Civilization & History… cradle of civilization
Iran’s history is measured not in decades or centuries, but in millennia – the diverse civilizations which roamed this land between Europe, Asia and Arabia were highly advanced, developing not just agriculture and architecture, but art, ideas and poetry. Even more surprisingly, many of the ancient sites they have left behind are not buried beneath the desert earth, or fenced off, inaccessible archaeological sites; they form part of modern cities and villages, they are lived in, worshipped in and traded in to this day. Centuries-old tombs are still sites of pilgrimage, for followers of Islam – or loves of poetry. Calls to prayer still echo from the minarets, as bare-footed worshippers kneel and pray within the mosques.
People & Culture (facts, culture & social traditions) THOUSANDS YEARS OF CULTURE
Iran’s culture is deeply intertwined with its long and rich history, especially from the Persian Empire. Art, literature, architecture, and music have deep roots which are still visible today. In fact, Persian artifacts can be seen in many leading museums around the world, such as the British Museum and the Louvre. Much of Iran’s culture is reflective in its handicrafts. The art of carpet-knotting dates back centuries and is an important industry. Another key art form is intricate metal and wood work, known as Khatam-kari or Mina-kari. These handicrafts are still alive and well, and antique versions can be seen in museums while modern substitutes can be purchased at the bazaars.
Iran has some of the friendliest, most hospitable people in the world. The people here are Persian, not Arab, and embracing culture in all its forms is part of the Persian character. Despite the negative media attention, Iranians are great patriots who would never trade who they are or their national heritage for anything. “A guest is a gift from God,” and this saying takes a special position in Iranian culture. No matter if it’s a foreigner or fellow compatriot, Iranians are ready to give the best of what they have.
At the pivot point between the Middle East and Central Asia, Iran borders on the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, and the Caspian Sea. It shares land borders with Iraq and Turkey to the west; Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to the north; and Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east. Slightly larger than the US state of Alaska, Iran covers 1.6 million square kilometers (636,295 square miles). Iran is a mountainous land, with two large salt deserts (Dasht-e Lut and Dasht-e Kavir) in the east-central section.
From mountains and dormant volcanos to plains and valleys, deserts and forests to seas, islands, and hot springs, Iran has a varied geography, to say the least. With four seasons occurring at any given time, it’s not an exaggeration to say that you can go skiing in Tehran and then hop on a flight to hot and humid Chabahar and go swimming in the Persian Gulf. While central Iran is mostly desert, quite distinct landscapes exist in the surrounding provinces. The highest point in Iran is Mt. Damavand, at 5,610 meters (18,400 feet). The lowest point is sea level.