by Max Barry

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The Persian Republic of
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Persian Republic

The Persian Republic
Jomhuriye Irān


State flag


Emblem


Anthem: Salute of the Sublime State of Persia
Salamatiye Dowlat-e Aliyye Iran

Location of Persia

Capital

Tehran

Official language

Persian

Religion

Secular state

Demonym

Persian

Government

Presidential republic under a military dictatorship
Gen. Peyman Sabbaghian (Head of State)
Baran Zamzami (Head of Government)

Legislature

Persian National Assembly

History

Persian Empire established (550 BCE)
Arab Conquest (651 AD)
Safavid Empire established (1501)
Constitutional Revolution (1905-1911)
Persian Republic Established (15 December 1925)
Nahavand Coup (19 August 1981)

Area

1,648,195 km2

Population

52,900,800

GDP (nominal)

$722.43 billion
$13,656.31 (nominal)

Gini

38.0 (medium)

HDI

0.832 (high)

Currency

Persian Toman

Persia (Persian: Irán), less commonly called Iran and officially the Persian Republic, is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia, Artsakh and Shirvan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by the Russian-Occupied Turkestan, to the east by Bactria, to the southeast by India, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Makran, and to the west by Turkey and Babylonia. Persia covers an area of 1,648,195 km2, with a population of 52.9 million. It is the second largest country in the Near East (after Hashemite Arabia), the sixth-largest entirely in Asia and its capital and largest city is Tehran.

Persia is one the oldest civilizations in the world, beginning with the migration of the Indo-Aryans who came and drove away the pre-Iranian barbarians who roamed the land. The Medes first unified Persia in the seventh century BC, but Persia was established by Cyrus the Great in sixth century BC when he founded the Achaemenid Empire, described by most as the first Empire and the first Superpower in human history. Achaemenids fell to the Greek Hordes of Alexander of Macedonia in the fourth century BC and after his death were under rule of the Seleucids, until a Parthian rebellion brought back indigenous rule in the third century BC. The Parthian Empire was succeeded by the Sassanid Empire in the third century AD, which remained one of the world's powers for four centuries before the collapse of Persia by Arab Hordes in the seventh century AD. Throughout Arab occupation, Persia resisted until self-rule was established by native, though Islamized, dynasties beginning in the 9th. Surviving Seljuq, Mongol and Timurid invasions, a Persian nation was established again in the 16th century by the Safavids who reestablished a unified Persian state and a national identity and introduced Shia Islam to the country. Throughout Safavid and later Afsharid dynasties Persia was a major world power, but a series of conflicts with Russia and incompetent rulers led to significant territorial losses.

The early 20th century saw the Persian Constitutional Revolution, which led to the dissolution of the monarchy on 10 June 1921 and the proclamation of the Republic on December 15, 1925. With the reforms initiated by the country's first president, Reza Pahlavi, Persia became a secular, unitary and parliamentary republic. Following the nationalization of the oil industry by president Ruhollah Sadeghi in 1952, the country endured several military coups in the latter half of the 20th century. The economy was liberalized in the 1980s, leading to stronger economic growth and political stability. The parliamentary system was replaced with a presidential system by plebiscite in 1979, but the Khuzestan War which ravaged Persia in early 1980s led to the Nahavand Coup of 1981. Since then the new Persian governmental system under a string of military strongmen has been described as authoritarian and despotic.

Persia is de jure a presidential republic but de facto military dictatorship, with the ultimate authority vested in a President, a position held by Peyman Sabbaghian, a general in the Persian Army. The Persian government is widely considered to be authoritarian and has attracted widespread criticism for its significant constraints and abuses against human rights and civil liberties including violent suppressions of mass protests, unfair elections and limited rights for ethnic and religious groups.

Persia is a regional and middle power, with a geopolitically strategic location in Asia. It is a founding member of the United Nations, the ECO, and the OPEC. It has the world's second largest natural gas supply and the fourth largest proven oil reserves. It has a rich cultural legacy, reflected in part by 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Historically a multinational state, Persia has since 1925 become increasingly monocultural with many ethnic, linguistic and religious groups being wiped out or forced to convert to that of the majority. Persians are the only recognized ethnic group, while protected minorities include Kurds, Lurs, Mazanderanis and Gilaks. Other ethno-cultural groups include Turks and Arabs. Though Persia is officially secular, main religious groups include Shia Muslims (35.2%), Sunni Muslims (6%), Armenian, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians (17.6%), Zoroastrians (11.3%), Jews (0.4%), and others (1.3%) with the second largest single group being the godless (28.2%).


History
Ancient history


Ruins of the Gate of All Nations in Persepolis
Humans have been present within Persia since the lower Paleolithic era. Neanderthal artifacts from the Middle Paleolithic have been found mainly in the Zagros range in Warwasi and Yafteh. From the 10th to 7th millennium BC, early agricultural communities began to flourish in and around the Zagros region in western Persia. Urban settlements and ancient cultures likely took shape before the 4th millennium BC. During the Bronze Age, Persia was home to several ancient civilizations, most importantly Elam and Jiroft. Elam developed alongside Mesopotamian cultures in what is now Ilam and Khuzestan in Persia. The advent of writing in Elam was paralleled to Sumer and the Elamite cuneiform developed around the 3rd millennium BC.


The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest extent
Persians, Medes and Parthians, Persia's indigenous peoples, came to the region from the Eurasian Steppe by the second millennium BC. They, alongside other Iranian peoples, settled into the wider area of Greater Iran and beyond. From the late 10th to the late 7th century BCE, the Iranian peoples, as well as pre-Iranian kingdoms, fell under the domination of the Assyrian Empire. King Cyaxares of the Medes forged an alliance with Persians, Babylonians, Scythians and Cimmerians and destroyed the Assyrian Empire between 616 and 605 BC, leading to the establishment of the Median Empire. The tyranny of the Median king Astyages led to the Persian Revolt, and as a result of that the Persians, led by Cyrus the Great, took over and established the Achaemenid Empire in 550 BBC. Cyrus is often considered the Father of Old Persia and a major hero of the Persian people. Cyrus and his successors expanded the Empire to encompass a swathe of land spanning from the Danube to the Indus River and from the Caucasus and the Oxus river to Egypt. The Achaemenid Empire held more than 50 million people by 480 BC and at its peak ruled over 44% of the world's population. They released the Jewish exiles in Babylon, built infrastructures such as the Royal Road and the Chapar, used an official language and established a centralized, bureaucratic administration under the Emperor. They raised a large professional army and developed civil services, by all means being the first true Empire in history.


Tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae
Conflicts along the western borders with barbarian Greeks led to the Ionian Revolt and the Greco-Persian Wars which continued through the first half of the 5th century BC, concluding with the withdrawal of the Persians from Europe. Conflict with the barbarians continued when Alexander of Macedonia invaded the Persian Empire, sacked Takht-e Jamshid and defeated Darius III. Though Alexander was slowly being civilized, he died before he could take the Persian culture and his Empire fell to his Diadochi, with Persia coming under control of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. The Parthian Revolt expelled the Hellenists and established the Parthian Empire in 247 BC. Following the encroachment of Rome into the Near East, a centuries-long Roman-Persian rivalry began with the humiliating Roman defeat in the Battle of Carrhae. The Parthians controlled Persia until they were succeeded by the Persian Sassanid dynasty in 224 AD.

The Sassanians established an empire whose influence reached Rome, Africa, China and India, leading a prominent role in the formation of medieval art in both Europe and Asia. They continued the Parthian rivalry with Rome, and after Rome collapsed they continued the wars with the Byzantine Empire. These wars were waged for over 700 years, and ultimately exhausted both the Byzantines and the Sassanid Empire, leading to the defeat of both at the hands of the Arab horde.

Medieval era


Monument to Babak Khorramdin
It was in the seventh century that the Persian Empire collapsed. A century of near-constant warfare, last among them the War of 602-628 that devastated much of the Persian heartland and drained its resources, already put it in a precarious position but the coup de grâce came with the Arab invasion of Persia between 633-654 AD. The Empire was defeated by the Rashidun Caliphate, and was under control of the Arab Empire throughout the rest of the Rashidun and Umayyad periods. A prolonged process of state-imposed Arabization and Islamization followed, targeting Persia's Zoroastrian majority as well as Jewish, Christian and Buddhist minorities in various regions of the former Empire. Libraries were demolished and fire temples desecrated into Arab Mosques. Religious persecution was widespread and a special tax penalty was imposed on non-Muslims, while the ancient Persian alphabet was all-but stamped out and attempts were made to wipe out the Persian language as well. Despite all these attempts, the majority of Persia remained Zoroastrian even halfway through the 9th century. During this time, Persians attempted to civilize the Arabs that held their yoke, introducing bureaucracy, literacy, urban life and cosmopolitanism to the Umayyad and Abbasid Empires.


Hafeziyye in Shiraz
Self-rule was established in Persia following the fragmentization of the Abbasid Caliphate in the 9th century. A series of semi-independent and independent Persian kingdoms appeared on the fringes of the Abbasid Caliphate, namely the Tahirids, Saffarids, Samanids and Buyids. This independence allowed for literature, philosophy, mathematics, medicine, astronomy and art to blossom in Persia, leading to the Islamic Golden Age during which Persia was the only theater of major scientific activities in the vast Islamic domains. This cultural revival led to the resurfacing of a Persian identity, allowing for Persia never to be Arabized the way most of Fertile Crescent and Africa would be. A major effect of this movement was the continuation of the Persian language, attested to the works of the epic poet Ferdowsi but largely owed to the Samanid and Saffarid kings' efforts in truth.

Beginning in the 10th century Turkic tribes from Central Asia migrated to the Iranian Plateau en masse. These tribesmen were first conscripted as slave soldiers in the Abbasid armies, meanwhile large portions of Persia came under rule of a series of Turkic rulers, namely the Ghaznavid, Seljuk and Khwarezmian dynasties. All of these Turkic invaders would gradually become Persianate, abandoning their own barbaric ways and taking Persian language, custom and culture for their own. Seljuks most notably later created the Sultanate of Rum in Anatolia. The last of these Turkic Empires would fall victim to the Mongols. A vast horde of Mongols led by Genghis Khan invaded Persia from 1219 to 1221 and killed ten to fifteen million people, more than three-fourth of Persia's population. Following the fracture of the Mongol Empire, Genghis' grandson Hulagu Khan established the Ilkhanate in 1256. The Ilkhanate was conquered in 1370 by Timur, another Turkic-Mongol conqueror, who established the Timurid Empire. Though each of these committed countless atrocities, they would both be Persianate, adopting Persian ways, customs and language and abandoning their own culture for the largest part.

Early modern period


Nader Shah the Great
Though self-rule existed in Persia in different forms, a Persian state, identified as such rather than a dynasty's holdings, was only established in 1501 by Ismail I of the Safavid dynasty. Ismail conquered Azarbaijan and extended his authority over all of Persia, establishing hegemony over the geographic region of Iran for the first time since the Arab Conquest. At the time, Persia was predominantly Sunni while minorities of Zoroastrians still held out in Yazd, but Ismail, a twelver Shia himself, forced Persians to convert to his branch of Islam through violent and atrocious means. This policy, as well as Ismail's ambitions, led to Ismail's humiliating defeat at the hands of the Turkish forces in the Battle of Chaldiran which brought Persia into a centuries-long geopolitical and ideological rivalry with the Turkish Empire. The Safavid Empire peaked in the reign of Shah Abbas the Great (1587-1629) who surpassed the Turks in strength and made Persia a leading science and art hub in the Near East. The Safavids began the integration of Caucasian populations into the Persian society and resettled them within the heartlands of their Empire, but after Abbas I's death they fell to a gradual decline caused by internal conflicts, continuous wars with the Turks and foreign, notably Russian, interference. Safavid rule was ended by Bactrian rebels led by Mahmud the Bactrian who sacked Persia's capital of Isfahan in 1722.

Nader Afshar, a commander of Tahmasp II, the Safavid King-in-exile, drove out the Bactrian invaders by 1729. Though initially loyal to his Safavid liege, Nader crowned himself King of Persia in 1736 as Nader Shah the Great, usurping the throne of Tahmasp II's son Abbas III. Nader successfully reconquered the Caucasian territories and reestablished Persian hegemony in Greater Iran, briefly possessing what was arguably the most powerful empire at the time. Most importantly, Nader invaded India and sacked Delhi in 1740, later leading to the decline of the Mughal Empire and India's colonization at the hands of Europeans. Nader grew cruel in his later years and was assassinated by the officers of his army in 1747. Followed was a brief period of brutal civil war and complete disintegration of central authority in Greater Iran. Though many local rulers existed, Karim Khan Zand, a ruler in Shiraz, successfully established control over most of what is now Persia's borders for a brief period between 1751-1779, but after his death Agha Mohammad Khan, a eunuch in Karim Khan's court belonging to the Kadjar Qizelbash clan, successfully defeated the Zand dynasty and Nader's successors, securing the throne of Persia for his family in 1789.


Gilak revolutionaries during the Lesser Tyranny
Followed was more than a century of misrule. Kadjar monarchs were famously incompetent, malicious and indifferent to the throes of their subjects. Persia lost significant tracts of land, namely in the two Russo-Persian Wars and the resulting Treaties of Gulestan and Turkmanchai which permanently separated Dagestan and Transcaucasia, then an integral part of the very concept of Persia, from Persia and set the latter's modern borders at the south bank of the Aras. Persians fought the Turks in 1821-23 and won, but were pressed to sign a status quo peace by European powers. Then they attacked Herat to restore Persian authority in Bactria but were humiliated by British soldiers in the Anglo-Persian War in 1856. All this while, Kadjar Shahs sold concessions to foreigners. A significantly harsh famine in 1870-71 killed more than 25% of Persia's population, and social unrest led to a number of protests against the sale of concessions, poor statesmanship and the absolutist rule of Kadjar monarchs that culminated in the Constitutional Revolution of 1905.

The first Persian Constitution and the first National Parliament of Persia were founded in 1906 through the ongoing revolution, recognizing Persia's main religious minorities -Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians and limited the King's authority. Conflicts between the Shah -supported by the Russians- and the revolutionary Bakhtiari Lurs, Gilaks and Persians -supported by the British- culminated in the bombardment of the Majiles building by Mohammad Ali Shah in 1908 which began a period known as 'Lesser Tyranny'. Tehran was liberated by the Constitutionalists the next year in 1909 and Mohammad Ali Shah was executed by hanging and his son Ahmad Shah was put on the throne. On the pretext of restoring order, Russians occupied northern Persia, though the did little to stop civil uprisings in the region. Though Persia professed neutrality in the First Great War, the Turkish, Russian and British Empires occupied parts of western Persia and fought in the Persian Campaign, not withdrawing troops until 1921, a year after the Great War had ended. At least two million Persian civilians were killed in the fighting, while Turks perpetrated anti-Christian genocides and the war-induced famine of 1917-1919 killed many more. Persian Assyrians and Persian Armenians in particular were nearly completely wiped out, most importantly in Khoy, Maku, Salmas and Urmia.

Modern Persia


Persian Cossack Brigade in 1921
Following the escalation of the Russian Civil War, the new Bolshevik government temporarily withdrew all forces from Persia in 1917 and as such control of some major military units, namely the Persian Cossack Brigade, fell to the British. Meanwhile the rising instability caused in part by the chaos of First Great War and the Persian Campaign had increased fragmentation and rose the risk of Persia as a state dissolving completely. At this time, the Persian Soviet Socialist Republic, established in Rasht by some former Constitutionalist revolutionaries, was threatening to march on Tehran reinforced by the Bolshevik Red Army.


Reza Pahlavi, Persia's first President
Ahmad Shah, who had been crowned King at 11 in 1909, was thought to be a weak, incompetent ruler, and his authority was nearly non-existent, with a lack of any form of regular military in the country and increasingly autonomous warlords in the fringes of the Persian borders. On 14 January 1921, the British General Edmund Ironside promoted Major Reza Mirpanj to command the Cossack Brigade, and under British direction the Cossack Brigade staged a coup. Cossacks reached Tehran on 18 February, and with minimal casualties or resistance the Cossack Brigade dissolved the government. Zia'oddin Tabatabaei was invested as the new Prime Minister while Reza Khan was made Minister of War. Tabatabaei quickly treated with Bolshevik Russia and pressed them to give up their manufactories, facilities, railroads and ports in Persia and withdraw their military forces still present.


Persian Cossacks in Parade in 1921
Tabatabaei was sacked by Royal Decree only three months later on 4 June, replaced by Ahmad Qavam, then Governor of Tehran. In response, the National Parliament ordered the exile of Ahmad Shah to Europe and formally dissolved the monarchy on 10 June 1921, ending 2480 years of royal rule in Persia. This triggered a period of civil conflict beginning when gendarmerie chief Colonel Mohammad Taghi Pessian committed treason and raised an army to topple the government and reestablish absolutist rule under Ahmad Shah. Though Pessian was quickly defeated, several local warlords were yet to be stopped. Reza Khan led the Cossacks to Gilan and Mazandaran (July-September 1921) and defeated the Soviet Socialist Republic of Gilan. This was followed by military campaigns in Kurdistan (1922) and finally Khuzestan (1924). Reza Khan's triumphant return to Tehran led to him being named Prime Minister by the Parliament on 28 October 1924. Within a year, the Majiles formally established the Persian Republic on December 15, 1925.

Reza Khan became the republic's first President and subsequently introduced many reforms. The reforms aimed to transform the feudal and multi-communal Kadjar semi-constitutional monarchy into a Persian nation state that would be governed by a parliamentary system under a secular constitution. With the Surname Law of 1926, the Majiles bestowed upon Reza Khan the honorific surname "Aryamehr" (Light of the Aryans). Aryamehr implemented a series of reforms that aimed to Westernize Persia politically and culturally in order to establish a secular, democratic republic that derives its sovereignty from the people based on the idea that Persian sovereignty rests with the Persian Nation which delegates its will to an elected unicameral parliament, the Persian National Assembly within the frameworks of a republic that is built upon laďcité, social equality, equality before law and the indivisibility of the Republic and the Persian Nation.


Aryamehr near a recently-build railway
The government of Aryamehr established state-ran news agencies (namely Ettela'at, still the most popular news agency in Persia), various ministries meant to simplify governance and the first census system both for the population and for agriculture and industry. He promoted the drafting of new, fully secular Civil and Penal codes which simplified the legal process, gave all citizens regardless of religion equality before the law and emancipated women. The Persian Civil Code of 1928 introduced full universal suffrage for women, allowed women to be members of congress and de jure hold public offices, gave them the right to divorce and equal child custody, outlawed polygamy and made male and female inheritance equal, while also encouraging them to attend universities and gain financial autonomy. Aryamehr passed laws and decrees aimed to dismantle the power of the clergy, such as banning religious regalia and insignia, burning down many mosques or converting them to libraries and museums, burning Arabic Qurans and outlawing Arabic adhan while promoting the writing of Quran in Persian and the uttering of Adhan in the same. He set the weekend to begin on Friday afternoon and end on Sunday night, de facto dismantling Friday Public Prayer in Persia.

The Hijri calendar was banned while a Miladi system was introduced, a national Surname Law was adopted that required all Persian citizens to adopt the use of hereditary, fixed, surnames which were before then only common among Jews and Christians. Aryamehr abolished the old Arabic Alphabet and introduced a Latin script. He put emphasis on the Persian national identity while suppressing 'undesirable' identities. The National Decolonization Committee (Persian: Komiteye Melliye Este'márzodáei) promoted the removal of Arabic and Turkish loanwords and changed, or reverted, many placenames from their Arabic or Turkish versions to Persian equivalents. Aryamehr introduced land reform laws that dismantled the power of the old Khan caste while emancipating serfs and letting them own land in their own right. A Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock was established in 1928 that promoted farming through establishing model farms. State enterprises and state banks were founded to promote the development of industry. State-owned factories throughout the country overcame the need for imports in agriculture, textile and machine-making sectors. A national rail network was developed -using old British and Russian railroads from the Kadjar period as a foundation- that connected Persian cities and industrial zones that were until then difficult to connect due to vast desert or mountain regions. Beginning with Aryamehr's own presidency attempts were made to nationalize many industrial and economic sectors that were at the time held as concessions by foreigners. Many of the state-owned industries were later privatized in the 1980s.

The national reforms were not very popular among Persians. In particular, some Kurdish, Arabic and Azeri tribes viewed the new Persian-centric laws as infringement on their rights while the clergy viewed the government as heretical. Dissent became widespread beginning in 1925 itself, and as a result Aryamehr established a centralized military with the old Cossack Brigade as its core to protect the new Persian Republic. The Great Arab Uprising of 1933, the Goharshad Uprising of 1935 and the Greater Turkish Rebellion of 1942 were some of the main uprisings against the Persian government, and Aryamehr used these movements to suppress the Azeri, Kurdish and Arab identities, and dismantle the power of the mosque.


Persian Putsch of 1953
Ruhollah Sadeghi became Persia's second president following Aryamehr's death on 26 July 1944. Persia remained mostly neutral throughout the Second Great War, but joined the United Nations immediately after, Conflict soon arose between Persia on one side and the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany on the other when Sadeghi nationalized the oil industry, at the time owned by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company which had many British shareholders. Sadeghi was deposed in the 1953 Persian Putsch, an Anglo-German covert operation that was considered one of the first acts of hostility against an openly neutral country in the Cold War. The new pro-German government of Ardeshir Pirnia restored the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, which still exists to the day, and was removed in a pro-American counter-coup in 1961 that put Manuchehr Barmaki in power. Barmaki attempted to reduce the military's powers and so he was overthrown in a military coup staged by Colonel Khosro Poorlashgari in 1971, who made himself the new President, the second time in Persian history a military officer-in-uniform was head of state.


Col. Poorlashgari (right) in the Babylonian battlefronts
Poorlashgari slowly returned power to the civilian government, a processs that ended in 12 February 1979 when a plebiscite which replaced the parliamentary system with a Presidential model with Poorlashgari in charge passed with wide margins. Though Poorlashgari resigned on 1980 and allowed for a democratically elected president to succeed him, the government of Elias Bani Etemad faced a crisis when Babylonia invaded Persia on 22 September 1980, only weeks after his election. Following the fall of Khorramshahr and the Siege of Abadan by Babylonian forces and their Ahwazi Arab allies, the Persian military staged the Nahavand Coup on 19 August 1981 and reestablished total military control of the state. The Military government of Hadi Borujerdi oversaw the establishment of air superiority in Persia and Babylonia as early as 1981, the liberation of Khorramshahr and the expulsion of Babylonian forces to the west bank of the Karun river in 1981, before Persian forces decisively seized the strategic city of Basra in August and the Faw peninsula in November 1982, decisively cutting Babylonia off from the sea. Following a failed counter-attack by Babylonian forces, Salman Shahin sued for peace in February 1983, which materialized in the Treaty of Basra in which Babylonia agreed to pay reparations and Persian troops evacuated the Faw peninsula and the city of Basra by 1987.


Tehran Polytechnic during the White Movement
Borujerdi, now a national hero for liberating Khuzestan and keeping the nation safe from Babylonian attack, gave up his public office and was succeeded as president on August 3, 1989 by Brigadier General Shahram Roohafza who served as president for 17 years, focusing his efforts on rebuilding Persia's economy and war-damaged infrastructure. He sought to restore confidence in the government by liberalizing the Persian economy which until then was mostly state-owned. Roohafza deployed the Persian military to Lebanon in 1989 alongside the United States, Judea and France to overthrow the Hizballah government in Lebanon which found success in 1990, while he also ordered the Persian military to be deployed in Babylonian Kurdistan to protect Babylonia's Kurdish population from Shahin's military aggression twice, first in 1989 and then in 2004. The Persian military is still present in Babylonian Kurdistan to the day. Roohafza resigned from public office on March 4, 2006 and was succeeded by the more-conservative Major General Dariush Meybodi.

Meybodi's dictatorial rule and his increasing suppression of public expression, including a hike in media censorship, led to popular discontent, finally leading to the White Movement of 2015 during which Persian citizens took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations. Meybodi ordered the protests to be suppressed, and the ensuing conflict led to more than 17 killed between August and September 2015, but the protests did not stop as he had expected, and after five months of near-constant protest Meybodi was pressed by the military to step down from office, and was succeeded by General Peyman Sabbaghian on 18 March 2016. Influenced by the American president McGuire's demands that Persia democratize, Sabbaghian rolled back the censorship laws passed by Meybodi's administration and allowed civilian elections to be held for the position of the Prime Minister. Baran Zamzami, a member of the Rastákhiz Party, was elected as the first female head of government in Persian history and the first non-military head of government since 1983 in an election that UN oversight classified as "adequately free and fair". Sabbaghian signed the Cyrus-Ester Accords between Judea, the Trucial States and Persia in September 11, 2018 after years of negotiation which normalized relations between Judea and the Trucial Federation under Persia's oversight and developed a diplomatic alliance between the three nations, though more nations have since joined the Accords.


Geography

Mt. Damavand in Persia
Persia has an area of 1,648,195 km2. It lies between latitudes 24° and 40° N, and longitudes 44° and 64° E. It its northered to the northwest by Armenia, the Shirvani exclave of Nakhchivan, Artsakh and Shirvan; to the north by the Mazandaran Sea; to the northeast by Russian-Occupied Turkestan; to the east by Bactria and India; to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Makran; and to the west by Babylonia and Turkey. Across the Persian Gulf it shares maritime borders with Oman, Hashemite Arabia, Kuwait and the Trucial Federation.

Persia consists of the Iranian Plateau, with the exception of the coasts of the Mazandaran Sea and Khuzestan. It is one of the world's most mountainous countries, its landscape dominated by rugged mountain ranges that separate various basins or plateaux from one another. The populous western part is the most mountainous, with ranges like the Caucasus, Zagros and Alborz, the last containing Mount Damazand, Persia's highest point at 5,610 m and also Asia's highest mountain west of Hindu Kush.

The northern part of Persia is covered by the lush lowland Caspian Hyrcanian mixed forcests, located near the southern shores of the Mazandaran Sea. The east part consists mostly of desert basins like the Kavid Desert and the Lut Desert as well as some salt lakes. Persia ranks 7.67/10 in the Forest Landscape Integrity Index.

The only large plains are found near the coast of the Mazandaran Sea and at the northern end of the Persian Gulf where the nation 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 Makran.

Persia is located in a seismically active area. On average every 10 years one 7 Richter earthquake occurs in the country. Most are very shallow-focus, and can be devastating like the 2003 Bam earthquake or the 2018 Sarpol Zahab earthquake.

Climate


Climate map of Persia
Persia's climate is diverse, having 11 climates out of the world's 13, ranging from arid and semi-arid to subtropical along the Hyrcanian coast and the northern forests. On the northern edge of the country, temperatures rarely fall below freezing and the area remains humid for the rest of the year. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 29 °C. Annual precipitation is 680 mm in the eastern part of the plain and more than 1,700 mm in the western part. Water scarcity poses the most severe human security challenge in Persia today.

Settlements in the Zagros basin in the west experience lower temperatures, severe winters with below zero average daily temperatures and heavy snowfall. The eastern and central basins are arid, with less than 200 mm of rain and have occasional deserts. Average summer temperatures rarely exceed 38 °C. The coastal plains of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Makran in southern Persia have mild winters and very humid and hot summers. The annual precipitation ranges from 135 to 355 mm.

Biodiversity

The wildlife of Persia includes bears, the Eurasian lynx, foxes, gazelles, grey wolves, jackals, panthers and wild boars. Domestic animals include Asian water buffaloes, camels, cattle, donkeys, goats, horses and sheep. Eagles, falcons, partridges, pheasants and storks are also native to Persia. The Iranian cheetah is one of the most species of animal in Persia. The Persian leopard is also the world's largest leopard subspecies and lives primarily in northern Persia. Persia is also home to the Persian lion and the Persian tiger.


Politics
Between 1925 and 1979, Persia was a parliamentary representative democracy. A presidential system was adopted by referendum in 1979; the system came into effect with the Presidential election in 1980 and gave the President complete control of the executive, including the power to issue decrees, appoint ambassadors and accept them, and hold the powers of the Prime Minister, though he was still subordinate to the Majiles over the issue of the cabinet and budget. The office of the president was meant to be elected once every four years by election with no term limits recognized. Due to a number of complications however Persia has only had one directly elected President, with every successive head of state after him being appointed to the office by military or named as successor by a president leaving office.

Persia's constitution governs the legal framework of the country. It sets out the main principles of government and establishes Persia as a unitary, centralized state. Executive power is exercised by the President, while the legislative power is vested in the unicameral parliament, called the National Assembly of Persia (Persian: Shoráye Melliye Irán), commonly called the Majiles or Parliament. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature, wherein they are appointed by the President but under scrutiny by the Majiles. The Constitutional Court is charged with ruling on the conformity of laws and decrees with the Constitution. The Council of State is the tribunal of last resort for administrative cases and the High Court of Appeals for all others.

Universal suffrage for both sexes has been applied throughout Persia since 1928 and before most countries, and every Persian citizen 18 or older has the right to vote. There are 429 members of parliament, elected for a four-year term by a party-list proportional representation from 67 electoral districts with no defined term limits. Parties who are separatist, ethnocentrist or anti-secular may be stripped of public financing or banned altogether, though this has only been used against parties promoting the Twelver Shia Islam or Azeri and Arab cultures, with other religions being left to their own device and pro-Persian (or otherwise Iranian) parties often supported. The electoral threshold is ten percent of the votes.

Government

Peyman Sabbaghian
President

Baran Zamzami
Prime Minister
The President and National Chief (Persian: Ra'is Jomhur va Bozorg Arteshtárán) is the head of state of the Persian republic. The President is not elected nor is he answerable to any elected body. Instead, he is a military officer that holds his rank for life -or for as long as he or she wills it, and every president directly appoints his successor. The president, General Peyman Sabbaghian since 18 March 2016, has the right to issue decrees and oversees the cabinet and has the final say on a vast array of matters such as economy, environment, foreign policy, education and the military.

The President is both the commander-in-chief and the professional head of the Persian Armed Forces as its Chief of Staff. He controls the military intelligence and security operations and has sole power to declare war or make peace. He appoints the head of the judiciary, the state-ran media and newspaper agencies, the commanders of the law enforcement, the gendarmerie and the military and members of the cabinet -though in case of the judiciary and the cabinet he is limited as he needs to gain assent by the Majiles. In truth, there is little oversight on the President, and though the Majiles has the de jure right to sack him, he is also the head of the armed forces and in normal cases holds their loyalty.

The Prime Minister of Persia (Persian: Nokhost Vazire Irán) is the highest government authority. Since 2016 the office has been held by elected, non-military officials. The current Prime Minister is Baran Zamzami of the National Resurgence Party, who was elected in 2016 following Sabbaghian's assumption of presidency and who was reelected in 2020. The prime minister is responsible for the implementation of the constitution and is first among equals among other ministers of the Persian government. The Prime Minister administers national planning, budget and state employment affairs, and advises the president on who should be appointed. Through Sabbaghian's presidency he has not appointed a minister not advised by the Prime Minister. She supervises the Cabinet (Persian: Hei'at Dowlat), coordinates government decisions and selects government policies to be placed before the legislature. The Prime Minister is therefore in charge of the daily dealings of the state.

The Cabinet of Persia is made of the President, the Prime Minister and 17 other officers of state, namely the Ministers of Justice; Labor and Social Security; Environment and Urbanization; Energy and Natural Resources; Youth and Sports; Treasury and Finances; Interior; Culture and Tourism; Education; Health; Industry; Agriculture and Forestry; Trade; Transport, Roads and Infrastructure; Information and Communications; Science, Research and Technology; and War.

Legislature and political parties


The legislature of Persia, known as the Persian National Assembly (Persian: Shoráye Melliye Irán) but also Majiles (Persian for Parliament), is a unicameral body comprising 429 members elected for four-year terms. It drafts legislation, ratifies international treaties and approves the national budget. Members of the Parliament are elected through a party list proportional system. Members of the Parliament meet in the National Assembly Building located in Baharestan, Tehran, and because of this Majiles is sometimes called Baharestan as well.

Legality of these parties is determined by the Constitutional Court of Persia, wherein parties advocating for separatism, religious or ethnocentric interests or 'anti-Persian' positions may receive a total or partial ban. This has de facto been ignored for parties advocating for Persian ethnocentrism, while the religious interests clause has only been applied for Twelver Shias, while parties advocating for the interests of non-Shia Muslims and non-Muslims are tolerated. There are 57 legal and 9 outlawed political parties in Persia, but only 4 of the legal parties have any relevancy on a national stage.

Politics in Persia is dominated by the right wing, conservative Resurgence Party (Persian: Hezbe Rastákhiz), the liberal National Democratic Council (Persian: Shoráye Democrátike Melli), the nationalist National Front (Persian: Jebheye Melli) and the social democratic Social Democratic Party (Persian: Fergheye Ejtemá'iyun va Ámiyun). All four of these parties are ardently secular and opposed to the entry of religion in politics. The former two support liberalization and privatization while the latter call for a more robust welfare state with larger control on the economic sectors.

Law

The Persian judicial system is similar to many continental European legal codes. The Persian Civil Code has been modified by incorporating elements from the Swiss Civil Code and Code of Obligations and the German Commercial Code. The Administrative Code bears similarities with its French counterpart and the Penal Code with its Italian counterpart.

Persia upholds the principle of separation of powers. Judicial power, therefore, is exercised by independent courts on behalf of the Persian Nation. The independence and organization of the courts, the security of the tenure of judges and public prosecutors, the profession judges and prosecutors, the supervision of judges and public prosecutors, the military courts and their organization, and the powers and duties of the high courts are regulated by the Persian Constitution.

The organization, duties and jurisdiction of the courts, their functions and the trial procedures are regulated by law. The court system in Persia is classified as Judicial, Administrative or Military. Each category includes first instance courts and high courts. In addition, the Court of Jurisdictional Disputes rules on cases that cannot be classified readily as falling within the purview of one court system. Law enforcement is carried out by several agencies under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Namely the General Directorate of Security, the Gendarmerie Central Command and the Coast Guard Command. There are other law enforcement agencies with specific or local assignments under the jurisdiction of the President or different ministries.

Foreign relations

Persia is a founding member of the United Nations (1945), the OPEC (1960), the ECO (1985), the BSEC (1992), the D-8 (1997) and the G-20 (1999). Persia was a member of the United Nations Security Council in 1951-52, 1961-62, 2001-2002 and 2019-2020. In 2013, Persia joined the Asia Cooperation Dialogue. Foreign Affairs are under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a high ranking member of the Persian Cabinet.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building
Persia was aligned with Russia for most of the 19th century but switched sides to the British Empire beginning in 1909. After the Anglo-German Putsch of 1953, Persia joined America's sphere of influence, and since then the two countries have enjoyed relatively good relations, and though the two countries were not allied Persia enjoyed American support during the Khuzestan War. The US-Persian Alliance was formalized in 1993, which has played a major part in Persia's shift in foreign policy decisions in the Middle East. Among the Great Powers, Persia enjoys friendly relations with the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom; cordial relations with Japan and terse, though not necessarily unfriendly, relations with Russia.

Ever since the Borujerdi government, Persia has increased its hold on, and grown its influence in, the Near East, in particular 'Greater Iran', a region which encompasses parts Russia, Bactria, India, Shirvan, Armenia, Artsakh, Turkey, Syria and Babylonia. Persia has used the doctrine of strategic depth to justify its engagement in regional foreign policy issues, and relations are terse with Persia's many neighbors due to its support for Iranic peoples in their borders. As an example, Persia supports Kurdish independence or autonomy in Turkey, Babylonia and Syria which is a point of contention.

In its regional neighborhood, Persia enjoys friendly relations with Judea, the Trucial States, Oman and Lebanon which are party to the Cyrus-Ester Accords which normalized relations between the former two nations in 2020 under Persia's oversight. Meanwhile Persia does not recognize the Ba'athist, Pan-Arab governments in Syria and Babylonia, the latter having waged a war against Persia in 1980-83.

Military
Main article: Armed Forces of the Persian Republic


Persian Immortals in parade
The Persian Armed Forces, commonly called the Artesh (literally "Army" in Persian) consists of the Ground Forces (Persian: Niruye Zamini), the Navy (Persian: Niruye Daryáei) and the Air Force (Persian: Niruye Haváei). The Commander-in-Chief and Chief of General Staff of the military is the President of Persia, who is de jure responsible to the Majiles for matters of national security and adquate preparation of the armed forces to defend the country. The authority to declare war and deploy the Persian Armed Forces to foreign countries is invested solely in the President. The Gendarmerie Central Command and the Coast Guard Command are law enforcement agencies with military rank and structure and under jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior. In wartime, the President can order units of the Gendarmerie and the Coast Guard to operate under the Land Forces and the Navy.

Persia has a relatively large standing military force with an estimated strength of 610,000 active forces and a further 1,250,000 standing in reserve. This vast military is supported by an annual budget of $27.45 billion, 3.8% of the Persian GDP. Persian forces are relatively active in the region, maintaining a presence in Babylonian and Syrian Kurdistan, Lebanon, Yemen, Armenia, Artsakh and Bactria. Persia has assisted the Kurdish National Defense Force, a pan-Kurdish military unit in Babylonia, Syria and Turkey with training, security and equipment, while the Persian Armed Forces maintain overseas military bases in Georgia, Carmathia, Yemen and West Somaliland.

A national draft has existed in Persia since June 1925. Every male or female who has reached 18 years of age must serve in the military, coast guard or the gendarmerie for 18 months. The conscription can be postponed for those who are attending university, while the government does not recognize conscientious objection or offer a civilian alternative to military service.


Economy

Tehran, Persia's financial center
Persia is a newly industrialized country, with an upper-middle income economy, which is the 19th-largest in the world by nominal GDP and the 10th-largest by PPP. According to World Bank estimates, Persia's nominal GDP per capita is $13,656.52 as of 2021, and approximately 9.3% of the Persians are at risk of poverty or social exclusion as of 2019. Unemployment stands at 11.3%. The middle class population grew from 18% to 64% of the population between 1988 and 2019. The foreign currency reserves of the Persian Central Bank stand at $85.3 billion, its gold reserves are $42.1 billion and its official reserve assets stand at $135.4 billion equivalent to around half of all deposits. Persia has signed a number of free trade agreements with some of its neighbors which led to an extensive liberalization of tariff rates, forming one of the most important pillars of Persia's foreign trade policy. Persia's economy is dominated by oil and gas production, and over 40 industries are directly involved in the Tehran Stock Exchange. The stock exchange has been one of the best performing in the world for the past decade. Persia holds 10% of the world's proven oil reserves and 15% of its gas reserves and is therefore considered an energy superpower.

Tehran is its economic capital, financial center and largest industrial base. Services are the largest sector of Persia's economy with 55% of the GDP, while industry makes 35.3% and agriculture 6.9%. Major exports include petroleum, industrial raw materials and intermediate goods, chemical and petrochemical products, automobiles, fruits and nuts, carpets, alcoholic beverages, pharmaceuticals, machinery and equipment, textiles and apparel, while Persia mostly imports capital goods, foodstuff and other consumer goods, technical services and industrial raw materials. Persia's main trading partners include America, the Trucial States, India, Turkey and Japan.

The Central Bank of the Persian Republic is responsible for developing and maintaining the Persian toman, which serves as the nation's currency. The government recognizes trade unions. The minimum wage in June 2020 was 5,200 tomans a month ($800). 56.2% of the government's budget comes from taxes and fees, while 19.9% come from oil and natural gas revenues. Persia has a well-developed biotechnology, nanotechnology, and pharmaceutical industry, while the Persian automobile manufacture, transportation, construction materials, home appliances, food and agricultural goods, armaments, pharmaceuticals, information technology, and petrochemicals leading in the Near East.

Tourism


Kish, one of Persia's tourist destinations
Tourism in Persia has increased almost every year since 1984, and is an important part of the economy. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism promotes Persian tourism. Persia is one of the world's top ten destination countries, with visitors arriving from every continent. In 2019, Persia saw 51.2 million foreign tourists visiting the country. Persia has 26 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and 61 World Heritage Sites in tenative list.

Alongside the capital, the most popular tourist destinations are Isfahan, Sanabad and Shiraz. European and North American tourists often visit Persia for its vast archaeological sites and monuments, while Asian and African Muslims visit pilgrimage sites in Sanabad and Qom. Persia is ranked first among the top ten destinations in the middle east. In addition to a vast foreign tourism, Persia also has one of the largest domestic tourist sectors in the world.

Infrastructure

Persia has some 173,000 kilometres of road, 73% of which are paved. There are 22 passenger cars for every 100 inhabitants, most of them manufactured or assembled locally. Though most major highways in the country are well-maintained and provide essential corridors of transportation, they are in dire need of expansion and repair as traffic jams are common in highways leading to and out of most major population centers, meanwhile some 34,000 km of roads connecting villages and rural areas have seen no maintenance and upkeep practices (worth a total of $13.5 billion).

Trains operate on 11,106 km of railroad track. Persia's main port of entry is Gombroon on the Strait of Hormuz. After arriving in Persia, imported goods are distributed throughout the nation by trucks and freight trains. The Tehran-Gombroon railroad which opened in 1995 connects that city to the railroad system of Central Asia via Tehran and Sanabad. Other major ports include Bandar Anzali, Bandar Reza and Noshahr in the Mazandaran Sea, Bushire, Bandar Shahpur, Bandar Lengeh, Kharg Island, Lavan Island, Khorramshahr, Sirri Island and Bandar Mahshahr in the Persian Gulf and Chabahar in the Sea of Makran.

Most provincial capitals and many smaller cities in the nation have airports that serve passenger and cargo planes domestically and internationally. Persia Airline, the national airline, was founded in 1962 and operates domestic and international flights while National Persian Airline (Homa), Mahan Air and Varesh are also other major airlines in the country. Major airports include Mehrabad International Airport and Aryamehr International Airport, Gate of All Nations Airport in Shiraz, Kish International Airport in Kish and Sanabad International Airport in Sanabad. All large cities have mass transit systems using buses, and several private companies provide bus service between cities. Hamadan and Tehran hold the highest betweenness and closeness centrality among the cities of Persia, regarding road and air routes respectively.

Transport in Persia is inexpensive because of the government's subsidization of the price of gasoline. The downside is a huge draw on government coffers, economic inefficiency because of highly wasteful consumption patterns, contraband with neighboring countries and air pollution. In 2008, more than one million people worked in the transportation sector, accounting for 9% of GDP.

Energy


Persian nuclear facilities in Arak
Persia's energy needs are primarily provided by oil and natural gas, nuclear fuel and renewable energy sources. Persia has the world's second largest proven gas reserves and the third oil reserves, with production standing at 11.3 million barrels of oil every day. Petroleum is and has been one of Persia's largest industries, though maintaining the industry infrastructure is also one of the largest sources of drain on the Persian budget.


Sepidrud Dam near Manjil
Though until 1980, fossil fuel provided 96.5% of Persia's energy needs, successive governments have made plans to diversify the country's energy input. Plans were made in 1979 to build up to 23 nuclear power plants in Persia "by 2000" that would provide 20,000 MW of electricity. The Bushire Nuclear Facility was completed in 1981 with two units, and by 2020 Persia has 7 nuclear facilities in Khuzestan, Isfahan, Tehran and Fars provinces that put together provide 37,450 (33% of total energy production).

Efforts have been made of expand Persia's solar farm infrastructure. 90% of Persia can generate solar power 300 days a year, and solar power makes 9,450 MW of energy (8% of total energy production), only 21% of its installed capacity. Meanwhile there are wind farms in Gilan and Khorasan that provide 10,800 MW (9.5% of total energy production), 36% of its capacity. 48% of Persia's needs are provided by natural gas and oil, and the remaining 1.5% is provided by geothermal sources, biofuels and 'other sources'.


Demographics
Persia's population grew rapidly during the latter half of the 20th century, increasing from about 19 million in 1956 to 32 million in 1983 and near 53 million by July 2020. Persia's fertility rate has dropped significantly in recent years, coming down from a fertility rate of 6.5 per woman to 1.83 in 2021, leading to a population growth rate of 1.39 as of 2018. Persia has a relatively young population with a median age of 28.8 years, and studies predict that the growth will continue to slow until it stabilizes around 80 million by 2050. There are 1.03 men for every woman, and life expectancy stands at 78.2 years at birth.

Persia has one of the largest refugee populations in the world, with almost 2.3 million refugees, mostly having escaped Bactria, Babylonia, Turkey or the Russian-Occupied Turkestan. Persia has been working with the UNHCR and respective foreign officials for the repatriation but given the domestic situation of these countries, this does not seem likely anytime soon. The Persian diaspora is over 5 million, most of these having emigrated during the Khuzestan War (1980-83) and the Meybodi government (2006-2015).

The Persian government is constitutionally required to provide every citizen with access to social security, covering requirement, unemployment, old age, disability, accidents, calamities, health and medical treatment and care services. This is provided by tax revenues and income derived from public contributions.

Ethnic groups

Iranic peoples, a group of Indo-Aryan ethnicities, are the main people who call Persia home. Among these are Persians (and Gilaks and Mazenderanis) who constitute 72.3% of the population, Kurds 9.4%, Lurds 7% and Balochs 2%. In addition to the Indo-Aryan indigenous peoples of the country, other ethnic groups exist in Persia who either came there by migration from nearby regions or through colonization. These include Turks who constitute 5%, Arabs 0.6%, Turkmen 0.7% and some other Turkic tribes 2%. Other non-Iranic peoples calling Persia home include Armenians, Georgians, Circassians and Assyrians and make 1% of the country put together.

Languages

Persians is the official and national language of Persia, and the 72.3% of the country speak it as their first language. Other languages include speakers of some other Iranian languages within the Indo-European language, and some languages belonging to some other ethnicities living in Persia.

Other indigenous languages include Gilaki (3%), Mazandarani (3%) and Talysh (1.9%) which are spoken in parts of Northern Persia and have affinities with some Caucasian languages. Kurdish is widely spoken in Persian Kurdistan (the provinces of Kordestan and Kermanshah and parts of West Azarbaijan) and its speakers make up 7% of the country, while Luri is spoken in the provinces of Luristan and parts of Khuzestan, Fars and Isfahan, making up 5% of the country. Balochi is spoken in Sistan and Baluchistan, making up 2.5% of the population.

Non-Iranian languages spoken in Persia include Azeri Turkish, mostly concentrated in the Azerbaijan region and its speakers make up 8% of the population. Other Turkic languages include Turkmen, Khorasani Turkish, and put together make up a further 3% of the population. Arabic is the second largest non-Iranic language in the country and its speakers make up 1.6% of the population. Notable minority languages include Armenian, Georgian, Neo-Aramaic and Circassian.

Religion


Shrine of Reza in Sanabad, Persia's best-known religious site
Historically, Persia became the first Twelver Shia state in the world beginning with the brutal religious conversion ordered by Ismail I in the 1500s. This remained the general state and the number of religious minorities mostly diminished until the overthrow of the Kadjar Monarchy and the establishment of the Persian Republic. Ever since then, Persia has been lawfully a secular state with no religion given legal protection or official status.

Shia Muslims make up 47.3% of the population, most of them Twelver Shia though a good number of Ismaili, Nizari and Zaydi Shia also exist among them. Sunni Muslims make up 6% of the population. 1.3% of the population is Christian, most of them Armenian, Assyrian or Chaldean though a number of protestants also exist. Zoroastrians make up 15.3% of the population, with that religion being considered a demonstration of Persian Nationalism. Jews make up 0.4% of the population and other religions put together making 1.3%. Atheists, agnostics or those otherwise godless make up 28.2% of the population.

Yarsamism, a Kurdish indigenous faith, has a relatively large following among Kurds and Lurs in Kurdistan, Kermanshah and Lorestan. Judaism has been in Persia since Cyrus the Great liberated the Jews of Babylon. Though many Jews migrated to the British Mandate of Palestine, and later the State of Judea, in the 20th century, Persia still has something of 211,600 Jews, making Persia's Jewish community the second largest in the Near East and North Africa after Judea itself. The Baháʼí Faith is also another indigenous religion. Originally a variation of Twelver Shia before they broke communion during the Kadjar Period, there are 350,000 Baháʼís in the country, making them 0.6% of the population.

Education


Aryamehr University of Technology in Tehran
Education in Persia is centralized and divided into K-12 education as well as higher education. Elementary and secondary education is under supervision of the Ministry of Education, while higher education is under supervision of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology, and the Ministry of Health for medical fields. As of 2016, 86% of Persian adults are literate, which rises to 97% in young adults (aged 15-24).

Primary education (Persian: Dabestán) starts at the age of 6 for a duration of six years. Junior high school (Persian: Ráhnamáei), otherwise known as middle school includes 3 years while High School (Persian: Dabirestán) includes the last three years. All 12 years of primary and secondary education is mandatory, but students can choose to study in theoretical, vocational/technical or manual fields for High School; each program has its own specialties and in the end of it, students are given a high school diploma. A High school diploma is required for entry into higher education.


Alborz College, a prestigious high school in Tehran
Persians enter university following the Persian University Admission Tests (Persian: Konkure Sarásari). Universities, institutes of technology, medical schools and community colleges provide the higher education. Higher education is sanctioned by different levels of diplomas: Kárdáni (associate degree) is awarded after 2 years of higher education for a number of fields while most fields award Kárshenási (Bachelor's degree) after eight semesters or four years of higher education. After a secondary national entrance exam, students can study for Kárshenásie Arshad (Masters' degree) which is awarded after two more years of study. Followed is another exam which allows a candidate to pursue a doctoral program.

Major universities in Persia include the University of Tehran, Ferdosi University of Sanabad, Tabrise University, Aryamehr University of Technology, Tehran Polytechnic, National University of Persia, Isfahan University, Isfahan Polytechnic, Gilan University and Forughi University. Among these, five are located in the capital, Tehran. Persia ranks first in terms of output growth rate in publication output, and it ranks fourth in the world in terms of research output, after the United States, Japan and Germany.

Health

The Ministry of Health has run a universal public healthcare system since 2003 known as the Universal Health Insurance (Persian: Bime Darmánie Omumi), funded by a tax surcharge on employers. Public-sector funding covers approximately 75.2% of health expenditures. Total expenditure stands at 10.3% of GDP.

Average life expectency is 78.2 years (75.3 for males, 80.4 for females), lower than the EU average of 81 years. Persia has an obesity problem, and air pollution is a major cause of early death, especially in Tehran and Isfahan. There are many private hospitals in the country, and Persia benefits from medical tourism, in particular from neighboring countries, and health tourism earns above $1 billion per year.


Culture
Art


Mirror Hall, the starting point of modern Persian art
Persian art encompasses many disciplines, including architecture, stonemasonry, metalworking, weaving, pottery, painting and calligraphy. Persian works of art show a great variety in style, in different regions and periods. Median art is obscure, though theoretically attributed to the Scythian style. Achaemenids borrowed heavily from the art of their neighboring civilizations, producing a synthesis of a unique style with an eclectic architecture remaining at sites like Persepolis or Pasargadae. Seleucids brought Greek iconography, and that Hellenistic style remained during the Parthian period, with such remains as the Temple of Anahita or the Statue of Parthian Nobleman. Sassanid art was highly influential and spread into far regions beyond Persia itself, having influenced early medieval art in the US. Taqe Bostan, Taqe Kasra and Naqshe Rostam are some surviving monuments of Sassanid art.

The Safavid era is known as the Golden Age of Persian art, and Safavid works of art show a far more unitary development than any other period, as part of a political evolution that reunified Persia as a cultural entity. Safavid art exerted noticeable influences upon the neighboring Turks, the Mughals, and the Deccans, and was also influential through its fashion and garden architecture on 11th–17th-century Europe.

Persia's contemporary art traces its origins back to the time of Kamal ol Molk, a realist painter at the court of the Kadjar period who affected the norms of painting and adopted a naturalistic style that would compete with photographic work. Kamal ol Molk established a new Persian school of art in 1928, followed by the so-called "coffeehouse" style of painting. Avant-garde modernism emerged in Persia by the arrival of new western influences during the second Great War. The vibrant contemporary art scene originates in the late 1940s, with Apadana, the first modern art gallery in Persia, opened in September 1949.

Architecture

Persian architecture goes back to at least the seventh millennium BC. Persians were among the first to use mathematics, geometry and astronomy in architecture. Persian architecture displays great variety, both structural and aesthetic, developing gradually and coherently out of earlier traditions and experience. The guiding motif of Persian architecture is its cosmic symbolism, "by which man is brought into communication and participation with the powers of heaven". This theme has not only given unity and continuity to the architecture of Persia, but has been a primary source of its emotional character as well.

Weaving

Persia's carpet-weaving has its origins in the Bronze Age, and is one of the most distinguished manifestations of Persian art. Persia is the world's largest producer and exporter of handmade carpets, producing three-quarters of the world's total output and having a share of 30% of world's export markets.

Literature


Tomb of Ferdosi in Tus
Avestan, the Old Persian sacred language of the Avesta, legendary and religious texts of Zoroastrianism, is the oldest Persian literary tradition and its earliest records date back to pre-Achaemenid times.

Of the various modern languages used in Greater Iran, Persian has the most influential literature. It is a worthy language to serve as a conduit for poetry and is considered one of the four main bodies of world literature. In spite of originating from the region of Persis (better known as Persia) in southwestern Persia, the Persian language was used and developed further through Persianate societies in Asia Minor, Central Asia, and South Asia, leaving massive influences on Turkish and Mughal literatures, among others.

Among Persia's most famous poets include Rumi, Ferdowsi, Hafez, Saadi, Khayyam and Nezami Ganjavi in the medieval period, Nima Yushij, Abdolhossein Zarrinkub, Parvin E'tesami, Iraj Mirza Ahmad Shamlu and Keysar Aminpur. Other famous writers, especially modern, include Ahmad Kasravi, Sadegh Hedayat, Ali Jamalzadeh and Jalal Al-e Ahmad.

Music

Persia is the birthplace of the earliest complex instruments, dating back to the third millennium BC. The use of both vertical and horizontal angular harps have been documented at the sites Madaktu and Kul-e Farah, with the largest collection of Elamite instruments documented at Kul-e Farah. Multiple depictions of horizontal harps were also sculpted in Assyrian palaces, dating back between 865 and 650 BC.

Xenophon's Cyropaedia mentions a great number of singing women at the court of the Achaemenid Empire. Athenaeus of Naucratis, in his Deipnosophistae, points out to the capture of Achaemenid singing girls at the court of the last Achaemenid king Darius III (336–330 BC) by Macedonian general Parmenion. Under the Parthian Empire, the gōsān (Parthian for "minstrel") had a prominent role in the society. According to Plutarch's Life of Crassus (32.3), they praised their national heroes and ridiculed their Roman rivals. Likewise, Strabo's Geographica reports that the Parthian youth were taught songs about "the deeds both of the gods and of the noblest men". Sassanid music is better documented than earlier periods, especially more evident in Avestan texts. By the time of Khosrow II, the Sassanid royal court hosted a number of prominent musicians, namely Azad, Bamshad, Barbad, Nagisa, Ramtin, and Sarkash.

Persian traditional musical instruments include include string instruments such as chang (harp), qanun, santur, rud (oud, barbat), tar, dotar, setar, tanbur, and kamanche, wind instruments such as sorna (zurna, karna) and ney, and percussion instruments such as tompak, kus, daf (dayere), and naqare. The first symphony orchestra in Persia, the Tehran's Symphony Orchestra, was founded by Qolamhosein Minbashian in 1933. It was reformed by Parviz Mahmoud in 1946 and is currently Persia's oldest and largest symphony orchestra. Later, by the late 1940s, Ruhollah Khaleqi founded the country's first national music society, and established the School of National Music in 1949.

Persian pop music has its origins in the Kadjar period. It was significantly developed since the 1950s, using indigenous instruments and forms accompanied by electric guitar and other imported characteristics. The emergence of genres such as rock in the 1960s and hip hop in the 2000s also resulted in major movements and influences in Persian music.

Theater


Roudaki Hall, Tehran
The earliest recorded representations of dancing figures within Persia were found in prehistoric sites like Tepe Sialk and Tepe Musian. The oldest Persian initiation of theater and the phenomena of acting can be traced in the ancient ceremonial theaters like Sug e Siavash (the Mourning of Siavash), as well as dances and theater narrations of Persian mythological tales reported by Herodotus and Xenophon.

Traditional theatrical genres include Baqqal-Bazi (lit. "grocer play", slapstick comedy), Ruhowzi (comedy performed over a courtyard pool covered with boards), Siahbazi (in which the central comedian appears in blackface), Sayebazi (shadow play), Kheyme Shab Bazi (marionette), Arusak bazi (puppetry) and Ta'zie (religious tragedy play), though the last has lost popularity since 1925, and in particular 1980.

The Persian national stage is a famous performing scene for international artists and troubes. The Roudaki Hall in Tehran functions as a national stage for opera and ballet. The Hall is also home to the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, the Tehran Opera Orchestra, and the Persian National Ballet Company.

Cinema and animation

The earliest attested Persian examples of visual representations are traced back to the bas-reliefs of Persepolis, the ritual capital of the Achaemenid Empire. The figures at Persepolis remain bound by the rules of grammar and syntax of visual language. Persian visual art reached a pinnacle by the Sasanian era, and several works from this period have been found to articulate movements and actions in a highly sophisticated manner. It is even possible to see a progenitor of the cinematic close-up shot in one of these works of art, which shows a wounded wild pig escaping from the hunting ground.


Mehran Modiri, famous Persian comedian
The cinema industry arrived to Persia five years after its birth. Akkas Bashi, the court photographer of Mozaffareddin Shah Kadjar, was the first Persian filmmaker. He obtained a camera and filmed the Kadjar ruler's visit to Europe. Later, Sahhaf Bashi, a businessman, opened the first public movie theater in Tehran. Several others, namely Russi Khan, Ardeshir Khan and Ali Vakili tried to establish new movie thratres in Tehran, and by the early 1930s there were around 15 cinema theaters in Tehran and 11 in other provinces. The first Persian feature film, Abi and Rabi, was a silent comedy directed by Ovanes Ohanian in 1930. The first sounded one, Lor Girl, was produced by Ardeshir Irani and Abdolhosein Sepanta in 1932.

Persia's animation industry began in the 1950s and was followed by the establishment of the influential Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults in January 1965. The 1960s was a significant decade for Persian cinema, with 25 commercial films produced annually on average throughout the early 60s, increasing to 65 by the end of the decade. The majority of the production focused on melodrama and thrillers. With the screening of the films Qeysar and The Cow, directed by Masoud Kimiai and Dariush Mehrjui respectively in 1969, alternative films set out to establish their status in the film industry and Bahram Beyzai's Downpour and Nasser Taghvai's Tranquility in the Presence of Others followed soon. Attempts to organize a film festival, which had begun in 1954 within the framework of the Golrizan Festival, resulted in the festival of Sepas in 1969. The endeavors also resulted in the formation of the Tehran's World Film Festival in 1973

Following the Khuzestan War, a new age emerged in Persian cinema, starting with Long Live! by Khosrow Sinai and followed by many other directors, such as Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi. Kiarostami, an acclaimed Persian director, planted the country firmly on the map of world cinema when he won the Palme d'Or for Taste of Cherry in 1997. The continuous presence of Persian films in prestigious international festivals, such as the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, and the Berlin International Film Festival, attracted world attention to Persian masterpieces. In 2006, six Persian films, of six different styles, represented Persian cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival. Critics considered this a remarkable event in the history of Persian cinema.

Observances


The Haft Sin of Noruz
The Persian New Year (not to be mistaken with legal, fiscal, etc. new year) begins with Noruz, an ancient Persian tradition celebrated annually on the vernal equinox (March 21). It is enjoyed by people adhering to different religions but is considered a holiday for the Zoroastrians. It was registered on the UNESCO's list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2009, described as the Persian New Year, shared with a number of other countries that celebrate it.

On the eve of the last Wednesday before Noruz, the ancient festival of Chaharshanbe Suri celebrates fire by performing rituals such as jumping over bonfires and lighting off firecrackers and fireworks. The Noruz celebrations last until the end of the 13th day of the Persian Year, often called the Sizdabedar which is held on 2 April, during which people traditionally go outdoors to picnic.

Yalda, another nationally celebrated ancient tradition commemorates the ancient goddess Mithra and marks the longest night of the year on the eve of the winter solstice, usually falling on 21 December, during which families gather together to recite poetry and eat fruits, in particular red fruits like pomegranate or watermelon, as well as mixed nuts. There is also the midsummer festival of Tirgan, observed on 3 July, which is a celebration of water and the Mehrgan, celebrated on October 1 and is known as the Persian Festival of Autumn.

Legal holidays observed on a national level include New Years' Day (January 1), Aryamehr Day (15 March, birthday of the Aryamehr), the Noruz celebrations (21 March - 2 April), Labor Day (May 1), Victory Day (May 24, liberation of Khorramshahr from Babylonian forces), Majiles Day (July 31, anniversary of the execution of Fazlollah Noori), Republic Day (December 15, anniversary of the establishment of the Persian republic) and Constitution Day (December 31, anniversary of the First Persian Constitution).

Cuisine


Kabab Bakhtiari
Due to its variety of ethnic groups and influences from the neighboring cultures, the cuisine of Persia is diverse. Herbs are frequently used, along with fruits like plums, pomegranate, quince, prunes, apricots and raisins. To achieve a balanced taste, characteristic flavorings such as saffron, dried lime, cinnamon, and parsley are mixed delicately and used in some special dishes. Onion and garlic are commonly used in the preparation of the accompanying course, but are also served separately during meals, either in raw or pickled form.

Persian cuisine includes a wide range of main dishes, including various types of kebab, pilaf, stew (khoresh), soup and Ash and omelette eaten alongside rice. Lunch and dinner are commonly accompanied by yogurt, Shirazi Salad, torshi and might follow appetizers like Borani, Mirza Qasemi or Kashke Bademjan.

Chai (black tea) is consumed widely, with Persia being the seventh major tea producer in the world, and a cup of tea is typically the first thing offered to a guest. The Falude is one of Persia's most popular desserts, consisting of vermicelli in a rose water syrup. It is eaten alongside the Traditional Persian Ice Cream (Bastani Sonnati), lime juice or carrot juice. Persia is also known for its caviar.

Sports


Tochal Complex in Tehran
Persia is the birthplace of polo, locally known as Chogan. Freestyle wrestling is traditionally considered the national sport of the country, and national wrestlers have been world champions on many occasions. Traditional Persian wrestling, called Koshti Pahlevani, is registered on UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list.


National Sports Complex, Tehran
As a mountainous country, Persia is a venue for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, rock climbing and mountain climbing. It is home to several ski resorts, most famously Tochal, Dizin and Shemshak, all within one to three hours of travel from the capital city of Tehran. The Tochal resort, located on Mt. Tochal in the Alborz range, is the world's fifth-highest ski resort (3,730m at its highest station).

Persia's National Olympic Committee was founded in 1947. Wrestlers and weightlifters have achieved the country's highest records at the Olympics. In September 1974 Persia became the first country in West Asia to host the Asian Games. The National Sport Complex, which is the largest sport complex in Tehran was originally built for this occasion.

Football is Persia's most popular sport, with the men's national team having won the Asian Cup on three occasions. The men's national team has maintained its position as Asia's best team, though it is nowhere as good in the world according to the FIFA World Rankings. Volleyball and Basketball are the next two most popular sports.

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