Iran: What’s in a Name? • Historically known as Persia until 1935, when Reza Shah Pahlavi asked for the country to be called by its native name • Iran means “Land of the Aryans” • Persia derived from ancient Greek name for Iran, Persis • Name comes from a region in southern Iran called Pars
Location • Asia: The Middle East • North: former Soviet Republics • South: Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman • East: Afghanistan, Pakistan • West: Turkey, Iraq • Major Cities: Tehran, Tabriz, Mashhad, Esfahan, Shiraz
Early History • 6,000 years of civilization and 2,500 years of written history. • 1,400 years of post-Islamic history since the Arab conquest in 7th century AD: religious and national subordination and never-ending conflict. • Median Dynasty (728-550 BC): created first Iranian Empire • Safavid Dynasty (1502-1736): conversion of population towards Shi’ism • Qajar Dynasty (1781-1925): constitutional dynasty; British and Russian spheres of influence
Pahlavi Dynasty (1925-1979) • Ruled Iran from the crowning of Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1925 to the overthrow of Reza Shah Pahlavi's son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the Iranian Revolution of 1979. • By the mid-1930s Reza Shah's dictatorial style of rule caused dissatisfaction among some groups • Dynasty collapsed following widespread uprisings in 1978 and 1979. • Its collapse marks a break in the ancient tradition of Iranian monarchy.
Islamic Revolution (1979) • Transformed Iran from a monarchy under Pahlavi dynasty to an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic. • It has been called the third great revolution in history • Helped make Islamic fundamentalism a political force • Constitution based on rule by Islamic jurists • Khomeini—Supreme leader (lifetime appointment) • President—Head of the Government • Cabinet • Supreme Court • Legislation
1980s—strained time with US • 52 U.S. diplomats held hostage by group of Iranian terrorists who took over American embassy in support of the Islamic revolution. • 444 day hostage crisis ended in 1981 • The incident was seen by many as a blow against U.S. influence in Iran and its support of the recently fallen Shah of Iran, Pahlavi, who had recently been allowed into the United States for cancer treatment. • In Iran, the crisis is thought to have strengthened the political hold of radical anti-American forces who supported the hostage taking. • The crisis also marked the beginning of American legal action, or sanctions, that weakened economic ties between Iran and America.
Iranian Demographics • Population—nearly 70 million • Life expectancy at birth—69 years • Birth rate—17 per 1,000 persons • Death rate—6 per 1,000 persons • Literacy rate—72%
Ethnicity and Religion • Although there are various sub-groups, the majority of Iranians would say their religion is Islam. • The largest ethnic group in Iran is Persians, followed by Azeris.
Economy • Mixed System: • Large and dominating public sector • Small private sector • Multinational corporations • Structure: • Agriculture 24% • Industry 28% • Services 48% • Major Exports: petroleum, carpets, nuts • Major Imports: capital goods, food items • Unemployment rate: 16% and rising
A Youth Powered Society • Youth Demographic • Between 15-29 years old—25 million (35%) • Median age—26 years old • Legal voting age—16 years old • Issue of high concern • High unemployment
Women in Iran • Higher Education—65% • Changing Marriage and Child Custody Laws • Shirin Edabi: Nobel Peace Prize 2003 • Professional life • Women in all aspects of work force • Inequality in senior and managerial jobs
An Advanced and Cultured Society: Science • Avicenna • father of early modern medicine (11th century) • Biruni • first anthropologist (11th century)
Science (cont.) • Mina Bissel • Possible Nobel Peace prize candidate for her scientific work in the field of cancer biology and therapeutics
Art, Media, and Sport • Andre Agassi • Former world #1 professional tennis player. • Freddie Mercury • Lead singer of Queen
Art, Media, and Sport (cont.) • Christiane Amanpour • Chief International Correspondent for CNN • Abbas Kiarostami • internationally acclaimed film director; received 100 awards; President of Cannes Film Festival in 2005
Business • Farzad Nazem • Chief Technology Officer and Executive VP of Yahoo! • Firouz Naderi • Associate Director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Business (cont.) • Pierre Omidyar • Founder and chairman of eBay • Omid Kordestani • Senior VP for World Wide Sales and Field Operations of Google
Cuisine • Very diverse, with each province featuring its own dishes • Base of the cuisine: rice • Most common ingredients include herbs, vegetables, saffron, nuts • World capital of caviar • Earliest wine production in Iran between 6000 and 5000 BC • Shiraz wine: produced in 9th century—finest wine in Middle East
Nowrooz—Iranian New Year • Established in 1388 • First day of Spring (equinox) • Symbolic—rebirth, renewal • Family celebration without religious connotation • Traditions: house cleaning, new clothes, special dishes, family visiting, Haft-Sin table