General Information About Iran


Iran is an incredible place to visit. Not only for its continuous history of more than 7000 years, but also its variety of landscapes, monuments, customs and lifestyles that make Iran attractive in any season.

About one million historical sites exist in Iran. It is obvious that even the most interesting of these can be visited by planning many trips to the country. These trips are all pleasant because visitors to Iran never leave it without memories of its wonderful hospitable people.

Visit Iran, to get first-hand experiences of this fascinating, welcoming country.


Name origin:

The name «Iran» comes from the Old Persian word meaning «the land of Aryans».

Iran has been the name of this country at least since the Sassanid period. However, until 1935, the English speaking world knew this country as Persia, a legacy of the Greeks who named the region after its most important province, Pars (Present day Fars)



Total: 1.648.195 million km2

Land: 1.636 million km2

Water: 12.000 km2

Comparative: the size of the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland all combined.


Land boundaries:

Total: 5440 km

Coastline: 2440 km

Border countries: Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan – proper 432 km, Azerbaijan – Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1.458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, Turkmenistan 992 km.



Mostly dry or semiarid subtropical along the Caspian coast.



Rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts and mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts.


Elevation extremes:

Lowest point: Caspian sea -28 m

Damavand peak: 5671 m.


Natural resources:

Petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur.


Population growth rate:

76.500.000 (2013 est):

1.3% (2013 est)


Ethnic groups:

Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baluch 2%, Turkman 2%, other 1%



Persian and dialects 58%, Turkish and dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Baluchi 1%, Arabic 1%, other 3%



Muslim 98% (Shia 89%, Sunni 9%), Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and other 2%


Administrative divisions:

31 provinces (ostanha, singular - otsan); Ardabil, Alborz, Azarbayjan– e Gharbi, Azarbayjan– e Sharqi, Bushehr, Chahar Mahal va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshah, Khorasan- e Jonubi, Khorasan- e Razavi (Razavi Khorasan), Khorasan- e Shomali, Khuzestan, Kohgiluey va Bowyer Ahmad, Kurdestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan.





Government type:

Islamic republic



A mixture of state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small- scale private trading and services ventures.

Major industries: oil, gas, agriculture, carpets.

Industries: petroleum, Petrochemicals, textiles, cement and other construction materials, handicrafts food processing (Particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabricating, armaments.


Wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, fruits, nuts, cotton, dairy products, wool, caviar.


Oil and oil products 85%, carpet, fruits and nuts, iron and steel, chemicals.



Iranian Rials (IRR) and unofficialy Tomans (Every 10 Rials is equal to 1 Toman)


Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Iran is March-May to September-November. It mostly rains in the winter months and can be very cold and snowy at times. Areas along the coasts enjoy a mild climate.


The Most Important Tourist Attractions

Due to historical background and sustainable social and cultural evolution Iran has a lot of various worth seeing sites that satisfy tourists with different tastes. Every tourist, whatever his/her interests, may find many spectacular places depending on his taste. It should not be forgotten that the best way for recognition of every country is direct contact with its people and spend some days with them.



Iranian transport is of high quality and very affordable. There are few places the very cheap buses don't travel to. The train network is limited but comfortable and reasonably priced and travel by air is very cheap. Especially by international standards (in fact one of the cheapest in the world) the ticket prices are always fixed and you don't have benefits of early bookings.



A large road network and low costs have made Iran an attractive country for exploring with your own car. However a recent government fuel tax on foreigners entering Iran by private car has somewhat dimmed the allure. Foreigners arriving in Iran with their own car will need to have a carnet de passage and a valid international driver's license.

Petrol stations can be found on the outskirts of all cities and towns and in cities full of cars, a mechanic is never far away.



The Iranian domestic bus network is extensive and thanks to the low cost of fuel, very cheap.

The government has limited buses to 80 km/h in the normal roads and 110 km/h in the freeways.

There is little difference between the various bus companies, and most offer two classes: Normal (2nd class) and VIP (1st class). First class (VIP) buses are air-conditioned and you will be provided with a small snack during your trip, while second class services are more frequent. Given the affordability of first class tickets, there's little financial incentive to choose the second classer vices, especially in summer.



For anyone on a tight deadline, affordable domestic air services are a blessing. The major national carrier Iran Air, and its semi-private competitors (Iran Aseman, Mahan air, Kish air, etc.) link Tehran with most regional capitals and offer inter-regional flights for no more than US $60. Their services are frequent, reliable and safe and definitely worth considering to skip the large distances within Iran.

Tickets can be bought at travel agents dotted through the most major cities or online. Book early during the summer months of August and September since finding seats at short notice is sometimes impossible.


Railway Network

Raja Passenger Trains is the main passengers' rail system. Traveling by train through Iran is generally more comfortable and faster than speed-limited buses. Sleepers in overnight trains are especially good value as they allow you to get a good night's sleep while saving on a night's accommodation. The rail network is comprised of three main trunks. The first stretches east to west across the north of the country linking the Turkish and Turkmenistan borders via Tabriz, Tehran and Mashhad. The second and third extend south of Tehran but split at Qom. One line connects to the Persian Gulf via Ahvaz and Arak, while the other traverses the country's center linking Kashan, Yazd and Kerman.



Persian cuisine is exotic yet simple similar to an Omar Khayyam's poem. It is healthy, yet colorful, link Persian miniature painting. Persian cooking is combination of rice with meat, chicken or fish and plenty of garlic, onion, vegetables, nuts, and herbs. To achieve a delicious taste and a balanced diet, unique Persian spices such as saffron, diced limes, cinnamon, and parsley are mixed delicately.

The cuisine of Persian influenced cooking all over the world, from the beef dishes of India, to the sweet and sour that graced the tables of Medieval and Renaissance Monarchs. Modern Iranian food fits perfectly with today's lighter eating style. Iranian food has a lot of similarity with the other cuisines of the Middle East, but it is more sophisticated and imaginative, as colorful and complex as a Persian carpet.

Iranian food is inventive, rich and varied.

Rice - usually flavored with saffron – is a staple, along with vegetables. The dishes that have made Persian cuisine famous worldwide are mostly homemade, because Iranian women generally do not work in restaurants. One of the most celebrated dishes is Ghormeh Sabzi, a subtle combination of lamb, herbs, and lemon that takes great skill and hours to prepare. Another is Fesenjan, chicken in a pomegranate sauce with walnuts. Iranian food is not spicy. Herbs are used a lot, as is fruit – from plums and pomegranates to quince, prunes, and raisins. Much preparation time also goes into rice.

Iranians feel that the best rice is a type grown in the northern part of their country around the Caspian Sea; it costs twice as much as the imported varieties from Southeast Asia.

First, it is thoroughly rinsed. The rice is then put in boiling water, strained, and finally steamed.

At most restaurants, the kebab is king, mostly because it is fast to prepare, and eateries are generally run by men, whose main culinary skill, as for many of their Western counterparts, is barbecuing on the grill. Iranians have looked at food at 3 different ways for many centuries; medicinal, philosophical and culture. Iranian physicians and philosophers considered food and beverages as the main factor to revive body. Consuming food is a way of weakening or strengthening human character. Consuming a lot of red meat and fats was thought to create evil thoughts and make us selfish. However, consuming a healthy diet including fruits, vegetable, fish, poultries, mixed petals and blossoms of roses create unusual powers and make us gentle and noble creatures.

From cultural point of view, Persian food has always been considered to be an art providing enjoyment to both body and mind. No accurate record of classical Persian cooking is available.

The techniques have been passed down generation to generation. Women have had a great influence in the history of cooking in Iran. The best Persian Cuisine chefs were and still are women.

Like other cultures, special foods are prepared for different occasions, i.e. weddings, funerals, birthdays, Persian New Year, religious and historical feasts, formal and state gatherings.



In general, Iran is healthy country to travel in, and you are unlikely to catch any exotic deceases here. The main troubles for tourists are stomach upset and heat exhaustion. It is not necessary to bring medicine. You can refer in health centers even in villages and small towns. Make sure you are healthy before you start traveling.

No vaccinations are required before entering Iran, but your doctor may advise vaccinations against hepatitis, malaria, and typhoid. If you do not feel well, start by consulting with a pharmacist able to diagnose minor health problems and to suggest appropriate treatment. The quality of medical care is reasonably high by international standards. Many doctors have received training in West and speak basic European languages.



Iran is one of the safest countries. The stability of security is carried out by the ministry of interior and law enforces (police) is the executive arm of this ministry.

The roads security and supervision on the practice of driving codes and laws in all over the country is carried out by police.