Useful country information
Total area: 636,293 sq mi (1,648,000 sq km)
Population (2014 est.): 80,840,713 (growth rate: 1.22%); birth rate: 18.23/1000; infant mortality rate: 39/1000; life expectancy: 70.89
Capital and largest city (2011 est.): Tehran, 7.304 million
Other large cities: Mashhad 2.713 million; Esfahan 1.781 million; Karaj 1.635 million; Tabriz 1.509 million; Shiraz 1.321 million (2011)
Monetary unit: Rial
National name: Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran
Languages: Persian (official) 53%, Azeri Turkic and Turkic dialects 18%, Kurdish 10%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 7%, Luri 6%, Balochi 2%, Arabic 2%, other 2%
Ethnicity/race: Persian 61%, Azeri 16%, Kurd 10%, Arab 2%, Lur 6%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other
Religions: Muslim (official) 99.4% (Shia 90-95%, Sunni 5-10%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian) 0.3%, unspecified 0.4% (2011 est.)
National Holiday: Republic Day, April 1
Literacy rate: 85% (2008 est.)
Iran is historically known as Persia. The Persian Empire was one of the greatest empires of the ancient world with a series of imperial dynasties. The empire also was frequently invaded, first by Alexander the Great, then by the Parthians, later ruled by the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire.
Iran's hereditary monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, fled the country in 1979 after decades of corrupt and authoritarian rule, and mounting religious and political unrest. Exiled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from Paris to lead an Islamic revolution and formed the world's first Islamic republic the same year. An eight-year war with Iraq followed.
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