Official Name: Islamic Republic of Iran

Form of Government: Islamic Republic

Capital: Tehran

Official Language: Persian (Farsi)

Currency: Rial

Area: 1,648,105 Square Kilometers (636,372 Square Miles)

Geography:

Iran, formerly known as Persia, is situated at the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia, and the Arab states of the Middle East. This strategic position along with its access to the Persian Gulf in the south has made Iran an important country throughout the history.

Iran is distinguished from the outside world with various natural resources; in the west, high rugged mountains create a barrier with Iran's neighbors. The east is separated by a barren salty desert. In Iran's north, there’s the Caspian Sea, and in the south, lowlands rim the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

Climate:

With a variable climate, Iran can be cool as well as warm in the summer, and in the cold winters, it can be mild.

However the winters in the northwest are cold with heavy snowfall and subfreezing temperatures during December and January. Spring and fall are relatively mild with a pleasant weather, while summers are dry and hot. Very high temperatures can be experienced along the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea. A small area along the Caspian coast has a very different climate; here rainfall is the heaviest from late summer to mid winter but falls throughout the year.

People and Culture:

With an ancient civilization, Persian culture is a mixture of ancient pre-Islamic culture and Islamic culture. Two and a half millennia of inspiring literature, thousands of poets and writers, outstanding, impressive architecture, live customs and other unique characteristics of the nation are rivaled by only a few countries.

Persian exquisite carpets, subtle soulful classic music, outstanding tile work of unique mosques, old influential architectural style and countless brilliant literary works are famous in the world.

Almost all Iranians are Muslim, or followers of Islam and the religion is central to daily life. The workweek in Iran is Saturday through Thursday and Friday is considered to be the weekend.

Language:

Farsi - known as Persian in English, is spoken and understood by the majority of Iranians and is the official language of Iran.

However there are some other common languages, such as Kurdish, Turkish dialects (Azeri, Tüurkmen,) Baluchi and Arabic, in different regions of the country.

You can learn some Persian before travelling to Iran through www.easypersian.com .

Greetings:

The most common greeting is "salaam” which means peace. When Iranians meet each other they shake hands and sometimes kiss each other.

Although in greetings of the opposite gender, conservative Iranians do not make eye contact or shake hands but keep a discreet distance. A slight bow to each other is then the accepted form of greeting.

Dress Code:

Iran is a country with a dress code and respecting Islamic rules including "Hijab” or the Islamic dress-code is a necessity in Iran. However such rules are not observed strictly, especially for tourists and foreigners.

Basically, the rules are quite simple: for men, no short pants or extreme short sleeve and tight shirts. For women, head and hair must be covered, and it is also necessary to wear something loose to cover the body.

Foods and beverages:

Due to the range of culinary traditions across the Iranian provinces, food in Iran is extremely divers, however it tends to be both healthy and nutritious.

It includes a wide variety of foods ranging from Kebab, different stews, soups, rice, and a diverse variety of salads, pastries, and drinks specific to different parts of Iran. The list of Persian recipes, appetizers and desserts is extensive. To taste true Iranian food, it is necessary to eat at an Iranian’s house.

Iran has a wide pipeline system around the country, and the water is fresh, clean and cheap, However, due to the different water filtration system in Iran, it’s recommended that tourists use bottled water for drinking and tap water for washing.

No matter whether it’s a coke, Pepsi, fruit juice, dairies or Islamic beer, soft drinks in Iran are quite common. ‘Doug’ is a very popular salty yoghurt drink which is similar to ‘Ayran’ (drunk in Turkey).