Russia the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia. At 17,125,200 square kilometres, Russia is by far or by a considerable margin the largest country in the world by area, covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, the ninth most populous, with about 146.77 million people as of 2019, including Crimea. About 77 % of the population live in the European part of the country. Russia's capital, Moscow, is one of the largest cities in the world and the second largest city in Europe. Extending across the entirety of Northern Asia and much of Eastern Europe, Russia spans eleven time zones and incorporates a wide range of environments and landforms. From northwest to southeast, Russia shares land borders with Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Poland, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, China and North Korea, it shares maritime borders with Japan by the Sea of Okhotsk and the U. S. state of Alaska across the Bering Strait. However, Russia recognises two more countries that border it, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which are internationally recognized as parts of Georgia.
The East Slavs emerged as a recognizable group in Europe between the 3rd and 8th centuries AD. Founded and ruled by a Varangian warrior elite and their descendants, the medieval state of Rus arose in the 9th century. In 988 it adopted Orthodox Christianity from the Byzantine Empire, beginning the synthesis of Byzantine and Slavic cultures that defined Russian culture for the next millennium. Rus' disintegrated into a number of smaller states; the Grand Duchy of Moscow reunified the surrounding Russian principalities and achieved independence from the Golden Horde. By the 18th century, the nation had expanded through conquest and exploration to become the Russian Empire, the third largest empire in history, stretching from Poland on the west to Alaska on the east. Following the Russian Revolution, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic became the largest and leading constituent of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the world's first constitutionally socialist state; the Soviet Union played a decisive role in the Allied victory in World War II, emerged as a recognized superpower and rival to the United States during the Cold War.
The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite and the launching of the first humans in space. By the end of 1990, the Soviet Union had the world's second largest economy, largest standing military in the world and the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, twelve independent republics emerged from the USSR: Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and the Baltic states regained independence: Estonia, Lithuania, it is governed as a federal semi-presidential republic. Russia's economy ranks as the twelfth largest by nominal GDP and sixth largest by purchasing power parity in 2018. Russia's extensive mineral and energy resources are the largest such reserves in the world, making it one of the leading producers of oil and natural gas globally; the country is one of the five recognized nuclear weapons states and possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
Russia is a great power as well as a regional power and has been characterised as a potential superpower. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and an active global partner of ASEAN, as well as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the G20, the Council of Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Trade Organization, as well as being the leading member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Collective Security Treaty Organization and one of the five members of the Eurasian Economic Union, along with Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan; the name Russia is derived from Rus', a medieval state populated by the East Slavs. However, this proper name became more prominent in the history, the country was called by its inhabitants "Русская Земля", which can be translated as "Russian Land" or "Land of Rus'". In order to distinguish this state from other states derived from it, it is denoted as Kievan Rus' by modern historiography.
The name Rus itself comes from the early medieval Rus' people, Swedish merchants and warriors who relocated from across the Baltic Sea and founded a state centered on Novgorod that became Kievan Rus. An old Latin version of the name Rus' was Ruthenia applied to the western and southern regions of Rus' that were adjacent to Catholic Europe; the current name of the country, Россия, comes from the Byzantine Greek designation of the Rus', Ρωσσία Rossía—spelled Ρωσία in Modern Greek. The standard way to refer to citizens of Russia is rossiyane in Russian. There are two Russian words which are commonly
Nikolay Alexandrovich Zubov
Count Nikolay Alexandrovich Zubov was the eldest of the Zubov brothers who, together with Count Pahlen, masterminded the conspiracy to assassinate Tsar Paul of Russia. In 1782 Zubov joined the Horse Guards Regiment where he became known for his gigantic height, physical strength and fiery temper; when his younger brother Platon became Catherine II's lover, the "colossus" was made a count and general. He helped Alexander Suvorov fend off Prince Potemkin's intrigues, courted his only daughter, the Suvorochka, married her towards the end of 1794. Although Catherine II's death spelled the end of his career, Nicholas mustered courage and rushed to the Gatchina Palace, where her son Paul was residing, he hoped to become the first to congratulate Paul on his prospective accession to the throne. On hearing the news of his arrival, Paul refused to see the courtier, he had heard the rumor that the Zubovs persuaded the Empress to sign a testament transferring the throne to her grandson Alexander and was afraid that Zubov had come to arrest him.
In short order, the Zubov brothers were exiled from court and little was heard about them until November 1800, when Nicholas was permitted to return to St. Petersburg; the connections of his sister Olga Zherebtsova and the funds provided by her lover Lord Whitworth allowed him and Count Pahlen to form a conspiracy. On the night of 11 March 1801 the plotters broke into Paul's bedroom in Saint Michael's Castle, Zubov struck the emperor down with a heavy snuffbox, whereupon he was strangled by his accomplices. Zubov died four years after the regicide. Among his descendants was Count Valentin Platonovich Zubov who founded the Gatchina museum and authored several books about Tsar Paul and his reign; this article includes content derived from the Russian Biographical Dictionary, 1896–1918
The Great Gatchina Palace is a palace in Gatchina, Leningrad Oblast, Russia. It was built from 1766 to 1781 by Antonio Rinaldi for Count Grigori Grigoryevich Orlov, a favourite of Catherine the Great, in Gatchina, a suburb of the royal capital Saint Petersburg; the Gatchina Palace combines classical architecture and themes of a medieval castle with ornate interiors typical of Russian classicism, located on a hill in central Gatchina next to Lake Serebryany. The Gatchina Palace became one of the favourite residences of the Russian Imperial Family, during the 19th century was an important site of Russian politics. Since the February Revolution in 1917 it has been a museum and public park, received UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1990. In 1765, Catherine the Great, the Empress of the Russian Empire, purchased from Prince Boris Kurakin the Gatchina Manor, a small manor 40 kilometers south of the royal capital of Saint Petersburg. Catherine presented the manor to Count Grigory Grigoryevich Orlov, who had organized the assassination of Tsar Peter III three years earlier, resulting in her becoming empress.
Orlov was a favorite of Catherine's, Gatchina Manor was gifted to him as gratitude for his role in the coup d'etat. On 30 May 1766, construction of a new palace in the Classical architecture style began on a hill next to Lake Serebryany on the grounds of Gatchina Manor. Catherine and Orlov commissioned the new palace to be designed by Antonio Rinaldi, an architect from Italy, popular in Russia at the time. Rinaldi's design contained Russian architectural features combined with those of a medieval castle and an English hunting castle; the palace was to be lined with special stone mined in villages near to Gatchina, including parik limestone mined in Paritsy for the main exterior of the buildings, pudost stone from Pudost for the vestibule and the parapet above the cornice. Gatchina Palace became the first palace to be located in Saint Petersburg's suburbs, as large estates were built within a short distance of the city center. Construction was slow, with the main structure only being completed by the end of 1768 and work on the exterior decoration not being completed until 1772, with the interior delayed further into the late 1770s.
The Great Gatchina Palace was completed in 1781 15 years after construction began, Orlov died only two years in 1783. Following Orlov's death, Catherine took such a great liking to Gatchina Palace and its accompanying park that she bought it from his heirs, she presented it to her son, Grand Duke Pavel Petrovich, despite building him a home, Pavlovsk Palace, in Saint Petersburg. During the years before coming to the throne, Paul his limited remaining budget on investing in building the town of Gatchina around his new palace, used his experience from his travels around Europe to make it an exemplary palace and town. In the 1790s Paul expanded and rebuilt much of the palace, commissioning Vincenzo Brenna and Andrei Zakharov with the renovations; the interiors were redone in the Neoclassical style, numerous additions were added to the park such as bridges and pavilions, naming areas of the park "The Isle of Love", "The Private garden", "The Holland garden" and "The Labyrinth". In 1796, after the death of his mother, Paul became Tsar Paul I of Russia, granted Gatchina the status of Imperial City, a designation for the official residences of the Russian monarchs.
After the death of Paul in 1801, Gatchina Palace came into the ownership of his wife Maria Feodorovna, who in 1809 requested the architect Andrei Nikiforovich Voronikhin make small alterations in the palace to adapt it "in case of winter stay". In 1835, a signal optical telegraph was installed on one of the towers. In the 1840s, Gatchina Palace was now in the ownership of Tsar Nicholas I, who initiated major reconstruction works of the palace of its grounds. Roman Ivanovich Kuzmin, the chief architect of the Ministry of the Imperial Court, led the project centred on the palace's main square, torn up, raised in height, had basement levels added underneath, decoration remodelled; the adjoining buildings were raised in height by one storey, because the main building no longer dominated the palace Kuzmin had its towers raised an extra storey. A new canopy was added to the balcony overlooking the parade grounds, intended to be made from marble but was made from cast iron instead. Dilapidated bastions and retaining walls around the palace were rebuilt.
On 1 August 1850, a monument to Tsar Paul I was erected at the parade grounds. Another was built at the Priory Palace, miniature palace on the shore of the Black Lake constructed for the Russian Grand Priory of the Order of St John by a decree of Paul I dated 23 August 1799. In 1854, a railroad connecting Gatchina and Saint Petersburg was opened, the territory of Gatchina was expanded with several villages in the vicinity being incorporated into the city; the following year Gatchina Palace came under the ownership of Tsar Alexander II, who used it as his second residence. Alexander built a hunting village and other additions for his imperial hunting crew, turned the area south of Gatchina into a retreat where he and his guests could enjoy the unspoiled wilderness of northwestern Russia. Alexander II made updates and renovations in the main Gatchina Palace until his assassination in Saint Petersburg in 1881. Gatchina Palace was passed to his shaken son, the new Tsar Alexander III, advised that he and his family would be safer at the palace as opposed to at the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, became known as "The Citadel of Aut
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, commerce, fashion and the arts; the City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €681 billion in 2016, accounting for 31 percent of the GDP of France, was the 5th largest region by GDP in the world. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, ahead of Zurich, Hong Kong and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong-Kong, in 2018; the city is a major rail and air-transport hub served by two international airports: Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly.
Opened in 1900, the city's subway system, the Paris Métro, serves 5.23 million passengers daily, is the second busiest metro system in Europe after Moscow Metro. Gare du Nord is the 24th busiest railway station in the world, the first located outside Japan, with 262 million passengers in 2015. Paris is known for its museums and architectural landmarks: the Louvre was the most visited art museum in the world in 2018, with 10.2 million visitors. The Musée d'Orsay and Musée de l'Orangerie are noted for their collections of French Impressionist art, the Pompidou Centre Musée National d'Art Moderne has the largest collection of modern and contemporary art in Europe; the historical district along the Seine in the city centre is classified as a UNESCO Heritage Site. Popular landmarks in the centre of the city include the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris and the Gothic royal chapel of Sainte-Chapelle, both on the Île de la Cité. Paris received 23 million visitors in 2017, measured by hotel stays, with the largest numbers of foreign visitors coming from the United States, the UK, Germany and China.
It was ranked as the third most visited travel destination in the world in 2017, after Bangkok and London. The football club Paris Saint-Germain and the rugby union club Stade Français are based in Paris; the 80,000-seat Stade de France, built for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, is located just north of Paris in the neighbouring commune of Saint-Denis. Paris hosts the annual French Open Grand Slam tennis tournament on the red clay of Roland Garros. Paris will host the 2024 Summer Olympics; the 1938 and 1998 FIFA World Cups, the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the 1960, 1984, 2016 UEFA European Championships were held in the city and, every July, the Tour de France bicycle race finishes there. The name "Paris" is derived from the Celtic Parisii tribe; the city's name is not related to the Paris of Greek mythology. Paris is referred to as the City of Light, both because of its leading role during the Age of Enlightenment and more because Paris was one of the first large European cities to use gas street lighting on a grand scale on its boulevards and monuments.
Gas lights were installed on the Place du Carousel, Rue de Rivoli and Place Vendome in 1829. By 1857, the Grand boulevards were lit. By the 1860s, the boulevards and streets of Paris were illuminated by 56,000 gas lamps. Since the late 19th century, Paris has been known as Panam in French slang. Inhabitants are known in French as Parisiens, they are pejoratively called Parigots. The Parisii, a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, inhabited the Paris area from around the middle of the 3rd century BC. One of the area's major north–south trade routes crossed the Seine on the île de la Cité; the Parisii minted their own coins for that purpose. The Romans began their settlement on Paris' Left Bank; the Roman town was called Lutetia. It became a prosperous city with a forum, temples, an amphitheatre. By the end of the Western Roman Empire, the town was known as Parisius, a Latin name that would become Paris in French. Christianity was introduced in the middle of the 3rd century AD by Saint Denis, the first Bishop of Paris: according to legend, when he refused to renounce his faith before the Roman occupiers, he was beheaded on the hill which became known as Mons Martyrum "Montmartre", from where he walked headless to the north of the city.
Clovis the Frank, the first king of the Merovingian dynasty, made the city his capital from 508. As the Frankish domination of Gaul began, there was a gradual immigration by the Franks to Paris and the Parisian Francien dialects were born. Fortification of the Île-de-la-Citie failed to avert sacking by Vikings in 845, but Paris' strategic importance—with its bridges prevent
Moscow is the capital and most populous city of Russia, with 13.2 million residents within the city limits, 17 million within the urban area and 20 million within the metropolitan area. Moscow is one of Russia's federal cities. Moscow is the major political, economic and scientific center of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the largest city on the European continent. By broader definitions, Moscow is among the world's largest cities, being the 14th largest metro area, the 18th largest agglomeration, the 14th largest urban area, the 11th largest by population within city limits worldwide. According to Forbes 2013, Moscow has been ranked as the ninth most expensive city in the world by Mercer and has one of the world's largest urban economies, being ranked as an alpha global city according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network, is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index. Moscow is the coldest megacity on Earth.
It is home to the Ostankino Tower, the tallest free standing structure in Europe. By its territorial expansion on July 1, 2012 southwest into the Moscow Oblast, the area of the capital more than doubled, going from 1,091 to 2,511 square kilometers, resulting in Moscow becoming the largest city on the European continent by area. Moscow is situated on the Moskva River in the Central Federal District of European Russia, making it Europe's most populated inland city; the city is well known for its architecture its historic buildings such as Saint Basil's Cathedral with its colorful architectural style. With over 40 percent of its territory covered by greenery, it is one of the greenest capitals and major cities in Europe and the world, having the largest forest in an urban area within its borders—more than any other major city—even before its expansion in 2012; the city has served as the capital of a progression of states, from the medieval Grand Duchy of Moscow and the subsequent Tsardom of Russia to the Russian Empire to the Soviet Union and the contemporary Russian Federation.
Moscow is a seat of power of the Government of Russia, being the site of the Moscow Kremlin, a medieval city-fortress, today the residence for work of the President of Russia. The Moscow Kremlin and Red Square are one of several World Heritage Sites in the city. Both chambers of the Russian parliament sit in the city. Moscow is considered the center of Russian culture, having served as the home of Russian artists and sports figures and because of the presence of museums and political institutions and theatres; the city is served by a transit network, which includes four international airports, nine railway terminals, numerous trams, a monorail system and one of the deepest underground rapid transit systems in the world, the Moscow Metro, the fourth-largest in the world and largest outside Asia in terms of passenger numbers, the busiest in Europe. It is recognized as one of the city's landmarks due to the rich architecture of its 200 stations. Moscow has acquired a number of epithets, most referring to its size and preeminent status within the nation: The Third Rome, the Whitestone One, the First Throne, the Forty Soroks.
Moscow is one of the twelve Hero Cities. The demonym for a Moscow resident is "москвич" for male or "москвичка" for female, rendered in English as Muscovite; the name "Moscow" is abbreviated "MSK". The name of the city is thought to be derived from the name of the Moskva River. There have been proposed several theories of the origin of the name of the river. Finno-Ugric Merya and Muroma people, who were among the several Early Eastern Slavic tribes which inhabited the area, called the river Mustajoki, it has been suggested. The most linguistically well grounded and accepted is from the Proto-Balto-Slavic root *mŭzg-/muzg- from the Proto-Indo-European *meu- "wet", so the name Moskva might signify a river at a wetland or a marsh, its cognates include Russian: музга, muzga "pool, puddle", Lithuanian: mazgoti and Latvian: mazgāt "to wash", Sanskrit: májjati "to drown", Latin: mergō "to dip, immerse". In many Slavic countries Moskov is a surname, most common in Bulgaria, Russia and North Macedonia. There exist as well similar place names in Poland like Mozgawa.
The original Old Russian form of the name is reconstructed as *Москы, *Mosky, hence it was one of a few Slavic ū-stem nouns. As with other nouns of that declension, it had been undergoing a morphological transformation at the early stage of the development of the language, as a result the first written mentions in the 12th century were Московь, Moskovĭ, Москви, Moskvi, Москвe/Москвѣ, Moskve/Moskvě. From the latter forms came the modern Russian name Москва, a result of morphological generalisation with the numerous Slavic ā-stem nouns. However, the form Moskovĭ has left some traces in many other languages, such as English: Moscow, German: Moskau, French: Moscou, Georgian: მოსკოვი, Latvian: Maskava, Ottoman Turkish: Moskov, Tatar: Мәскәү, Mäskäw, Kazakh: Мәскеу, Mäskew, Chuvash: Мускав, etc. In a similar manner the Latin name Moscovia has been formed it became a collo
Catherine the Great
Catherine II known as Catherine the Great, born Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, was Empress of Russia from 1762 until 1796, the country's longest-ruling female leader. She came to power following a coup d'état which she organized—resulting in her husband, Peter III, being overthrown. Under her reign, Russia was revitalized; that said, she was a usurper of the Russian throne because her son, Paul I, should have been the Tsar following Peter III’s death. In her accession to power and her rule of the empire, Catherine relied on her noble favourites, most notably Grigory Orlov and Grigory Potemkin. Assisted by successful generals such as Alexander Suvorov and Pyotr Rumyantsev, admirals such as Fyodor Ushakov, she governed at a time when the Russian Empire was expanding by conquest and diplomacy. In the south, the Crimean Khanate was crushed following victories over the Ottoman Empire in the Russo–Turkish wars, Russia colonised the territories of Novorossiya along the coasts of the Black and Azov Seas.
In the west, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, ruled by Catherine's former lover, king Stanisław August Poniatowski, was partitioned, with the Russian Empire gaining the largest share. In the east, Russia started establishing Russian America. Catherine reformed the administration of Russian guberniyas, many new cities and towns were founded on her orders. An admirer of Peter the Great, Catherine continued to modernise Russia along Western European lines. However, military conscription and the economy continued to depend on serfdom, the increasing demands of the state and private landowners led to increased levels of reliance on serfs; this was one of the chief reasons behind several rebellions, including the large-scale Pugachev's Rebellion of cossacks and peasants. Catherine decided to have herself inoculated against smallpox by Thomas Dimsdale. While this was considered a controversial method at the time, she succeeded, her son Pavel was inoculated as well. Catherine sought to have inoculations throughout her empire stating: "My objective was, through my example, to save from death the multitude of my subjects who, not knowing the value of this technique, frightened of it, were left in danger."
By 1800 2 million inoculations were administered in the Russian Empire. The period of Catherine the Great's rule, the Catherinian Era, is considered the Golden Age of Russia; the Manifesto on Freedom of the Nobility, issued during the short reign of Peter III and confirmed by Catherine, freed Russian nobles from compulsory military or state service. Construction of many mansions of the nobility, in the classical style endorsed by the Empress, changed the face of the country, she enthusiastically supported the ideals of the Enlightenment and is regarded as an enlightened despot. As a patron of the arts she presided over the age of the Russian Enlightenment, a period when the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens, the first state-financed higher education institution for women in Europe, was established. Catherine was born in Stettin, Kingdom of Prussia as Princess Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst-Dornburg, her father, Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, belonged to the ruling German family of Anhalt, but held the rank of a Prussian general in his capacity as governor of the city of Stettin.
Two of her first cousins became Kings of Sweden: Gustav III and Charles XIII. In accordance with the custom prevailing in the ruling dynasties of Germany, she received her education chiefly from a French governess and from tutors. Catherine was known by the nickname Fike, her childhood was quite uneventful. She once wrote to her correspondent Baron Grimm: "I see nothing of interest in it." Although Catherine was born a princess, her family had little money. Catherine's rise to power was supported by her mother's wealthy relatives who were both wealthy nobles and royal relations; the choice of Sophie as wife of her second cousin, the prospective tsar Peter of Holstein-Gottorp, resulted from some amount of diplomatic management in which Count Lestocq, Peter's aunt Elizabeth and Frederick II of Prussia took part. Lestocq and Frederick wanted to strengthen the friendship between Prussia and Russia to weaken Austria's influence and ruin the Russian chancellor Bestuzhev, on whom Empress Elizabeth relied, who acted as a known partisan of Russo-Austrian co-operation.
Catherine first met Peter III at the age of 10. Based on her writings, she found, she disliked his fondness for alcohol at such a young age. Peter still played with toy soldiers. Catherine wrote that she stayed at one end of the castle, Peter at the other; the diplomatic intrigue failed due to the intervention of Sophie's mother, Johanna Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. Historical accounts portray Johanna as a abusive woman who loved gossip and court intrigues, her hunger for fame centred on her daughter's prospects of becoming empress of Russia, but she infuriated Empress Elizabeth, who banned her from the country for spying for King Frederick of Prussia. The Empress Elizabeth knew the family well: she had intended to marry Princess Johanna's brother Charles Augustus, who had died of smallpox in 1727 before the wedding could take place. In spite of Johanna's interference, Empress Elizabeth took a strong liking to the daughter, who, o
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