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به درگاه سرزمین ایران خوش آمدید
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The Coat of arms of Iran.

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Iran, (Persian: ايران‎, Īrān; pronunciation: [iːˈɾɒn]), officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ايران‎, transliteration: Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Īrān), formerly known internationally as Persia, is a country in Western Asia. The 18th largest country in the world, Iran is approximately the size of the United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Germany combined and has a population of over 75 million people. Iran borders Armenia, Azerbaijan, to the north-west, Russia and Kazakhstan through the Caspian Sea to the north, Turkmenistan to the north-east, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east, and Turkey and Iraq to the west. In addition, it borders the Persian Gulf, an important oil-producing area, and the Caspian sea. Shi'a Islam is the official state religion and Persian the official language. The political system of Iran comprises several intricately connected governing bodies and is based on the 1979 Constitution. The highest state authority is the Supreme Leader, currently served by Ali Khamenei.

Iran has one of the oldest histories in the world, extending more than 5000 years, and throughout history, Iran has been of geostrategic importance because of its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia. Iran is a founding member of the UN, NAM, OIC, OPEC, and ECO. Iran as a major regional power occupies an important position in the world economy due to its substantial reserves of petroleum and natural gas, and has considerable regional influence in Western Asia. The name Iran is a cognate of Aryan and literally means "Land of the Aryans."

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The economy of Iran is the seventeenth largest in the world by purchasing power parity (PPP) and twenty-fifth by nominal gross domestic product. The country is the world's largest non-WTO economy and a member of Next Eleven. The economy of Iran is a mixed and transition economy with a large public sector and some 50% of the economy centrally planned. It is diversifed with over 40 industries directly involved in the Tehran Stock Exchange. Yet, most of the country's exports are oil and gas, accounting for a majority of government revenue in 2010. A unique feature of Iran's economy is the presence of large religious foundations, whose combined budgets make up more than 30% of central government spending. Due to its relative isolation from the global markets, Iran was initially able to avoid falling into recession in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. However, due to increasingly stringent sanctions imposed by the international community as a result of the country's nuclear program, the economy has started to shrink in 2012. Oil exports have halved, and Iraq has overtaken Iran in oil output for the first time since the 1980s. In September 2012, the Iranian currency fell to a record low of 23,900 rials to the US dollar. Distortions resulting from a combination of price controls and subsidies, particularly on food and energy, continue to burden the economy. Contraband, administrative controls, corruption, and other restrictive factors undermine the potential for private sector-led growth. High oil prices in recent years have enabled Iran to amass well over $100 billion in foreign exchange reserves. Whilst this has aided self-sufficiency and domestic investment, double-digit unemployment and inflation remain problematic. Iran's educated population, economic inefficiency, and insufficient foreign and domestic investment have prompted an increasing number of Iranians to seek employment overseas, resulting in a significant "brain drain".

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Broadleaf deciduous forest in Gīlān Province, Iran
Credit: Argooya

Rud Khan Fort in The Jungles of Gilan Province, Iran.

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Abbas Kiarostami
Abbas Kiarostami (1940–2016) was an internationally acclaimed Iranian film director, screenwriter, photographer and film producer. An active filmmaker since 1970, Kiarostami had been involved in over forty films, including shorts and documentaries. Kiarostami attained critical acclaim for directing the Koker Trilogy (1987–94), Taste of Cherry (1997), and The Wind Will Carry Us (1999). Kiarostami has worked extensively as a screenwriter, film editor, art director and producer and has designed credit titles and publicity material. He is also a poet, photographer, painter, illustrator, and graphic designer. Kiarostami is part of a generation of filmmakers in the Iranian New Wave, a Persian cinema movement that started in the late 1960s and includes pioneering directors such as Forough Farrokhzad, Sohrab Shahid Saless, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Bahram Beizai, and Parviz Kimiavi. These filmmakers share many common techniques including the use of poetic dialogue and allegorical storytelling dealing with political and philosophical issues. Kiarostami has a reputation for using child protagonists, for documentary style narrative films, for stories that take place in rural villages, and for conversations that unfold inside cars, using stationary mounted cameras.

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Abbasid Caliphate
The Persians ruled for a thousand years and did not need us Arabs even for a day. We have been ruling them for one or two centuries and cannot do without them for an hour.
Abbasid Caliphate, in Bertold Spuler

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