30 Interesting Facts About Iran
When most people think of Iran, the idea of mosques and women in hijabs are probably the first to come to mind. However, there's so much more to the country than most would ever imagine. Iran is an ancient country filled to the brim with culture and extravagance. However, it has long been faced with a major image problem mostly because of its image in media and overall unfamiliarity with the country.
Iran has a rich history and culture that sets it apart from other nations. It's filled to the brim with historical sites and monuments, culinary legends, and cultural intrigue, so it's not too hard to figure out why this country is so fascinating. We've compiled a list of 30 interesting facts that you probably didn't know about Iran to help introduce you to this incredible country's culture.
One of the Youngest Populations in the World
Iran has one of the youngest populations in the world, 70% of the 80 million population is under the age of 30 years old. Of the Islamic world, the Iranian youth are the most politically active.
Birthplace of Persians
Thanks to the name, it probably isn't too much of a surprise that Persian cats originated from Iran. Persians are one of the oldest breeds of cats and are known for their long, silky fur that helps them stay warm in the frigid Iranian mountains.
The Most Public Holidays in the World
Iran has a total of 25 public holidays, more than any other country in the world. Every year, even more unofficial holidays are added to the calendar. This isn't all fun and games, of course, this phenomenon has actually been a cause for concern in the country.
The Practice of Sigheh
Not ready to commit yourself to one person for the rest of your life? Iran's got a solution. The practice of Sigheh allows couples to have a short-term marriage for a predetermined amount of time. These short-term marriages can last from hours, days, weeks, and even years, depending on what the couple decided.
Ties are a little too western for Iranians, so it's preferred that ties aren't a part of citizen's wardrobes. This is actually a relatively recent development, having come about when the government changed in 1979.
The Value of Yogurt
Definitely not the yogurt you're probably thinking about. Yogurt in Iran is way less sweet than western yogurts, and it's used in everything. From food to medicine to even beauty products, yogurt is everywhere.
Home to the Largest Hand-Woven Carpet
In 2007, the Iran Carpet Company created the largest hand-woven carpet in the world for the Abu Dhabi mosque. The rug is the size of a soccer field and was constructed in nine separate pieces before being fully assembled in the mosque.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Iran descends from an ancient civilization, and as such it's home to 23 UNESCO World Heritage sites. These sites include places like Persepolis, the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. These sites can range from temples, bazaars, and even ancient water systems.
The Asiatic Cheetah
Iran is home to the Asiatic Cheetah, a critically endangered subspecies of Cheetah. There are only 50 Asiatic Cheetahs left, and all of them reside in Iran.
The World's Largest Producer of…
Iran is most known for its oil exports, but it's also the world's largest producer of pistachios, caviar, and saffron. Iran dominates about 50% of the Caspian Sea's caviar market, but overfishing could put that status in jeopardy.
The Crown Jewels
You've probably heard of the British crown jewels, but the Iranian crown jewels are easily just as gorgeous. The Iranian crown jewels consist of a collection of crowns, tiaras, shields, and various other expensive artifacts that are actually used to back the Iranian currency. The Iran crown jewels haven't been seen in public since before 1979, but they're some of the rarest and most expensive crown jewels in the world.
Bordering Two Seas
Iran is the only country that borders both the Indian Ocean and the Caspian Sea.
Global Epicenter of Shia Islam
Between 90% and 95% of Iran's population are Shia Muslims, the largest concentration of Shia Muslims in the world.
Birthplace of One of the Oldest Civilizations
First, there were the Elamite kingdoms in the 4th millennium BCE, some of the oldest civilizations in the world. Then, there was the Achaemenid Empire around 550 BC to 330 BC. Following that, Iran was in the Hellenistic States, the Parthian Empire, the Sasanian Empire, and finally, the Arab Muslims of the 7th century.
An Energy Superpower
Iran has been known for its massive fossil fuel reserves. It has the world's second-biggest proved gas reserves and ranks third in gas production. It's also home to the world's fourth-biggest oil reserves. Recently, Iran has been working on developing renewable energy sources. In 2008, the country opened its first geothermal and wind-powered plants.
The Highest Volcano in Asia
The highest peak in Iran, Mount Damavand is also Asia's highest volcano, coming in at a total of 5,609.2 meters tall. Mount Damavand is also Asia's second-most prominent peak after Mount Everest, and the 12th most prominent in the world.
Pioneer Carpet Weavers
Iranians were pioneer carpet weavers in the ancient world and have been weaving world-famous Persian rugs for over 2,500 years. Iranians also make one mistake intentionally, wanting to emphasize their belief that only God is perfect. These beautiful carpets are Iran's second-largest export, right after oil.
Poetry holds a particularly special place in Iranian culture. All Iranians can recite parts of most famous Persian poems, such as "Shahnameh" or "The Epic of Kings."
The First Postal Service
Iran was the birthplace of the first real postal service, invented around 550 BC under the rule of Cyrus the Great.
Resting Site of Biblical Figures
Several famous biblical figures such as Esther, Daniel, St. Thaddaeus, Cyrus the Great, and Darius the Great are reported to be buried in Iran.
In 1979, the monarchy was overthrown, and religious clerics assumed political power under supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini. After the coup, the name of Iran was changed to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Tehran, Iran's capital and largest city, has one of the worst air pollution rates in the world. It's estimated that 27 people die every day from air pollution-related illnesses.
The Pahlevani and Zourkhaneh Rituals
The Pahlevani and Zourkhaneh rituals are a traditional system of athletics that were used to train Persian wars. These rituals are a combination of martial arts, strength training, music, and calisthenics. The practices have been recognized by UNESCO as the world's longest-running form of this kind of training.
Iranian cooking traditions have been praised worldwide and include a wide range of dishes. Persian cuisine can consist of things like kebab, pilaf, mast-o-khiar, salad Shirazi, and even more. These dishes are usually prepared with a generous helping of spices and have an intense, mouth-watering smell that would delight any foodie.
Nose Job Capital of the World
Iran has been affectionately nicknamed the "Nose Job Capital of the World" because so many women undergo cosmetic nose surgery to gain a more western look.
The Underground Music Scene
Would you have guessed that Iran had a massive underground heavy metal scene? Or rock and blues? Guess what, they do exist! The only thing is that it's not super out in the open. Iranian culture has emphasized music being about unity and love, so heavy metal, rock, and blues are more underground hits.
Similar to other Millennials across the globe, Iranian Millennials aren't getting married because of the sky-rocketing cost and poor economy. The government wasn't a fan of that, so they set up an annual fund of $720 million to help people have a traditional Iranian wedding.
The Practice of Taarof
Taarof refers to Iran's intricate art of etiquette, in which the true meaning of what's said is not in words. The practice of Taarof involves a lot of humble and polite behavior toward others in order to not come across as greedy. So if someone is offered something, they are socially required to refuse twice. However, if it's offered a third time, then they may accept.
Since 2012, Iran has used a state-controlled national internet for everyone to use. It doesn't support social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, so any locals who want to use those sites have to use a private VPN.
Second-Most Operations in the World in...
Homosexual relationships are banned in Iran, but transsexuals are allowed to have sex-change operations in the country. Since 2008, Iran has conducted more sex change operations than almost any other country in the world, only second to Thailand. The government even provides financial assistance for these operations.