Ardabil is an ancient city in northwestern Iran, the capital of Ardabil Province. Located in the northeastern part of Iran's historic Azerbaijan region, at the 2011 census, Ardabil's population was 564,365, in 156,324 families; the dominant majority in the city are ethnic Iranian Azerbaijanis and the primary language of the people is Azerbaijani. Ardabil is known for its trade in silk and carpets. Ardabil rugs are renowned and the ancient Ardabil Carpets are considered among the best of classical Persian carpets. Ardabil is home to a World Heritage Site, the Ardabil Shrine, the sanctuary and tomb of Shaikh Safî ad-Dîn, eponymous founder of the Safavid dynasty; the name Ardabil comes from the Avesta "Artavila" which means a holy place. Ardabil is located on the Baliqly Chay River, about 70 km from the Caspian Sea, 210 km from the city of Tabriz, it has an average altitude of 1,263 metres and total area of 18.011 km2. Neighboring on the Caspian Sea and the Republic of Azerbaijan, it has been of great political and economic significance throughout history within the Caucasus region.
It is located on an open plain 1,500 metres above sea level, just east of Mount Sabalan, where cold spells occur until late spring. The province is believed to be as old as the Achaemenid era, it is mentioned in the Avesta, where prophet Zoroaster was born by the river Aras and wrote his book in the Sabalan Mountains. During the Parthian era, the city had a special importance among the cities of Azerbaijan; some Muslim historians attribute the foundation of Ardabil to king Peroz I of the Sassanid Empire. The Persian poet Ferdowsi credits the foundation of the city to Peroz I. Ardabil suffered some damages caused by occasional raids of Huns from the 4th to 6th century CE. Peroz fortified the city. Peroz made Ardabil the residence of provincial governor of Azarbaijan. Due to its proximity to the Caucasus, Ardabil was always vulnerable to invasions and attacks by the mountain peoples of the Caucasus as well as by the steppe dwellers of South Russia past the mountains. In 730-731, the Khazars managed to get past the Alan Gates and killed the Arab governor of Armenia named Al-Jarrah ibn Abdallah on the plain outside the town of Ardabil, subsequently captured the town, as they continued their conquests.
During the Islamic conquest of Iran, Ardabil was the largest city in north-western Iran, ahead of Derbent, remained so until the Mongol invasion period. Ardabilis fought the Mongols three times. Incursions of Mongols and subsequently the Georgians, under Tamar the Great and sacked the city with some 12,000 citizens reputedly killed, devastated the city; the city however recovered and was in a more blossoming state than before, though by this time the principal city in the Azerbaijan region had become Tabriz, under the Ilkhanate, it had become Soltaniyeh. Safavid king Ismail I, born in Ardabil, started his campaign to nationalize Iran's government and land from there, but announced Tabriz as his capital in 1501, yet Ardabil remained an important city both politically and economically until modern times. During the frequent Ottoman-Persian Wars, being close to the borders, it was sacked by the Ottomans between 1514 and 1722 as well as in 1915 during World War I when the former invaded neighboring Iran.
In the early Qajar period, crown prince Abbas Mirza, son of incumbent king Fath Ali Shah Qajar was the governor of Ardabil. With Ardabil once being sacked by the Russians during the Russo-Persian War of 1804-1813, this being the era of the Russians advancing into the Iranian possessions in the Caucasus, Abbas Mirza ordered the Napoleonic general Gardane, who served the Qajars at the time, to strengthen and fortify the town with ramparts. During the next and final war, the Russo-Persian War of 1826-28, the ramparts were stormed by the Russian troops, who temporarily occupied the town; the town's extensive and noted library, known as the library of Safi-ad-din Ardabili, was taken to St. Petersburg by General Ivan Paskevich with the promise that its holdings would be brought to the Russian capital for safekeeping until they could be returned, a promise never fulfilled. After the Russo-Persian Wars, Iran ceded its territories in the Caucasus to Russia under the terms of the Treaty of Turkmenchay.
As a result, Ardabil was situated only 40 kilometers from the newly drawn border, becoming more important economically as a stop on a major caravan route along which European goods entered Iran from Russia. After he visited Ardabil in 1872, German diplomat Max von Thielmann noted, in his book published in 1875, the extensive activity in the town's bazaar, as well as the presence of many foreigners, estimated its population at 20,000. During the early Iranian Constitutional Revolution, Russia occupied Ardabil together with the rest of Iranian Azerbaijan until the eventual collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917. In the heart of the city, stands the ancient bazaar, described by historians of the 4th century CE as cruciform, with designed domes extending in four directions. Most sections of the bazaar were renovated during the Safavid and Zand periods. Produce Bazar and vicinity Located at the Meshkin Shahr gate is a market where farmers directly sell their produce to the public. One of the main sights in the city of Ardabil in north-west Iran is the shrine of Shaykh Safi al-Din Ardabili, who died in 1334.
The Shaykh was a Sufi leader, who tra
Alfred A. Knopf
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. is a New York publishing house, founded by Alfred A. Knopf Sr. and Blanche Knopf in 1915. Blanche and Alfred traveled abroad and were known for publishing European and Latin American writers in addition to leading American literary trends, it was acquired by Random House in 1960, acquired by Bertelsmann in 1998, is now part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. The Knopf publishing house is associated with its borzoi colophon, designed by co-founder Blanche Knopf in 1925. Knopf was founded in 1915 by Alfred A. Knopf Sr. along with Blanche Knopf, on a $5,000 advance from his father, Samuel Knopf. The first office was located in New York's Candler Building; the publishing house was incorporated in 1918, with Alfred Knopf as president, Blanche Knopf as vice president, Samuel Knopf as treasurer. From the start, Knopf focused on European translations and high-brow works of literature. Among their initial publications were French author Émile Augier's Four Plays, Russian writer Nikolai Gogol's Taras Bulba, Polish novelist Stanisław Przybyszewski's novel Homo Sapiens, French writer Guy de Maupassant's Yvette, a Novelette, Ten Other Stories.
During World War I these books were cheap to obtain and helped establish Knopf as an American firm publishing European works. Their first bestseller was a new edition of Green Mansions, a novel by W. H. Hudson which went through nine printings by 1919 and sold over 20,000 copies, their first original American novel, The Three Black Pennys by Joseph Hergesheimer, was published in 1917. With the start of the 1920s Knopf began using innovative advertising techniques to draw attention to their books and authors. Beginning in 1920, Knopf produced a chapbook, for the purpose of promoting new books; the Borzoi was published periodically over the years, the first being a hardback called the Borzoi and sometimes quarterly as the Borzoi Quarterly. For Floyd Dell's coming-of-age novel, Moon-Calf, they paid men to walk the streets of the financial and theatre districts dressed in artist costumes with sandwich boards; the placards directed interested buyers to local book shops. The unique look of their books along with their expertise in advertising their authors drew Willa Cather to leave her previous publisher Houghton Mifflin to join Alfred A. Knopf.
As she was still under contract for her novels, the Knopfs suggested publishing a collection of her short stories and the Bright Medusa in 1920. Cather was pleased with the results and the advertisement of the book in the New Republic and would go on to publish sixteen books with Knopf including their first Pulitzer prize winner, One Of Ours. Before they had married, Alfred had promised Blanche that they would be equal partners in the publishing company, but it was clear by the company's fifth anniversary that this was not to be the case. Knopf published a celebratory 5th anniversary book in which Alfred was the focus of anecdotes by authors and Blanche's name was only mentioned once to note that "Mrs. Knopf" had found a manuscript; this despite ample evidence from authors and others that Blanche was in fact the soul of the company. This was covered extensively in The Lady with the Borzoi by Laura Claridge. In 1923 Knopf started publishing periodicals, beginning with The American Mercury, founded by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan, which it published through 1934.1923 marked the year that Knopf published Kahlil Gibran's the Prophet.
Knopf had published Gibran's earlier works. In its first year, the Prophet only sold 1,159 copies, it would double sales the next year and keep doubling becoming one of the firm's most successful books. In 1965 the book sold 240,000 copies. Samuel Knopf died in 1932. William A. Koshland joined the company in 1934, worked with the firm for more than fifty years, rising to take the positions of President and Chairman of the Board. Blanche became President in 1957 when Alfred became Chairman of the Board, worked for the firm until her death in 1966. Alfred Knopf retired in 1972, becoming chairman emeritus of the firm until his death in 1984. Alfred Knopf had a summer home in Purchase, New York. Following the Good Neighbor policy, Blanche Knopf visited South America in 1942, so the firm could start producing texts from there, she was one of the first publishers to visit Europe after World War II. Her trips, those of other editors, brought in new writers from Europe, South America, Asia. Alfred traveled to Brazil in 1961, which spurred a corresponding interest on his part in South America.
Penn Publishing Company was acquired in 1943. The Knopfs' son, Alfred "Pat" Jr. was hired on as trade books manager after the war. In 1952, editor Judith Jones joined Knopf as an editor. Jones discovered Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl in a slush pile and acquired Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Jones would remain with Knopf, retiring in 2011 as a senior editor and vice-president after a career that included working with John Updike and Anne Tyler. Pat Knopf left his parents' publishing company in 1959 to launch his own, Atheneum Publishers, with two other partners; the story made the front page of the New York Times. In a 1957 advertisement in the Atlantic Monthly, Alfred A. Knopf published the Borzoi Credo; the credo includes a list of what Knopf's beliefs for publishing including the statement that he never published an unworthy book. Among a list of beliefs listed is the final one--"I believe that magazines, movies and radio will never replace good books." In 1960 Random House acquired Alfred A. Knopf.
It is believed that the decision to sell was prompted by Alfred A. Knopf, Jr. leaving Knopf to found his own book company, Atheneum Bo
Iranian Azerbaijanis known as Iranian Azeris, Iranian Turks, Persian Turks, or Persian Azerbaijanis, are Iranians of Azeri ethnicity who may speak the Azerbaijani language as their first language. Iranian Azeris are a Turkic-speaking people which are culturally and genetically Iranian, they are the second largest ethnic group in the nation. Furthermore, the largest population of ethnic Azeris in the world live in Iran, far outnumbering those in the neighbouring Republic of Azerbaijan. Iranian Azeris are found in and are native to the Iranian Azerbaijan region including provinces of and in smaller numbers, in other provinces such as Kurdistan, Hamadan, Gilan and Kermanshah. Iranian Azeris constitute a significant minority in Tehran and other regions. Azeris comprise the largest minority ethnic group in Iran. Apart from Iranian Azerbaijan, indigenous Azeri populations are found in large numbers in four other provinces: Hamadan, Qazvin and Kurdistan. Azeri-populated parts of Markazi include Komijan, Saveh, Zarandieh and Farahan.
In Kurdistan, Azeris are found in villages around Qorveh. Azeris have immigrated and resettled in large numbers in Central Iran Tehran, where they constitute 25% — one-third of the population and Karaj Immigrant Azeri communities have been represented by people prominent not only among urban and industrial working classes but in commercial, political and intellectual circles. Sub-ethnic groups of the Azeris within the modern-day borders of Iran following the ceding of the Caucasus to Russia in the 19th century, include the Shahsevan, the Qarapapaqs, the Ayrums, the Bayat, the Qajars, the Qaradaghis, the Gharagozloo, the latter whom are the indigenous population of Central Iran. A comparative study on the complete mitochondrial DNA diversity in Iranians has indicated that Iranian Azeris are more related to the people of Georgia, than they are to other Iranians, as well as to Armenians; however the same multidimensional scaling plot shows that Azeris from the Caucasus, despite their supposed common origin with Iranian Azeris, cluster closer with other Iranians than they do with Iranian Azeris.
Other studies support that present day Iranian main genetic stock comes from the ancient autochthonous people and a genetic input from eastern people would be a minor one. Thus, Iranian Azeris have the closest genetic distance to Iranian Kurds and there is no significant difference between these two populations and other major ethnic groups of Iran. According to the scholar of historical geography, Xavier de Planhol: “Azeri material culture, a result of this multi-secular symbiosis, is thus a subtle combination of indigenous elements and nomadic contributions…, it is a Turkish language learned and spoken by Iranian peasants”. According to Richard Frye: "The Turkic speakers of Azerbaijan are descended from the earlier Iranian speakers, several pockets of whom still exist in the region.". According to Olivier Roy: "The mass of the Oghuz Turkic tribes who crossed the Amu Darya towards the west left the Iranian plateau, which remained Persian, established themselves more to the west, in Anatolia.
Here they divided into Ottomans, who were Sunni and settled, Turkmens, who were nomads and in part Shiite. The latter were to keep the name “Turkmen”for a long time: from the thirteenth century onwards they “Turkised” the Iranian populations of Azerbaijan, thus creating a new identity based on Shiism and the use of Oghuz Turkic; these are the people today known as Azeris.". According to Rybakov: "Speaking of the Azerbaijan culture originating at that time, in the XIV-XV cc. one must bear in mind, first of all and other parts of culture organically connected with the language. As for the material culture, it remained traditional after the Turkicization of the local population. However, the presence of a massive layer of Iranians that took part in the formation of the Azeri ethnos, have imposed its imprint on the lexicon of the Azeri language which contains a great number of Iranian and Arabic words; the latter entered both the Azeri and Turkish language through the Iranian intermediary. Having become independent, the Azeri culture retained close connections with the Iranian and Arab cultures.
They were reinforced by common religion and common cultural-historical traditions.”. The Iranian origins of the Azeris derive from ancient Iranian tribes, such as the Medes in Iranian Azerbaijan, Scythian invaders who arrived during the 8th century BCE, it is believed that the Medes mixed with an indigenous population, the Mannai, a group related to the Urartians. Ancient written accounts, such as one written by Arab historian Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn al-Husayn al-Masudi, attest to an Iranian presence in the region: Scholars see cultural similarities between modern Persians and Azeris as evidence of an ancient Iranian influence. Archaeological evidence indicates that the Iranian religion of Zoroastrianism was prominent throughout the Caucasus before Christianity and Islam and that the influence of various Persian Empires added to the Iranian character of the area, it has been hypothesized that the population of Iranian Azerbaijan was predominantly Persian-speaking before the Oghuz arrived. This
Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.7 million in the city and 15 million in the larger metropolitan area of Greater Tehran, Tehran is the most populous city in Iran and Western Asia, has the second-largest metropolitan area in the Middle East. It is ranked 24th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area. In the Classical era, part of the territory of present-day Tehran was occupied by Rhages, a prominent Median city, it was subject to destruction through the medieval Arab and Mongol invasions. Its modern-day inheritor remains as an urban area absorbed into the metropolitan area of Greater Tehran. Tehran was first chosen as the capital of Iran by Agha Mohammad Khan of the Qajar dynasty in 1796, in order to remain within close reach of Iran's territories in the Caucasus, before being separated from Iran as a result of the Russo-Iranian Wars, to avoid the vying factions of the ruling Iranian dynasties; the capital has been moved several times throughout the history, Tehran is the 32nd national capital of Iran.
Large scale demolition and rebuilding began in the 1920s, Tehran has been a destination for mass migrations from all over Iran since the 20th century. Tehran is home to many historical collections, including the royal complexes of Golestan, Sa'dabad, Niavaran, where the two last dynasties of the former Imperial State of Iran were seated. Tehran's most famous landmarks include the Azadi Tower, a memorial built under the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1971 to mark the 2,500th year of the foundation of the Imperial State of Iran, the Milad Tower, the world's sixth-tallest self-supporting tower, completed in 2007; the Tabiat Bridge, a newly-built landmark, was completed in 2014. The majority of the population of Tehran are Persian-speaking people, 99% of the population understand and speak Persian, but there are large populations of other ethno-linguistic groups who live in Tehran and speak Persian as a second language. Tehran has an international airport, a domestic airport, a central railway station, the rapid transit system of Tehran Metro, a bus rapid transit system, a large network of highways.
There have been plans to relocate Iran's capital from Tehran to another area, due to air pollution and the city's exposure to earthquakes. To date, no definitive plans have been approved. A 2016 survey of 230 cities by consultant Mercer ranked Tehran 203rd for quality of life. According to the Global Destinations Cities Index in 2016, Tehran is among the top ten fastest growing destinations. October 6 is marked as Tehran Day based on a 2016 decision by members of the City Council, celebrating the day when the city was chosen as the capital of Iran by the Qajar dynasty back in 1907; the origin of the name Tehran is uncertain. Prior to Tehran being the capital of Iran Isfahan was the capital. Isfahan has a significant Armenian Population; the settlement of Tehran dates back over 7,000 years. Tehran is situated within the historical region of Media in northwestern Iran. By the time of the Median Empire, a part of the territory of present-day Tehran was a suburb of the prominent Median city of Rhages.
In the Avesta's Videvdat, Rhages is mentioned as the 12th sacred place created by Ohrmazd. In Old Persian inscriptions, Rhages appears as a province. From Rhages, Darius I sent reinforcements to his father Hystaspes, putting down the rebellion in Parthia. In some Middle Persian texts, Rhages is given as the birthplace of Zoroaster, although modern historians place the birth of Zoroaster in Khorasan. Rhages's modern-day inheritor, Ray, is a city located towards the southern end of Tehran, absorbed into the metropolitan area of Greater Tehran. Mount Damavand, the highest peak of Iran, located near Tehran, is an important location in Ferdowsi's Šāhnāme, the Iranian epic poem, based on the ancient legends of Iran, it appears in the epics as the homeland of the protoplast Keyumars, the birthplace of king Manuchehr, the place where king Freydun binds the dragon fiend Aždahāk, the place where Arash shot his arrow from. During the reign of the Sassanian Empire, in 641, Yazdgerd III issued his last appeal to the nation from Rhages, before fleeing to Khorasan.
Rhages was dominated by the Parthian Mehran family, Siyavakhsh—the son of Mehran the son of Bahram Chobin—who resisted the 7th-century Muslim invasion of Iran. Because of this resistance, when the Arabs captured Rhages, they ordered the town to be destroyed and rebuilt anew by traitor aristocrat Farrukhzad. In the 9th century, Tehran was a well-known village, but less known than the city of Rhages, flourishing nearby. Rhages was described in detail by 10th-century Muslim geographers. Despite the interest that Arabian Baghdad displayed in Rhages, the number of Arabs in the city remained insignificant and the population consisted of Iranians of all classes; the Oghuz Turks invaded Rhages discretely in 1035 and 1042, but the city was recovered under the reigns of the Seljuks and the Khwarezmians. Medieval writer Najm od Din Razi declared the population of Rhages about 500,000 before the Mongol invasion. In the 13th century, the Mongols invaded Rhages, laid the city in ruins, massacred many of its inhabitants.
Following the invasion, many of the city's inhabitants escaped to Tehran. In July 1404, Castilian ambassador Ruy González de Clavijo visited Tehran while on a journey to Samarkand, the capital of Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur, who ruled Iran at the time. In his diary, Tehran was described as an unwalled region. Ital
Actor (1993 film)
Actor is a 1993 Iranian film directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The film features Akbar Abdi as Akbar, Fatemeh Motamed-Aria as his wife and Mahaya Petrosian as the gypsy girl; the film is a combination of fiction and reality since the leading character has the same name and occupation as the actor who portrays the role, while the details and events are fictional. An Iranian actor named Akbar is trying to become a serious actor instead of the clown everyone considers him to be; however financial problems force him to abandon his dream of being an artistic actor. He has to deal with his family problems and his wife's inability to become pregnant. Honarpisheh on IMDb
Naser al-Din Shah Qajar
Naser al-Din Shah Qajar Nassereddin Shah Qajar, was the King of Persia from 5 September 1848 to 1 May 1896 when he was assassinated. He was the son of Mohammad Shah Qajar and Malek Jahān Khānom and the third longest reigning monarch in Iranian history after Shapur II of the Sassanid dynasty and Tahmasp I of the Safavid Dynasty. Nasser al-Din Shah had sovereign power for close to 50 years and was the first modern Iranian monarch to formally visit Europe; the state under Naser Al-Din was the recognized government of Iran but its authority was undermined by local tribal leaders. The religious and tribal chieftains held quite a bit of autonomy over their communities. Naser Al-Din was not effective in implementing his sovereignty over his people. Local groups had their own militias and oftentimes did not obey laws passed by the monarchy since they did not have the power to enforce them; the people followed. When Naser Al-Din took power, his army had 3,000 men, smaller than the armies under various tribal leaders.
When the state needed a proper army, he would hire the local militias. Prior to his reforms, Naser's government had little power over their subjects and during the reforms, they faced more scrutiny over their ability to implement those reforms successfully. Naser al-Din was in Tabriz from Qajars tribe when he heard of his father's death in 1848, he ascended to the Sun Throne with the help of Amir Kabir. Naser al-Din was dictatorial in his style of government. With his sanction, some Babis were killed after an attempt on his life; this treatment continued under his prime minister Amir Kabir, who ordered the execution of the Báb – regarded as a manifestation of God to Bábí's and Bahá'ís, to historians as the founder of the Bábí religion. Unable to regain the territory in the Caucasus irrevocably lost to Russia in the early 19th century, Naser al-Din sought compensation by seizing Herāt, Afghanistan, in 1856. Great Britain regarded the move as a threat to British India and declared war on Persia, forcing the return of Herāt as well as Persia's recognition of the kingdom of Afghanistan.
Naser al-Din was the first modern Persian monarch to visit Europe in 1873 and again in 1878, in 1889 and was amazed with the technology he saw. During his visit to the United Kingdom in 1873, Naser al-Din Shah was appointed by Queen Victoria a Knight of the Order of the Garter, the highest English order of chivalry, he was the first Persian monarch to be so honoured. His travel diary of his 1873 trip has been published in several languages, including Persian, German and Dutch. In 1890 Naser al-Din met British major Gerald F. Talbot and signed a contract with him giving him the ownership of the Persian tobacco industry, but he was forced to cancel the contract after Ayatollah Mirza Hassan Shirazi issued a fatwa that made farming and consuming tobacco haram. Consuming tobacco from the newly monopolized'Talbet' company represented foreign exploitation, so for that reason it was deemed immoral, it affected the Shah's personal life as his wives did not allow him to smoke. This was not the end of Naser al-Din's attempts to give concessions to Europeans.
Most of Naser al-Din's modernizing reforms happened during the prime ministership of Amir Kabir. He defeated various rebels in Iranian provinces, most notably in Khorasan, balanced the budget by introducing reforms to the tax system, curbed the power of the clergy in the judiciary, built some military factories, improved relations with other powers to curb British and Russian influence opened the first newspaper called Vaghaye-Ettefaghieh and modernized cities by building for example the Tehran Bazaar and most opened the first Iranian school for upper education called the Dar ol-Funun where many Iranian intellectuals received their education; however Amir Kabir's reforms were unpopular with some people and Naser al-Din Shah first exiled him and ordered his assassination. The Shah lost interest for reform. However, he took some important measures such as introducing telegraphy and postal services and building roads, he increased the size of the state's military and created a new group called the Persian Cossack Brigade, trained and armed by the Russians.
He was the first Persian to be photographed and was a patron of photography who had himself photographed hundreds of times. His final prime minister was Ali Asghar Khan, who after the shah's assassination aided in securing the transfer of the throne to Mozaffar al-Din. Although he was successful in introducing these western based reforms, he was not successful in gaining complete sovereignty over his people or getting them to accept these reforms; the school he opened, Dar al-Funun, had small enrollment numbers. The restriction's defined by Sh'ia Islam on the shah's collection of the zakat led to those funds going straight into the coffers of the ulama. Therefore, the financial autonomy given to the ulama enabled them to remain structurally independent, keeping madrasahs open and supporting the students therein; the ulama maintained their authority to challenge state law. To fund these new institutions and building projects, Naser used tax farming to increase state revenue. Tax collectors abused their power and the government was viewed as corrupt and unable to protect them from abuse by the upper class.
This anti-government sentiment increased the ulama's power over the people because they were able to provide them security
Iran called Persia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2, it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, to the west by Turkey and Iraq; the country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center. Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BCE, it was first unified by the Iranian Medes in the seventh century BCE, reaching its greatest territorial size in the sixth century BCE, when Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire, which stretched from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley, becoming one of the largest empires in history.
The Iranian realm fell to Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE and was divided into several Hellenistic states. An Iranian rebellion culminated in the establishment of the Parthian Empire, succeeded in the third century CE by the Sasanian Empire, a leading world power for the next four centuries. Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century CE; the Islamization of Iran led to the decline of Zoroastrianism, by the country's dominant religion, Iran's major contributions to art and science spread within the Muslim rule during the Islamic Golden Age. After two centuries, a period of various native Muslim dynasties began, which were conquered by the Seljuq Turks and the Ilkhanate Mongols; the rise of the Safavids in the 15th century led to the reestablishment of a unified Iranian state and national identity, with the country's conversion to Shia Islam marking a turning point in Iranian and Muslim history. Under Nader Shah, Iran was one of the most powerful states in the 18th century, though by the 19th century, a series of conflicts with the Russian Empire led to significant territorial losses.
The Iranian Constitutional Revolution in the early 20th century led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy and the country's first legislature. A 1953 coup instigated by the United Kingdom and the United States resulted in greater autocracy and growing Western political influence. Subsequent widespread dissatisfaction and unrest against the monarchy led to the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of an Islamic republic, a political system that includes elements of a parliamentary democracy vetted and supervised by a theocracy governed by an autocratic "Supreme Leader". During the 1980s, the country was engaged in a war with Iraq, which lasted for eight years and resulted in a high number of casualties and economic losses for both sides; the sovereign state of Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, OPEC. It is a major regional and middle power, its large reserves of fossil fuels – which include the world's largest natural gas supply and the fourth largest proven oil reserves – exert considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy.
The country's rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 22 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the third largest number in Asia and 11th largest in the world. Iran is a multicultural country comprising numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, the largest being Persians, Azeris and Lurs. Organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized Iran's women's rights record; the term Iran derives directly from Middle Persian Ērān, first attested in a third-century inscription at Rustam Relief, with the accompanying Parthian inscription using the term Aryān, in reference to the Iranians. The Middle Iranian ērān and aryān are oblique plural forms of gentilic nouns ēr- and ary-, both deriving from Proto-Iranian *arya-, recognized as a derivative of Proto-Indo-European *ar-yo-, meaning "one who assembles". In the Iranian languages, the gentilic is attested as a self-identifier, included in ancient inscriptions and the literature of the Avesta, remains in other Iranian ethnic names Alan and Iron.
Iran has been referred to as Persia by the West, due to the writings of Greek historians who referred to all of Iran as Persís, meaning "land of the Persians", while Persis itself was one of the provinces of ancient Iran, today defined as Fars. As the most extensive interaction the Ancient Greeks had with any outsider was with the Persians, the term persisted long after the Greco-Persian Wars. In 1935, Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, effective March 22 that year; as The New York Times explained at the time, "At the suggestion of the Persian Legation in Berlin, the Tehran government, on the Persian New Year, March 21, 1935, substituted Iran for Persia as the official name of the country." Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision, Professor Ehsan Yarshater, editor of Encyclopædia Iranica, propagated a move to use Persia and Iran interchangeably. Today, both Iran and Persia are used in cultural contexts, while Iran remains irreplaceab