Iran is a country with a controversial track record mainly due to its clashes and conflicts with global powers, and because of having its name associated with terrorism. Therefore, Iran might not be your choice for a vacation spot.
That said, however, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that the country is home to diverse cultures and a fascinating history. In short, there is much to learn about this country.
Iran is a Middle Eastern country with a population of over 80 million. This is perhaps all you know about the place other than the negative jargon that the media may have fed you.
Following are some of the most fascinating Iran facts that you may have never even heard before.
Here Are 18 Iran Facts That Will Blow You Away
1. Iran is Not an Arab Country
A very common misconception that people have about Iran is that it is an Arabic Country, and Iranians speak Arabic. Even though most of the countries located in the Middle East speak Arabic, Iran is one of the few exceptions.
The language spoken throughout Iran is known as Persian, also called Farsi. Furthermore, roughly around 61% of Iran’s population comprises Persians; meanwhile, the rest of Iranians belong to ethnic groups such as Kurds, Arabs, Azeris, Baluch, and some others.
2. Iran Has Its Own Calendar
One of the biggest things that make Iran stand apart from most countries of the world is having its own calendar system. The calendar followed in Iran is a solar calendar. This means that it estimates the dates and times in regards to the earth’s movement around the sun.
The first day of spring is their first day of a new year, called Nowruz. The first six consecutive months are 31 days long. Out of the remaining six months, the following five months have 30 days and the final month usually is 29 days long or 30 days if it’s a leap year.
3. Iran is a Testament of the Ancient Persia
During the early twentieth century and prior to that, Iran was known as Persia.
The name was changed from Persia to Iran in 1935 by Reza Shah, the king of that time. The name ‘Iran” symbolizes the land of Aryans.
4. Iran Has Unique Dishes
Most Iranian dishes come paired with a variety of flatbread or a side of rice. Slowly cooked stews and rice are by far the most common and favorite dish in Iran.
Moreover, they have a wide selection of kebab dishes as well. All Iranian meals are enjoyed with a side of fresh herbs or salad, which complement the main dish.
5. Saturday and Sunday Are Not the Weekends in Iran
Iran is one of the few exceptional countries which, unlike most countries of the world, does not have its weekends on Saturday and Sunday. Instead, Thursday and Friday are the weekend days in Iran with Thursday being similar to Saturday where most of the shops are open but schools and many offices are closed. Furthermore, Friday is representative of Sunday, with almost everything being closed.
6. Iran is home to one of the oldest religions in the world.
Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions in the world, which is still in existence. The religion was founded by Prophet Zoroaster during the sixth century BC. Iran is one of the very few countries which is home to this ancient religion.
Bearing in mind that the majority of the Iranian population is Muslim, the people of Iran still celebrate some of the Zoroastrian festivals such as Yalda, Nowruz, and Charshanbe Souri.
7. Iranians Love Their Tea
Tea is one of the most loved beverages in all of Iran, and it can be seen by the fact that it is served at every gathering and after each meal. The Iranians brew their tea black and do not add any milk.
8. Zoorkhanei and Pahlevani rituals
Zoorkhanei and Pahlevani rituals are among the oldest traditional sports that are practiced to this day. They are also included in UNESCO’s list of Intangible Heritage. Initially, this traditional sport was intended as a training regime for warriors.
9. Iran Has the Third Highest Number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Asia
Iran is a country with an immensely rich history which dates back thousands of years. And so naturally, Iran is home to numerous historical sites that serve as a testament to the country’s past. In total, Iran hosts twenty-four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which is the third most in all of Asia, being outdone by India and China only.
Twenty-two of these sites are cultural, while the remaining two sites are natural. Meidan Emam, Tchogha Zanbil, and Persepolis were the first sites to be enlisted under the World Heritage Site in 1979.
In August of 2019, a natural site by the name of Hyrcanian Forests was the most recent site to be included in the list by UNESCO.
10. Iran Is the Only Habitat for the Endangered Asiatic Cheetah
The Asiatic cheetah, also known as the Persian cheetah, is a species of cheetah that is on the verge of becoming extinct. At one point, this species of cheetah was widespread across the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent.
Unfortunately, today Iran is the only home these species have. Several secured areas in Iran’s eastern-central arid region serve as the haven for this species helping in preserving them.
No more than fifty Asiatic cheetahs remain. To spread awareness for the dire situation, the picture of the cheetah was printed on the jerseys of the Iran national football team during the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
11. The Gorgeous Persian Cat Breed Originated in Iran
The Persian Longhair cat breed is characterized by its unique aesthetic features such as the short muzzle, long hair, and round face. The first documented predecessors of this cat were brought to Italy during the early seventeenth century. After which, the cat was bred by Europeans and soon became a beloved pet.
12. The Majority of university Students Comprise of females
Despite numerous restrictions being imposed on women preventing them from getting admitted to many of the courses offered in universities, a majority of the student segment comprises women. Getting a higher education is quite common for women in Iran.
13. Iran Is Home to Asia’s Highest Volcano
Mount Damavand, located in Iran, carries the title of being the highest volcano in all of Asia. The volcano can be found in the Alborz range, which is located near the southern region of the Caspian Sea in the Mazandaran Province of Iran.
The volcano peak is 5,609.2 meters tall and is the twelfth most prominent peak in the world.
14. Iran Is the Birthplace of One of the World’s Oldest Civilizations
The origin of the Elamite Kingdoms has been linked to Iran during the fourth millennium BCE. The Elamite Kingdoms were among the earliest and therefore the oldest civilizations across the globe. Iran was a part of the First Persian Empire, also called the Achaemenid Empire, from roughly around 550BC to 330BC.
Later on, the region was controlled by the Parthian Empire, Sasanian Empire, and lastly by the Arab Muslims during the seventeenth century, who controlled the region for a few centuries.
15. The Iranian’s Have Their Own Signature Drink Called Aragh Sagi
Alcohol has been banned in Iran for over forty years.
However, many Iranians have devised secret ways to enjoy the occasional drink and have even developed their own unique drink called the Aragh Sagi.
This drink also goes by the name of Persian vodka and usually consists of around 50% alcohol composition. But some Iranians who like a stronger drink can turn up the alcohol composition even higher. The premium versions of this drink taste like grappa.
16. A thumbs-Up is Considered an Offensive Sign in Iran.
Showing a thumbs-up in Iran is considered offensive by the locals. It is as if you verbally assaulted the person and will likely lead to a conflict with them.
17. Iran Is an Energy Superpower
One of the main reasons for Iran’s fame is its immense reserves of fossil fuels. Iran ranks third globally in the production of natural gas and the world’s second-largest natural gas reserves, second only to Russia.
Moreover, by 2018 Iran became the fifth largest producer of petroleum and has the fourth most massive crude oil reserves.
Iran is also exploring the domain or renewable energy sector to supplement its future energy needs. Iran inaugurated its first wind and geothermal power plants in 2008. Furthermore, it also developed a second nuclear power plant in the Middle East during 2011.
18. Iran holds the Guinness World Record for Crafting the World’s largest hand-woven carpet.
An Iranian carpet manufacturer by the name of The Iran Carpet Company crafted the world’s largest hand-woven carpet for the mosque in Abu Dhabi in 2007. The net area of the carpet was 60,000.81 sq. ft.
10 Surprising Facts about Iran
In this five-minute video, you’ll learn about the 10 most surprising facts about Iran that you have likely never heard before.
The eighteen facts listed above are just some of the many astonishing facts about the history and culture of Iran. These facts reinforce the belief that there is much more to this country than what the media tells us.
If you ever find yourself visiting this remarkable country, do sample their local cuisine, and you’ll surely walk away with an unforgettable experience.
Hi I’m Jay. I grew up in Seattle, Washington and live in Los Angeles, California. I have travelled to 23 countries so far and planning to go explore more countries soon! My Favorite trips so far have been to Israel, Japan, Rome, Iceland and Australia. I started this site to share my love of travel with everyone and build a community of like-minded, free thinking, free exploring people.