About Iran

Formal Name: The Islamic Republic of Iran

Location: Middle East, bordering the Sea of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan

Time: GMT+3:30 from September 22 to March 21 and GMT+4:30 from March 22 to September 21

Area: 1.648 million sq. km (slightly larger than Alaska)

Bordering Countries: Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan 432 km, Azerbaijan Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, Turkmenistan 992 km, Total 5,440 km

Coast line: 2,440 km along the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf. Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)

Climate: Mostly arid or semi-arid, subtropical along the Caspian Coast

Terrain: Rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts

Elevation Extremes: Caspian Sea -28 m, Mount Damavand 5,671 m

Natural Resources: Petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur

Capital: Tehran

Administrative Divisions: 28 Provinces

Major Cities: Tehran, Mashad, Isfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz

Population: 73,000,000 (2005)

Ethnic Groups: Persian 51%, Azerbaijani 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baluch 2%, Turks 1%, other 2%

Official Language: Modern Persian is the official language of Iran. An ancient literary language, Persian was written in the Pahlavi script before the Arab conquest in the 7th century. A new form written in the Arabic script developed during the 9th and 10th centuries, this is the basis of the Modern Persian language used today.

Religions: Muslim 99%; Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians 1%

Economy: A mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures

Industries: Petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, construction materials, food processing, metal fabricating, automobile manufacturing

Agricultural Products: Wheat, rice, sugar beets, fruits, pistachios, cotton, dairy products, wool; caviar

Exports: Petroleum, carpets, fruits, nuts, hides, steel

Fiscal Year: 21 March – 20 March

Banking hours and currency: Banks are open from 07:30 to 15:00 Saturday to Wednesday and 07:30 to 11:30 Thursday. Friday is a public holiday. The unit of currency is Rial. Each 10 Rials make 1 toman. According to the latest statistics each American Dollar is approximately equal to 8000 Iranian Rials. Some selected shops, Hotels and Melli Banks of Iran accept Master and Visa credit cards.

How to get there: Most airlines operate scheduled weekly flights from and to Tehran, including Iran Air the national carrier. Flights reconfirmation must be made 72 hours prior to departure. For all passengers entering and visiting Iran, a valid passport bearing an entry visa is required. Holiday travel & tourist agency makes facilities for this procedure through Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Best Time to Visit: Iran lies in a continental climate with great diversities, being a vast country, Iran has regions with different temperatures even at a specific period of time, being situated inside a dry belt of the globe and because of the check imposed by the Alborz and Zagros ranges the plateau has a dry desert peculiarity. Winter temperatures often fall below freezing especially in the mountains, while summers are usually hot. In the northern coastal areas of the Caspian Sea climate is mild and humid. The southern parts and the Persian Gulf region have rather a hot and humid weather with pleasant winters. Therefore, because of these climatic diversities one can enjoy from winter sports while at the same time within a few hours of travel, it is possible to swim in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf. The best time to visit Iran is March till May and September till November.

Dress Code: According to the Islamic and social beliefs in Iran, wearing Hejab (Modest dress) is necessary for women.

Transportation: Imam Khomeini Tehran international airport (IKA), is about 35 km south west of city. Iranians use the internal airlines as their primary means of transportation, so flights are often booked well in advance. Taxis from the airport (and elsewhere) don’t use meters, so be sure to agree on the fare before getting in the cab. There is a reliable prepaid taxi service outside the international arrivals hall. A journey across the city should cost no more than $35.00. There’s rail service, both within the country and to Europe and surrounding countries. There is excellent bus service between Istanbul and Tehran. Land borders with Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan are open. An escorted tour is the best way for most first-time visitors to see the country. Hiring a car and driver or taxis would be a second choice. Bus service is extremely popular, and many buses run each day between all cities and towns in Iran. Taxis are also available.

Shopping: The best places to shop are the bazaars in Tehran, Shiraz and Isfahan. Shop for silks, Persian rugs, brassware, embroidery, ceramics, hand blown glass, antiques, turquoise, carved or painted miniatures, caviar, inlaid wood, enamel work, silver and gold ware and other local handicrafts.

Customs: All passengers entering the country can have reasonable goods of personal nature and of reasonable quantities. All Pets must have inoculation certificates against rubies issued by consulate in the country of origin.

Prohibited items: Alcoholic beverages, possession or trafficking of illegal drugs have severed punishments, all kinds of firearms, obscene articles and publications. For those departing Iran, two piece of carpet or two rugs (3 Sq.m), gold maximum 150 grams, unlimited amount of new Iranian handicrafts, reasonable quantity of cigarettes is free for export.

Electrical current: The electrical current in Iran is 225 Volts with frequency of 50 Hertz. (Two pin plug)

Food: Most international foods are found in the deluxe hotels, but the local food, lightly seasoned, is excellent and should be sampled as often as possible.

Vaccinations: There is no vaccinations of any type needed for traveling to Iran.

Visa: Entry visa are required for all nationalities except nationals of Turkey, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Croatia and Bosnia. For entry visa must be applied through Iranian Embassies or Consulates and the travel agents in Iran can support the visa applications if it is necessary. The Embassies and consulates are generally open from 08:30 to 16:00 hrs from Saturday to Thursday. Friday is weekend holiday. For more information you can contact Iranian Embassy in your country.

Geography: Iran is a landscape of dreams, a huge country of 1,648,000 square Kilometers with varying ecosystems. From the tropical Caspian shore with its rice and tea plantations, to the oilfields and sugar cane fields of Khuzestan province, from the orchards and wheat fields of the province of Azerbaijan, to the deserts of Kavir and Lut with their oasis towns; from the central arid plateau, to the snowcapped Zagros and Alborz mountains, Iran is a land of extraordinary contrasts. The mountains are cold in the winter, the deserts hot in the summer, yet in spring and autumn there is no more beautiful a place on earth. Carpets of wild flowers are everywhere. This truly is God’s own land. The beauty and variety of scenery to be found throughout Iran is simply second to none. In addition to the natural splendors, you are very likely to see nomadic tribes in many parts of the country. Iran has the world’s largest population of nomads, the majority of whom still live and dress in their traditional ways. The wealth of Islamic architecture found all over Iran makes the entire country a world heritage site. Minarets and domes glitter in the distance and almost all the sites can be visited and enjoyed at leisure. Spiritual serenity and architectural perfection abound in this country of poets, artists and philosophers.

Art & Culture: Iranian art some 3000 years ago, when an ingenious artist shaped and painted the magnificent bridge spouted vessels at Sialk hill to the time when master craftsmen carved the famous Achaemenian relief’s at Persepolis … and on into the Islamic era when sophisticated glassware and ceramics were made in the kilns of Rey, Gorgan and Nishabour … art has become an inseparable part of Iranian life. One just has to stand before the intricately designed Ardabil carpet, woven for the shrine of Sheikh Saffieddin, to appreciate that. This artistic tradition, resulting in the creation of numerous objects of extraordinary beauty, has meant that most of today’s Iranian cities boast at least one museum. However, the capital, Tehran, is particularly rich in this respect, allowing the traveler to Iran to begin or end his visit with a tour of very fine collections. The Archaeological Museum, along with the magnificent collection of the Islamic Museum, forms Iran’s National Museum. The glass & ceramic museum offers a wonderful exhibition of delicate glass and ceramics housed in an elegant early 20th century building. The Carpet Museum justifies the worldwide fame of Persian carpet weaving with its display of beautiful new and old carpets created in the workshops of Kerman, Qom, Tabriz, Isfahan and Kashan, etc. Persian miniatures and calligraphy, two more artistic traditions in which the Iranians excel can be seen at the Reza Abbasi Museum. These are just a few from the fabulous collections to be visited in Tehran.