History of Iran

Iran is one of the ancient and enduring civilizations that have abundant intellectual variety and depth. It has had significant political impact on its neighbours and the world in general. Its history is rich and has a lot to tell from the times of Prophet Zoroaster to the period of ancient Persian Empires, and Iran’s nuclear standoff.

Iran shares a common culture, a series of dynasties and ethnic diversity. Iran was known as Persia until 1935 when it adopted its current name. Iran is also an Islamic state that sits on an area of 1.648 million square kilometres.

It is mostly a desert with a theocratic government and more than 60 million people. The early Persian Empire was an intimidating terrain with plateaus and mountain ranges. Arabs, Mongols and Turks also constantly invaded it.

The major interest with Iran arose when they discovered oil in the 20th century and those who were interested were countries like Russia and Great Britain. The United States also expresses interest in Iran’s oil reserves and largely influenced the governance of the state. United States and Britain organised a coup d’état in 1953 to oust Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq and subsequently Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi took power.

Iran become close to Washington who provided military and economic aid until the 1960s. Iran then developed a strong army with the help of the British and American defense programs.

Iranian Revolution

Although Iran is an Islamic state, it has experienced increased Westernization despite criticism from the clergy on secularization.

It started with disharmony among the hereditary monarch-Shah- in the 1960s. In 1970s, Shah Reza Pahlavi had to deal with strong opposition orchestrated by an exiled spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Pahlavi had to leave power in 1970 due to this and Khomeini succeeded him.

Khomeini was mostly anti-American and did not support the West. This is the time when Iran became an Islamic republic.

Iran inaugurated a new constitution that required the president to be elected and serve as the head of government. However, the supreme authority came from the clergy who could appoint the commanders of the armed forces, chief judge and other high ranking position holders.

Ties With America

The overthrown Shah went to the United States for medical treatment but this also led to protests from Islamic students to return him for trial in Iran. The United States did not act on this. Subsequently the students and military attached the U.S. embassy in Tehran and took 50 people hostage.

The hostages were held for 444 days and plans to rescue them failed. This situation stressed the relationship between America and Iran. The hostage situation ended when Ronald Reagan became the U.S. president and saw to their release.

The War With Iraq

In the 1980s, Iran fought Iraq for eight years. The war began due to rising tension with its neighbor. It was Iraq who invaded Iran in 1980 over a border dispute in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway area.This war largely affected Iran, and there were so many casualties. The estimated number is 300,000 to two million but the exact number is unknown.

Leadership After the War

Since the takeover by the clergy, the leadership mostly remained conservative. There were small attempts by moderates to Westernise some of the institutions but this did not achieve much. The conservatives had already advanced their agenda due to being in power.

Iran and Nuclear Installations

Iran was also been mentioned in negative light when they set-up nuclear operations and failed to disclose the same during international inspections. There werefears that Iran is developing nuclear weapons but they strongly denied this. They insisted that their drive towards nuclear was peaceful and aimed to build an atomic power station.

The United States consequently suspended trade with Iran in 1995 over this and over claims that it supports terrorist groups. The tension with the United States built over time especially due to its plans to pursue nuclear weapons. This was further heightened when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

The 2000s

In 2005, a hardline mayor of Tehran became president and continued the nuclear project. The president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, repudiated the Holocaust and made anti-Israel comments. He constantly gave controversial remarks.

In 2006, Iran made enriched uranium. The world called for the cease but that did not happen and sanctions were hence imposed. Iran greatly suffered because of this and because of declining oil prices. As a result, the support for Ahmadinejad weakened.

In 2009, Ahmadinejad still took office with a landslide victory. He beat a reform candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, who was the former prime minister. Mousavi cried foul and the supports of both candidates took to the streets to protest.Some of the protesters lost their lives, including innocent bystanders.

In the 2013 presidential election, Hassan Rouhani won, and he promised to restore Iran’s relationship with the world.

In 2015, Iran held talks with six world powers on its nuclear strategy, and they came to an understanding to limit Iran’s programs. After the talks, the European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, was happy about the decision with Iran and sanctions were lifted.

The deal was a provisional agreement that had facts and figures and was a great leap.

 

References

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14542438
http://www.iranchamber.com/history/history_periods.php
http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=azv
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/history-of-iran-from-persia-to-present-1.791319

Visiting Iran ?

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There have been significant changes in Iran that have seen this country open up to the world and tourists. Its nuclear deal with world powers has seen the ease of sanctions on Iran and made it more travel friendly. There are also funds going to improve hotels, restaurants, social facilities, transport and sports. Iran has a lot to offer travelers,and more so it has warm and welcoming people. A trip to Iran is memorable will be made easier with the following information:

All You Need to Know About an Iranian Visa

It does take time to get a visa to Iran. Most applicants get theirs in about three weeks. Each consulate may also have particular requirements which you will need to comply with.

Those who are exempted from getting a visa are nationals from Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Singapore, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Hercegovina. These nationals get a three month pass on arrival while everyone else needs a visa. You can get a visa in advance or get a 15-day visa at the airport.

Iran warmly welcomes Americans but they need a pre-arranged tour guide, sponsor or relative who will be responsible for them. Israelis however are not awarded visas.

You can go for a student, business or journalist visa. All the same, travelers can either have a tourist visa, transit visa or tourist visa on arrival. The tourist visa allows for 30 days which is extendable, while the transit visa only allows for five to seven days.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran is responsible for approving all the visa applications except for transit visas. The Ministry gives the consulate or airport an authorization number in order to process your visa. The consulate will normally takes you application form, fees and passport photo during this process. You can either do the application yourself or engage an agency.

Are You Safe in Iran?

Iran is extremely safe to travel and even beats other destinations that you consider safe. There are only rare and isolated cases of violence against foreigners. Most of the time, the locals will assimilate you and arecourteous and friendly.

You should also register with your embassy if you are staying for more than a week or plan to travel to remote locations.

Iran hardly experience crime such as thefts and assaults. Still, you need to take care of yourself and keep valuables close to you at all times. The hotels are also safe but you should lock your bags to prevent hotel personnel from going through them. Always secure your travel documents and keep them with you at all times.

Just like in any other region, there is a possibility of kidnapping or finding yourself in the wrong side of the law. However, you will find helpful police and security forces. Some even speak English.

It is also important to take several copies of your passport and leave a copy at the hotel. This is a requirement. In addition, only show copies of your passport during security checks unless you are sure that the police officers are genuine.

The Health Situation in Iran

Iran is dry and this lessens the chances of getting sick. The common reason for medical assistance is due to accidents. However, you do not need to worry about medical attention because Iran hosts some of the best hospitals in the Middle East. It has doctors with professional training in America and Europe.

The large cities have enough qualified doctors to attend to your situation. To make matters easier, you can see you doctor before you travel for an extended time to Iran. You can see your dentist for example, and optometrist.

If you have to carry medication, ensure that it is in its original packaging and have a letter from your doctor describing your illness. In addition, have a medical insurance that will be useful in Iran.

You can also take vaccinations such as Yellow Fever,diphtheria, measles, tetanus, mumps, polio, hepatitis B and rubella. You are likely to get the following diseases in Iran: diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, HIV, tuberculosis, rabies and malaria.

Most of the tap water is safe to drink although you will also find plenty of bottled water. In addition, you will find mosquitos, bees and wasps. There are also scorpions in the desert and the occasional bed bugs.

It is hard to find reciprocal medical arrangements with other countries but the cost of treatment in Iran is negligible.

How to Move Around in Iran

You can choose to travel by air, road, rail or water to get to Iran and to different cities within the country. However, most flights land in Tehran with a few others at Shiraz, Bandar Abbas, Kish and Esfahan.

Iran also has a long coastal line on the Persian Gulf,Caspian Sea and Gulf of Oman. There are shipping agencies that operate ferries and catamarans between Sharjah and Bandar Abbas. You can also travel by land from Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia. In addition, there is a train from İstanbul to Tehran via Ankara and Tabriz.

How to Cater for Expenses

It is advisable to walk around with cash in U.S. dollars, Euros or pounds. You should have the amount of cash that you will need. At some outlets, you can use travelers’ cheque, ATM, debit and credit cards. Furthermore, you do not have to give a tip except in high-end restaurants where you are required to give a 10 percent gratuity. Other joint do not demand tips and consider it a lovely, unexpected surprise.

How to Handle Legal Problems

The legal system in Iran is based on Islamic doctrines and follows the Sharia law. However, what you probably acknowledge as illegal is also prohibited in Iran. The penalties are more severe in Iran and some offenses even lead to deportation.

There are harsh penalties for smuggling, drug and alcohol abuse. You can even get a death penalty for trafficking hard drugs. Homosexuality is also prohibited and so is engaging in fornication with the locals. Women are also expected to wear a head scarf or hijab.

You can seek assistance from your embassy when you are arrested and things get thick. However, casual arrests may be nothing to worry about. All you need to do is keep cool and answer questions politely when arrested.

References

http://wikitravel.org/en/Iran
http://www.bordersofadventure.com/travel-to-iran-things-to-know/

Things to do in Iran

If you are travelling by air, then the likely entry point into Iran is the Imam Khomeini International Airport. The only thing that you should probably remember is to have a hijab or head scarf with you since women are required to cover their heads.Iran-2

There are many and beautifully modern scenic areas in Iran. It has prehistoric culture and civilization. In more detail, the following are some of the things to see, do and experience in Iran:

  1. Partying

Night clubs are not particularly legal in Iran but that does not mean that you will miss out on the partying. Tehran is famous for house parties where the young Iranians organise balls, birthday parties and New Years’ parties. At all seasons, there is a party going on somewhere.

There are those who turn their living rooms and basement into discos and invite DJs, provide alcohol and invite fun guests. This is exciting and will not get you into trouble.

  1. Lie Around at the Expansive Imam Square in Esfahan

Esfahan is a beautiful square that combines the splendor of Taj Mahal and Instambul. The Naqhs-e Jehan Square is the second biggest square in the world. It comprises of lush gardens, fountains and bustling bazaars. Here, you can shop for Persian rugs, china, ornaments and glassware.

The Esfahan’s centre-piece is breath-taking and has glowing blue mosaic palaces and mosques. You can enjoy the atmosphere as you also wander the garden.

 III. Site See the Valiasr Street

Valiasr Street in Tehran is the longest street in the Middle East and falls among the longest in the world. It is an amazing place to relax and get to sample American-like fast food outlets. You will find the likes of McMashallah and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

This is also where you can do some serious shopping for expensive brands like European products. In addition, the Valiasr Street is a pick-up point for girls, and young men with expensive cars love it.

  1. Appreciate the Grandeur of Golestan Palace

This is a major site in Tehran. The Golestan Palace was a regal home to the Qajar dynasty. It also dates back to the days of the Safavid dynasty when Islamic Persia began. It was subsequently modified in the 19th century to incorporate conventional Islamic architecture and a touch of the West.

  1. Enjoy the National Jewels Museum

Iran has had many excessive reigns since the Persian ages. This museum displays the regalia of these dynasties. You will also find an ornamental globe made from 50,000 different stones. The contents of this museum are unique and exciting.

  1. See the Bridges of Esfahan

The bridges that traverse the Zayandeh River in Esfahan resemble those in a fairytale book. Some of these bridges are as old as the 1600s. They are majestic and stunning to cross.

 VII. Trace the Old Trade Routes

The initial trade routes started as military outposts before becoming trading posts for traders from India and Kerman. Along this route, you will find interesting museums, daunting mosques and glorious bazaars.

 VIII. Shop for Persian Rugs

Iran is the best place in the world to shop for Persian rugs. You will find these at the city bazaars where different vendors display a variety. The full experience involves taking tea as you conduct the purchase.

  1. Visit the Former U.S. Embassy

Now a museum, the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran is where diplomats were held hostage for 444 days. There is also a film about this sad encounter named “Argo”. It is a strange museum that draws feelings of sadness and joy, and is a memorable site.

  1. Go Skiing

Skiing has not been common in Iran but it is increasingly becoming popular. There are four main areas in Tehran which are cheap. The best time to go skiing is from November to March, and you can do this in the Alborz Mountains.

  1. Indulge in Some Shisha

It is common to find the shisha omnipresent water-pipes. They form part of the local culture. It is not particularly healthy to smoke shisha but it is a great way to spend time and engage in the typical Iranian experience.

 XII. Visit Tabriz

Tabriz takes you back to the 15th-century Persia. It has a number of Qaisariyeh Bazaar and stunning blue Mosque that have existed since the 1465. This mosque was destroyed by an earthquake and then restored. Tabriz is among the largest cities in Iran, and it is an important industrial centre.

XIII. Enjoy the Tropical Islands

There are magnificent virgin corals and a thriving marine life off the Qeshm Island on the south. There is also the Kish Island which is an amazing option for scuba diving.

XIV. Take Part in the Legendary Iranian Football Match

There is a renowned match between the Esteghlal and Persepolis. It is a fierce competition that is hailed in the Middle East. During this match, the entire country splits its support between the blue and red side. You get to engage in the sport with 90,000 other Iranians in a match full of emotion, singing and fun.

  1. Have a Taste of the Desert Oasis

There is an oasis village-Garmeh-that is surrounded by palm trees and is situated around a spring. There are no luxurious hotels in this area but it gives you the desert experience. You can try it out to know the desert silence and atmosphere.

Kashan is another oasis city with grandeur buildings that have seen the passage of time. This city blooms with roses in April, and you will find beautiful rugs and pottery in this area.

XVI. Visit the Persepolis

Persepolis is a huge attraction in Iran. It was once the ceremonial capital of the First Persian Empirefrom the 6th to 4th centuries BC. It comprises of deserted columns, gateways and stairways. It is indeed a moving sight.

Iran is an extremely cultured place with amazing books. It is a place where you can experience rich history and culture. It has stunning sites and friendly people. It is also a place where you find affordable hotels, food and travel in comparison to other countries.

References

http://www.worldtravelguide.net/iran/things-to-do
http://mic.com/articles/58031/6-amazing-things-to-do-and-see-in-iran#.ZCX678UQj
http://www.mywanderlust.pl/things-to-do-in-tehran/
http://www.skyscanner.net/news/iran-holidays-best-things-do-and-places-visit-iran