worked and received the same compensation as men. Today, women compose more than half of the incoming classes for universities around the country. Respect for the elderly and hospitality for foreigners are also an integral part of Iranian etiquette.
Science in Iran, as the country itself, has a long history. Iranians contributed significantly to the current understanding of astronomy, nature, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy. To mention just a few, Persians first discovered Algebra, invented the wind mill and found medical uses of alcohol.
In present times, scientists in Iran are trying to revive the golden age of Persian science. Iran has increased its publication output nearly tenfold from 1996 through 2004, and has been ranked first in terms of output growth rate followed by China.
Theoretical and computational sciences are rapidly developing in Iran. Theoretical physicists and chemists are regularly publishing in high impact factor journals. Despite the limitations in funds, facilities, and international collaborations, Iranian scientists remain highly productive in several experimental fields as pharmacology, pharmaceutical chemistry, organic chemistry, and polymer chemistry. Iranian scientists are also helping construct the Compact Muon Solenoid, a detector for CERN's Large Hadron Collider due to come online in 2007. Iranian Biophysicists (especially molecular biophysics) have gained international reputation since the 1990s. High field NMR facilities, as well as Microcalorimetry, Circular dichroism, and instruments for single protein channel studies have been provided in Iran during recent decades. Tissue engineering and research on biomaterials have just started to emerge in biophysics departments. In late 2006, Iranian scientists cloned successfully a sheep, by somatic cell nuclear transfer, at the Rouyan research centre in Isfahan.
Hope you enjoy traveling in Iran.
1- Remember Credit Cards (VISA, Master Card and ...) dose not work in Iran so bring cash money and exchange it.
2- As I mentioned in above paragraphs hospitality for foreigners is an integral part of Iranian etiquette. Some time as a Traveler maybe you need to run away from this hospitality, so feel free!.
3- if you knock any door, you are welcome (Specially in Villages and small Cities) so Accommodation is not a big problem. [This is NOT TRUE for Tehran and other big Cities]
4- Hitchhiking in Iran is not very popular, so finding a ride some times is not easy. Be careful!