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Iran Information - Page 2
Early agricultural communities began to appear in Iran (Persia) in the eighth millennium BC. Elam, in south-west Iran, was one of the earliest civilisations. Aryan clans (the Persa and the Medes) migrated to the Iranian plateau in the second millennium BC.

The year 550 BC marked the rise of the Achaemenid Empire which at its zenith comprised of Persia (Iran), Mesopotamia (Iraq), Syria, Egypt, parts of Asia Minor (Turkey) and India. Cyrus the Great was the first Achaemenid ruler, followed by Cambyses, Darius the Great and Xerxes.

War with Greece started in 499 BC with a rebellion by Greek cities along the coast of Asia. To punish the mainland Greeks the Persians invaded Greece in 490 BC but were defeated by the Athenians at Marathon. In 480 BC the Persians returned but were beaten again, though Athens was burned.

Under Alexander, the son of Philip of Macedon, the Greeks invaded and conquered Persia (334 BC). Alexander died in 323 BC and one of his generals founded the Seleucid Dynasty which ruled Persia until 141 BC. Following empires were the Parthian and Sassanid dynasties.

The mid seventh century saw the Arab conquest of Persia and the introduction of Islam. Between the early ninth century and the early thirteenth century many developments took place in science, mathematics, philosophy and literature. Then in 1220 Genghis Khan and the Mongols attacked and subdued the country. Later, towards the end of the fourteenth century, Persia was conquered by Tamerlane (or Timur), a Turco-Mongol warlord who ruled the country from Samarkand in present-day Uzbekistan. Around a century after Tamerlane took control of Persia, Shah Ismail I founded the Safavid Dynasty, bringing the country under Iranian leadership.

In 1908 large quantities of oil were discovered in Iran; the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later British Petroleum) was established to develop the resource.

Not long after the First World War (1914-1918), Reza Khan, an army officer, took control of the country. Later, Reza Khan became Reza Shah Pahlavi. During the Second World War (1939-1945) British and Russian forces occupied Iran and Reza Khan abdicated in favour of his son, the Crown Prince, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.

At the beginning of 1979, after a year of great unrest, Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi left Iran. The following month Ayatollah Khomeini, a prominent exiled religious leader, returned to Tehran and Iran became an Islamic republic. On 22 September 1980 Iran was invaded by Iraq. The Iran-Iraq War lasted nearly eight years. Ayatollah Khomeini died a year after the war and Ali Khamenei became the national religious leader.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century Iran's oil and gas resources were estimated to represent around nine percent of the world's proven oil reserves and fifteen percent of its gas reserves. Petroleum revenues have been invested in infrastructure including transport.

Other industries include petrochemicals, fertilizers, caustic soda, metals, cement, construction materials, textiles, carpets and food processing.

Agricultural products are rice, grains, sugar, pistachio nuts, walnuts, apples, bananas, citrus fruits, dates, grapes, melons, peaches, pears and cherries. Cotton is grown and wool produced. Chickens, goats, sheep and cattle are reared for meat and dairy products. Fishing has always been important along the Iranian coasts and the Caspian Sea provides Iran's caviar. (2011)

Iran is famous for decorative arts in architecture: tile work, metal work, wood work, stained glass and mirror decoration. It is equally known for glassware and ceramics. Iranian handwoven carpets are also an art form. Examples of Iranian carpets can be seen in the Niavaran Palace-Museum in Tehran.

Iran is also well known for poetry. Rudaki (880-954 AD) was the first major Persian poet, becoming an icon of cultural identity. Ferdowsi, considered Iran's national poet, wrote Shahnameh (Book of Kings) in 1010. Omar Khayyam (1044-1123), a mathematician and astronomer as well as a poet, is perhaps the best known Iranian poet in the West. Edward FitzGerald translated The Rubaiyat by Khayyam into English in 1859.

Football and basketball are popular team sports in Iran.

Iran is a competitor in the Olympics winning gold medals in weightlifting and wrestling.

Public holidays commemorate Revolution Day (11 February), the Day of the Nationalization of the Oil Industry (20 March), Islamic Republic Day (1 April) and the Islamic New Year.

Holy Days include the Birthday of the Prophet, Ramadan, Eid Al Fitr (End of Ramadan) and Eid Al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice).

News is available from Newslink.

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