IRAN

Iran also known as Persia until 1935, officially Islamic republic of Iran is a country on the Persian Gulf in western Asia with historical sites dating to the Persian Empire. Iran Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi), it is the second-largest country in the Middle East and the 18th-largest in the world With 78.4 million inhabitants. It is the only country that has both a Caspian Sea and an Indian Ocean coastline. Iran has long been of geostrategic importance because of its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia. Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the Shah was forced into exile.

Tehran is the country’s capital and largest city, as well as its leading cultural and economic center. Iran is a major regional and middle power, exerting considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy through its large reserves of fossil fuels, which include the largest natural gas supply in the world and the fourth-largest proven oil reserves. Iran’s rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the fourth-largest number in Asia and 12th-largest in the world

PEOPLE

Iran is a diverse country, consisting of many religious and ethnic groups that are unified through a shared Persian language and culture, The majority of the population speaks the Persian language, which is also the official language of the country. Others include the rest of the Iranian languages within the greater Indo-European languages, and the languages of the other ethnicities in Iran. The northwestern region, Azerbaijan, is largely populated by Iranian Azeris, who are a Turkish people closely related to the people of Azerbaijan republic and Turkey.
Shia Islam is without a doubt the dominant religion in Iran, there also exists several religious minorities as well. there also exists several religious minorities as well. Sunni Islam in Iran is mainly practiced by ethnic minorities such as the Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. Other non-Islamic faiths also exist in smaller numbers, the most notable being Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism, all three of which are recognized as minority religions by the Iranian constitution, and each of these are guaranteed representation in the Iranian parliament.

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HISTORY

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 the Great, 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 time of Muhammad; Persian and other languages of the region are still written with the Arabic alphabet. About 1250, Persia was overrun by the Mongols. Marco Polo passed through just after that, learned Persian, and wrote extensively of the region.

At other times, Persia conquered many of her neighbors. 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 neighbors, especially Afghanistan and Central Asia.


Iran has a diverse climate. In the northwest, winters are cold with heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures during December and January. Spring and fall are relatively mild, while summers are dry and hot. In the south, winters are mild and the summers are very hot, having average daily temperatures in July exceeding 38°C (100°F) and can hit 50°C in parts of the desert. On the Khuzestan plain, summer heat is accompanied by high humidity.

In general, Iran has an arid climate in which most of the relatively scant annual precipitation falls from October through April. In most of the country, yearly precipitation averages 25 centimeters or less. The major exceptions are the higher mountain valleys of the Zagros and the Caspian coastal plain, where precipitation averages at least 50cm annually. In the western part of the Caspian, rainfall exceeds 100cm annually and is distributed relatively evenly throughout the year.



All international flights to Tehran land at the new Imam Khomeini International Airport [3] based 37 km southwest of Tehran. Pilgrimage flights to 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.

IranAir and MahanAir 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.

Low-cost carriers (LCC) also operate flights to Tehran or other cities in Iran.
Pegasus Airlines has flights to Tehran via Istanbul.
Germania Airline has flights to Tehran via Berlin, Dusseldorf and Hamburg and to Mashhad via Hamburg.
Air Arabia has flights to Tehran and Shiraz via Sharjah.
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, 40km away, to get to your domestic flight. Allow at least 3-4h 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.

In spite of economic sanctions the majority of Iranian based airlines did not have high level of incidents during recent years. However sanctions resulted in inability to purchase new planes and the fleet of all airlines are old. Among Iranian based airlines Iran Air, Mahan Air and Aseman Airlines have been completely safe with no serious incidents during recent years. Due to safety issues flying with other Iranian based airlines is not recommended. The service and flying skill of Iranian pilots are fairly well known.

Due to sanctions there are no direct flights at present from Canada or the USA, but you could travel via either Europe or Persian Gulf States. Non-stop flights from Dubai via JFK, IAD, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston or Toronto are good bets. Visitors from Australia or New Zealand can consider travelling via Dubai or Abu Dhabi, or can use a combination of Iran Air and Malaysian Airlines to get from any major city in Australia to Tehran, via Kuala Lumpur. Air Asia also has good deals from Australia and New Zealand to Tehran with a stop in Kuala Lumpur.

There are weekly flights from Sulamaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan to Sanandaj and from Arbil to Urmia.

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.

Iranian Main Currency:
The first and the official currency in Iran is Iranian Rial (Rls) but the currency people use informally, is Tomans. Basically, each Toman is equal to 10 Rials (1 Toman=10 Rials). So if you want to buy anything in Iran you should calculate Tomans instead of Rials.


10000 Rials = 1000 Tomans

Iranian Rial (IRR, symbol Rls). Currently, we use eight different banknotes (100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000 and 500 Rials) and five different coins (5000, 2000, 1000, 500 and 250 Rials).


10000 Rials = 1000 Tomans


10000 Rials = 1000 Tomans


10,000 Rials = 1,000 Tomans

Currency:
US dollars; Euro; GBP are all accepted in Iran. You should change your money in a currency exchange, and you will have no problem finding them all around the country. Use Iranian Rials when you are wondering out and shopping or eating (most places only accept Rials). Like everything in Iran, things can change overnight so make sure you check the exchange rate.
Currency Exchange:
The quickest and easiest way to change cash is at an official money-exchange office, where the whole deal is done in seconds, unlike in most banks where half an hour is considered fast. Exchange shops can be found in mostcities, usually signed in English. Changing money in an exchange shop is much safer than doing so with a street moneychanger. It is advisable to bring hard currency for exchange purposes.



Meal times in Iran vary considerably from those in Europe and North America. Lunch can be served 12:00-15:00 and dinner is often eaten after 20:00. These and other social occasions in Iran are often long, drawn-out affairs conducted in a relatively relaxed tempo, often involving pastries, fruit and possibly nuts. As it is considered rude to refuse what is served, visitors should accept the items offered, even if they do not intend to consume them.


Iranian Food

Do Women have clothing limitations?

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Women have to cover their body and their hair in public (restaurants and hotel lobbies are public). According to the law, only the face and the hands of women may be visible, therefore it is best to wear a headscarf to cover the hair and a coat to cover the body. The body has to be covered in such a way that the skin of the woman is not visible. The hips, the legs and the feet should not be visible. It is best to wear wide clothing, so that the lines of the body are not recognizable. The headscarf should cover the hair fully. The color of the scarf and the clothing does not matter, and one is free to wear any color.

Do men also have clothing limitations

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 Obeying Islamic rules including Hijab or Islamic dress-code is necessary in Iran. However these rules are not observed very strict, especially for tourists and foreigners. You must not worry about maintaining your hijab, since in times you have forgotten about it, the maximum penalty will be a request) to make it correct.
There are some minimum requirements for foreign women dress-code in public places:
1. Color: It’s a completely false belief that wearing must be dark in Iran. There is no limitation in this respect and we recommend you make sure using light colors in summer.
2. Head: Hair should be covered. It does not mean you shall have a tight scarf around your head. Don’t worry, It is very usual that some parts remain out of the cover. It’s quite acceptable for women to allow whips of their hair to frame their face. Appropriate hats & caps can do this function as well as scarves. Scarf is the most common covering for head and is called “Roosari” in Farsi.
3. Body: Should be covered with loose clothes like man shirt, coat or manteau. Arms should not be bare.
4. Legs & feet: Legs should be covered down to ankles. Feet can be bare and you can wear sandals. Tight jeans are no problem.


Credit Card

Emergencies

Ambulance: 115
Directory inquiries: 118
Fire Brigade: 125
Police: 110 (112 from mobile (cell) phones will also get you through to the local police)
Fire & Rescue: 125

Airports

Airlines – Tehran Offices

Hospitals in Iran

Iran City Codes