What do you know about Iran? Here are 25 Interesting Facts about Iran and Iranians that you probably didn’t know before reading this.

To make this even more fun, I want to challenge you as well. How many of these Iran facts did you know before reading this? Share your results in the comment section!

Chelow Kabab is the national dish of Iran

Chelow Kabab is considered as the Iranian national dish and consists of cooked rice and various types of kebab. It’s delicious and definitely something you should try from the Persian cuisine. 

Chelow Kabab

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Iran is one of the oldest civilizations in the world

Historical and urban settlements in Iran dates back to 7000 years BC, making it one of the oldest continuous civilizations. For those interested in history and culture, there are lots of fascinating places to visit in Iran.

Iranians are not Arabs

One of the most common misconceptions about Iranians is the fact that many westerners label them as Arabs, just because they are Muslim. But in fact, Iranians are not Arabs since they have different ethnicity and ancestry. 

Additionally, ancient Persians were Zoroastrian before Islam became the dominating religion in the country. Even the language differs a lot from Arabic. Farsi is an Indo-European language and Arabic is Semitic.

Most Iranians are Persians, but other Iranian folk groups include Baloch, Gilaks, Kurds, Lurs, Mazanderanis, Ossetians, Pamiris, Pashtuns, Tajiks, the Talysh, Wakhis, and Yaghnobis.

Persian frescoes

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Oil and carpets are the main exports

Iranian carpets are famous worldwide and are well-renowned for their quality and beautiful appearance. So it might not be so surprising that carpets make up a great portion of the Iranian exports. Oil is another major contributor to the country’s economy. 

The majority of Iran’s population is younger than 30 years

Over 60% of the total population in Iran is under 30 years old.

Iran people

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Almost half of the country has a desert climate

Only 7% of the country is forested but it still ranks as the 13th most biodiverse country in the world with rich wildlife. Dasht-e-Kavir and Kavir-e-Lu are two Iranian deserts that are known for being some of the hottest and most arid areas on Earth.

There are 24 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Iranians can pride themselves on having some impressive landmarks and historic sites scattered around the country. In fact, a total of 24 sites have been listed as a World Heritage by UNESCO. 

Persepolis, Historic City of Yazd, Golestan Palace, and the Jāmé mosque are some of the most impressive World Heritage Sites in Iran.

World Heritage Sites in Iran

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Polo was first played in the Persian empire

Polo was originally a training game for cavalry units that was played in Persia as early as 500 years BC. Since then, Polo has spread worldwide and become quite a popular team sport. 

It’s one of the largest producers of saffron

The saffron production in Iran accounts for about 70% of the total saffron production worldwide. It’s also known as “the red gold” and is a popular ingredient in Persian food. Saffron has long been a luxury spice, and it’s usually very expensive to buy in most countries.

Iranian Saffron

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Internet is being censored by the government

Iranians are frequent social media users, but without a VPN, they’re blocked from accessing 50% of the top 500 visited websites in the world.

About 15,000 websites are blacklisted by the government, and in 2008, sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube got blocked as well.

Chai is a big part of daily life in Iran

Irani Chai plays a big role in everyday life for many Iranians. It’s a sweet milky tea that is traditionally served with biscuits. Tea is actually the most consumed beverage in the country.

Having some Irani Chai is a great opportunity to socialize with locals, and for the locals to get together and spend some quality-time.  

Iranian tea

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Iran is home to the highly endangered Asiatic cheetah

The Asiatic Cheetah is critically endangered, and experts believe that Iran is the only country in the world where it’s still in existence. How many Asiatic Cheetas there are left is unknown, and the latest number is fewer than 50 individuals that were sighted in 2017.

Wearing hijab is compulsory for all females

Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, wearing Hijab is compulsory for all Iranian women. In recent years, there have been various protests against this where some larger groups of women have refused to wear Hijab. 

However, contrary to other Muslim countries where Hijab is compulsory, Iranians usually don’t cover all their hair. It also varies from region to region how the law is being enforced.

Hijab law in Iran

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VISA and Mastercard are not accepted in Iran

Due to sanctions from the United States, none of the major credit cards works in Iran, including VISA and Mastercard, which are normally accepted worldwide. Instead, there’s a local credit card known as the Mah Card.

The capital of Iran is one of the most air-polluted cities

Tehran suffers from severe air pollution with some parts covered by smog, mostly due to a large number of cars. About 27 people are estimated to die every day from diseases that are related to pollution.

Currently, air pollution has reached levels in the red zone according to the Air Quality Index. In addition to cars, about 20% of the pollution comes from the industrial sector. 

Tehran

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5 x Fun Facts about Iran

  • The Persian cat is one of the oldest cats breeds
  • Iran has the nickname “nose job capital of the world”
  • Blowing your nose in public is considered rude
  • Men can be arrested for wearing shorts or being shirtless
  • Iranian Intelligence arrested 14 Squirrels for spying in 2007
Fun facts about Iran

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5 x Iran Facts for Kids

  • Football is the most popular sport in Iran
  • Iran is the 17th largest country in the world
  • The national sport is freestyle wrestling
  • Education is very important within Iranian culture
  • The Persian Empire spanned a distance of 5.5 million square kilometers at its peak
Iran facts for kids

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General Facts about Iran

Below are some general information such as total population, land area, biggest lake, highest mountain and other general facts about Iran that might be interesting to know.

  • Total Population: 82,9 million people
  • Capital: Tehran
  • Life expectancy: 75.95 years
  • Highest Mountain: Mount Damavand at 5,609.2 meters above the sea (18,403 ft)
  • Land area: 1,648,195 km2 (636,372 sq mi)
  • Largest Lake: Caspian Sea
  • National Day: 11 February
  • Government: Unitary Khomeinist presidential Islamic republic
  • Supreme Leader: Ali Khamenei
  • President: Hassan Rouhani
  • Currency: Rial (ریال) (IRR)
  • Official language: Persian (Farsi)
  • Religion: Islam
  • National song: جمهوری اسلامی ایران
  • Time zone: UTC+3:30 (IRST) and Summertime UTC+4:30 (IRDT)
  • Country Number/Prefix: +98
  • Country Code: IR
Information about Iran

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The Biggest Cities in Iran

If you’re looking for facts about Iran, it might also be interesting to know which are the biggest cities.

Tehran Tabriz
Mashhad Ahvaz
Isfahan Qom
Karaj Kermanshah
Shiraz Urmia

Flag of Iran

Iranian flag

Map of Iran

Iran Map

Photo: Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock


How many of these Iran Facts did you know beforehand? Share your result in the comment section below!