Iran is a country in the Greater Middle East between the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. Iran has an ancient history and was the center of the Persian Empire. It has a varied landscape from deserts to mountains.
In ancient times, Persia controlled most of what we now call the Middle East and came close to conquering Greece. A few centuries later, Alexander the Great conquered the entire Persian Empire and later Persia was occupied by the Arabs with the expansion of Islam. Around 1250, Persia was conquered again by the Mongols, and the dynasty they founded occupied all of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and most of India. The Safavid dynasty reunited Persia as an independent state in 1501, established Shia Islam as the official religion, and ushered in a golden age of Persian culture.
The Qajar dynasty ruled from the 19th to the early 20th century, when Britain and Russia jointly occupied Iran during World War I.
The Last Dynasty
In 1925, a military coup by Reza Shah established the “Pahlavi” dynasty, the name “Iran”, and built a powerful army. It was an authoritarian regime, with a powerful secret police and propaganda apparatus. There were also significant efforts towards modernization, in conflict with the conservative part.
The crown prince, Mohammad Reza Shah, continued his father’s nationalist, authoritarian practices and became one of America’s most important allies in the region.
His regime was corrupt, with his supporters getting rich while much of the country was in deep poverty.
In 1979, the Shah was overthrown and fled into exile, dying a year later. Many groups participated in the revolution, most notably the conservative Islamic part under Ayatollah Khomeini. Partly as a reaction to the Shah’s policies, they were also strongly anti-Western and particularly anti-American.
Today, Iran is the only major country that is predominantly and officially Shia. The Iranian government supports the Shiite Hezbollah movement further west, and is therefore accused by America of supporting terrorism.
The people of Iran, because of their culture, traditions and “closed” regime, are considered to be the most hospitable on Earth. Don’t be surprised if strangers invite to you at their home, if they pay for your meal or taxi. All this, combined with natural and cultural richness, will offer the visitor indelible experiences.
Iran has an amazing amount of natural and cultural wealth. Its landscapes include deserts, steppes, beaches and islands in the Persian Gulf, forested areas along the Caspian Sea, and snow-capped peaks. Ancient cities such as the famous Persepolis, Pasagrades, Susa and the tombs of famous emperors such as Cyrus the Great, are just a few of the places that will enchant the visitor.
The architecturally stunning city of Isfahan with its grand mosques, mausoleums, palaces in Shiraz and the tombs of the poets Hafez and Saadi… The historic desert city of Yazd with its pioneering bioclimatic architecture.
All this, combined with the most hospitable people on earth, will offer the visitor unique experiences.
to be continued