Iran (Persian: ايران , Īrān, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ايران transliteration: Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Īrān), is a country located in West Asia, known previously as Persia. Iran borders Armenia, Azerbaijan (including its Nakhichevan exclave), and Turkmenistan to the north, Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east, and Turkey and Iraq to the west. In addition, it borders the Persian Gulf, across which lie Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Shi'a Islam is the official state religion.
Throughout history, Iran has been of great geostrategic importance because of its central location in Eurasia. Iran is a member and co-founder of the United Nations, the OIC, and OPEC. Iran is also significant in international politics on account of its large supply of petroleum. The name Iran is a cognate of Aryan and literally means "Land of the Aryans."
In former ages, the names Ariana and Persian were used to describe the region which is today known as the Iranian plateau. The earliest Iranian reference to the word (airya/arya/aryana etc), however, predates the Iranian prophet Zoroaster (est. anywhere between 1200 to 1800 BCE, according to Plato and other Greek sources as early as 7000 BCE.) and is attested in non-Gathic Avesta; it appears as airya, meaning noble/spiritual/elevated; as airya dainhava (Yt.8.36, 52) meaning the land of the Aryans; and as airyana vaejah, the original land of the Aryans. Other peoples were called Anairya and later Aniranian, meaning un-aryan or non-Aryan.
During the Achaemenid dynasty (550-330 BCE), the Persian people called their provincial homeland Pārsa, the Old Persian name for Cyrus the Great's kingdom which belonged to the Persian tribe of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranians and which can still be found in the term Pars or Fars as part of the heartland of Iran and for example in the map by Eratosthenes and other historical or modern maps.
Darius I of PersiaHowever, the country as a whole was called Aryanam. The word Ariya, noble/spiritual/elevated, is attested in the Inscriptions of Darius the Great and his son, Xerxes; it is used both as a linguistic and a racial designation as Darius refers to this at the Behistun inscription (DBiv.89), which is written in Aryan language/airyan, also known as Old Persian. Both Darius and Xerxes state in Naqsh-i Rustam (DNa.14), Susa (DSe.13), and Persepolis (XPh.13):
Adam Pārsa, Pārsahyā puça; Ariya, Ariya ciça...
I am Persian, son of a Persian, an Aryan, belonging to the Aryan race." --Darius the Great (549 BCE - 486 BCE)
In Parthian times (248 BCE224 CE) Aryanam was modified to Aryan. In the early Sassanid Period (224651 CE) it had already evolved to Middle Persian Ērān or Ērān Shahr which finally resulted in New Persian Iran or Iran Shahr.
At the time of the Achaemenid empire the Greeks called the country Persis, the Greek name for Pars (Fars), the central region where the empire was founded; this passed into Latin and became Persia, the name widely used in Western countries Which causes confusion as Persia is actually Pars (Fars) province.
In the twentieth century, a dispute arose over whether Iran or Persia is the correct name for the country. On 21 March 1935, the ruler of the country, Reza Shah Pahlavi, issued a decree asking foreign delegates to use the term Iran in formal correspondence in accordance with the fact that "Persia" was a term used for a country called "Iran" in Persian. After some scholars protested, his successor, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, announced in 1959 that both Persia and Iran were acceptable, and could be used interchangeably and the 1979 Revolution led to the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran, but the noun Persia and the adjective Persian are still commonly used.
Persian Empire Recreated
Norouz (the beginning of the Iranian/Persian year)
A movie about Iran
Persian (Iranian) Music