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25 Fascinating Facts About Iran 

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There are so many facts about Iran that are absolutely fascinating! This country may not be top on your list of holiday destinations, but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to interesting facts! So lets delve into it and uncover our top 25 fascinating facts about Iran…

Fascinating Facts About Iran

If I had to use just three words to describe Iran, a country in West Asia, they would be history, culture, and beauty. Iran is home to one of the oldest empires in the world, the Achaemenid Empire, led by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC. Over the years, many empires came and ruled over Iran which gave rise to the country’s diverse culture and history, and due to its strategic location, Iran is also blessed with several oil reserves.

But what else should you know about Iran? I have listed these below…

1. Persia Was Iran’s Old Name

25 Fascinating Facts About Iran

If you didn’t already know this, here’s one of the most important facts about Iran. 

A few thousand years ago, the entire region of Iran, Turkey, Egypt, and some parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan were part of the great Persian Empire. Hence, the original name of Iran was Persia. 

On March 21 1935, Reza Shah Pahlavi, the former Shah of Iran, requested the international delegates to refer to Persia as Iran. 

2. More Women Attend Universities in Iran Than Men

Here’s one of the facts about Iran that truly impressed me as a woman! 

In Iranian universities, 60% of students are women whereas 40% are men. However, the saddening part is that in Master’s and PhD programs, the number decreases significantly. 

Another unfortunate fact about women’s education in Iran is that only a few women choose to opt for a career after graduation. It’s even less when they get married and have children. 

3. Iranians Speak Persian Not Arabic

If you’re under the impression that Iranians also speak Arabic, you need to know these language-related facts about Iran. 

Iran comprises mainly Persian people. Therefore, their first language or mother tongue is Persian and not Arabic. Persian or Farsi is also the official language of Iran. 

Around 53% of people in Iran speak Persian whereas 18% speak Azerbaijani and Turkic dialects. You’ll also find 10% of people speaking Kurdish in Iran. Only 2% of Iranians speak Arabic. 

Therefore, even if Persian is a widely-spoken language, the country is multilinguistic with more than five main languages!

4. Iran Has Its Own Calendar

This is one of the most unique facts about Iran. 

The country has its own calendar known as the Solar Hijri Calendar. This calendar also has other names like the Iranian Calendar or the Persian Calendar.

The Solar Hijri calendar is based on Earth’s movements around the Sun. There are many differences between the Solar Hijri calendar and the Gregorian calendar too. 

The Solar Hijri year starts on 21 March (as per the Gregorian calendar) and ends on 20 March of the next year. A Hijri year also has 11 days less compared to the Gregorian calendar.

5. Don’t Ever Use Thumbs-Up in Iran!

You might be tempted to use thumbs-up in Iran, but hear me out! 

The “thumbs-up” symbol in Iran is actually offensive. You can consider it equivalent to flipping a middle finger at somebody!

Similarly, it is also considered rude and indecent in neighbouring countries, like Afghanistan. 

25 Fascinating Facts About Iran

6. The Population of Iran Is Very Young

Iran is the 17th-most populated country in the world with a population of more than 80 million people! 

Out of these, 60% of the population is under 30 years of age. Also, only about 11% of Iranians are more than 60 years old. 

7. Tea Is the National Drink of Iran

I cannot survive without a hot cup of tea! It seems like Iranians can’t either. 

Tea is one of the most popular beverages in Iran as it’s also the national drink. In Iran, tea is also known as “Chaiee”. 

Persian tea is a traditional form of tea brewed in Iran. It requires a special Russian metal container known as Samovar for heating water. It also has a ring on top of it where you can place the teapot and brew tea. 

Iranians tend to drink sweet or bitter Persian tea alongside breakfast. 

8. The Weekend in Iran Is on Friday

Iranians don’t get a Sunday but they do have a Friday! As the country is primarily a Muslim majority now, the weekend is Thursday and Friday. 

9. Iranians Are Very Polite

Iranians follow the concept of “Taroof”. It is a Persian word that stands for a unique cultural practice of politeness and social etiquette. 

You’ll see Iranians following this concept in various things. For instance, if you give them a gift, they’ll politely decline it first. They may also argue over who pays the bill instead of asking somebody to pay it for them. 

Although Iranians only mean well while being polite, they may offend people of other cultures who’re not used to the concept of Taroof.

10. The Majority of Iranians Are Shia Muslims

As Iran is a Muslim-majority country, you’ll find both Sunnis and Shias there. 

In 2020, 98.5% of the population consisted of Muslims. 90% of them are Shia Muslims. The rest 10% comprises Muslims from the Sunni or Sufi branch of Islam. 

25 Fascinating Facts About Iran

11. Iran Is the Birthplace of Zoroastrianism

One of the most significant events in the history of Iran or Persia is the start of the Zoroastrianism faith. 

Zoroastrianism is considered the world’s oldest monotheistic religion. It’s also one of the oldest religions in the world as its existence dates back to 10,000 – 7,000 BC.

A priest named Zarathustra or Zoroaster founded Zoroastrianism in the 6th BC and spread the teachings of the supreme god, Ahura Mazdā. The religion became extremely popular in the whole Persian region. 

However, under the Islamic regime in Iran, the Zoroastrians faced severe persecution. Therefore, many of them immigrated to India in the 10th century. Today, they’re known as “Parsis” in the Indian subcontinent. 

12. Persian Cats Originated in Iran

As the name suggests, Persian cats have also originated from Iran. 

Persian cats are known for having round faces, short muzzles, and beautiful and silky long hair. It is believed that the ancestors of the Persian cat breed were exported from Khorasan in Iran to Italy. Yet, there is no proper evidence of this. 

Persian cats are also known as the cats of royalty as they were kept by the King of Persia and the noble class of the European empire.

Today, you can get yourself a Persian cat too!

13. Iran Has 26 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

These facts about Iran are for massive history lovers. After all, the country is home to 26 UNESCO World Heritage Sites! It is also one of the top ten countries to have the most number of World Heritage Sites. 

Out of 26 sites, two are natural which include the Lut Desert in Kerman and Sistan and Baluchestan and Hyrcanian Forests in Golestan, Mazandaran and Gilan

Other important heritage sites also include Persepolis, the ancient capital of the Achaemenid Empire, in Fars and the Historic City of Yazd, the oldest earthen city. 

14. Iran Produces Some of the Best Carpets in the World

I love exploring a country’s art and craft. So, I enjoyed learning about the carpet-making facts about Iran. 

Iran is popular for carpet-making as it’s also the birthplace of the well-known Persian Rugs. You’ll also find other handmade rugs like Isfahan Rugs and Kafkazi Rugs in Iran. 

The reason why Iranian carpets are so well-known is that they use fine wool fabric, vibrant colours, and extremely intricate designs. 

All of these things make Iranian carpets look more distinguished and premium compared to carpets from other parts of the world!

15. Iran Is Home to Asiatic Cheetah

Wildlife enthusiasts, here are some facts about Iran for you. 

As Iran has an arid or semiarid climate, you’ll find the famous Asiatic Cheetah here. 

The Asiatic Cheetah lives in the desert areas surrounding Dasht-e Kavir (or the Great Salt Desert). Hence, you’ll find them in certain regions of Semnan, Yazd, Tehran, Kerman, and Khorasan. 

The sad part is that there are only 12 Asiatic cheetahs left in the wild in Iran. Out of these, 9 are males whereas 3 are females.

Asiatic cheetahs are listed as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN Red List.

16. Mount Damāvand Is the Highest Point in Iran

If you’re a hiking enthusiast, these facts about Iran are for you! 

Iran has over 41,788 named mountains. Located in Māzandarān province, Mount Damāvand is the highest peak in the entire region. It is located at an elevation of 5,671 metres or 18,605 feet. 

Another fact about Mount Damāvand is that it’s also the highest volcano in Asia! It’s dormant and erupted last around 5350 BC. 

Mount Damāvand is an important part of Persian mythology and is a symbol of the everlasting struggle between good and evil. 

25 Fascinating Facts About Iran

17. Iran Owns 10% of the Oil Reserves of the World

We need to discuss some oil-related facts about Iran!

Iran is the third largest country in terms of oil reserves after Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.

In 2019, the country had oil reserves of 156 billion barrels! This is equivalent to almost 10% of the world’s total oil share. 

Iran has many oil fields such as the Ahvaz Field, Marun Field, Aghajari Field, and Gachsaran Field.

The Ahvaz Field produces 945 thousand barrels per day, whereas Marun Field produces 500 thousand barrels!

18. Persians Are Not the Only People in Iran 

These facts about Iran are all about its multi-ethnicity!

Most people believe that the only race that lives in Iran is Persian. Yet, Persians make up about 61% of the population whereas the rest are from other races. 

The common ones include Azeri (16%), Kurds (10%), Baloch (2%), and Arab (2%). You’ll also find other minor ethnicities like Mazandaranis, Talysh, Turkmen, and Assyrians.  

19. Iran Has the Largest Hand-Woven Carpet in the World

You already know that Iran is known for its carpet-making. These facts about Iran just prove it further!

The Iran Carpet Company has manufactured the largest hand-woven carpet in the entire world. The carpet’s size is around 5,630 square metres or 60,600.81 square feet!

Additionally, the carpet also uses 70 different dyes. Owing to its huge size, the carpet took about six years and thousands of weavers to finish!

Today, you can find the carpet in the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

25 Fascinating Facts About Iran

Here’s one of the facts about Iran for football lovers!

Iranians love football with all their heart and they’re also pretty good at it. 

The Iranian football team won three Asian football championships in the years 1968, 1974, and 1976.  In 1978, the team also participated in the FIFA World Cup for the first time.

After 1978, Iran’s football team qualified for FIFA in the years 1998, 2006, 2014, 2018, and the latest 2022 World Cup too!

There are local football teams as per cities and regions too in Iran that play against each other!

Apart from football, Iranians are also fond of other sports like volleyball and wrestling. 

21. Chelo Kabab Is the National Dish of Iran

Iran has one of the most vibrant cuisines in the world! It is famous for various types of bread, rice-based dishes, meat dishes, and many more. 

However, the one dish that stands out amongst the rest is Chelow Kabab as it’s the country’s national dish. 

Chelo Kabab consists of plain white basmati rice, served with any type of Iranian kebab. You can also serve it with many accompaniments like grilled tomatoes, butter, onions, and basil.

So, all foodies should remember these facts about Iran because it’s truly a food paradise!

22. Iran Is the World’s Largest Producer of Saffron

In my opinion, when you add saffron to anything, you can improve its taste almost ten times! So, this is one of my favourite facts about Iran. 

Iran is responsible for producing 88% of the world’s saffron. In 2019, the country produced almost 430 tons of saffron. Hence, it is the world’s largest producer and exporter of saffron, followed by India. 

Iranians grow saffron in many places in the country. Yet, the highest quality of saffron is sourced from Estahban in the Fars Province and Ghaenat in the Khorasan Province

23.  Aragh Sagi Is Iran’s Famous Drink 

Let’s talk about a few controversial facts about Iran.

Although alcohol is banned in Iran, Aragh Sagi, an alcoholic beverage, is still quite popular. 

Most Iranians who follow age-old traditions and drink alcohol enjoy this beverage during the summer and spring months.

The drink is also known as “Persian Vodka” and contains more than 50% alcohol content! It is made through the distillation of sultana raisins. When it comes to its taste, Aragh Sagi is sweet and fruity (due to raisins). 

24. Tehran Is the Nose Job Capital of the World

If you want to know some surprising facts about Iran, read this one!

Tehran, the capital of Iran, is often known as the “Nose Job Capital of the World”. It is because many Iranians undergo nose jobs as there’s nothing in the Islamic culture or books restricting that. 

The number of nose procedures per person is more than that of LA itself! It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? 

If you ever visit Tehran, there is a high chance that you’ll come across someone with multiple bandages on their nose. This is a sure-shot sign that the person has undergone nose surgery.  

25. Don’t Blow Your Nose in Public in Iran

This is one of the must-know facts about Iran, especially if you’re planning to visit!

Blowing your nose in public is one of the most common things that we all do. Yet, when you’re in Iran, you should refrain from doing it. 

The reason is that blowing your nose in front of someone is considered indecent, rude, and gross in Iranian culture. So, you should go to a washroom or a secluded area. 

Further Reading – Facts About Iran

In conclusion, Iran is a country with an extensive history, culture, and natural beauty. From its ancient roots as the home of the renowned Persian Empire to its artistic society, the beauty of Iran is simply unsurpassable! 

Just like Iran, there are many countries in the world with an extensive history and a vivid culture. So, if you enjoyed reading these facts about Iran, you may also check out these articles too: 

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