Iran (official name: The Islamic Republic of Iran) is a unique country.
While the majority of the population in a few other countries like Azerbaijan, Iraq and Bahrain too is shia, Iran is home to the world’s largest shia population; nearly half of the world’s shia live in Iran, where they make up about 90% of the local population. Iran is also the only country in the world whose system of government is based on shia teachings.
Here are some other facts about Iran:
- The shrine of one of the Holy Ma’sumeen (a.s.), i.e. the shrine of Imam Raza (a.s.) in Mashhad, is located in Iran. There are also a large number of shrines of “Imamzadas” (notable descendants of the Imams) all over the country, the most important one of them being the shrine of Hazrat Ma’sumah (s.a.) in Qom.
- Iran is half the size of India in area, but with only about 8 crore people living in it, it has only about one-fourteenth of the population of India.
- Iran is home to one of the oldest human civilizations, just as Egypt, India, Iraq and China are. It ranks seventh among countries with the most attractions from antiquity. Fifteen of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites are in Iran.
- Farsi is the country’s official Language, though several other languages are also spoken in different parts of this country. English is not commonly understood.
- Indians who learn Farsi are usually surprised to discover the large number of common words between Farsi and Indian languages. This is because Farsi used to be the language of high culture, government and scholarship till the mid-19th century in most of India. Old Farsi and Sanskrit are also derived from a common root.
- Iranian people are friendly and hospitable. Many have a soft spot for Indians and Indian culture. The family plays an important role in Iranian social life.
- Most of Iran is dry and mountainous; much of the country would be classified as desert. However, a few parts are covered by forest.
- Iran enjoys four distinct seasons. By Indian standards, summers in most Iranian cities are normal (above 40 degrees) while winters are very cold (below freezing, with snowfall).
- The adult literacy rate in 2008 was 85.0%, up from 36.5% in 1976.
- The standard of living of the average Iranian is significantly better than that of the average Indian in terms of education, health-care, roads and electricity. There is a high level of safety, cleanliness and sanitation, and low levels of corruption.
- Iran has built self-sufficiency in most sectors of the economy including most food items, industry and services. It exports its finished goods to several neighboring countries. It is not integrated into the global financial system.
- Iran is making rapid progress in matters related to science and technology. Its academic output is several times greater than the global average. It has launched satellites, sent a living being into space, and has made many innovations in nuclear and nanotechnology.
- Economic sanctions by the west have recently increased. This has led to higher inflation and a shortage of some essential medical supplies. H/w, most Iranians know that this part of the west’s psychological war against them, and are determined to carry on with their lives, and to find ways to overcome these sanctions.
- Trade between Iran and India is heavily tilted in favor of Iran. This is because the sale of Iranian oil to India is the main component of this trade. Efforts have been made in recent times by both sides to bring about a more balanced trade by exporting Indian products to Iran. The recent barriers to foreign exchange payments created by western sanctions have added impetus to these efforts.