Friday, May 23, 2003

Modern Age Iran

Islamic Revolution

There are so many things to say about the “Islamic Revolution” that I don’t know were to start from. The best thing I can do is to refer you to another site which has a page about the Islamic revolution.
There are many notes that I want to add to what you can find in that web site. To start with:

The so called Islamic revolution was supported by all major social and political groups such as the Nationalists, Communists, University graduates and students, non-political intellectual groups and finally organizations and religious groups and organizations. The reason why it is called the Islamic revolution is that the religious groups (Ayatollah Khomeini in particular) had the most powerful influence among the ordinary people which gave them the leadership position in the revolution.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Modern Age Iran

Pahlavi Dynasty 2

Mohammad Reza Shah replaced his father on the throne on September 16, 1941. Iran's political system became increasingly open. Political parties were developed, and in 1944 parliament elections were the first genuinely competitive elections in more than 20 years. In the beginning of 1930s some Iranians began to support the nationalization of the country's oil fields (owned by Britain at that time). After 1946 this caused a major common movement lead by a professional politician, the nationalistic Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq.

Despite his vow to act as a constitutional monarch who would defer to the power of the parliamentary government, Mohammad Reza Shah increasingly involved himself in governmental affairs and on reviving the army and ensuring that it would remain under royal control as the monarchy's main power base especially after overthrowing Mosaddeq with a US lead coup.

By the mid-1970s the Shah reigned amidst widespread discontent caused by the continuing repressiveness of his regime, socioeconomic changes that benefited some classes at the expense of others, and the increasing gap between the ruling elite and the disaffected populace. Islamic leaders were able to focus this discontent to Islamic principles and call for the overthrow of the shah. The Shah's government collapsed following widespread uprisings in 1978 and 1979.

The Pahlavi royal crown

Friday, May 16, 2003

Modern Age Iran

Pahlavi Dynasty 1

In 1921 Reza Khan (later Reza Shah Pahlavi), an officer in Iran's only military force (Cossack Brigade) used his troops to support a coup against the government of Qajar Dynasty. Within four years he had established himself as the most powerful person in the country by suppressing rebellions and establishing order. In 1925 a specially convened assembly deposed Ahmad Shah, the last ruler of the Qajar dynasty, and named Reza Khan, who earlier had adopted the surname Pahlavi, as the new shah.

Reza Shah had ambitious plans for modernizing of Iran. These plans included developing large-scale industries, implementing major infrastructure projects, building a cross-country railroad system, establishing a national public education system, reforming the judiciary, and improving health care. He believed a strong, centralized government managed by educated personnel could carry out his plans.

He sent hundreds of Iranians including his son to Europe for training. During 16 years from 1925 and 1941, Reza Shah's numerous development projects transformed Iran to industrial, urbanized country. Public education progressed rapidly, and new social classes-a professional middle class and an industrial working class –emerged but his dictatorial style of rule caused dissatisfaction.

Although Iran proclaimed as a neutral country in World War II, Britain and the USSR invaded Iran because of German engineers working in Iran. They arrested Reza Shah and sent him into exile. They also limited the constitutional government interfaces and permitted Reza Shah's son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi to succeed to the throne.

Reza Shah Pahlavi

Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Modern Age Iran

The Qajar Dynasty

The modern age starts in Iran with the Qajar dynasty (1794-1925). Although it was called the modern age but it was actually an age of poverty and misery in Iran. This long period saw Iran fall under the increasing pressure of European nations and steadily lose territory by the force of foreign countries. Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan were all parts of the Iranian territory which was lost in this period.

Although the Qajars succeeded in reuniting the country, they were generally weak and corrupt rulers. The economic and military gap between Iran and the West widened considerably under their reign especially in light of the Industrial Revolution that was taking place in the West. However, the Qajar period also enjoyed a high degree of artistic excellence, producing some of Iran's finest paintings, tile works and architectural monuments. An important event in this era is the rise of the constitutional movements in Iran. A constitution establishing a parliament was accepted by the shah in 1906.

The ceiling of Zinatolmolk Residence, Shiraz (Qajar era)

The Qajar royal crown

Friday, May 09, 2003

Although there are still much more to write about Iran’s geography (like tourist attractions, ancient sites, cities and much more) I will go on to Iran’s history for a while so that it doesn’t get boring. I will return to geography in the near future.

Ancient and middle age Iran

Iranians are descendants of Indo-Europeans who came from the Indian subcontinent about 2000 BC, although archaeological evidence indicates human habitation as early as 18,000 years ago in the plateau of Iran. In 549 BC, Cyrus the Great began to make Persia (as Iran was then known) into a great empire that encompassed parts of Eastern Europe, Egypt and India. In succeeding centuries, Persia first fell to Alexander the Great (333 BC) and later to Arabs, Turks and Mongols. In 1501, the country regained its political independence. The most lasting influence was from Arabs, who introduced Islam.

For a more detailed history of this era you can take a look at this website.

Portrait of a persian soldier engraved to stone in Perspolis (Takht-e-Jamshid) build about 500 B.C.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

The Caspian Sea

The Caspian Sea, which is the largest landlocked body of water in the world (424,240 sq. km.), lies some 85 feet below the sea level. It is comparatively shallow, and for some centuries has been slowly shrinking in size. Its salt content is considerably less than that of the oceans and though it abounds with fish, its shelly coasts do not offer any good natural harbors, and sudden and violent storms make it dangerous for small boats. The important ports on the Caspian coast are: Bandar Anzali, Noshahr, and Bandar Turkman.

The high Alborz Mountains, which seal off the narrow Caspian Plain, wring moisture from the clouds, trap humidity from the air, and create a fertile densely populated semitropical region with forests, swamps, and rice paddies. Temperatures may soar to 100 F (39 oC), the humidity to 98 per cent. Frost is rare.

Monday, May 05, 2003

The Persian Gulf

The Persian Gulf is the shallow marginal part of the Indian Ocean that lies between the Arabian Peninsula and south-east Iran. The sea has an area of 240,000 square kilometers. It is bordered on the north, north-east and east by Iran, on the north-west by Iraq and Kuwait, on the west and south-west by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, and on the south and south-east by the United Arab Emirates and partly Oman.

The most important islands of the Persian Gulf on the Iranian side are Kish and Qeshm. The notable ports on the Persian Gulf coast are: Abadan, Khorramshahr, Bandar Iman Khomeini, Mahshahr, Bushehr, Bandar Lengeh and Bandar Abbas.

The Persian Gulf has a notoriously bad climate. Temperatures are high, though winters may be quite cool at the north-western extremities. Humidity is high. The little cloud cover is more prevalent in winter than in summer. Thunderstorms and fog are rare, but dust storms and haze occur frequently in summer.
Until the discovery of oil in Iran in 1908, the Persian Gulf area was important mainly for fishing, pearling, the building of dhows, sailcloth making, camel breeding, reed mat making, date cultivating, and the production of other minor products, such as red ochre from the islands in the south. Today these traditional industries have declined, and the economy of the region is dominated by the production of oil.

The Persian Gulf and the surrounding countries produce approximately 31 per cent of the world's total oil production and have 63 per cent of the world's proven reserves. The Persian Gulf area will probably remain and important source of world oil for a long period.

Saturday, May 03, 2003


How much Arabic can you understand if you know Farsi?

How much French can you understand if you know English? Arabic is a totally different language but it has influenced Persian (Farsi) much after Islam came to Iran. Nowadays you can find many Arabic words in Persian but you can not understand Arabic well if you only understand Persian although you may understand some of the words. One of the courses that all Iranian students have in their middle and high school is Arabic.

How much do the different dialects differ?

There are so many different dialects spoken in Iran that I can not even count them. Some of them are so different from the common Persian that they seem to be a different language with different vocabulary and grammar (I am not an expert in linguistics). For example, Arabic is spoken in south-west, Azari (Turkish) is spoken in north-west, Kurdish is spoken in west, Gilaki is spoken in north and Balouchi is spoken in south-east.
There are many other dialects which are not so different from common Persian. The differences of these dialects are in some words and mainly in their strokes and stresses similar to the difference between the British and American accent. Main parts of central Iran speak in this kind of dialects.

Can an Iranian understand the Farsi spoken in Afghanistan?

The Persian spoken in Afghanistan is called “Dari Persian” which is a more ancient Persian than what is spoken n Iran. Although some of that vocabulary is forgotten in the common Persian spoken in Iran, but we can still understand it if they don’t speak too fast.

Friday, May 02, 2003


The vast deserts of Iran stretch across the plateau from the north-west, close to Tehran and Qom, for a distance of about 400 miles to the south-east and beyond the frontier. Approximately one-sixth of the total area of Iran is barren desert. The two largest desert areas are known as the Kavir-e-Lut and the Dasht-e-Kavir.
Dasht-e-Kavir covered by loose stones and sand, gradually merging into fertile soil on the hillsides. Where fresh water can be held, oases have existed from time immemorial, marking the ancient caravan routes.
Kavir-e-Lut is a salty land 200 miles long and half as wide. It remains unexplored, since its crust has been formed by large, sharp-edged salt masses which cover mud. Cut by deep ravines, it is virtually impenetrable.

The Arg-e Bam, An ancient citadel and ruined town near Kerman

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