Just like every other country, Iran has its own set of cultures, customs, and practices. However, there are also many misconceptions about this Middle Eastern country. It is high time we learn more about this beautiful place. Read on to learn some of the most interesting facts about Iran!
Iran’s Own Internet
In 2012, the chief of police in the country announced that Google was being used to infiltrate Iran. Interestingly, the government appears to be working on the creation of a state-controlled internet. In the present, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are blocked. The authorities fear that these sites will be used by the people to stage mass riots.
Iran is yet another country where soccer reigns supreme in terms of sports. It is played by both men and women, though the latter need to wear a hijab while playing. The national men’s team qualified for a total of three World Cups and took home three Asian Cup titles. That’s not bad at all!
You might be surprised to learn that Iran has one of the youngest populations on the planet. In fact, about 70% of the population is below 30 years old. This is an interesting tidbit, especially in conjunction with the fact that it is the 18th most populated country at 80 million residents.
Secret Star Of David
There was actually a star of David located on the roof of the Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport for quite some time. It was on the main terminal building roof for 30 years and it was only discovered with the invention of Google Earth. The government was understandably furious when they found out and it disappeared soon enough.
The government’s strict rules might make living in Tehran a little suffocating, though they are not the only ones responsible. The air pollution deserves to be blamed as well! Every day, approximately 27 people pass away due to related diseases and conditions.
Women’s rights suffered greatly after the Iranian Revolution happened in 1979. These days, a woman loses custody of all of her children if she and her husband choose to divorce. Polygamy is legal in Iran and it is clear that men have more choices than women do in other aspects as well.
It is not surprising to hear that Iranians have been in the rug-weaving business for over 2,500 years now. They might not actually fly, though these wonderful masterpieces are nothing short of amazing! If you buy a work of fabric artistry for yourself, do not panic if you notice there is a minor defect. The weavers purposely make a single mistake under the belief that only God is perfect.
When your fellow countrymen happen to be the largest kebab consumers, it is no wonder obesity is fairly common. About 14% of the Iranian population has crossed into the obesity line. Regardless, they are only in the 41st place in the global obesity rankings. At least they still have some way to go before they get to the same level as America, right?
Opium is incredibly easy to obtain in Iran and the countries surrounding it. Moreover, it is also available at a low price. This is a huge contrast to the fact that alcohol is illegal. Opium is the drug of choice for millions of Iranians and it goes without saying that the country has one of the highest opium addiction rates in the world.
The Arabian Peninsula boasts of oi, a huge contributing factor to the wars that have erupted in the region. Apart from oil, however, there are other great delicacies you will find in Iran. Did you know that it the world’s biggest producer of caviar, saffron, and pistachios?
Okay, try to envision the largest carpet you can think of. Now, double it in size. Then triple it. Nope, it will still not compare to the gigantic carpet Iran produced in the year 2007. It was meant to be used at a mosque in the United Arab Emirates. It ended up being as large as a whole soccer field!
Starting from the age of nine, girls must begin wearing a hijab in public. Anyone who goes out without covering herself with a headscarf will be punished with lashings. While this is what the law states, it is certainly a relief to hear that it is not always carried out.
In 2002, Iran surprised the world by announcing that it had worked with Russia on a secret nuclear program 18 years before. Tensions arose when this news broke out, though the Iranian government smoothed everything over by explaining that it was only meant to produce nuclear energy. Hmm, how credible do you think that is?
Nose Job Capital
Can you believe that Iran has humorously been called “the nose job capital of the world”? It’s true! We’re sure you wonder why this is. Well, it seems like more and more young women in the country want to have a Western nose shape.
Fancy jewelry, expensive cars, and alcohol flow as freely as the lady’s hair in Iran. Which is to say not at all! The so-called “Rich Kids of Tehran” might be popular on Instagram, though don’t let that fool you into thinking it is the norm. They can throw their huge parties even though it is illegal thanks to their rich and influential parents. We previously mentioned that Instagram is a banned site, though people can still access it with the use of secret VPNs.
Arabic Or Persian?
When you think of the Arabian Peninsula, a lot of people are quick to assume that everyone in the region speaks Arabic. However, Iran’s official language is Persian or Farsi. Of course, other languages are spoken as well. This includes Arabic, Kurdish, Gilaki, and Turkic.
Jews In Iran
Did you know that more than 99% of the Iranian population are Muslims? To break it down further, 89% of these are of the Shi’a faith. The remaining portion includes the rest of the religious groups in the country. You will probably be surprised to learn that Jews are part of the one percent!
In the Persian language, the word “Iran” means the “Land of the Aryans”. We bet you weren’t expecting to learn about this!
High And Dry
It is true that Iran sees very little rainfall throughout the year. Actually, the country only gets around four inches of rain per annum. With this in mind, you need to remember that Iran still has four seasons and some regions even experience snow.
Oil In Oil
The Middle East is brimming with oil so it is not all that surprising to hear that Iran owns approximately 10% of the oil reserves the world has to offer. Iran pumps out about 4 million barrels of it every day. Overall, it ranks as the 4th biggest oil producer on the planet.
Considering the fact that the government strictly monitors the internet, it’s practically expected for satellite TV to be banned. Yes, you read that right. They can’t watch Game of Thrones on HBO! However, many people resort to secret VPNs to keep up with their favorite shows.
Here’s something pretty terrifying, if you ask us. In Iran, girls can get married at the tender age of 13 years old! The law doesn’t allow boys to marry at the same age, though 15 years old is still too early for marriage if you ask us.
When it is time for a woman or a girl to finally get married, they must observe several rules. Surprisingly, attending school is forbidden when the time comes to get married.
Meanwhile, there is yet another thing that Iranian youngsters can do that their foreign peers cannot. People as young as 15 years old are eligible to vote! It’s great to hear they’re starting kids young on their civic duties, though we wonder how this is affecting the elections.
You’ll be surprised to hear this fact about the conservative country. In Iran, it is legal to get a sex change. Moreover, the state is actually willing to fund it. We’re glad to hear about this and hope other countries follow suit!
Perhaps you have been dating some guy or girl, though you are still unsure if you want to commit to a relationship with them. That’s perfectly fine. In Iran, there is a practice called Sigmeh where a couple engages in a short-term marriage. It lasts anywhere from several hours to a matter of years.
Crude oil might be improving the economy of the country, but that does not mean it is immune to problems. The economy is suffering for several reasons and the refusal of people to marry is one of them. The country even set up a marriage fund that amounts to $720 million to encourage people to wed!
What To Bring
It can be hard choosing a gift to bring your host when you are dropping by for dinner. This is especially true if you are not particularly close. Who knows what they could possibly want, right? Luckily, you won’t have this problem in Iran since it is customary to bring pastries or flowers.
Right Or Left Hand
Now that you have passed the gift test, the next thing you have to work through is figuring out how to eat. Don’t be surprised if you find your hosts sitting down on floor cushions for the meal. Instead, you should follow suit as this is the custom in the country! Make sure to use your right hands to eat, since the left one is used for wiping after, uh, defecation.
Doesn’t everyone wish they could simply work from home? However, try not to confuse that setup with working at home as a housewife. If a woman in Iran wants to find a job, she has to be granted permission by her husband or the male head of her household.
Alcohol might be legally banned in Iran, though a huge market still exists for the substance. You would be surprised to know that the illegal business of smuggling alcohol into the country amounts to $700 million every year. That sounds reminiscent of the Prohibition, don’t you think?
It seems like everyone has a magic medicine they inherited from their great-grandmother. They are all effective, regardless of whether it is something to clear your cough or something to help you sleep. In Iran, this is none other than yogurt! Locals turn to it to treat all sorts of ailments, from ulcers to sunburns.
Readers And Writers
Back in the 1970’s, Iran’s literacy rate dipped to an alarming 37%. Recently, however, the tables have completely turned. The adult literacy rate in the country is now 93%! Perhaps this has something to do with the way people spent their free time before and after the Iranian Revolution.
Bikinis Or Not
You probably expected this already so we will just have to confirm it for you. The strict religious laws in the country forbid women from sporting a bathing suit in front of any man!
Don’t Wear A Tie
Men, you know that there are several unspoken rules about dressing up for a job interview. First of all, shorts are a pretty big no-no. In Iran, men are also forbidden from wearing neckties. But really, it’s more important to avoid wearing shorts if you want to be considered for a job in any company!
A quick glance at the map and you can tell how big Iran actually is. Moreover, you will also notice that plenty of countries share a border with it. These are the ten neighboring countries of Iran: Armenia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates.
It’s a well-established fact that not everyone in the country will love the elected president or leader. There’s nothing illegal about that – or is there? In Iran, you should never talk badly about Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei unless you want to be on the receiving end of a punishment. Apparently, badmouthing the supreme leader has resulted in imprisonment, torture, and even execution!
Now, let us imagine a man who cannot find a girl to start a new life with. That’s common enough, right? What can such a guy do? Well, he probably lives with his parents. Maybe he even gets a “cool” name for a rebranding such as ‘na-mard’. What does mean? Well, it roughly translates to ‘not-men’. Yikes.
Iran has some strict rules, but can you believe that women are forbidden from watching sports matches? This has resulted in female sports fans resorting to desperate means: cross-dressing. That’s an impressive level of dedication!
Without a doubt, Iran boasts of a beautiful history and 21 UNESCO world heritage sites to go with it. If you were ever lucky enough to drop by, you need to see the medieval brick dome called the Soltaniyeh as well as the “masterpiece of creative genius” that is Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System.
If a couple wishes to obtain a marriage license, they must first attend several classes. No, they will not be talking algebra again. This time, the lessons are about contraception. Spouses-to-be are required to attend a lecture on pregnancy prevention for an hour.
You will be interested to learn that Iran has one of the few condom factories in the Middle East! Yes, it certainly seems like Iran is taking multiple measures to control the population growth in the country.
Queen Esther And Others
Iran also serves as the burial grounds of several biblical figures. Among these, the most notable have to be Cyrus the Great, Darius the Great, the prophet Daniel, and Queen Esther.
An Excuse For Gifts
The act of giving gifts in the country might sound strange, though we’re sure you will be able to relate in more ways than one. First, people give gifts on multiple occasions. This includes times when someone achieved greatness or returned from a trip. However, the custom also indicates that the giver must apologize for the inadequacy of the present.
It is actually fairly common to see Iranian athletes participate at the Olympic Games. Iran has been sending participants to the competition ever since 1948. Since then, it has only ever missed two occasions to join the Summer Olympic Games.
The Persian Cat
The Persian cat, whose updated name would be the Iranian cat, is one of the oldest cat breeds in the world. They have long been a favorite among cat owners thanks to their beautiful, silky fur. Their unique fur coat has developed as a means of protecting themselves from the cold weather of the Iranian plateaus.
Shoes Or No Shoes
We all know what a coat check is, but what about a shoe check? In Iran, it is the guests’ duty to inspect whether the host has shoes on. If they are barefoot, it is only right to take off your shoes and store them by the door.
Poems And Poets
Apart from the gorgeous architecture and the intricate rugs, there is more to Iranian culture. Poetry is also a huge part of it. It’s nice to know that many locals can recite some famous poems if anyone asks them to do so. We hope this behavior is mirrored elsewhere in the world!
The debate about women’s rights in Iran looks like it might never end. However, at least it is all right for women to drive cars in the country. Of course, it goes without saying that the rest of the laws still apply. This means that if a woman is caught driving without a hijab, the police will impound her car and she will have to suffer the consequences.
Female Taxi Drivers
Now that you know that it is generally fine for women to drive cars, you will be thrilled to hear the next tidbit. A group of women actually launched an all-women taxi service in the capital! This is exciting news, though we are sure they did not have an easy time getting there. Remember, they still had to ask for their husband’s approval!
Sure, women could drive their cars in Iran, though that does not mean they can dominate the roads. Regardless of how securely they wear their hijabs, women are still forbidden from driving motorcycles! However, they can ride on the back as long as they are not the ones doing the driving.
We have to admit, the title ‘supreme leader’ sounds a lot more impressive than ‘president’. Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, is the most powerful person in the country. He serves as the military’s commander-in-chief and has the power to appoint the members of the judiciary. He controls the state radio and TV networks as well as the military forces and the police. Clearly, the supreme leader is the person who can decide whether to pursue war or peace.
Iran is considered to be a Middle Eastern powerhouse and it has the power to pose as a major threat to its enemies. The military is divided into two sides. In the first one, you have the Air Force, Army, and Navy. On the other hand, you have the Revolutionary Guards. Overall, there are 545,000 active personnel in the military as well as 350,000 reserve soldiers.
While Iran is not directly involved in the conflicts plaguing the region, they sure have a part in several of them. Iran is allied with Iraq, Syria, and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Not only does it give military advice to them, but the country also helps them by providing weaponry and financial aid.
Can you believe that the multi-awarded Taekwondo champion Kimia Alizadeh is only 20 years old? During the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the young woman bagged the bronze medal and became the first Iranian woman to take home a medal from the Olympic Games.
The Bahá’í Faith
The Bahá’í faith is considered the biggest religious minority group in Iran, though it still goes unrecognized by the government. The government actually branded the group a “dangerous cult” and effectively banned the 300,000 believers from practicing it.
Iran has welcomed over a million foreign refugees through the years, an impressive number by all means. However, the country was criticized for the way it treated Afghan and Kurdish refugees. According to some people, they were used to expand the workforce at minimum wages.
Once upon a time, the U.S. and Iran actually had close ties. However, the falling out is believed to have started in 1953. The CIA played a role in “Operation Ajax”, a plan to overthrow Prime Minister Mosaddegh and his elected government. Iranians no longer trust Americans because the USA was set to receive 40% of the country’s oil industry thanks to the Shah.
Iranian Hostage Crisis
The American embassy in Tehran was featured in headlines back in 1979. This was the time that a group of radical Islamists took over and held 52 hostages. They demanded that Shah Pahlavi is released so that he could be persecuted for all of his “crimes against Iranian citizens”. At this time, he was suffering from cancer in America. The hostage crisis lasted a total of 444 days.
During the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Iran’s legal system was changed back to the Islamic law. This transition meant women fell to a lower tier and that they were legally and mentally inferior to their male counterpart. According to the government, gender equality was merely a Zionist social construct.
We already know that the United States has a penchant for putting itself in dangerous waters. Case in point? The Iran-Iraq War. The government urged the rest of the world not to sell Iran weapons, even though the USA helped Iraq. However, there is something even more damning than that. It was later revealed that Americans were actually covertly selling weapons to Iran as well!
We bet you did not expect to hear that polo was an Iranian invention. We were surprised as well! Sure, it’s not a verified fact, though research shows that Iranians have been playing the sport all the way back to the 6th century B.C. It was largely attributed to the training the citizens underwent to join the cavalry.
In 2003, Iran was featured in headlines when the southeastern city of Bam experienced a terrible earthquake. The natural disaster hit a death toll of more than 30,000 people.