|Islamic Republic of Iran
جمهوری اسلامی ايران
Jomhuri-ye Islāmi-ye Irān
|Motto: Esteqlāl, āzādi, jomhuri-ye eslāmi (Persian)
Independence, freedom, Islamic Republic
|Anthem: سرود ملی جمهوری اسلامی ایران
Sorud-e Melli-ye Irān
The National Anthem of the Islamic Republic of Iran
|-||First Vice President||Parviz Davoodi|
|-||2007 census||70,472,846 (17)|
|GDP (PPP)||2007 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2007 estimate|
|Currency||Iranian rial (
|Time zone||IRST (UTC+3.5)|
|-||Summer (DST)||IRDT (UTC+4.5)|
Iran, (Persian: ايران), officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ايران), formerly known as Persia until 1935, is a country in the Middle East, in the southwest of Asia. It was known from Old Testament times until 1935 as Persia. The country borders Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east; Turkmenistan to northeast, the Caspian Sea in the middle north and Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest; Turkey and Iraq to the west and finally the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea to the south.
Persia emerged in the 6th century BC under the Achaemenid dynasty as a vast empire that controlled an area from India to Greece. It was conquered by Alexander the Great, but soon after Persia regained its independence in the form of the Parthian and Sassanid Empires. The latter was defeated by Islamic Arab forces in the 7th century AD, who were followed by Seljuk Turks, the Mongols, and Timur.
The 16th century saw renewed independence with the Safavids and then other lines of kings or shahs. During the 19th century Persia came under pressure from both Russia and the United Kingdom and a process of modernization began that continued into the 20th century.
In 1953, prime minister Mohammed Mossadeq, who had been elected to parliament in 1923 and again in 1944, and who had been prime minister since 1951, was removed from power in a complex plot orchestrated by British and US intelligence agencies, leading to the dictatorship of the shah (Iran's monarch), Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. With strong support from the USA and the UK, the Shah further modernized Iranian industry but crushed civil liberties. His autocratic rule, including systematic torture and other human rights violations, led to revolution and overthrow of his regime in 1979. After over a year of struggle between a variety of different political groups, an Islamic republic was established under the Ayatollah Khomeini.
The new theocratic regime instituted many conservative and often repressive Islamic reforms, as well as engaging in an anti-Western course, in particular against the United States. Strict Islamic law was implemented, and women lost many of their rights. Human rights abuses, such as torture and violent executions continue. In 1980 Iran was attacked by neighboring Iraq and the destructive Iran-Iraq War continued until 1988. However, in more recent years, the democratic political structure has led to the election of many reformist politicians, including the president, Mohammad Khatami. During the first decade of the 21st century, the struggle for power between reformists and conservatives over the future of the country continues through a mix of electoral politics and restrictions on civil liberties.