Iran (Persian: ايران, Īrān also known in the international community as Persia), officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ايران , is a country located in Southwest Asia. Iran borders Armenia, Azerbaijan (including its Nakhichevan exclave), and Turkmenistan to the north, Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east, and Turkey and Iraq to the west. In addition, it borders the Persian Gulf, across which lie Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Shi'a Islam is the official state religion.
Throughout history, Iran has been of great geostrategic importance because of its central location in Eurasia. Iran is a member and co-founder of the United Nations, the OIC, and OPEC. Iran is also significant in international politics on account of its large supply of petroleum. The name Iran is a cognate of Aryan and literally means "Land of the Aryans."
Geography and climate
Mount Damavand is Iran's highest mountain.
Rural houses in Mazandaran's green forests.Iran borders Azerbaijan (length of border: 432 km / 268 mi) and Armenia (35 km / 22 mi) to the northwest, the Caspian Sea to the north, Turkmenistan (992 km / 616 mi) to the northeast, Pakistan (909 km / 565 mi) and Afghanistan (936 km / 582 mi) to the east, Turkey (499 km / 310 mi) and Iraq (1,458 km / 906 mi) to the west, and finally the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. Iran's area is 1,648,000 km² ≈636,300 mi² (Land: 1,636,000 km² ≈631,663 mi², Water: 12,000 km² ≈4,633 mi²). Iran is the 17th largest country in the world or roughly the size of the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Germany combined.
Iran's landscape is dominated by rugged mountain ranges that separate various basins or plateaus from one another. The populous western part is the most mountainous, with ranges such as the Caucasus, Zagros and Alborz Mountains -- the latter contains Iran's highest point, Mount Damavand at 5,604 m (18,386 ft). The eastern part consists mostly of uninhabited desert basins like the saline Dasht-e Kavir, and some salt lakes.
The only large plains are found along the coast of the Caspian Sea and at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, where Iran borders the mouth of the Arvand river. Smaller, discontinuous plains are found along the remaining coast of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman.
Iran's climate is mostly arid or semiarid, to subtropical along the Caspian coast. On the northern edge of the country (the Caspian coastal plain) temperatures nearly fall below freezing and remain humid for the rest of the year. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 29°C (84°F). Annual precipitation is 680 mm (26 in) in the eastern part of the plain and more than 1,700 mm (75 in) in the western. To the west, settlements in the Zagros Mountains basin experience lower temperatures, severe winters, sub-freezing average daily temperatures and heavy snowfall. The eastern and central basins are arid, with less than 200 mm (8 in) of rain and have occasional desert. Average summer temperatures exceed 38°C (100°F). The coastal plains of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman in southern Iran have mild winters, and very humid and hot summers. The annual precipitation ranges from 135 to 355 mm (6 to 14 in).