Iran is located in the southwest of Asia, bounded on the north by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and the Caspian Sea, on the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, On the west by Turkey and Iraq, and on the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan. Geographic coordinates are 32 00 N, 53 00 E.
total: 1.648 million sq km
land: 1.636 million sq km
water: 12,000 sq km
total: 5,440 km
border countries: Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan-proper 432 km, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1,458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, Turkmenistan 992 km
2,440 km; note – Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)
The climate ranges from subtropical to sub-polar. During winter temperature is -37° C (-35° F) in the north of the country, and in the south 23° C (73° F).
Summers are hot and humid in the south, but fair and pleasant in the north, and the temperatures range from 25°C (77° F) to 54° C (130° F).
lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
highest point: Qolleh-ye Damavand 5,671 m
petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur
69,018,924 (July 2004 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.07% (2004 est.)
Birth rate: 17.1 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate: 5.53 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 42.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
0-14 years: 28% (male 9,935,527; female 9,411,647)
15-64 years: 67.2% (male 23,608,621; female 22,744,128)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 1,645,246; female 1,673,755) (2004 est.)
Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%
Shi’a Muslim 89%, Sunni Muslim 10%, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha’i 1%
conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Iran
conventional short form: Iran
local long form: Jomhouri-ye Eslami-ye Iran
local short form: Iran
Esfahan, Mashhad, Tabriz, Shiraz, Kerman, Yazd, Hamadan
Iranian Society & Culture
Islam and Shi’ism
Islam is practiced by the majority of Iranians and governs their personal, political, economic and legal live. Among certain obligations for Muslims are to pray five times a day – at dawn, noon, afternoon, sunset, and evening. The exact time is listed in the local newspaper each day. Friday is the Muslim holy day. Everything is closed. Many companies also close on Thursday, making the weekend Thursday and Friday.
During the holy month of Ramadan, all Muslims must fast from dawn to dusk and are only permitted to work six hours per day. Fasting includes no eating, drinking, cigarette smoking, or gum chewing. Expatriates are not required to fast; however, they must not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public. Each night at sunset, families, and friends gather together to celebrate the breaking of the fast (iftar). The festivities often continue well into the night. In general, things happen more slowly during Ramadan. Many businesses operate on a reduced schedule. Shops may be open and closed at unusual times.
Iranian culture has long been a predominant culture of the Middle East and Central Asia, with Persian considered the language of intellectuals during much of the 2nd millennium, and the language of religion and the populace before that. The Sassanid influence carried forward to the Islamic world.
Much of what later became known as Islamic learning, such as philology, literature, jurisprudence, philosophy, medicine, architecture and the sciences were based on some of the practices taken from the Sassanid Persians to the broader Muslim world. The Iranian New Year (Nowruz) is an ancient tradition celebrated on 21 March to mark the beginning of spring in Iran. It is also celebrated in Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and previously also in Georgia and Armenia. It is also celebrated by the Iraqi and Anatolian Kurds.
Nowruz was registered on the list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and described as the Persian New Year by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2009.
Iran is a culturally diverse society, and inter ethnic relations are harmonious. The predominant ethnic and cultural group in the country consists of native speakers of Persian. But the people who are generally known as Persians are of mixed ancestry, and the country has important Turkic and Arab elements in addition to the Kurds, Baloch, Bakhtyari, Lurs, and other smaller minorities (Armenians, Assyrians, Jews, and others). The Persians, Kurds, and speakers of other Indo-European languages in Iran are descendants of the Aryan tribes that began migrating from Central Asia into Iran
• In Iran, the family is the basis of the social structure.
• Iranians take their responsibilities to their family quite seriously.
• Families tend to be small, only 1 or 2 children, but the extended family is quite close.
• The individual derives a social network and assistance in times of need from the family.
• Elderly relatives are kept at home, not placed in a nursing home.
• Loyalty to the family comes before other social relationship, even business.
• Nepotism is considered a good thing since it implies that employing people one knows and trusts is of primary importance.
Taarof (Iranian Politeness):
• Taarof is a system of politeness that includes both verbal and non-verbal communication.
• Iranians protest compliments and attempt to appear vulnerable in public.
• They will belittle their own accomplishments in an attempt to appear humble, although other Iranians understand that this is merely courtesy and do not take the words at face value.
• In adherence to Taarof, if you are ever offered something, like a tea or sweet, even if you want it, at first decline it until their insistence becomes greater.
Etiquette and Customs in Iran:
• Introductions are generally restricted to members of the same sex since men and women socialize separately.
• Greetings tend to be affectionate. Men kiss other men and women kiss other women at social events. If they meet on the street, a handshake is the more common greeting
• The most common greeting is “salaam alaykum” or more simply “salaam” (peace).
Gift Giving Etiquette
• Iranians give gifts at various social occasions such as returning from a trip or if someone achieves a major success in their personal or business life.
• On birthdays, businesspeople bring sweets and cakes to the office and do not expect to receive gifts.
• It is common to give monetary gifts to servants or others who have provided services during the year on No Ruz (The Iranian New Year). Money should be new bank notes or gold coins.
• If you are invited to an Iranian’s house, you can bring flowers or pastry to the hosts.
• Gifts are not generally opened when received. In fact, they may be put on a table and not mentioned.
• If you are invited to an Iranian’s house:
• Check to see if the host is wearing shoes. If not, remove yours at the door.
• Dress conservatively.
• Try to arrive at the invited time. Punctuality is appreciated.
• Show respect for the elders by greeting them first.
• Check to see if your spouse is included in the invitation. Conservative Iranians do not entertain mixed-sex groups.
• Shake everyone’s hand individually.
• Accept any offer of food or drink. Remember to do ‘taarof’.
• Business attire is formal and conservative.
• Men should wear dark colored conservative business suits.
• Ties are not worn by Iranians but it would not be seen as negative if you did so.
• Dress well to make a good impression.
• Women should always dress modestly and cover their hair.
• Address your Iranian business associates by their title and their surname.
• The title “Doctor” is used for both M.D.s and Ph. D.s. Engineers are called “Mohandis”. These titles are preceded by the formal titles listed below and are used with the surname.
• The title “Agha” (sir) is used when addressing men. It may be used before or after the first name. The phrase “Agha-yeh” is put before a surname.
• The title “Khanoom” (madam) is used when addressing women. It may be used before or after the first name. The phrase “Khanom-eh” is used before the surname.
• Wait to be invited before moving to first names. Only close friends and family use this informal form of address.
Iranian official calendar, regulate according to Solar year & Iranian months.21 March, equal 1 Farvardin, is beginning of Iranian New Year. Also in Iran, Lunar calendar announce officially. The lunar year is 10 days less than the Solar year, so days of performing religious rites, that adjust according to the Lunar calendar, each year is different from next & former years. Therefore it recommended to tourists that arrange their proper traveling time with the related agency. Especially in Ramadan month that Muslim Iranian, are fasting and in Muharram are mournful, so these situations influence on daily & current Activities and some days in these two months are public holidays. Friday is the official holiday.
Food and drink:
The meat usually cooked in the restaurants is chicken, veal, fish and lamb. Of course, you may find turkey, quail, lobster, and shrimp too, but no pork, snake, frog, dog or other types of meat. They are forbidden to be eaten in Islam and this is observed everywhere. The vegetarians’ menu in Iran can include both raw or cooked vegetables in the hotels as well as restaurants. If you’re a vegetarian, it is also suggested to inform your tour guide about it in advance so that they can arrange it properly. That is because it is not so common in Iran to be a vegetarian.
It is possible to buy and drink any kinds of soft non-alcoholic drinks. There is an Iranian brand for drinks as well as international brands served everywhere. Tap water is refined appropriately, but for the newcomers traveling to Iran, it is recommended to take Iranian bottled water.
You need to bring all the funds required for your trip in hard currency. U.S. dollars or Euros get the best rates but exchange shops in the bigger cities can change most things into Rials for you.
All banks were nationalized after the revolution. However, during the past decade, private (non-governmental) banks have been founded, which usually provide you with a better service: Parsian, Saman, Eghtesad Novin, Pasargad
Banks are generally open Sa-W 07:30-13:30 and Th 07:30-12:00. Main branches are usually open to 15:00. (Closed on Fridays). International airports have a bank open whenever international flights arrive or depart. All banks have boards in both English as well as Persian.
• Bus company offices at the terminals in larger cities open daily from early morning until the evening more or less without a break. In smaller cities, they may keep smaller or less regular hours.
• Foreign embassies. Consulates and Embassies follow the Iranian working week, closing on Friday and often on one other day of the week, usually Saturday, as well as their own national holidays. However, to make sure on all cases, it is advisable to call first before visiting.
• Government offices. Generally open Sa-W 08:00-14:00. Some offices, especially ministries in Tehran, are closed completely on Thursday and others open only 08:00-11.30 or noon. In general, Thursday is not a good day for conducting official business.
• Principal businesses. Open 09:00-13:00 & 15:00-21:00 weekdays and closed on Fridays. The bazaar and some shops close on Thursday afternoon, too.
• Museums. Each museum has its own visiting hours. It is better to check the timings before visiting.
Hours may change during Ramadan, the month of fasting. During that month, Muslims are not allowed to eat or drink while the sun is in the sky. Restaurants are closed all day, opening at sundown and perhaps remaining open very late. Other businesses may adjust their hours as well.