The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
Yom Ashura or Ashura is the tenth day of Muḥarram, the first month in the Islamic calendar. For the majority of Shia Muslims Ashura marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram, commemorates the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala on 10 Muharram in the year 61 AH. Sunni Muslims have the same accounts of these events, but ceremonial mourning did not become a custom - although poems and recounting the events were and continue to be common. Mourning for the incident began immediately after the Battle of Karbala. Popular elegies were written by poets to commemorate the Battle of Karbala during the Umayyad and Abbasid era, the earliest public mourning rituals occurred in 963 CE during the Buyid dynasty. In Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain and Pakistan, Ashura has become a national holiday, many ethnic and religious communities participate in it. In Sunni Islam, Ashura marks the day that Moses and the Israelites were saved from Pharaoh by God creating a path in the Sea, is the Islamic equivalent to Yom Kippur.
Other commemorations include Noah leaving the Muhammad's arrival in Medina. The root of the word Ashura has the meaning of tenth in Semitic languages. According to the orientalist A. J. Wensinck, the name is derived from the Hebrew ʿāsōr, with the Aramaic determinative ending; the day is indeed the tenth day of the month, although some Islamic scholars offer up different etymologies. In his book Ghuniyatut Talibin, Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jilani writes that Islamic scholars differ as to why this day is known as Ashura, some of them suggesting that it is the tenth most important day with which God has blessed Muslims; the Battle of Karbala took place within the crisis environment resulting from the succession of Yazid I. After succession, Yazid instructed the governor of Medina to compel Husayn and a few other prominent figures to pledge their allegiance. Husayn, refrained from making such a pledge, believing that Yazid was going against the teachings of Islam and changing the sunnah of Muhammad. He, accompanied by his household, his sons and the sons of Hasan left Medina to seek asylum in Mecca.
On the other hand, the people in Kufa, when informed of Muawiyah's death, sent letters urging Husayn to join them and pledging to support him against the Umayyads. Husayn wrote back to them saying that he would send his cousin Muslim ibn Aqeel to report to him on the situation and that if he found them supportive as their letters indicated, he would speedily join them because an Imam should act in accordance with the Quran and uphold justice, proclaim the truth, dedicate himself to the cause of God; the mission of Muslim was successful and according to reports, 18,000 men pledged their allegiance. But the situation changed radically when Yazid appointed Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad as the new governor of Kufa, ordering him to deal with Ibn Aqeel. In Mecca, Husayn learned assassins had been sent by Yazid to kill him in the holy city in the midst of Hajj. Husayn, to preserve the sanctity of the city and that of the Kaaba, abandoned his Hajj and encouraged others around him to follow him to Kufa without knowing the situation there had taken an adverse turn.
On the way, Husayn found that Muslim ibn Aqeel, had been killed in Kufa. Husayn encountered the vanguard of the army of Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad along the route towards Kufa. Husayn addressed the Kufan army, reminding them that they had invited him to come because they were without an Imam, he told them that he intended to proceed to Kufa with their support, but if they were now opposed to his coming, he would return to where he had come from. In response, the army urged him to proceed by another route. Thus, he turned to the left and reached Karbala, where the army forced him not to go further and stop at a location that had limited access to water. Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the governor instructed Umar ibn Sa'ad, the head of the Kufan army, to offer Ḥusayn and his supporters the opportunity to swear allegiance to Yazid, he ordered Umar ibn Sa'ad to cut off Husayn and his followers from access to the water of the Euphrates. On the next morning, Umar ibn Sa'ad arranged the Kufan army in battle order; the Battle of Karbala lasted from morning to sunset on October 10, 680.
Husayn's small group of companions and family members fought against a large army under the command of Umar ibn Sa'ad and were killed near the river, from which they were not allowed to get water. The renowned historian Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī states: … hen fire was set to their camp and the bodies were trampled by the hoofs of the horses. Once the Umayyad troops had murdered Husayn and his male followers, they looted the tents, stripped the women of their jewelry, took the skin upon which Zain al-Abidin was prostrate. Husayn's sister Zaynab was taken along with the enslaved women to the caliph in Damascus when she was imprisoned and after a year was allowed to return to Medina. According to Ignác Goldziher, ver since the black day of Karbala, the history of this family … has been a continuous series of sufferings and persecutions; these are narrated in poetry and prose, in a richly cultivated literature of martyrologies …'More touching than the tears of the Shi'is' has become an Arabic proverb.
The first assembly of the Commemoration of Husayn ibn Ali is said to have been held by Zaynab in prison. In Damascus, she is reported to have deliv
A gunship is a military aircraft armed with heavy guns intended for attacking ground targets. In modern usage the term "gunship" refers to fixed-wing aircraft aircraft having laterally-mounted heavy armaments to attack ground or sea targets; these gunships were configured to circle the target instead of performing strafing runs. Such aircraft have their armament on one side harmonized to fire at the apex of an imaginary cone formed by the aircraft and the ground when performing a pylon turn; the term "helicopter gunship" is used to describe armed helicopters. The term gunship originated in the mid-19th century as a synonym for gunboat and referred to the armed ironclad steamships used during the American Civil War. During 1942 and 1943, the lack of a usable escort fighter for the United States Army Air Forces in the European Theatre of Operations led to experiments in increasing the armament of a standard Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress, a single Consolidated B-24D Liberator to each have 14 to 16 Browning AN/M2.50 cal machine guns as the Boeing YB-40 Flying Fortress and Consolidated XB-41 Liberator "heavy fighters" respectively.
The YB-40 was sometimes described as a gunship, a small 25-aircraft batch of the B-17-derived gunships were built, with a dozen of these deployed to Europe. During World War II, the urgent need for hard-hitting attack aircraft led to the development of the armed gunship versions of the North American B-25 Mitchell. Four hundred five B-25G were armed with a 75 mm M4 cannon and a thousand B-25H followed; the H models moved the dorsal turret forward to just behind the cockpit and were armed with the lighter 75mm T13E1 cannon. The B-25J variant, removed the 75mm guns but carried an impressive total of eighteen "Ma Deuce" AN/M2 Browning.50-cal machine guns, more than any other contemporary American aircraft: eight in the nose, four in under-cockpit conformal flank-mount gun pod packages, two in the dorsal turret, one each in the pair of waist positions, a pair in the tail. The B-25J was armed with eight 5 in. high velocity aircraft rockets. The British made large numbers of twin-engined gunships carrying heavy guns most notably the de Havilland Mosquito.
The usual fixed armament was four 20 mm Hispano Mk. II cannon and four.303 Browning machine guns. It could carry up to 4,000 pounds of bombs in the bomb bay and on racks housed in streamlined fairings under each wing, or up to eight RP-3 rockets. De Havilland made seventeen Mosquito FB Mk XVIII armed with 57mm auto-cannons; the Germans made a sizable number of heavy fighter types armed with heavy guns. Dedicated "tankbuster" aircraft such as the Ju 87Gs were armed with two BK 37mm auto-cannons in underwing gun pods; the Ju 88P gunships were armed with 37mm, 50mm and 75mm guns, were used as tankbusters and as bomber destroyers. The Me 410 were armed with the same BK 50mm auto-cannon as the Ju 88P-4, but were only used as bomber destroyers. None of the German twin-engined gunship types were converted in large numbers. In the more modern, post-World War II fixed-wing aircraft category, a gunship is an aircraft having laterally-mounted heavy armaments to attack ground or sea targets; these gunships were configured to circle the target instead of performing strafing runs.
Such aircraft have their armament on one side harmonized to fire at the apex of an imaginary cone formed by the aircraft and the ground when performing a pylon turn. The Douglas AC-47 Spooky was the first notable modern gunship. In 1964, during the Vietnam War, the popular Douglas C-47 Skytrain transport was modified into a gunship by the United States Air Force with three side-firing Miniguns for circling attacks. At the time the aircraft was known as a "Dragonship", "Puff, the Magic Dragon" or "Spooky", its three 7.62 mm miniguns could selectively fire either 100 rounds per second. Cruising in an overhead left-hand orbit at 120 knots air speed at an altitude of 3,000 feet, the gunship could put a bullet or glowing red tracer into every square yard of a football field-sized target in less than 10 seconds. And, as long as its 45-flare and 24,000-round basic load of ammunition held out, it could do this intermittently while loitering over the target for hours; the less known Fairchild AC-119G Shadow were twin-engine piston-powered gunships developed by the United States during the Vietnam War.
Armed with four 7.62 mm GAU-2/A Miniguns and two 20 mm M61 Vulcan six-barrel rotary cannons, they replaced the Douglas AC-47 Spooky and operated alongside the early versions of the AC-130 Spectre gunship. It was the and larger Lockheed AC-130 Gunship II that became the modern, post–World War II origin of the term gunship in military aviation; these armed aircraft used a variety of weapon systems, including 7.62 mm GAU-2/A Miniguns, 20 mm M61 Vulcan six-barrel rotary cannons, 25 mm GAU-12/U Equalizer five-barreled rotary cannons, 30 mm Mk44 Bushmaster II chain guns, 40 mm L/60 Bofors autocannons, 105 mm M102 howitzers. The Douglas AC-47 Spooky, the Fairchild AC-119, the AC-130 Spectre/Spooky, were vulnerable, meant to operate only after achieving air superiority. Smaller gunship designs such as the Fair
In Abrahamic religions, a messiah or messias is a saviour or liberator of a group of people. The concepts of moshiach, of a Messianic Age originated in Judaism, in the Hebrew Bible. Messiahs were not Jewish: the Book of Isaiah refers to Cyrus the Great, king of the Achaemenid Empire, as a messiah for his decree to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple. Ha mashiach referred to as melekh mashiach, is to be a human leader, physically descended from the paternal Davidic line through King David and King Solomon, he is thought to accomplish predetermined things in only one future arrival, including the unification of the tribes of Israel, the gathering of all Jews to Eretz Israel, the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, the ushering in of a Messianic Age of global universal peace, the annunciation of the world to come. In Christianity, the Messiah is called the Christ, from Greek: translit. Khristós, translating the Hebrew word of the same meaning; the concept of the Messiah in Christianity originated from the Messiah in Judaism.
However, unlike the concept of the Messiah in Judaism, the Messiah in Christianity is the Son of God. Christ became the accepted Christian designation and title of Jesus of Nazareth, because Christians believe that the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament were fulfilled in his mission and resurrection; these include the prophecies of him being descended from the Davidic line, being declared King of the Jews which happened on the day of his crucifixion. They believe that Christ will fulfill the rest of the messianic prophecies that he will usher in a Messianic Age and the world to come at his Second Coming. In Islam, Jesus was a prophet and the Masîḥ, the Messiah sent to the Israelites, he will return to Earth at the end of times, along with the Mahdi, defeat al-Masih ad-Dajjal, the false Messiah. In Ahmadiyya theology, these prophecies concerning the Mahdi and the second coming of Jesus have been fulfilled in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, the terms'Messiah' and'Mahdi' are synonyms for one and the same person.
In Chabad messianism, Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, sixth Rebbe of Chabad Lubavitch, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, seventh Rebbe of Chabad, are Messiah claimants. Resembling early Christianity, the deceased Schneerson is believed to be the Messiah among some adherents of the Chabad movement. Messiah means "anointed one". In Hebrew, the Messiah is referred to as מלך המשיח The Greek Septuagint version of the Old Testament renders all thirty-nine instances of the Hebrew word for "anointed" as Χριστός; the New Testament records the Greek transliteration Μεσσίας, Messias twice in John.al-Masīḥ is the Arabic word for messiah. In modern Arabic, it is used as one of the many titles of Jesus. Masīḥ is used by Arab Christians as well as Muslims, is written as Yasūʿ al-Masih by Arab Christians or ʿĪsā al-Masīḥ by Muslims; the word al-Masīḥ means "the anointed", "the traveller", or the "one who cures by caressing". The literal translation of the Hebrew word mashiach is "anointed", which refers to a ritual of consecrating someone or something by putting holy oil upon it.
It is used throughout the Hebrew Bible in reference to a wide variety of objects. In Jewish eschatology, the term came to refer to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line, who will be "anointed" with holy anointing oil, to be king of God's kingdom, rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age. In Judaism, the Messiah is not considered to be a pre-existent divine Son of God, he is considered to be a great political leader. That is why he is referred to as Messiah ben David, which means "Messiah, son of David"; the messiah, in Judaism, is considered to be a great, charismatic leader, well oriented with the laws that are followed in Judaism. He will be the one who will not "judge by what his eyes see" or "decide by what his ears hear". Belief in the eventual coming of a future messiah is a fundamental part of Judaism, is one of Maimonides' 13 Principles of Faith. Maimonides describes the identity of the Messiah in the following terms: And if a king shall arise from among the House of David, studying Torah and occupied with commandments like his father David, according to the written and oral Torah, he will impel all of Israel to follow it and to strengthen breaches in its observance, will fight God's wars, this one is to be treated as if he were the anointed one.
If he succeeded and built the Holy Temple in its proper place and gathered the dispersed ones of Israel together, this is indeed the anointed one for certain, he will mend the entire world to worship the Lord together, as it is stated: "For I shall turn for the nations a clear tongue, so that they will all proclaim the Name of the Lord, to worship Him w
Iraqi Kurdistan called the Kurdistan Region of Iraq by the Iraqi constitution, is an autonomous region located in northern Iraq. It is referred to as Southern Kurdistan, as Kurds consider it to be one of the four parts of Greater Kurdistan, which includes parts of southeastern Turkey, northern Syria, northwestern Iran; the region is governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government, with the capital being Erbil. Kurdistan is a parliamentary democracy with its own regional Parliament. Masoud Barzani, elected as president in 2005, was re-elected in 2009. In August 2013 the parliament extended his presidency for another two years, his presidency concluded on 19 August 2015 after the political parties failed to reach an agreement over extending his term. The new Constitution of Iraq defines the Kurdistan Region as a federal entity of Iraq, establishes Kurdish and Arabic as Iraq's joint official languages; the four governorates of Duhok, Erbil and Halabja comprise around 46,861 square kilometres and have a population of 5.9 million.
In 2014, during the 2014 Iraq Crisis, Iraqi Kurdistan's forces took over much of the disputed territories of Northern Iraq. The establishment of the Kurdistan Region dates back to the March 1970 autonomy agreement between the Kurdish opposition and the Iraqi government after years of heavy fighting. However, that agreement failed to be implemented and by 1974 Northern Iraq plunged into the Second Iraqi–Kurdish War, another part of the Iraqi–Kurdish conflict between the Kurds and the Arab-dominated government of Iraq. Further, the 1980–88 Iran–Iraq War the Iraqi Army's Al-Anfal Campaign, devastated the population and environment of Iraqi Kurdistan. Following the 1991 uprising of Kurds in the north and Shia Arabs in the south against Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Kurdistan's military forces, the Peshmerga, succeeded in pushing out the main Iraqi forces from the north. Despite significant casualties and the crisis of Kurdish refugees in bordering regions of Iran and Turkey, the Peshmerga success and the Western establishment of the northern Iraqi no-fly zone following the First Gulf War in 1991 created the basis for Kurdish self-rule and facilitated the return of refugees.
As Kurds continued to fight government troops, Iraqi forces left Kurdistan in October 1991, leaving the region with de facto autonomy. In 1992, the major political parties in the region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, established the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government; the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent political changes led to the ratification of a new constitution in 2005. The name Kurdistan means "Land of the Kurds"; the suffix -stan is Persian for "place of" or "country". In English translations of the Constitution of Iraq, it is called "Kurdistan", four times in the phrase "region of Kurdistan" and once in the phrase "Kurdistan region"; the regional government calls it the "Kurdistan Region". The full name of the government is the "Kurdistan Regional Government", abbreviated "KRG". Kurds refer to the region as Başûrê Kurdistanê or Başûrî Kurdistan, referring to its geographical location within the whole of Kurdistan. During the Baath Party administration in the 1970s and 1980s, the region was called the "Kurdish Autonomous Region".
The Kurdistan Region is mountainous, with the highest point being a 3,611 m point known locally as Cheekha Dar. Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan include the Zagros, Sinjar Mountains, Hamrin Mountains, Mount Nisir and Qandil mountains. There are many rivers running through the region, distinguished by its fertile lands, plentiful water, picturesque nature; the Great Zab and the Little Zab flow from the east to the west in the region. The Tigris river enters Iraqi Kurdistan from Turkish Kurdistan; the mountainous nature of Iraqi Kurdistan, the difference of temperatures in its various parts, its wealth of waters make it a land of agriculture and tourism. The largest lake in the region is Lake Dukan. There are several smaller lakes, such as Darbandikhan Lake and Duhok Lake; the western and southern parts of the Kurdistan Region are not as mountainous as the east. Instead, it is rolling plains vegetated by sclerophyll scrubland. Vegetation in the region includes, oaks, platanus, olive trees, hawthorn, oriental plane, cherry plum, rose hips, pistachio trees, pear, mountain ash and Turkish pines.
The desert in the south is steppe and would feature xeric plants such as palm trees, date palm, poa, white wormwood and chenopodiaceae. Animals found in the region include the Syrian brown bear, wild boar, gray wolf, golden jackal, Indian crested porcupine, red fox, goitered gazelle, Eurasian otter, striped hyena, Persian fallow deer, onager and the Euphrates softshell turtle. Bird species include, the see-see partridge, Menetries's warbler, western jackdaw, Red-billed chough, hooded crow, European nightjar, rufous-tailed scrub robin, masked shrike and the pale rockfinch. Due to its latitude and altitude, Iraqi Kurdistan is cooler and much wetter than the rest of Iraq. Most areas in the region fall within the Mediterranean climate zone, with areas to the southwest being semi-arid. Due to the summers being less extreme, thousands of tourists from the hotter parts of Iraq come to visit the region in t
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