Want to learn a little more about the countries of the Middle East? Take a look at these fun facts about Iran!
1. It’s not always had that name.
In 1935, this Middle Eastern country changed its name from Persia to Iran.
2. Many, many people call Iran home.
Iran has a population of 83.99 million (2020) – that’s around 15 million more than the UK!
3. It’s an extremely young country.
Approximately 70% of this population is under the age of 30.
Flag of Iran
4. Internet access is sparse here!
Only an estimated 7 million Iranians have access to the internet.
5. It’s a truly ancient settlement.
Dating back to 4000 B.C, Iran is one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations with settlements!
6. In terms of pure size, it’s one of the top 20 biggest countries on Earth.
At 636,371 square miles (1.648 million square km), Iran is the 18th largest country in the world.
7. As such, it has lots of borders!
Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq and Turkey are all neighbors of Iran.
8. The country’s urban population keeps growing.
Iran’s urban growth rates leaped from 27% to 60% between 1950 and 2002, meaning it has one of the highest urban growth rates in the world. By 2030 it is expected that 80% of the population will be urban.
9. Family planning plus!
We bet you didn’t know that couples in Iran who want a marriage license are required to take an hour-long lecture on contraception!
10. What’s the capital of Iran?
Tehran is Iran’s capital and largest city; the word means ‘warm slope’ and its home to nearly 9 million people! (2016).
11. Hold your breath in the capital…
Tehran is also one of the worst places in the world for air pollution! According to local officials, 3,600 people died in a single month due to the hazardous air quality!
12. Iran has a weight problem.
It’s estimated that a rather large (excuse the pun) 25.8% of Iranians are obese. This figure places Iran as the 47nd most obese country in the world (2019). Just in case you’re wondering, the USA comes in at 12th place, with 36.2% of its population classed as obese and the UK wins 36th place at 27.8%.
Iran has an arid desert climate, with less than a mere 4 inches of rain every year (compared to 48.03 inches in the UK).
14. Better change those coins up!
The Iranian currency is called the Iranian rial.
15. It’s an oil capital.
Iran has reserves of 125 billion barrels of oil which equates to 10% of the world’s total reserves. It pumps nearly 4 million barrels of oil each day!
16. Caviar reserves are massive here.
If you’re a fan of caviar, head to Iran because it controls 50% of the Caspian Sea caviar market!
17. Iran’s waterways are amazing.
Iran relies on a water system that was developed 3000 years ago! The Qanat system is an ecologically balanced water recovery method that collects underground water in arid regions such as this.
18. Take a seat – or not!
Traditional Iranian homes don’t have tables and chairs as people prefer to sit on cushions on the floor to eat their meals.
19. No, they didn’t start out in Holland…
Who’d have thought it – Iran built the earliest known windmills!
20. Who nose?
Strangely, it has been said that Iran is ‘the nose job capital of the world’. Apparently the general shape of a Western nose has become the desired nose shape of young Iranian women!
21. Iranian cats are well-loved.
The Persian cat is one of the world’s oldest breeds and became an exotic status symbol in 17th Century Europe when Italian traders brought them across to sell.
22. The state pays for weddings!
The Iranian government are very generous; they fork out for the bill for mass weddings to reduce the cost of the otherwise expensive traditional wedding, the idea being to encourage young Iranians to get married!
23. Horseback sport is massive here.
Polo isn’t just a Western sport – it was played in Iran as early as the 6th century B.C., mainly as training for the cavalry.
24. Grab a few tubs!
Yogurt is called ‘Persian milk’ in Iran. It’s considered a miracle food by many Iranians and used to treat ulcers, relieve sunburn, and thought to prolong life!
Qom City, Iran
25. Keep in touch with Iran.
Want to call your friends in Iran? You’ll need to use the international dialing code +98.
FAQs about Iran
Is it safe to travel to Iran?
Due to Iran’s relationship with the US at present, it is not currently advised that citizens travel abroad to the country. It is legal to do so, but there are few protections in place for US travelers here as a result.
Is Iran a poor country?
Despite its oil reserves, official figures show that around a third of Iran’s population is in poverty.
Is it cheap to live in Iran?
The cost of living in Iran is relatively low compared to most places - and, surprisingly, so is transport.
Do you know any fun facts about Iran? Share them in the comments below!