The country has always been known to its own people as Iran (land of Aryans) although for centuries it was referred to as Parsia (Pars or Fars, aprovince in southern Iran) by the Europeans, mainly due to the writings of Greek historians .In 1935 the government specified that it should be called Iran, however, in 1949 they allowed both name to be used.
Most people today, know Persia or Iran through its carpets, its costly war with its neighbor Iraq, or through its importance as one of the worlds major oil producing nation .Yet Persia has one of the richest and oldest caltures in the world.
For more than three thousand years Persia was a melting pot of civilization and demographics movements between Asia and Europe. Under Cyrus the great, it became the center of the worlds first Empire. Successive invasions by the Greeks, Arabs (7th centuries) Mongols and Turks (10 Th centuries) developed the nation culture through rich and diverse, philosophical, artist scientific and religious influences.
The Iranian minorities include the Azaris who from the largest minority at 25%, the Kurds at 9%, the Arabs at 4%, the Lors at 2% the Turkmen at 2% and the nomads (the Bakhtiais, the Blochies, the Qashgies), together with a few groups along the Caspian sea, such as Gilani, the Mazandarani and the Taleshi.
The national language of Iran is Parsian (Farsi). Other Iranian in Azarbayjan, Turkish Turkmen in the north -east, Arabic in Khozestan, Kordish, Baloch, Bakhtiari, and Lor.
More than half the population live in urban areas such as Tehran (almost 15%) Mashhad, Tabriz and the Shiraz with the remaining distributed through out its 66,000 villages, farms.
Some 98% of all Iranians are Muslims and over 90% of these belong the (shi ite) branch of Islam, other religious minorities include Sunnite, Christian, Bahie, Jewish and Zoroastrians