Date:  2013-05-28  Author: admin    Source:Wikipedia

Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia.The name "Iran", which in Persian means "Land of theAryans", has been in native use since the Sassanian era, in antiquity. It came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia. Both "Persia" and "Iran" are used interchangeably in cultural contexts; however, "Iran" is the name used officially in political contexts.
The 18th-largest country in the world in terms of area at 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), Iran has a population of around 77 million. It is a country of particular geopolitical significance owing to its location in three spheres of Asia. Iran is bordered on the north by ArmeniaAzerbaijan andTurkmenistan. As Iran is a littoral state of the Caspian Sea, which is an inland sea, Kazakhstan andRussia are also Iran's direct neighbors to the north. Iran is bordered on the east by Afghanistan andPakistan, on the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, on the west by Iraq and on the northwest by TurkeyTehran is the capital, the country's most populous city and the political, cultural, commercial and industrial center of the nation. Iran is a regional power, and holds an important position in international energy security and world economy as a result of its large reserves of petroleum and natural gas. Iran has the second largest proven natural gas reserves in the world and the fourth largest proven petroleum reserves.
Mount Damavand, Iran's highest point, is located in Amol CountyMazanderan. Iran consists of the Iranian Plateau with the exception of the coasts of the Caspian Sea and Khuzestan Province. It is one of the world's most mountainous countries, its landscape dominated by rugged mountain ranges that separate various basins orplateaux from one another. The populous western part is the most mountainous, with ranges such as the CaucasusZagros and Alborz Mountains; the last contains Iran's highest point, Mount Damavand at 5,610 m (18,406 ft), which is also the highest mountain on the Eurasian landmass west of the Hindu Kush.
Alamut is a prominent area in north of Iran and the only region in country which produces Cornus mas
The northern part of Iran is covered by dense rain forests called Shomal or the Jungles of Iran. The eastern part consists mostly of desert basins such as the Dasht-e Kavir, Iran's largest desert, in the north-central portion of the country, and the Dasht-e Lut, in the east, as well as some salt lakes. This is because the mountain ranges are too high for rain clouds to reach these regions. The only large plains are found along the coast of the Caspian Sea and at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, where Iran borders the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab (or the Arvand Rūd) river. Smaller, discontinuous plains are found along the remaining coast of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman.
Iran is divided into thirty one provinces (ostān), each governed by an appointed governor (استاندار, ostāndār). The provinces are divided into counties (shahrestān), and subdivided into districts (bakhsh) and sub-districts (dehestān).
At the start of the 16th century, Shah Ismail I (1500-1525), the founder of the Safavid Dynasty, established himself as ruler of western Persia and Azerbaijan. He subsequently extended his authority over all of Persia. Ismail is also known for instigating a religious revolution in Iran, forcefully converting the predominantly Sunni population to the state religion of Shi'a Islam. There was an intense rivalry between Safavid Persia and the Ottoman Empire, leading to the Ottoman–Persian Wars. During the Safavid era Iran once again became a centre for high civilisation and wealth, peaking in the reign of the brilliant soldier, statesman and administrator Shah Abbas I (1587-1629). Under his rule the state became highly centralized, the army was reorganized and modernized, and a distinct style of architecture was developed in his new capital at Isfahan. However, following a slow decline in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Safavid dynasty was instead ended by Pashtun rebels who besieged Isfahan and defeated Soltan Hosein in 1722.
In 1729, a Khorasan chieftain, Nader Shah, successfully drove out, then conquered the Pashtun invaders. He repeatedly defeated the Turks and, by 1735, had regained territory lost to the Ottomon and Russian Empires. In 1738-9 he made a very profitable incursion into the Mughal Empire. His military successes on all fronts earned him the nickname "Napoleon of Persia" or "the second Alexander". Following a brief period of civil war and turmoil, sparked by Nader Shah's assassination, Karim Khan came to power in 1750, giving himself the title Vakil e-Ra'aayaa (Representative of the People), and bringing a period of relative peace and prosperity.
Another civil war ensued after Karim Khan's death in 1779, out of which Aga Muhammad Khan emerged victorious, founding theQajar Dynasty in 1794 and establishing Tehran as his capital. This cruel and brutal ruler was assassinated in 1797. Qajar rule was marked by its inadequate response to change and its failure to maintain Iranian territorial integrity and sovereignty, and is consequently characterised by over a century of misrule.[77] The Great Persian Famine of 1870–1871 is believed to have caused the death of 1.5 million persons, or 20–25% of Persia's population. Whilst resisting efforts to be colonised, Iran suffered in the 19th century as a result of Russian and British empire-building, known as 'The Great Game', losing much of its territory in the Russo-Persian and the Anglo-Persian Wars. A series of protests took place in response to the sale of concessions to foreigners by Nasser al-Din Shah and Mozaffar ad-Din Shah between 1872 and 1905, the last of which resulted in the Iranian Constitutional Revolution and establishment of Iran's first national parliament (majles) in 1906. The corrupt and despotic Mohammad Ali Shah, rescinded the constitution, bombed the majles building and abolished parliament in 1908. A Russian army helped him to suppress the revolt in 1909. However, the struggle continued until 1911, when Mohammad Ali was defeated and forced to abdicate. On the pretext of restoring order, the Russians occupied northern Iran in 1911. During World War I, the British occupied much of western Iran, not leaving until 1921.
In 1921 Reza KhanPrime Minister of Iran and former general of the Persian Cossack Brigade, overthrew the incompetent and corrupt Qajar Dynasty and became Shah. An ardent nationalist, Reza Shah initiated policies of military, administrative and financial modernisation and centralization. He quickly persuaded the Russians to withdraw from Iran. Industrialization, the construction of the Trans-Iranian Railway and the establishment of a national education system can be named as some of his reforms. However, in 1941 he had been forced to abdicate in favour of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, by Britain and the USSR, who were both fearful of Reza Shah'snascent ties to Germany and in need of supply lines for the Allied war effort in the form of the new Trans-Iranian Railway. During World War II, Iran was once again subject to British and Russian occupation.
In 1951, after the assassination of prime minister Ali Razmara, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh was elected prime minister by a parliamentary vote which was then ratified by the Shah. As prime minister, Mosaddegh became enormously popular in Iran after he nationalized Iran's petroleum industry and oil reserves. In response, the British government, headed by Winston Churchill, embargoed Iranian oil and successfully enlisted the United States to join in a plot to depose the democratically elected government of Mosaddegh. In 1953 US President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Operation Ajax. The operation, supported by the Shah, was successful, and Mosaddegh was arrested on 19 August 1953. The coup was the first time the US had openly overthrown an elected, civilian government of another sovereign state.
After Operation Ajax, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi favoured American and British oil interests and his rule became increasingly autocratic. With American support, the Shah was able to rapidly modernize the Iranian infrastructure and military. However, his rule was also corrupt and repressive. Arbitrary arrests and torture by his secret police, SAVAK, were used to crush all forms of political opposition. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became an active critic of the Shah'sWhite Revolution and publicly denounced the government.
Khomeini was arrested and imprisoned for 18 months. After his release in 1964, Khomeini publicly criticized the United States government. The Shah sent him into exile. He went first to Turkey, then to Iraq and finally to France. While in exile, Khomeini continued to denounce the Shah.
By the mid-1970s, there was growing unrest with the Shah's repressive regime. The Iranian Revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution, began in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations against the Shah. Minor political reforms and the release of some political prisoners in 1978 failed to satisfy the growing opposition. In November 1978, the Shah imposed martial law and implemented a new crackdown in an attempt to crush opposition. After strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country and its economy, the Shah fled the country in January 1979 and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile to Tehran. His departure was tantamount to abdication. The Pahlavi dynasty collapsed ten days later, on 11 February, when Iran's military declared itself "neutral". Armed civilians and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in a climactic 3-days of street fighting. Iran officially became an Islamic Republic on 1 April 1979, when Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum to make it so. In parallel nation wide uprisings against the new regime erupted in KordestanKhuzestan, Balochistan and other areas, though were eventually subdued, with some lasting until late 1980.
In December 1979, the country approved a theocratic constitution, whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country. The speed and success of the revolution surprised many throughout the world, as it had not been precipitated by a military defeat, a financial crisis, or a peasant rebellion. Although both nationalists and Marxists joined with Islamic traditionalists to overthrow the Shah, tens of thousands were killed and executed by the Islamic regime afterward.
As a beneficiary of the exploitation of Iran's oil reserves, the USA had always been a strong supporter of the Shah's regime. Therefore, Iran – United States relations deteriorated rapidly as a result of the revolution. On 4 November 1979, a group of Iranian students seized US embassy personnel, labeling the embassy a "den of spies". They accused its personnel of being CIA agents plotting to overthrow the revolutionary government, as the CIA had done to Mosaddegh in 1953. While the student ringleaders had not asked for permission from Khomeini to seize the embassy, Khomeini nonetheless supported the embassy takeover after hearing of its success. Thirteen (being female and/or African American) of the 66 hostages were released after a couple of weeks. The remaining hostages were held for 444 days. Attempts by the Jimmy Carter administration to negotiate for their release or rescue them were unsuccessful. In January 1981 the hostages were finally set free according to the Algiers Accords.
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein decided to take advantage of what he perceived to be disorder in the wake of the Iranian Revolution and its unpopularity with Western governments. The once-strong Iranian military had been disbanded during the revolution. Saddam sought to expand Iraq's access to the Persian Gulf by acquiring territories that Iraq had claimed earlier from Iran during the Shah's rule. Of chief importance to Iraq was Khuzestan, which not only has a substantialArab population, but boasted rich oil fields as well. On the unilateral behalf of the United Arab Emirates, the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs became objectives as well. At this stage Saddam Hussein enjoyed the support of the USA, the Gulf States and many leading states in the West who were hostile to the Iranian Revolution. On 22 September 1980 the Iraqi army invaded Iran at Khuzestan, precipitating the Iran–Iraq War.
Although Saddam Hussein's forces made several early advances, by 1982, and after bitter fighting, the Iranian forces managed to drive the Iraqi army back into Iraq. Despite receiving large amounts of foreign financial and military aid (including chemical weapons), all of Saddam's subsequent offensives were thrown back. The war continued until 1988, when Khomeini, in his words, "drank the cup of poison" and accepted a truce mediated by the UN. The total Iranian casualties in the war were estimated to be between 500,000 and 1,000,000; with more than 100,000 Iranians being victims of Iraq's chemical weapons. Almost all relevant international agencies have confirmed that Saddam engaged in chemical warfare to blunt the Iranian counter-attacks. These agencies also unanimously confirmed that Iran never used chemical weapons during the war. An estimated 95,000 Iranian child soldiers were killed during the Iran–Iraq War.
Following the Iran–Iraq War, President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his administration concentrated on a pragmatic pro-business policy of rebuilding and strengthening the economy without making any dramatic break with the ideology of the revolution. Rafsanjani served until 1997 when he was succeeded by the moderatereformist Mohammad Khatami. During his two terms as president, Khatami advocated freedom of expression, tolerance and civil society, constructive diplomatic relations with other states including European Unionand Asian governments, and an economic policy that supported free market and foreign investment. However, Khatami is widely regarded as having been unsuccessful in achieving his goal of making Iran more free and democratic.
In the 2005 presidential elections, Iran made yet another change in political direction, when the conservative populist candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected over Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. A significant challenge to Ahmadinejad's political power, and the foundations of the Islamic Republic itself occurred during the 2009 Iranian presidential election that was held on 12 June 2009, the tenth presidential election to be held in the country. The Interior Ministry, announced incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had won the election receiving 24.5 million votes, amounting to 62.63% of the vote, while Mir-Hossein Mousavi had come in second place with 13.2 million votes, being 33.75% of the vote. However, there were allegations of large irregularities in the results, provoking the 2009–2010 Iranian election protests both within Iran and in major capitals in the West.
The political system of the Islamic Republic is based on the 1979 Constitution. Accordingly, it is the duty of the Islamic government to furnish all citizens with equal and appropriate opportunities, to provide them with work, and to satisfy their essential needs, so that the course of their progress may be assured.
The system comprises several intricately connected governing bodies. The Leader of the Revolution (commonly called "Supreme Leader" in the US and the UK) is responsible for delineation and supervision of the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Supreme Leader is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, controls the military intelligence and security operations; and has sole power to declare war or peace.
The heads of the judiciary, state radio and television networks, the commanders of the police and military forces and six of the twelve members of the Guardian Council are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The Assembly of Expertselects and dismisses the Supreme Leader on the basis of qualifications and popular esteem. The Assembly of Experts is responsible for supervising the Supreme Leader in the performance of legal duties.
After the Supreme Leader, the Constitution defines the President of Iran as the highest state authority. The President is elected by universal suffrage for a term of four years and can only be re-elected for one term. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Guardian Council prior to running in order to ensure their allegiance to the ideals of the Islamic revolution.
The President is responsible for the implementation of the Constitution and for the exercise of executive powers, except for matters directly related to the Supreme Leader, who has the final say in all matters. The President appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers, coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the legislature. Eight Vice-Presidents serve under the President, as well as a cabinet of twenty two ministers, who must all be approved by the legislature. Unlike many other states, the executive branch in Iran does not control the armed forces. Although the President appoints the Ministers of Intelligence and Defense, it is customary for the President to obtain explicit approval from the Supreme Leader for these two ministers before presenting them to the legislature for a vote of confidence. Iran's current president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was first elected in a run-off poll in the 2005 presidential elections and re-elected in the 2009 presidential elections.
As of 2012, the legislature of Iran (known in English as the Islamic Consultative Assembly) is aunicameral body. Before the Iranian Revolution, the legislature was bicameral, but the upper house was removed under the new constitution. The Majlis of Iran comprises 290 members elected for four-year terms. The Majlis drafts legislation, ratifies international treaties, and approves the national budget. All Majlis candidates and all legislation from the assembly must be approved by the Guardian Council.
The Guardian Council comprises twelve jurists including six appointed by the Supreme Leader. The others are elected by the Parliament from among the jurists nominated by the Head of theJudiciary. The Council interprets the constitution and may veto Parliament. If a law is deemed incompatible with the constitution or Sharia (Islamic law), it is referred back to Parliament for revision. In a controversial exercise of its authority, the Council has drawn upon a narrow interpretation of Iran's constitution to veto parliamentary candidates. The Expediency Council has the authority to mediate disputes between Parliament and the Guardian Council, and serves as an advisory body to the Supreme Leader, making it one of the most powerful governing bodies in the country.
The Supreme Leader appoints the head of Iran's judiciary, who in turn appoints the head of the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor. There are several types of courts including public courts that deal with civil and criminal cases, and "revolutionary courts" which deal with certain categories of offenses, including crimes againstnational security. The decisions of the revolutionary courts are final and cannot be appealed. The Special Clerical Court handles crimes allegedly committed by clerics, although it has also taken on cases involving lay people. The Special Clerical Court functions independently of the regular judicial framework and is accountable only to the Supreme Leader. The Court's rulings are final and cannot be appealed.
The Assembly of Experts, which meets for one week annually, comprises 86 "virtuous and learned" clerics elected by adult suffrage for eight-year terms. As with the presidential and parliamentary elections, the Guardian Council determines candidates' eligibility. The Assembly elects the Supreme Leader and has the constitutional authority to remove the Supreme Leader from power at any time. It has not challenged any of the Supreme Leader's decisions.
Local city councils are elected by public vote to four-year terms in all cities and villages of Iran. According to article seven of Iran's Constitution, these local councils together with the Parliament are "decision-making and administrative organs of the State". This section of the constitution was not implemented until 1999 when the first local council elections were held across the country. Councils have many different responsibilities including electing mayors, supervising the activities of municipalities; studying, planning, co-ordinating and implementing of social, cultural, educational, health, economic, and welfare requirements of their constituencies.
Iran's foreign relations are based on two strategic principles: eliminating outside influences in the region and pursuing extensive diplomatic contacts with developing and non-aligned countries. Iran maintains diplomatic relations with almost every member of the United Nations, except for Israel, which Iran does not recognize, and the United States since the Iranian Revolution. Since 2005, Iran's nuclear program has become the subject of contention with the Western world due to suspicions that Iran could divert the civilian nuclear technology to a weapons program. This has led the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against Iran on select companies linked to this program, thus furthering its economic isolation on the international scene. The US Director of National Intelligence said in February 2009 that Iran would not realistically be able to a get a nuclear weapon until 2013, if it chose to develop one.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has two types of armed forces: the regular forces Islamic Republic of Iran Army,Islamic Republic of Iran Air ForceIslamic Republic of Iran Navy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps(IRGC), totaling about 545,000 active troops. Iran also has around 350,000 Reserve Force totaling around 900,000 trained troops. Iran has a paramilitary, volunteer militia force within the IRGC, called the Basij, which includes about 90,000 full-time, active-duty uniformed members. Up to 11 million men and women are members of the Basij who could potentially be called up for service; estimates Iran could mobilize "up to one million men". This would be among the largest troop mobilizations in the world. In 2007, Iran's military spending represented 2.6% of the GDP or $102 per capita, the lowest figure of the Persian Gulf nations.Iran's military doctrine is based on deterrence.
Since the Iranian Revolution, to overcome foreign embargo, Iran has developed its own military industry, produced its own tanksarmored personnel carriersguided missilessubmarines, military vessels, guided missile destroyerradar systems,helicopters and fighter planes. In recent years, official announcements have highlighted the development of weapons such as the Hoot,KowsarZelzalFateh-110Shahab-3 and Sejjil missiles, and a variety of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The Fajr-3 (MIRV) is currently Iran's most advanced ballistic missile, it is a liquid fuel missile with an undisclosed range which was developed and produced domestically.

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