From the 6th century BC until 1935, the country that today is Iran was known as Persia. The name, Iran, derives from an ancient term "a‐eer‐yanem va‐ee‐jo" in Avesta, the holy book of the Zoroastrians, meaning 'the land of the Aeers'.
Totally, Iran has 8,731km of border, of which 2,700km consist of water borders and 6,031km for land borders. The highest point in Iran is Mount Damavand, which is 5,610m high. The longest river is the Karun River with a length of 890km (the only navigable river). The largest lake is the Orumiyeh Lake with an area of 4,868km and the largest Island is Qeshm with an area of 1,491 square km.
Iran has a very colorful and diversified landscape, ranging from high plateaus to mountain ranges and to plainsbordering the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea. The dominant landscape color is a delicate brown, like the coat of a dear, but the countryside can vary enormously according to the altitude and vegetation.
Country's Official Name:
Islamic Republic of Iran
Three equal horizontal bands of green, white, and red fill the flag from top to bottom. The national emblem, a stylized representation of the word Allah in the shape of a tulip (a symbol of martyrdom), is centered in red within the white band; Allah‐O Akbar (God is Great) in white Arabic script is repeated 11 times along the bottom edge of the green band and 11 times along the top edge of the red band.
Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts & Tourism Organization‐ http://www.ichto.ir
Department of Tourism‐ http://www.tourismiran.ir
The form of Iran's government is that of an Islamic Republic, endorsed by the people of Iran on the basis of their longstanding belief in sovereignty of truth and in Quranic justice. The people solidified their support through the 3 referendum of the 29th and 30th March, 1979 and through an affirmative majority vote of 98.2% of the eligible voters, which was held after the victorious Islamic Revolution led by the late Imam Khomeini.
Chief of State: Supreme Leader (Supreme Leader is appointed for life by the Assembly of
Experts; Assembly of Experts are elected by popular vote for an eight year term).
Head of Government:
Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval.
Three Oversight Bodies:
1) Assembly of Experts, a popularly elected body of 86 religious scholars, is constitutionally charged with determining the succession of the Supreme Leader (based on his qualifications in the field of jurisprudence and commitment to the principles of the Islamic revolution), reviewing his performance, etc.
2) Expediency Council or the Council for the Discernment of Expediency, is a policy advisory and implementation board consisting of over 40 permanent members representing all major government factions and includes the heads of the three branches of government, and the clerical members of the Council of Guardians (see next); Permanent members are appointed by the Supreme Leader for five‐year terms; temporary members, including Cabinet members and Majlis committee chairmen, are selected when issues under their jurisdiction come before the Expediency Council; the Expediency Council exerts supervisory authority over the executive, judicial, and legislative branches and resolves legislative issues on which the Majlis and the Council of Guardians disagree and since 1989 has been used to advise national religious leaders on matters of national policy; in 2005 the Council's powers were expanded, to actas a supervisory body for the government.
3) Council of Guardians of the Constitution or "Council of Guardians" or "Guardians Council" is a 12‐member board made up of six clerics chosen by the Supreme Leader and six jurists recommended by the judiciary and approved by the Majlis for six‐year terms; this Council determines whether proposed legislation is both constitutional and faithful to Islamic law, vets candidates for suitability, and supervises national elections.
Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majlis(290 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four‐year terms).
The Supreme Court and the four‐member High Council of the Judiciary have a single head and some overlapping responsibilities. Together, they supervise the enforcement of all laws and establish judicial and legal policies. Lower courts include a special clerical court, a revolutionary court, and a special administrative court.
Official Language & Local Dialects
Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Azari and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, others 2%.
Tehran is the capital city of Iran and the heart of the Tehran province. It is situated on the northern fringe of the great central plateau and at the foot of the southern slope of the impressive Alborz mountain chain. The Tehran province has several archaeological sites, which clearly indicate settlements dating back to several thousand years.
Until 300 years ago, Ray was one of the most prominent cities of the province. However, the city of Tehran surpassed Ray and gained its special status as the capital of Iran during the reign of the Qajar dynasty (1795‐1925), because of the development that occurred there at the time. Since then, it has been the political, cultural, economic, and commercial nucleus of Iran.
During the past 200 years, Tehran has been home to many reputed scholars, writers, poets and artists. The Tehran province enjoys considerable capabilities in terms of the different dimensions of population, employment, production, agriculture, natural resources and infrastructures.
Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Mashhad, Tabriz
Name of the Provinces
1.Alborz, 2.Ardabil, 3.West Azarbaijan, 4. East Azarbaijan, 5.Bushehr, 6.Chahar Mahal va Bakhtiari, 7.Esfahan, 8.Fars, 9.Gilan, 10.Golestan, 11.Hamadan, 12.Hormozgan, 13.Ilam, 14.Kerman, 15.Kermanshah, 16.Southern Khorasan, 17.Khorasan Razavi, 18.Northern Khorasan, 19.Khuzestan, 20.Kohgiluyeh va Buyer Ahmad, 21.Kordestan, 22.Lorestan, 23.Markazi, 24.Mazandaran, 25.Qazvin, 26.Qom, 27.Semnan, 28.Sistan va Baluchestan, 29.Tehran, 30.Yazd, 31.Zanjan.
Persian 51%, Azari 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, others 1%.
Country's total area in square kilometers
1,648,195 million sq km (the seventeenth largest country in the world)
Iran's plateau climate is relatively dry, and despite the country's location in the world's dry climate belt, the Alborz and Zagros mountain ranges prevent the entrance of humid streams from the Caspian and Mediterranean seas into Iran. The country's span across 25 and 40 degree latitude, and the varying height levels allow for a diversity of climates.
In the northwest, winters are cold with heavy snowfall and subfreezing temperatures. Spring and fall are relatively mild while summers are dry and hot.
In the south, winters are mild and summers are very hot, having average daily temperatures that exceed 38° C (100° F) in July. On the Khuzestan plain, summer heat is accompanied by high humidity.
Holidays & National Days
March 20: The Nationalization of the Oil Industry
March 21: Eid‐e Nowrooz (New Year's Day)
April 1: Islamic Republic Day
April 2: Nature Day (13th day after the New Year, culmination of the Nowrooz festivities)
June 4: Death of Imam Khomeini (1989)
June 5: Revolt of June 5, 1963
February 11: Victory of the Islamic Revolution
Holidays according to the Lunar Calendar (varying dates):
Tasu'a and Ashura of Imam Hussein
Arba'een of Imam Hussein
Death of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Martyrdom of Imam Hassan Mojtaba
Martyrdom of Imam Reza
Birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Imam Jafar Sadegh
Martyrdom of Fatima, Daughter of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)& Wife of Imam Ali
Birth of Imam Ali
Mission Receiving of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH)
Birth of Imam Mahdi
Eid‐ul Fitr (End of Ramadan)
Martyrdom of Imam Jafar Sadegh
Eid ul‐Adha (Sacrifice)
All governmental departments and most business centers throughout the country are closed on Fridays. In the
Tehran province, all governmental departments are closed on Thursday as well.
Best Time to Visit the Country
Being a vast country, Iran has regions with differing temperatures during a given period of time, offering different climates and conditions Depending on the season and the areas one plans to visit, the weather can be humid, dry, hot or cold.
In the northern coastal areas of the Caspian Sea, the climate is mild and humid. The southern parts and the Persian Gulf region have a hotter climate than Central Iran. Northwestern Iran is about 10 – 15 degrees Celsius cooler than the rest of the country. The north region of the country, especially, the Alborz foots, are a popular destination in the spring.
Iran's southern regions provide a pleasant spring-weather getaway during the winter. At the same time, in Fars & Esfahan, the cold, the snow, and the torrent change the faces of the cities. The weather of most of Iran is hot during the summer. So, one can enjoy winter and summer sports during the same period within a few hours. More accurately, from mid-April to early June and from late September to early November are the best times to enjoy the matchless beauty of the country.
A visa is necessary for entry into Iran for a stipulated period of time for economic, commercial, cultural and industrial purposes. It is issued by the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran for foreign nationals, after receiving the approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The authorized duration of stay is usually up to 30 days.
Types of Visa
Tourists can apply for the Iranian E-Visa through the I.R.I. Foreign Ministry's website:
After filling out the application form and entering the required details, users will be given a reference code to pursue their visa issuance. Once approved, applicants can choose to receive their visa either at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport or at an official agency in their home country.
Free Industrial & Commercial Zones
This visa is issued for two-week stays at the ports of entry to the Free Trade and Industrial Zone of Iran (Kish Island), and it may be extended for up to six months at the request of the authorities of these areas.
Note: Foreign nationals, who intend to travel to other parts of the country, should submit their applications to the office of the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the area. The application will be reviewed, and the visa will be issued if approved within 48 hours.
Work Permit Visa
The visa will be issued for foreign nationals who intend to work in Iran. Iranian employers must obtain work permits in advance from the relevant authorities.
Entry/ Transit Visa for Drivers Carrying Cargo
This visa is issued to foreign drivers carrying cargo to Iran or other countries.
For these cases, it is necessary to coordinate in advance with the Diplomatic Missions of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
A pilgrimage visa is issued to foreign tourists who wish to visit sacred sites and shrines in Iran.
The tourist visa is issued to foreign nationals who are interested in travelling to Iran individually or collectively to visit the country or their relatives. The applicants must fill-out an application form in black ink and bring their passport with one photo (for women with scarf) to the consulate. The process starts when the completed documents are submitted and takes about three weeks.
A transit visa is issued for a limited period of time to foreigners for the purpose of passing through Iran to a third country.
A student visa will be issued to foreign nationals who intend to study in the Islamic Republic of Iran. To obtain the visa, applicants must take the authorization number from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran.
The press visa applies to foreign nationals who wish to travel to Iran as correspondents representing print or electronic media for news coverage of events.
Diplomatic & Service Visa
Such a visa applies to dignitaries, governmental officials and foreign nationals who wish to travel to Iran either in connection with their official visit (invitation by Iran) or for the purpose of taking over their permanent/temporary diplomatic/ administrative assignment in a diplomatic/consular mission or an international organization.
In case your passport is lost, immediately report to the nearest police station.
Then, go to NAJA's General Department for Foreign Citizens for receiving your exit permit.
Tel: +98 21 88800000
The government holds the authority over the customs affairs in Iran. Travelers and tourists' importing and exporting goods are duty-free unless they are considered as commercial commodities.
A. Arriving Travelers
When arriving in Iran, one should receive a customs declaration sheet, which is distributed in the customs hall, and fill it out, and submit it to the customs' evaluators and inspectors. The following goods are considered as a tourists’ personal belongings, and their import into Iran is duty-free: Personal jewelry, personal cameras, non-professional video cameras and other portable video units, binoculars, portable musical instruments, portable radios and cassette players, portable PC's, first aid boxes, camping tents with its basic tools, sporting goods, small boats of less than 5.5 9 meters, ordinary water and skiing tools, tennis rackets, mountaineering tools, diving tools, bicycles, golf tools, and other similar goods, baby carriages and wheel chairs for the disabled.
Note: Sending up to 80 dollars in foreign goods by post to Iran is duty-free for each person.
B. Departing Travelers
When leaving Iran, one should fill the customs declaration sheet and submit it to the customs' evaluators and inspectors. Besides the goods one brings to Iran, the following non-commercial goods are permitted duty-free: a carpet or two rugs of utmost 12 sq. meters, handicrafts, musical instruments, industrial products made in Iran, foreign made industrial products of up to 160 US dollars value, dried fruits and gifts, ready-made gold without a gem of up to 150 grams, ready-made silver without a gem of up to 3 kg, and 3 kg of caviar along with the purchase note given by the airport's shop.
Import and export of the following goods is forbidden:
1. Alcoholic beverages
2. Gambling tools
3. Firearms or any other kind of weapon, and explosives
4. Narcotic drugs
5. Pornographic publications, pictures, movies, photos, and any other material which is against Iran's national and religious rules
6. Tourists and citizens of Commonwealth countries, who are traveling to Iran, can export allowed goods equivalent to the amount they have declared to the Iranian bank. For those who possess the qualifications, exporting goods of up to $1,000 requires no declaration to the bank and neither does it need the currency declaration.
7. Sending goods abroad by post is free if the goods are not considered commercial commodities. These goods should not be among the forbidden items, e.g. antique goods, genuine works of art, manuscript books, gold coins and precious stones. Sending foreign products abroad by post should not exceed $160 for each person.
Moreover, it is forbidden to send hand-woven carpets by post. For more information on the latest bills and executive bylaws in customs affairs, please visit:
http://www.irica.gov.ir/EIndex.aspx (Iran's Customs Administration Office)
How to get there and away
Most overseas travelers from Europe arrive in Iran by way of the Mehrabad airport in Tehran. Currently, most flights from the Middle East, Central and South Asia land at the new Imam Khomeini International Airport based 37km southwest of Tehran, where all international flights will land within a few years. There are 70 smaller regional airports, for example, those in Shiraz, Mashhad, and Isfahan, and they have daily flights to many international destinations.
Dubai has scheduled flights to many Iranian cities, including Tehran, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kerman, Lar, Mashhad, Tabriz, Kish Island, Bandar Abbas, Bushher, Zahedan. Flights are operated by Emirates (for Tehran), Iran Air, Iran Aseman Airlines, Mahan Air and other Iranian companies. Fares are relatively cheap on Iranian carriers, depending on the destination and the time of booking. Iran Air connects Tehran with some of the major European cities as well as some of the destinations in Asia and the Middle East. European companies based in Tehran include British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Alitalia, Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Aeroflot and Air France. The Middle-Eastern airlines include: Saudi Arabian Airlines, Emirates, Syrian Airlines and Egypt Air.
There are no direct flights from the U.S.A at present, but one could travel via either Europe or Dubai. Visitors from Australia or New Zealand can consider travelling via Dubai.
Iran's railroads area revitalization of the Silk Road, which connects the north, south, west, and east of the country.
Tourists can enjoy traveling and can benefit from the cargo transportation and the transit services provided by the following routes: European countries and Caucasia by the Tehran-Tabriz railroad, Central Asian countries by the Tehran-Mashhad-Sarakhs railroad, and the countries in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean regions by the Tehran- Bandar Abbas railroad.
"RAJA" passenger trains provide regular services from Tehran to Turkey, Syria and Turkmenistan. Other routes include:
Route No. 1: Tehran-Tabriz-Julfa: 884 kilometers, continued to Nakhjavan, Azerbaijan.
Route No. 2: Tehran-Tabriz-Razi: 958 kilometers, continued to Turkey.
Route No. 3: Tehran-Bandar Abbas-Turkman: 461 kilometers, continued to Turkmenistan.
Route No. 4: Tehran-Mashhad-Sarakhs: 1,047 kilometers, continued to Turkmenistan.
Route No. 5: Tehran-Bandar Imam Khomeini (Imam Khomeini Port): 927 kilometers, continued to Persian Gulf region.
Route No. 6: Tehran-Bandar Abbas: 1,386 kilometers, continued to Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
Iran's Railroad Transit Lines:
1. Bandar Abbas-Sarakhs-Merv-Moscow
2. Bandar Abbas-Sarakhs-Merv-Almaty-Beijing
3. Bandar Abbas -Julfa-Baku-Russia
4. Bandar Abbas -Razi-Bucharest-Belgrade
5. Bandar Abbas-Razi-Ankara-Istanbul-Sophia-Belgrade-Budapest-Vienna
The Trans-Asia train connects Tehran, Mashhad, Sarakhs, Mary, Farab, Bukhara, Tashkent, and Almaty. This route continues to Istanbul, Turkey.
Traveling by this train to Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan requires a visa for each country. However, passing through these countries does not necessitate a transit visa.
The International passenger trains for Iran run weekly to/from Istanbul (Turkey), Damascus (Syria), and Quetta (Pakistan).
The Istanbul service runs via Ankara, includes a ferry over Lake Van, crosses the Iranian border, and then stops at Tabriz before arriving in Tehran.
The journey takes about 70 hours (3nights travelling). The train includes couchettes and a dining car.
The Syria service does not cross Iraq; it stops at Aleppo before crossing the Turkish border, heads to Lake Van, and runs along a route similar to the Istanbul service. This journey takes 54 hours (2nights travelling). Couchettes are available between Lake Van and Tehran, but the Syrian leg between Damascus and Lake Van contains only reclining seats. A dining car is at service occasionally.
The Quetta-Zahedan line connects Pakistan and Iran by rail. There is no connection between the Zahedan railway and the rest of the Iranian Railway system, which means that one must take the bus or other transportation from Zahedan to Bam, the nearest railway. A train leaves twice each month from Quetta to Zahedan, and the journey takes 11 hours.
Passengers can travel by sea to Iran via the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, and the Caspian Sea. The significant ports of the Caspian Sea include Anzali, Astara, Nowshahr, Bandar Gaz, and Bandar Torkaman, which connect Iran to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Azerbaijan.
With more than 51,300km (31,800miles) of paved roads and 490km (304miles) of motorways, the road network is extensive. Tourists can travel from Turkey, Iraq, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Iran. The two main roads, the A1 and A2, link the Iraqi and Pakistani borders and the Afghan and Turkish borders, respectively.
Connective ways between the major cities and the country's main ways are asphalt paved and have good quality.
You should drive from the right side and observe international regulations. Traffic flows on the right side of the road.
One can find Seir-o-Safar agencies in Istanbul, Antalya and Ankara to buy cheap bus tickets for Tehran. Also, one can enter from Pakistan via the border crossing between Taftan (on the Pakistani side) and Zahedan (on the Iranian side) as long as one has a valid visa for Iran. One can NOT get a visa at the border. The overnight buses leave from Quetta, arriving in Taftan in the early morning. From there, one can hire a taxi to the border. Once across the border, one needs to organize transportation to Zahedan where buses depart for the destinations to Eastern Iranian cities, such as Bam, Kerman and Yazd.
Iran Air runs services to Ahvaz, Esfahan, Kish, Mashhad, Shiraz, Tabriz, Tehran and Zahedan and other major cities.
Aseman Air and Mahan Air also run services to the major cities. The vast size of Iran makes internal flights the most practical method of transport.
RAJA Trains run a fairly comprehensive internal rail network. Major intercity trains operate on five main regional routes: the Azarbaijan route (Tehran-Jolfa), the Golestan route (Tehran-Gorgan), the Hormozgan route (Tehran- Bandar-e-Abbas), the Khorasan route (Tehran-Mashhad), and the Khuzetan route (Tehran-Khorramshahr). There are many locations in the mountains and the deserts, which can only be reached by rail. There are some air-conditioned cars, sleeping cars, and dining cars on many trains. For further details, please visit RAJA website: http://www.raja.ir
Tehran has an extensive bus system. They are widespread, cheap and comfortable. The tickets are bought in advance at kiosks, and the intercity transportation in Iran is made by Benz and Volvo buses under an organization named "Cooperative." Central offices of these cooperatives in Tehran are located in the South, East, and West Terminals.
South Terminal: 550047-8
East Terminal: 77864010
West Terminal: 44659676
Subway & Tramway
Subway and tramway transportation is possible mainly in Tehran for the time being. The three main tram (electrically driven buses) routes are: Imam Hussein Sq.-Depoy Sharq, Imam Hussein- Khorasan, and Khorasan-Depoy Besat (from 06:00 to 22:00). The subway connects Tehran's easternmost and westernmost points and the southern and northern tips of the city.
Taxis are available in all cities. The urban taxis (orange or green) carry several passengers at a time and are much cheaper than the private taxis. Unofficial taxis should be avoided; use only legitimate taxis or those ordered through legitimate agencies. In most cities, taximeters determine the fare, which is paid in Iran's currency, the Rial. However, the taxis that are not equipped with taximeters do have fixed specified fares.
Note: It is advised to inquire about the fare and reach an agreement with the driver before getting into a private or hired taxi.
It is available in most cities and from airports. An International Driving Permit is recommended but it is not a legal requirement. Personal insurance is required.
The Iranian Rial (IR) is the official currency of Iran; however, to save time, prices are mostly quoted in Tomans.
Generally, written prices are given in Rials and prices quoted in conversation are in Tomans. To confuse shoppers, shopkeepers will often omit the denomination of high prices, so a person may be told a jar of coffee costs 2 Tomans (meaning 2,000 Tomans or IR. 20,000) and that a fine rug will cost 300 Tomans (meaning 3,000,000 Tomans or IR30,000,000). In conversation, 1 Toman denotes IR 10,000.
Most travelers spend the first few days of their trip coming to grips with this mind-boggling system, and money changers on the border may exploit this confusion. So, it is advised to use caution and to always ask a shopkeeper or moneychanger if they are quoting a price in Rials or Tomans.
The main foreign currency in Iran is the US Dollar and the Euro. However, the English Pound, Japanese Yen, Persian Gulf countries' Rial, Drachma and Dinar, as well as other foreign currencies are changeable to Iran's currency in the banks and exchange shops. It is recommended that money be changed to the US Dollar or Euro before arriving in Iran.
After arrival, one can go to Melli Bank at the airport terminal and change the money to the Iranian Rial. This bank works 24 hours a day. Other currency branches of the Iranian banks, as well as the banks located in the hotels can do the changing.
Authorized exchange shops do the changing as well. The "exchange rate" of the foreign currency to Iran's Rial in the banks is unanimous, so there is no discrepancy between the rates in the banks. The foreign currencies' official rates in Rial are announced in the banks daily.
Note 1: It is highly recommended to not change money anywhere other than the banks and the authorized exchange shops.
Note 2: It is highly recommended to keep the receipt of a monetary exchange until leaving the country. This receipt not only indicates the legality of a purchase, but also enables the exchange of extra Rials in the bank and the exchange of the desired currency.
There is no limit to the amount of cash one can bring into the country. One can also go to one of the branches of the foreign currency banks in Iran during one's stay, and open a foreign currency bank account or change money to Iran's currency and receive traveler's checks.
Presently, International credit cards are not accepted in Iran. For more information please call Melli Bank's Card Service Office: 33922690-1, 33900298, and 33912813.
ATM cards will be issued for all international tourists and travelers at their request by the Iranian Bank branches located in Iran's international airports. The cards are accepted by all hotels, restaurants and shops equipped with POS sets. For more information please visit: http://en.itoa.ir/
There is no restriction for entering any amount of foreign currencies into Iran. After declaring the amount of the foreign currencies to the clerk at the entrance spots, the clerk writes it in the passport. This is done to avoid facing any problem in the customs when taking currency or goods that were bought outside of the country.
Safety & Security
Iran is one of the most secure countries in the world. The Interior Ministry is responsible for maintaining domestic security, and the police are the executive arm of this Ministry.
Uniform color and class:
The color of the police uniform is green (dark green). The traffic policemen wear a white hat. The color of the police cars is dark green, and the traffic policemen cars are white with a dark strip on the car body. In case of an emergency, one can go to the nearest police station or contact 110.
Information source: www.tourismiran.ir
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