Discover Iran

Welcome to Iran

Iran, historically known as Persia, is the 18th largest country in the world with an area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 miles2). Tehran, the capital, is the country's largest city and the political, cultural, and commercial center of the nation. Over thirteen million of the country's 74 million people live in this dynamic city nestled at the foot of the Alborz Mountains.

Iran is home to one of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations. The first Iranian dynasty formed in 2800 BC and by 625 BC, became the largest and most powerful empire in human history until that time. The borders of the Persian empire stretched from the Indus River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west, extending through modern day Turkey and Egypt. Pre-Islamic Iranians practiced a religion known as "Zoroastrianism", which introduced and adopted policies based on human rights, equality, and the banning of slavery. Zoroastrianism spread during this time through contacts with exiled Jewish people in Babylon who were freed by the Persian king, Cyrus the Great. The Golden Age of Athens, known for philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, came into existence during a time of close relations between Ancient Greece and Persia. This period was marked by a high standard of living for both Persians and Greeks as well as tranquility throughout the region. The interaction between these two cultures helped to lay the foundations for the modern world.

In 632 AD, invaders from the Arab peninsula began attacking the Persian empire which paved the way for the Islamic conquest of Persia. As a result of these events, most of Persia came under Islamic rule. By the ninth century, Islam became a dominant religion in Persia and brought about profound changes to everyday life and belief systems. However, by 822 AD, an era of cultural revival led to a resurfacing of Iranian national identity. Thus developed Persian Islam, a unique melding of the original Arab religion with Iranian traditions that continues to this day.

The culture of present day Iran is comprised of ancient traditions and Islamic influences. Iranian culture has long enjoyed a predominant presence in the Middle East and Central Asia with Persian considered the language of intellectuals during much of the second millennium. Persian culture has impacted civilization in China, India and Rome and has reached as far as Western Europe and Africa. Life in modern Iran is interwoven with Shia Islam and its legacy of great architecture, art, and literature.

Nowruz, commonly called Persian New Year, was originally a Zoroastrian holiday dating back nearly two thousand years. It is celebrated on March 21st to mark the beginning of spring in Iran. Nowruz was registered on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2009.

The cuisine of Iran is diverse. It is possible to visit each province and find local specialties that are prepared nowhere else in the country. In general, Persian dishes are combinations of rice with meat, chicken or fish prepared with onions, vegetables, nuts and herbs. Herbs are frequently used along with fruits such as plums, pomegranates, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins to give the food a spicy sweetness. Plain yogurt, a staple of the Iranian diet, is served with lunch and dinner. Characteristic ingredients such as saffron, dried limes, cinnamon, and parsley create a delicate accord in fine Persian cuisine. As an accompaniment, onions and garlic are enjoyed along with meals, either in raw or pickled form. When you come to Iran, celebrate the country's heritage by sampling its many delicacies.

Persian is a member of the Indo-European language family. Farsi, as it is known in Iran, is the nation's official language. In addition to Persian, many other languages are spoken in Iran such as Azeri, Kurdish, Arabic and Armenian. Modern Persian has its roots in Old Persian which dates back to the Persian Empire during the Achaemenid period in the sixth century BC. Many literary and scientific contributions to the eastern half of the Muslim world have been made in the Persian language.


Iran has a diverse climate that is highly influenced by the local geography. Dense rain forests cover most of northern Iran and are called Shomal or Jungles of Iran because of their high humidity and moderate temperatures that rarely drop below freezing. The eastern and central plateau regions of the country consist mostly of desert basins and experience a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. These areas experience less than twelve inches of rainfall annually. In the Zagros Mountain Basin in western Iran, winters can be severe with freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall. The coastal plains of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman in southern Iran have mild winters and very humid hot summers. In the capital city of Tehran, the coldest winter temperatures occur in January and range from an average low of -3° C (27° F ) to an average high of 7° C (45° F ). At the peak of summer in July, average temperatures range from 22° C (72° F ) to 37° C (99° F ). Although most of Iran has an arid climate, regions of semiarid and subtropical rain forest are also represented in certain parts of the country. All four seasons may be experienced in Iran. Travelers can enjoy the dry heat of the desert, ski in the Alborz mountains north of Tehran, or relax by the Caspian Sea.



The name “Persepolis” is actually a transliteration from the Greek meaning “Persian city”. It is situated 70 km northeast of modern Shiraz. The earliest ruins at Persepolis date from approximately 515 BC. Originally built as the ceremonial capitol of the Achaemenid Empire, the great complex at Persepolis was set on fire by Alexander of Macedonia around 330 BC in what may have been an act of revenge for the burning of the Acropolis at Athens during the Second Hellenic-Persian War. It is widely believed that Cyrus the Great was buried at Persepolis along with Darius the Great, Xerxes I, Artaxerxes I and Darius II.

• Kish Island:
Kish Island is a free trade zone in the Persian Gulf and is regarded as a consumers' paradise, with numerous malls, gallerias, shopping centres, tourist attractions, and resort hotels. Kish is the home of the magnificent Dariush Grand Hotel, which is recognized as one of the top ten best hotels in the Middle East.

• Qeshm Island
Famous for its wide range of ecotourism attractions, Qeshm Island is the largest island in the Persian Gulf and is home to the Hara Marine Forests, Iran's first geopark. According to environmentalists, about 1.5% of the world birds and 25% of Iran's native birds annually migrate to the Hara Forests. A trip to Qeshm Island is a must for the ecotraveler, bird watcher or nature lover.

• Susa
Susa, Iran's most oldest city, dates back almost six thousand years and archeological evidence of prehistoric civilization has been found at Susa from 7000 BC. Two hundred fifty kilometers east of the Tigris River, it is located in the very cradle of humanity. Sush is mentioned in the earliest known Sumarian records, the Hebrew Bible and Greek mythology. Recognized as one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on earth, the modern Persian city of Shush presently occupies the site of ancient Susa. The Zigurat of Chughazanbil, Darius the Great's palace, the Jewish prophet Daniel's temple, and Artaxerxer II 's palace are among the historical sites travelers will enjoy during their trip to this amazing city in the Zagros mountains.

• Dizin:
With a lift that reaches 3,600 m (11,800 ft), Dizin ranks among the forty highest ski resorts in the world. Because of it's high altitude, the ski season lasts from December to May, allowing European visitors to continue to enjoy winter sports long after the snow has melted in their home counties. Dizin is conveniently located just two hours north of Tehran in the Alborz mountain range. Great powder snow, inexpensive prices, and uncrowded slopes makes this is an ideal place for a unique Persian ski holiday.