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Iran

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'''Iran''' (Persian: ايران) [http://www.tourismiran.ir/] is a large country between in the [[Middle East]] and [[Central Asia]], between the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea. It is bordered by [[Iraq]] to the west, [[Turkey]], Azerbaijan's [[Naxcivan]] enclave, [[Armenia]], and [[Azerbaijan]] to the northwest, [[Turkmenistan]] to the northeast, [[Afghanistan]] and [[Pakistan]] to the southeast.
==Understand==
 Known formally as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling Shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces subsequently crushed Westernisation and also any liberal/left-wing influences. Iranian student protesters seized the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and held hostages for 444 days -until 20 January 1981. From 1980 to 1988, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with neighboring Iraq over disputed territory. Key current issues affecting the country include the pace of accepting outside modernising influences and reconciliation between clerical control of the regime and popular government participation and widespread demands for reform. Inflation and unemployment (particularly among youth) are major key economic challenges.
===People===
[[Image:Ashayer.jpg |thumb|Nomads]]
Iran has many people other than ethnic Persians. The northwestern region, [[Iranian Azerbaijan|Azerbaijan]], is largely populated by Azeris, who are ethnically persian but and linguistically related to TurksTurkish. The province of West Azerbaijan is both Azeri and Kurd. Other regions are mostly Kurds in parts of west and northwest and Baluchis in parts of southeast. There are also Armenians, Arabs, and last but not least Jews, who have been living in Iran peacefully for years.
[[Image:Peopl_flag.jpg |thumb|People wearing Iran's flag marching in a rally]]
[[Image:Shiraz_The_Gate_of_all_Nations.jpg |thumb|Persepolis, Shiraz, The Gate of all Nations]]
Throughout history, Persia has generally been an empire, one whose fortunes varied enormously. In ancient times, Persia controlled most of what we now call the [[Middle East]], and came close to conquering Greece. A few centuries later, Alexander of Macedonia conquered (among other things) the entire Persian Empire. Later, Persia was conquered by the Arabs in the expansion of Islam in the centuries immediately after the the time of MuhammedMuhammad; Persian and other languages of the region are still written with the Arabic alphabet. About 1250, Persia was overrun by the Mongols. [[On the trail of Marco Polo|Marco Polo]] passed through just after that, learned Persian, and wrote extensively of the region.
At other times, Persia conquered many of her neighbours. Her empire often included much of what we now call [[Central Asia]] (Polo counted [[Bukhara]] and [[Samarkand]] as Persian cities), and sometimes various other areas. A few generations after the Mongols took Persia, the dynasty they founded there took all of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and most of India. The Indian term "Moghul" for some of their rulers is from "Mongol", via Persia. Even in periods when she did not rule them, Persia has always exerted a large cultural influence on her neighbours, especially [[Afghanistan]] and [[Central Asia]].
==== The last dynasty====
[[Image:24_revayat_3.jpg |thumb|Last shah of Iran]]
In 1925, a military coup by Reza Shah established a new "Pahlavi" dynasty, named for the most ancient Persian dynasty around 500 BC. His rule was quite nationalistic; he changed requested that the West would call the country's name from "by its endonym Iran, rather than Persia" to "Iran" , and built a strong military. It was also quite authoritarian; he built a powerful secret police and a propaganda apparatus, and did not hesitate to crush dissent. He also made considerable efforts toward modernisation, and came into conflict with conservatives over some of it. When World War II came, he refused Allied demands for guarantees that Iran would resist if German forces got that far. Iran was then invaded by Anglo-Indian forces from the South and Russians from the North, and a railway built (largely by US Army engineers) to bring supplies from the Persian Gulf across Iran to beleaguered Russia. Reza Shah went off to exile in South Africa, abdicating on the steps of the aircraft in favour of his son.
The son, Mohammad Shah, continued his father's nationalistic, authoritarian and modernising tendencies. However, coming to power in 1941, he had a problem; he needed powerful friends, but who? Given the history, no sane Iranian ruler would choose Britain or Russia. Being pro-German had not worked out well for dad and, in 1941, France did not count for much. That left the Americans, and he became one of America's most important allies in the region, seen as a "bulwark against Communism", a constitutional monarch, in some ways a progressive ruler — modernising, sometimes comparing himself to Kemal Ataturk who led Turkey's modernisation — and a protector of US and other Western interests. He was one of very few Middle Eastern rulers to extend diplomatic recognition to Israel and helped prevent Iranian nationalisation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. On the other hand, he was quite capable of putting Iranian interests before Western ones, as when he was one of the key players in creating OPEC.
* [[Tehran]] – the vibrant capital, a beautiful city that suffers horrendous traffic and air pollution
 
* [[Kermanshah]] – one of the oldest cities in Iran with great anthropological heritages. Taqe bostan and Bistoon are two of its world known sites.the center of medical care of west of iran.
* [[Hamedan]] – one of the oldest cities in Iran
* [[Shiraz]] – a former capital, home of famous Persian poets such as Hafiz and Sa'di; known for gardens, especially roses. Very close to the famous ruins of Persepolis.
 
* [[Bushehr]] – With an approximately 7,000 years history, Bushehr is one of the first civilized cities in Iran. Formerly called Reeshehr (ریشهر). This city is where the Iranian nuclear power planet located. Bushehr is also known as a very long and spectacular coastline neighboring the Persian Gulf.
* [[Tabriz]] – provincial capital in Western Iran; it's been suggested by some that this is the site of the Biblical "Garden of Eden"
* [[Pasargad]], the first capital of the Achaemenid Empire, and home to the Tomb of Cyrus.
* [[Rasht]] , the city in the north with wonderfull nature.
==Get in==
A valid passport and a '''visa''' are required for the citizens of most countries for travel through Iran. Although in 2006, the rules had been eased, since the presidential elections protests in 2009, the unofficial policy became subject to rapid changes. Theoretically speaking, the '''VOA''' (''Visa On Arrival'') is still available, but '''arrange visas in advance at an Iranian consulate'''. There were several cases of deportation of people who applied for VOA at airports in 2010.
VOAs are issued at the Imam Khomeini and Mehrabad airports in Tehran, and also the airports at Mashad, Shiraz, Tabriz and Isfahan. The visa is valid for up to 17 15 days and costs US$50EUR 60. You will receive the forms on arrival. You are advised to bring passport photos with you. However, in many cases they are not collected.
Visas are issued at the airport for holders of ordinary passports only from the states below:
Albania, Armenia, Austria, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Singapore (2 weeks), Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam.
It is generally not possible to get an extension for the one week 15-day visa. There is a large stamp on it which specifically states "non-extendable". If you wish to stay for longer than a week2 weeks, or you are not resident of one of the countries listed above, you will need to apply for a Tourist Visa before you arrive in Iran.
Chances are your bags will not be searched for '''salacious material''', but if it is found, it will be confiscated and will complicate your arrival. Don't try to bring in any magazines or books that might offend strict Islamic sensibilities or criticise the government.
===By plane===
[[Image:Tehran_IKI_AirportTehran_IKA_Airport.jpg|thumb|right|200px|Imam Khomeini International Airport ]]
All international flights to Tehran land at the new '''Imam Khomeini International Airport''' [http://ikia.airport.ir/HomePage.aspx?TabID=5021&Site=ikia.airport&Lang=en-US] based 37 km southwest of Tehran. Pilgrimage flights [[Saudi Arabia]] still fly from Mehrabad airport. There are 70 smaller regional airports, for example those in [[Shiraz]], [[Mashhad]], and [[Isfahan]], and these have daily flights to many international destinations.
[[Dubai]] has scheduled flights to many Iranian cities, including [[Tehran]], [[Shiraz]], [[Isfahan]], [[Kerman]], [[Lar]], [[Mashhad]], [[Tabriz]], [[Kish Island]], [[Bandar Abbas]], [[Bushher]], [[Zahedan]], [[Kermanshah]], [[Chah Bahar]] and is therefore worth considering travelling to Iran from. Flights are operated by Iran Air, Emirates (for Tehran), Iran Aseman Airlines, Mahan Air and other Iranian companies. Fares are relatively cheap on Iranian carriers, ranging from US$100-250 for a return trip depending on your destination and time of booking.
Iran Air and Mahan Air connect Tehran with some of the major European cities as well as destinations in Asia and Middle East. European companies landing in Tehran include BMI, Lufthansa, KLM, Alitalia, Turkish Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Aeroflot and Middle-Eastern airlines: Saudi Arabian Airlines, Emirates, and Etihad. AirAsia also has flights to/from Kuala Lumpur beginning on August 2010(suspended as of October 2012). So finding a flight to Iran should not be hard.
Connections are also easily available via Manama, Bahrain using Gulf Air (but has stopped recently). Additionally, Qatar airlines offers several flights to Iran and provides non-stop service to Doha from to many US cities.
* '''Jazeera Airways''' has flights to [[Mashhad]] via [[Kuwait]].
* '''Air Asia''' has flights to [[Tehran]] via [[Kuala Lumpur]](suspended as of October 2012). * '''Shaheen Air''' has flights from Mashhad to Lahore in Pakistan.
Note that if not staying in Tehran and planning to get to any city other than Tehran upon your arrival, you would have to change airports, from Imam Khomeini to Mehrabad, 40 km away, to get to your domestic flight. Allow at least 3-4 hr between the flights. If going to Mashhad, you may be able to avoid the plane change in Iran using Turkish Airlines, Gulf Air, Kuwait Airways, Jazeera Airways, or Qatar Airways. If going to Shiraz, several flights from Persian Gulf States are available. For Tabriz, you can try travelling via Istanbul on Turkish Airlines or via Baku on IranAir.
From [[Damascus]] in [[Syria]] there are charter flights to [[Tabriz]], [[Tehran]], [[Yazd]], [[Isfahan]], [[Mashhad]]. There are agencies in Seyyedeh-Zeinab district (a popular place with Iranian pilgrimages) that can sell you empty seats of these charter flights for less than 100$.
 
Iran is connected to Pakistan via the following air links:
* '''Iran Air''' connects Tehran to Karachi
* '''Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)''' connects Zahedan to Quetta
* '''Shaheen Air''' a low cost Pakistani Airline connects Mashhad to Lahore.
===By train===
====Turkey====
* The '''Istanbul serviceTrans-Asia Express''' service runs weekly via from [[Ankara]], includes a ferry over Lake Van, crosses the Iranian border then stops at Tabriz before arriving in Tehran. The journey takes 69 59 hr (3 2 nights travelling), but you should expect up to 10 hours delay. Services leave Istanbul Tuesday evening Ankara Wednesday morning (arriving Friday evening) and Tehran Monday Wednesday evening (arriving Saturday eveningmorning). The train includes couchettes and a dining car. (Expect up This service used to run to and from Istanbul, but now only runs to and from Ankara, due to 10 hours delay)major engineering works around Istanbul.
* The '''Tabriz-Van''' service (different from Istanbul Trans-Asia Express service) is a weekly train between [[Van]] and [[Tabriz]].
====Syria====
You can also (depending on the political situation) enter from [[Pakistan]] via the border crossing between [[Taftan]] (on the Pakistani side) and [[Zahedan]] (on the Iranian side) as long as you have a valid visa for Iran. You can '''NOT''' get a visa on the border. Overnight buses leave from [[Quetta]] arriving in [[Taftan]] in the early morning, from there you can either hire a taxi to the border or walk a couple of kilometres. Once across the border (which can take some time on the Iranian side, you need to organise transport to [[Zahedan]] (the local town) where buses depart for destinations in Eastern Iran such as [[Bam]], [[Kerman]] and [[Yazd]]. See the [[Istanbul to New Delhi over land]] 3.9 Iran-Pakistan border, for more details on the crossing.
 
This option is particularly dangerous as Pakistani Balochistan is rife with sectarian violence perpertrated by Taliban and Al-Qaida linked militants against the Shia minority as well as a nationalist insurgency demanding independence for Balochistan. Buses coming to and from the Iranian border have been stopped on the outskirts of Quetta and all the Shias have been shot dead. Pakistani travelers returning from Iran have also been shot dead while waiting for connecting buses at bus stations in Turbat.
The train from Zahedan to Quetta is arguably a better option but presents problems of its own. There is also a flight from Zahedan to Quetta via PIA. In either case one must attempt to leave Quetta as soon as possible as there are gangs of sectarian target-killers belonging to Lashkar Jhangvi roaming the streets and assassinating Shias. They have also been known to kidnap westerners for ransom. Videotaped executions of kidnapped westerners have also occurred and subsequently been posted onto the internet.
====Iraq====
Line 4 (yellow) runs from west to southeast.
1 way tickets cost 3,000 500 rials and a round ticket costs 45,500 rials.
Mashhad has 1 underground line. It runs from vakil Abad to Hashemi Nejad International Airport.
*'''Chogha Zanbil'''- A ziggurat build by Elamites. Near [[Shush]].
* '''Na'in[[Na’in]]''' or '''Naeen''' or '''Naein''' is a small pre-Islamic in central Iran with over 2000 years of history. It's a small pattern of an ancient desert town. the locals in [[Na’in]] still speak in ancient Zoroastrian dialect.
*'''Sialk Mound''' (Tappeh Sialk) - More than 7,000 years old, this is world's oldest ziggurat. In suburbs of [[Kashan]].
*'''Saadi ''' and '''Hafez ''' famous Persian poets in [[Shiraz]].
*"'''Imam Reza'" '' an ornate shrine to the eighth of the Shiite imams (the only one buried in Iran) in [[Mashhad]].
=== Museums===
===Currency===
The '''rial''' (﷼ ''in Persian'') (IRR) is the currency of Iran, however prices are often quoted in '''toman''' (تومان). One toman is equal to ten rials. US$1 and €1 can get you about 2134,000 and 2744,000 rials respectively.  Coins are issued in values of 50, 100, 250, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000 rials with banknotes produced in 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000 , 50,000 and 100,000. If you remember that a blue 20yellow 50,000 note is ''approximately'' equal to a dollar euro you won't get confused. For large amounts you will see Iran Cheques being used, in 500,000 (~US$2515) rial denominations. It is now used in the same way as cash.
Although Iranians often express amounts of money and prices of goods in "tomans", however despite the usage of "toman" verbally, amounts of money and prices of goods and services are virtually always written in rials.
You won't be able to escape the government-sanctioned '''dual pricing system''' that applies to accommodation and some tourist attractions in Iran; foreigners often pay up to five times the price quoted to locals. However thanks to the government's recent commendable efforts to eliminate 'foreigner' prices from many tourist attractions, most notably Persepolis, low food and transport costs make Iran a cheap travel destination.
If you are prepared to stay in the cheapest guesthouses, travel only by bus and eat only at fast food outlets or ''kabābi'', you can get by in Iran on a minimum of around 200,000 rials (about $106) per day. If you want to eat a decent restaurant meal every now and then and stay in mid-range accommodation, a more realistic budget is around 500,000 rials (about $2515). If you want to eat and sleep in luxury and fly between major sights, you can easily chew through 1,000,000 rials (about $5030)per day.
==Eat==
==Stay safe==
In general, Iran is much safer than Westerners might expect. Most people are genuinely friendly and interested to know about you and your country, so leave aside your preconceptions and come with an open mind. Iran is still a relatively '''low-crime''' country, although thefts and muggings have been on the increase in recent years. Keep your wits about you, and take the usual precautions against [[pickpockets]] in crowded bazaars and buses. Due to US sanctions, using international credit or debit cards in Iran is not possible, but you can buy Iranian banks prepaid no-name Gift Cards to enjoy money withdrawal from more than 11,000 ATMs around Iran for free. Purchasing gift cards has no surcharge or service fee and you can withdraw or spend all the money you put in your gift card. Some of the gift cards has not don't have an ATM withdrawal feature and are only for using in shops and stores POS, then make sure you get ATM enabled gift card before purchasing it from bank. There is 2,000,000 rials daily withdrawal limit for most of Iranian bank cards then purchasing several card lets you withdraw more money from ATMs per day. Some gift cards usually are not re-loadable. Some are pre-loaded in designated amount but some banks let you load them for your desired amount when you purchase. As they are no-name, there is almost no way to report stolen card and get duplicate. Always keep passwords and cards in safe place. Having a couple of used empty cards with passwords written on them may help you in case of being mugged for money!! There is no cash-back feature in Iranian POSs but in case of emergency and having no access to ATM you may ask a shop owner with POS to give you cash-back. They may charge you for bank service fee (1% - 5%). Withdraw your leftover money in cards few days before leaving Iran to avoid any problem which may cause by SHETAB Interbank Network failure (very rare). It is common that ATMs do not work for an hour between 12:00AM - 01:00AM for database update. When using ATM be alert. Better to use it in not very quiet areas.
In particular, the tourist centre of [[Isfahan]] has had problems with muggings of foreigners in unlicensed taxis, and fake police making random checks of tourists' passports. Only use official taxis, and never allow 'officials' to make impromptu searches of your belongings.
===Iranian nationality===
Iranians '''are not Arabs ''' and their primary language is Farsi (فارسی) (''Persian''). Referring to them as "Arabs" in general conversation may irritate them. Iranians are very proud of their history, nationality and country and are highly sensitive to it.
Iran has over 4,000 years of written history and organised civilisation. It was conquered 3 times: by the Greeks, Arabs and Mongols. "Persia" is a name of Greek origin attributed to Iran. "Persian" cannot be equated with "Iranian," as Iran has several ethnic groups, including Persian, Azeri, Kurd, Arab, Baluchi and Mazandarani. After the Arab conquest, public and official use of Farsi was banned for about two centuries, and its alphabet was changed to an Arabic-based one. Indeed the word "Farsi" itself is an Arabic articulation of the word "Parsi", the original word meaning "Persian". The ban was intended to eliminate the Persian language and culture, however it was unsuccessful. Today, the Persian language has many ''loan words'' taken from the Arabic language. The Arabic language has also adopted many words from Farsi. There are several widely-spoken Iranian languages, Kurdish, Persian, and Balochi are all Western Iranian languages, while Pashto is an Eastern Iranian language. Persian is the official language of 3 nations - Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan - and is spoken within 13 nations of the region and in general by the Iranian diaspora elsewhere.
*'''Embassy of the Republic of Ireland''' [http://www.embassyofireland.ir] North Kamranieh Ave., Bonbast Nahid Street 8, Tehran ☎ +98 21 2280 3835 (8:30AM-4:30PM, Sun-Thur)
 
*'''Embassy of India''' [http://www.indianembassy-tehran.ir] 22, Mir Emad Street (Corner of 9th alley), Dr. Beheshti Avenue, Tehran. ☎ +98 21 8875 5103-5 (General) +98 21 8875 5102 (Visa Enquiry) Fax: +98 21 8875 5973
*'''Royal Netherlands Embassy in Iran''' [http://www.mfa.nl/teh] Darrous Shahrzad Blvd., Kamassale Street, First East Lane no. 33, Tehran ☎ +98 21 2256 7005; (Fax: +98 21 2256 6990) [mailto:[email protected] [email protected]]
These are the area codes for major cities
Tehran (021) - Kashan (0361) - Isfahan (0311) - Ahwaz (0611) - Shiraz (0711) - Tabriz (0411) - Mashad (0511) - Kerman (0341) - Gorgan (0171) - Na'in (0323)- Rasht(0131)
When making international calls from Iran, the prefix to be dialled prior to country code is '''00'''.
Some websites are blocked based on words appearing in their URL, however savvy coffee net users may be able to show you how to circumvent these restrictions. These include but are not limited to social networking websites. You can expect to pay between 3,000-15,000 rials/hr and speeds range from acceptable in major cities, to the infuriatingly slow in small towns and rural areas. More recently, some facilities in major cities use broadband wireless or DSL connections. Most coffee net places will also have a DVD burner for downloading photos from digital cameras.
You will also find internet connectivity in most middle-class Iranian homes but the acces speed of over 128kb2mb/s is restricted for home users by the government.
===Working hours===
*'''Parsian''' [http://www.parsian-bank.com]
*'''Saman''' [http://www.s24sb24.com]
*'''Eghtesad Novin''' [http://www.en-bank.com]
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