Iran History

By | March 8, 2021

Iran is a country located in the Middle East, bordered by Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to homosociety, it has a population of over 83 million people and an area of 1.648 million square kilometers. The capital city is Tehran while other major cities include Mashhad, Isfahan and Karaj. The official language is Persian but many other languages such as Azerbaijani and Kurdish are also spoken. The currency used in Iran is the Iranian Rial (IRR) which is pegged to the US Dollar at a rate of 1 IRR: 0.000024 USD. Iran has a rich culture with influences from both Persian and Islamic cultures, from traditional music such as classical Persian music to unique art forms like calligraphy. It also boasts stunning natural landscapes such as Alamut National Park and Golestan National Park which are home to an abundance of wildlife species.


Finds of stone tools, including the presence of hominids in Iran’s peripheral areas probably already dates to about 800,000-700,000 years ago, while very few evidence exists for settlements in the central highlands. From the Middle Paleolithic (100,000-40,000 BC), there are several cave settlements in the Zagros Mountains (including Ghar-i Khar, Varvasi and Kunji caves); contemporary finds from Iraq (compare Shanidar) suggest that the residents were Neanderthal people. Cave finds are also from younger Paleolithic, mainly in Zagros down to the lakes southeast of present-day Shiraz, but from about 10,500 BC. also in the Elburz Mountains (Ghar-i Kamarband).

Already during the 8000s BC villages with agriculture and livestock production grew on the slopes of the Zagros mountains, mainly thanks to the proximity to different ecological zones with varying nutritional resources. Important sites are Ganj Dareh, Ali Kosh and Tepe Guran. During the Neolithic, settlement spread over the lowlands and parts of the high plateau.

In western Iran’s lowlands, just as in Mesopotamia, an urban civilization gradually developed. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Iran. Its development began about 5500 BC and culminated in the Elamite empire, which in the 3000s BC became a centralized state with Susa as its capital. Already around 3000 BC a native script was used, which was replaced by wedge writing in the latter part of the 2000s BC. (compare Elam).

Findings show that extensive trade in copper, steatite, lapis lazuli and carnelian were conducted between Mesopotamia, Badakhshan in present-day Afghanistan and the Indus Valley during the 3000 and 2000 BC. Along the trade routes, cities with sometimes thousands of residents grew up: Tepe Sialk, Tepe Elevators, Tepe Yahya and the remarkably well-preserved Shahr-e Sokhta were significant centers. Parts of the trade were probably controlled by Elam. Ceramic finds indicate that the culture in eastern Iran was closely related to places like Altin-depe and Namazga-depe in Turkmenistan and Mundigak in Afghanistan.

During the period 2500-1000 BC Luristan was a significant center for bridge manufacturing; By plundering its rich burial ground, numerous weapons, jewelery and vessels have been distributed to the world’s museums.

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During the third millennium BC appeared in a foreign mold complex in northeastern Iran, characterized by a characteristic dark gray ceramic (Turang Tepe). From the middle of the following millennium, this culture of objects gradually spread west and south, which was linked to the Indo-European immigration. Parts of the find material from Marlik (from about 1350 BC) have sometimes been interpreted as a precursor to medical work.

The time around 1350-550 BC is considered Iran’s Iron Age. South of Lake Urmia, Ziwiye and Hasanlu were major centers in the kingdom of the Meneras around 1000-700 BC. To the west of Urmia there are remains from about 1200-700 BC. of heavily fortified settlements (eg Haftavan Tepe) which belonged to the kingdom of Urartu. Remains of medical settlements (c. 750 BC) have been found in Nush-i Djan and Godin Tepe.

Iran Life Expectancy 2021


Despite continual conflicts with Sumerians, Assyrians and Babylonians, the Elamite culture in southwestern Iran continued into the first millennium BC. About the historical development north and east of Elam is very little known before the immigration of Indo-European-speaking Iranian tribes into the highlands east of Mesopotamia. Their origins are described in mythical form in the untouchable religious record Avesta; their history and place-bound history first began in the 8th century BC

Domestic sources for Iran’s ancient history mainly consist of public (royal) inscriptions. Coherent depictions of political development can be found in Greek historians; especially at Herodotos, whose sometimes legendary works, however, rarely compress, simplify or misinterpret the events. Other important writers are Ktesias, Xenophon and Strabon; no actual domestic history writing was scarce in Iran before the Islamic conquest.

For names of acemenid rulers, the article uses the conventional Greek names (eg Xerxes instead of Khshayarshan); in parentheses follow transliterations of the ancient Persian names.

Medes and Persians

Assyrian annals state that King Salmanassar  III 843 BC took tax from 27 chiefs in the country of Parsua northeast of Mesopotamia; Eight years later, the country of Madai is similarly mentioned. Here the names of the oldest known Iranian peoples, the Medes and Persians, appear. It is likely that they began their immigration to the Iranian high plateau at the end of the second millennium BC. Their path from the Indo-Lithuanian common area is unclear. A traditional view has been that they went west of the Caspian Sea, while other researchers claimed that they went east and that the Iranian tribes the Assyrians first came into contact with only western outlets of a larger eastern and central Iranian immigration area.

The northern neighbor of Assyria was the hostile kingdom of Urartu, with which medical chiefs allied. A number of these were defeated by King Sargon  II (721-705 BC), and a certain Daiaukku (ancient Persian Dahyuka) was deported by him to Syria. Possibly Daiaukku was identical to the Deiokes who, according to Herodotos, founded the medical kingdom, had the capital Ekbatana built (ancient pers. Hagmatana, now Hamadan) and then ruled for 52 years. However, it is more likely that the medians united under Deioke’s son Fraortes (Fravartish), who adopted the throne name of Khshathrita and reigned according to Herodotus for 22 years (ca. 647-625 or 675-653 BC). During Fraortees, the Medes detached themselves from the Assyrian dominion, but at the same time came a wave of conquest from the north by Scythian and Kimmerian nomads. These crowded south, shook Urartu, and ruled for some time over the Media.

Fraortes was succeeded by his son Kyaxares (Huvakhshtra), who drove out the shooters; he is said to have ruled for 40 years (about 624-585 BC). Under Kyax’s government, Urartu was crushed, and medical power spread across eastern and southern Iran. In conjunction with the New Babylonian Empire and Elam, the Assyrians were also defeated, and their capital Nineveh was taken in 612 BC. Kyaxares was succeeded by his son Astyages (Babylonian Ishtuwegu), who ruled for about 35 years before he was overthrown by Kyros II, the founder of the Akemenid Empire.

It is not known whether the media had their own writing language. However, they conveyed Mesopotamian culture to their Persian kinsmen, who appear to have migrated into western Iran at about the same time. Probably already the above-quoted Parsua refers to the Persians, then as a term on some of the Media. A hundred years later, the Assyrian name Parsu (m) ash unequivocally denoted the Persian own land, now located in the district of Elam’s eastern capital, Anshan. In the 600s, the Persians seized power in eastern Elam and Parsa (Greek Persis, now Fars), the area that remained the Persian nuclear province to our day.

The Akemenids (549-331 BC)

As the leader of the Persians emerged the Akemenid dynasty, named after Achaimenes (Hakhamanish). Her son Teispes (Chishpish) was the first “great king of Anshan”. Under his sons Kyros (Kurush) and Ariaramnes (Ariyaramna), the dynasty was divided into two branches. Possibly Kyros accepted the Assyrian king Assurbanipal’s supremacy around 646 BC During the Cyrus son of Kambyses (Kambujiya), the Persian provinces obeyed the Medes. Kambyses’ son Kyros  II, who became king about 559 BC, turned against the medical great king Astyages. It was abandoned by its own, and Cyrus took Ekbatana 549 BC (Herodoto’s depiction of the course of events is entirely legendary.) The Akemenids, who have already taken up Elamite ruling card traditions, now took over a large kingdom with established administration; on this, Kyros (“the great”) and his successor built one of the greatest and best organized empires of ancient times.

Cyrus defeated 547 BC the Lydian king Kroisos and captured Sardes. The rest of Asia Minor was conquered, and Babylon fell without battle 539. Finally, Susa was captured, and the Elamite kingdom was wiped out. Cyrus resided in Ekbatana and the Pasargadae founded by him in Parsa. During an expedition to the massacres east of the Caspian Sea 530 BC he fell, according to legend in conflict with the Queen of the Massages, Tomyris.

Cyrus was buried in Pasargadae and succeeded by his son Kambyses  II, who expanded the kingdom by conquering Egypt in 525 BC. A rebellion in Iran forced Cambyses to return home, but he died on the road, probably in Palestine, 522 BC. The Gaumata midfielder now sought to seize power by pretending to be Cambyses’ brother Bardiya, but he was shortly overthrown by Dareios (Darayavahush), a prince on the sidelines after Ariaramnes. The inscription Dareios I had set up in Bisutun describes how he brought order in the kingdom, which now extended from the Bosphorus to Indus and from Transoxania to Egypt.

The Akemenids worshiped the god Ahuramazda; whether they were also Zoroastrians is not known. The kingdom was ruled from Susa, and near Pasargadae a new ceremonial capital, Persepolis, was erected. Local rulers were allowed to stay as vassals in the conquered countries, but the kingdom was divided into some twenty provinces, subordinate to Persian governors, satraps. Tax collection was controlled by a central administration, and an imperial law was maintained in parallel with local jurisdiction. Professional armies were subordinate to the great king and the satrapers.

Dareios extended the kingdom all the way to Thrace and Macedonia in the west. A Revolt in Joni 499 BC led to a conflict with the city states of Greece, which culminated when a Persian punishment expedition was defeated at the Marathon outside Athens 490 BC. Preparations for an attack on Greece were disrupted by a revolt in Egypt in 486 BC, followed by Dareios’ death the same year. His son Xerxes I (Khshayarshan) inherited a kingdom that was at the height of his power.

Xerxes defeated the uprising in Egypt and a revolt in Babylonia and invaded 480 BC Greece. After initial successes (Athens was burned), the Persian fleet was defeated at Salamis, whereupon Xerxes returned home, while one here under his sister Mardonios (Marduniya) remained in Greece. After the defeat of Plataiai and Mykale the following year, the Persians finally withdrew from Europe; however, they continued to exert influence on Greek politics through alliances and subsidies (compare Greece, History and the Persian Wars).

Xerxes was murdered, probably in Persepolis, 465 BC Under his son Artaxerxes I (Artakhshassa), who reigned until 424 BC, the territory of the empire was kept somewhat intact, but Egypt revolted again, and an agreement with Athens around 450 BC. gave the Ionian cities greater freedom of action (compare Kallias).

After a brief interlude of Xerxes  II, Dareios II (423-404 BC) followed , during which the economic downturn became apparent. Concerns were heightened by a war of succession between the brothers Artaxerxes  II and Kyros dy, which ended with the latter falling near Babylon in 401 BC. In doing so, Egypt liberated itself. A revolt of the satraps in the west occupied Artaxerxes until he was assassinated in 359 BC. His son Ochos, by the throne name Artaxerxes  III, choked off the ever more powerful satrapers and recaptured Egypt 343 BC. The ancient kingdom was thus largely restored. Artaxerxes  III was murdered 338 BC, his son Arses 336. A prince on the sidelines, Dareios  III Kodomannos, took over as Grand King.

At the head of a Macedonian-Greek coalition army, Macedonia’s King Alexander III led  in the spring of 334 BC a campaign against the Persian Empire. After Persian defeats at Granikos (334), Issos (333) and Gaugamela (331), resistance was broken; Babylon and Susa gave up without a fight, and Persepolis was burned (possibly by accident). Dareios fled east, but was assassinated by the satirist Bessos. The Macedonian king was the ruler of Iran.

Hellenistic Iran (331-129 BC)

When Alexander 324 BC returned to Susa after the train to Indus, his empire had the same extent as the Akemenidic under Dareios I. Alexander deliberately sought to restore this kingdom under Macedonian-Greek-Persian leadership, took over management systems and court ceremonies, and encouraged his men to enter the conquered countries. However, the large-scale fusion of peoples and cultures he wanted to implement led to opposition among his own and in the Greek military colonies he deployed in the provinces. The empire had not taken firm shape when he died in Babylon 323 BC. (compare Alexander the Great).

Alexander’s general Seleukos now took power in the eastern parts of the empire. After the Battle of Ipsos 301 BC his kingdom included the territory from Syria to India. A new capital, Seleukia, was founded at Tigris. From there and from Antioch, the Seleucid dynasty ruled. During Seleukos’ son Antiochus I, the eastern provinces of Bactria and Parthia were set free. The Satrap in Bactria, Diodotos, dates to about 240 BC. the basis of an independent Greek-Bactrian kingdom.

Antiochos’ son, Seleukos  II, tried unsuccessfully to recapture Parthien. His own son, Antiochus  III, was, however, a tireless warrior; his campaign brought him to Armenia in the north, the borders of the Indian Moorish kingdom to the east, the Arabian peninsula to the south, and finally to Greece, from where he was, however, driven by the Romans.

The Macedonian-Greek immigration to Iran led to the establishment of Greek colonies and new mixed-population cities. Eventually, however, Hellenization erupted, and the Hellenistic elements were integrated into a more general ancestral Oriental culture. Characteristic was the loose cohesion of the provinces by the Seleucids.

Partherna (171 BC – 226 AD)

About 250 BC Parner, a horseman related to the Scythians, settled in Parthien: they came to be called Parther. Their leader Arsakes (Arshak) gave the name to the dynasty that undermined most of Iran during the following century. The Arsakids era dates back to 247 BC, but the first ruler that can be historically located is Mithradates I (c. 171-138 BC), who conquered the western provinces and created a new capital, Ktesiphon, near Seleukia. His son Fraates  II, through his victory over Antiochus  VII 129 BC. finally eliminated the selukids from Iran but fell in battle with Central Asian nomads. The same fate befell his successor, Artabanos  II.

Mithradates  II (123-87 BC) was more successful. He halted the Tokharas at Marv (in present-day Turkmenistan), after which they founded the Kushan kingdom east of Iran (compare Kushana), and also managed to keep the striking things east of Herat. In the west, Mithradates appointed the Armenian King Tigranes and guarded his interests against the expanding Roman Empire. Following him were weak rulers who competed with Rome for Armenia and the Euphrates.

Fraates  III may have reached an agreement with the Roman warlord Pompey on the interests of the two kingdoms, but already during the reign of Orodes  II, a Roman army was destroyed during Crassus by the prince Surenas at Harran 54 BC. Fraates  IV (37-2 BC) successfully defended himself against the Romans, who in August chose to pursue a peaceful policy. Artabanos  III (c. 10-38 AD) maintained peace with Rome through a compromise on Armenia, but the empire suffered from internal unrest. Some stabilization occurred during Vologase I (51-80 AD), but then the split increased.

The war’s fortunes alternated during Vologases  II (105-147) and Vologases  III (148-192). The Romans invaded Armenia and entered Ktesipon 117, 165 and 198 AD Vologases  IV (192-207) was followed by his son Vologases  V, after civil strife 213-216 deposed by his younger brother Artabanos  V. This was attacked by the Romans under Emperor Caracalla, who was, however, murdered by his own 217.

The Sasanids (226-651 AD)

The Parthians had inherited from the Seleukids a system of loosely cohesive vassal states and never succeeded in uniting them into a centralized state. The individual provinces followed their own lines of development: Persian-speaking culture lived on in Parsa, and a local dynasty ruled in Stakhr near Persepolis. It bore the name of Sasan, according to legend, a descendant of the Akemenids. About 208 AD the sasanid Papak became vassal during the Parthian great king, but his son Ardashir, who succeeded him about 224, defeated Artabanos  V and was crowned about 226 himself king.

Ardashir united the kingdom, introduced a centralized administration and created a strong army. The kingdom’s external enemies, led by the Arsakidian king of Armenia and the ruler of Kushan, were defeated. The son Shapur I (240-272) inherited a strong, Persian-dominated Iran and expanded in the east by conquering Kushan and in the west by taking parts of Syria from the Romans. In the year 260, Emperor Valerian was captured in Edessa and sent captive to Iran. During Shapur, religious founder Mani (compare Manikeism) appeared, who received some support from the great king. After his death in 272, however, Mani was imprisoned and later executed. Shapur was succeeded by his two sons Hormizd I (272) and Varahran (Bahram) I (273), during which the Zoroastrian reaction to Manicheanism, Christianity and Buddhism broke through.

During Varahran  II (276-293), his successor Narseh and Hormizd  II (302-309), waged wars with Rome in the west and the Cushans in the east. During the long reign of Shapur  II (309-379), the Kushan dynasty was able to reestablish its kingdom at first, but at an old age, Shapur defeated the Kushan people and appointed a Sasanid governor of Baktra (now Balkh, Afghanistan). The Sasanidic influence is now spreading in Central Asia all the way to China’s borders. In the west, Constantine’s conversion to Christianity meant closer contacts between the Roman Empire and Christian Armenia. The front line in the west thus became a frontier against Christianity, and the Christians in Iran were persecuted.

During the period 379-531, Iran was plagued by war and internal unrest, and the power of the nobility increased at the expense of the unity of the kingdom. Fighting was ongoing with the East Roman Empire and against the Heftalites in northeastern Iran. The latter even succeeded in capturing King Peroz (459-484), who could be redeemed first with the support of Constantinople, and for a long time the Hephalitic kings had a decisive influence in Iran. During Kavad (488-531), a religious-revolutionary movement of the disputed nature was founded by Mazdak, which contributed to a social restructuring (compare Mazdakism).

Kavad’s son Khusrov (Greek Chosroes) In Anoshirvan (531-579), he was perhaps the foremost Sasanian ruler; his long reign has been considered an Iranian golden age. So, as in a short war 540, peace prevailed on the western front, and in the east, the Heftalites were overcome and Iran’s border was restored to Oxus. In the south, Yemen was annexed. Khusrov’s son Hormizd  IV (579-590) happened to conflict with his victorious General Varahran (Bahram) Chobin, which led to his fall. Hormizd’s son, Khusrov  II Parvez (591-628), defeated Chobin with Byzantine assistance, leaving Armenia to resign.

Twenty years later, Khusrov invaded the Byzantine Empire and triumphed on all fronts: he reached the Bosphorus and conquered Antioch, Damascus and Jerusalem, and Egypt. However, the Byzantine emperor Herakleios went against the attack and besieged Ktesiphon. Khusrov was murdered by his own, leaving behind a kingdom in chaos, a condition which continued under the successors of Kavad  II, Ardashir  III, Boran and others. The last Sasanid king, Yazdagerd  III(632-651), fought in vain to keep the kingdom together. Both the Byzantine Empire and Iran, after centuries of bloody war, were weakened by the unexpected attack by the Arabian Peninsula. Muslim armies defeated the Sasanids first at Qadisiya 637 and then at Nihavand 642. Yazdagerd fled east but was murdered in Marv 651. Iran was placed under the caliphate.

Iran after the Arab conquest

For nearly nine hundred years after the Arab conquest of about 637, Iran became part or parcel of a variety of changing state formation. One sign that Zoroastrianism may not have been particularly entrenched among the broader masses is that the conquerors’ religion, Islam, of all judgments, made significantly faster progress in Iran than in Christian Syria and Egypt. The newly converted mawali(‘clients’), however, for a long time had difficulty obtaining the same privileges as the Arabs, which during the Umayyad Caliphate (661-750) created a growing dissatisfaction. The great revolt that broke out in eastern Iran in 748 and led to Abbas’ 749 power was largely driven by newly converted Iranians. With the Abbasids victory, the center of the caliphate was moved to Mesopotamia, and the new capital Baghdad was erected just north of Ktesiphon. Persian-born officials and ancient Persian views and institutions left their mark on the further development of the Caliphate.

The personal power of the caliphs was totally undermined in the 9th century, and they came under military rule. From 945 to 1055, it was a Persian Shiite prince, the Buyids, who held the post of commander, with their own Northern Iranian troops as the base of power. They divided Mesopotamia and the western half of Iran. Since the beginning of the 9th century, eastern Iran and the West Turkestan were ruled by another Persian prince, the Sami. Their court in Buchara became a cultural center, where began to be written in Nypersian. Towards the end of the century, Turkish ex-slave general Seb邦ktegin established himself as the lord of eastern Iran and Afghanistan and became the progenitor of the ghaznavids. From the 1030s, a Turkish conqueror, the Seljuks, who defeated Sami, Ghaznavids and finally Buyids appeared and took over their kingdoms. Baghdad was conquered in 1055,sultan (Arabic, ‘power’). Iran was now the most important part of the Seljuq Sultanate, which from the 1070s extended from Anatolia and Syria to the borders of China and India. Although the ruling family was Turkish dominated Persian culture and Persian language throughout the empire, and the civilian officials were also Persians.

After Sultan Malik Shah’s death in 1092, the kingdom began to be divided into less fully or partially independent national formations, so-called atabegatter. After the last significant Seljuq sultan Sanjar’s death in 1157, most of Iran became part of a new Turkish-controlled great power, the Khwarezm Sha’a kingdom, which was crushed by the Mongols under the Genghis Khan in the 1220s. The Iranian area was largely conquered in 1231, but Djingi’s grandson H邦leg邦 continued the conquests west. In 1258, Baghdad fell, and the last caliph was executed. During H邦leg邦 and his successors as Ilkhans, Mesopotamia-Iran-West Turkestan became a near enough independent Mongol empire that existed until 1335. The ruling Mongols were initially Buddhists or Nestorian Christians but were Islamized from the 1290s. Agriculture in Iran had suffered severely during the conquest period, but around the turn of the 1300s a recovery took place. Above all, the Mongol era saw a boost to the transit trade across Iranian territory. favored Italian merchants who set up offices in the capital, Tabriz.

After the collapse of the Mongol dynasty, Iran and the rest of the kingdom were divided into several smaller state formations. These were swallowed up by the end of the 1300s by Timur Lenk’s Iranian-Central Asian empire, which was divided after his death in 1405. In the eastern parts of Herat, the Timurid dynasty remained until the early 1500s; it consisted of remarkably peaceful and culturally loving princes, who favored theology, miniature painting and poetry. In the western half of Iran, a Turkmen Confederation, Kara Koyunlu (‘Black Sheep’, 1406-68), established itself as ruler but was replaced by another tribal federation, Ak Koyunlu (‘White Sheep’), which until the early 1500s the century came to rule throughout Iran, Mesopotamia and eastern Anatolia.

Iran during the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736)

From 1500, a new ruler, Ismail, emerged the hereditary leader of a Shiite dervish chord. Ismail, supported by a federation of eight Turkmen tribes, defeated Ak Koyunlu, was crowned Shah and conquered within a few years the whole of Iran, the Caucasus region and about half the current Afghanistan. In doing so, he became the founder of the Safavid dynasty, whose regime has often been completely unfounded as a carrier of a “Persian nation-state”. In fact, it was an extreme theocracy, supported by Turkmen who ruled over a majority of Persians, whose political significance was low. In 1503, Shia (Twelfth Sham) was declared a state religion. The Shah was considered to represent “the hidden imam,” the sole bearer of both religious and political authority, who would return in time to save the world. His power was absolute, and all land within the realm was considered his personal property. As a result, the upper-class land holdings were very unstable, and properties could be confiscated at any time. Towards the end of the dynasty, however, the significance of the Shah diminished, which was taken over by the theologians-jurists (ulama).

The political and cultural heyday of the Safavid Empire came under Shah Abbas I (1588-1629), which made Esfahan the capital. Foreign policy was constantly hostile to the Ottoman Empire. During numerous wars between them, the provinces of Baghdad and Basra changed owners several times, in order to finally become Ottoman in 1639. In the army and among the higher officials, the Turkmen were pushed aside during Abbas I’s time and replaced by slave militiamen, recruited among the Christian people of the Caucasus (Armenians, Georgians).

Iran during the Qajar dynasty (1796-1925)

Uprising among Sunni tribes, Russian and Ottoman meddling, and fighting between various faithful dependents of 1722 caused a chaotic state, which however came to a temporary end in 1736. A Turkmen military of simple descent proclaimed ruler by the name of Nader Shah and made rapid and extensive conquests, i.e. in India, for a time again Iran to a great power. The weakness was that everything was built around the person of the Shah. At his death in 1747, everything collapsed, and political chaos reigned for half a century.

Under these conditions, the leader of the Turkmen Qajar tribe in 1796 was able to proclaim the Shah. The new dynasty would sit on the Iranian throne until 1925. Most of the Qajar Shahs viewed Iran as their personal property, whose resources they could use at their own discretion. Under them, the board and administration ceased to exist in the proper sense. From the middle of the 19th century you can also not talk about any centralized army. The only armed forces were the various nomad tribes, which made up perhaps 1/4 of the population. (The nomad tribes were divided among themselves, and Iran has had a very diverse population composition since the 11th century. Persian speakers have always been in the majority, but various Turkish-speaking groups have been equally important.)

The defenseless country naturally attracted powerful neighbors. During the Napoleonic Wars, Russia had seized Iran’s Caucasian and Trans-Caucasian possessions, and after a new war, the border was moved down to the Aras River in 1828, a border that still exists. In the east, the kingdom had been decimated by the emergence of the independent emirate of Afghanistan from 1747. Through the Russian conquest of the three Khanates of Buchara, Chiva and Kokand (completed in 1876) and the subsequent annexation of the steppe area east of the Caspian Sea, Iran also shared a common border with Russia. here. In the absence of functioning central power, the Shiite religious officials, the mullahs, would play an increasingly important role. The elite among them were the so-called mujtahid, those who, by virtue of extraordinary teaching and piety, were accorded full spiritual authority. In accordance with Shiite ideology, they were considered to represent the hidden imam. The Qajard dynasty was considered purely usurpators in clerical circles.

The regime and corruption during Shah Naser ad-Din’s long reign (1848-96) invited Russia and Britain to constantly interfere in Iran’s internal affairs. Through a headless policy, the Shah made the country more and more indebted. In order to raise money in the short term, he sold the country’s natural resources to foreigners. The long-simmering dissatisfaction with the delusion came to an outbreak in 1906 in a bloodless revolution. The clerical leaders and merchants, through a gigantic demonstration and with some support from the British Shah Muzaffar ad-Din, forced to make the country a constitutional monarchy. According to the constitution, the legislative power was assigned to the elected National Advisory Assembly (Majlis), to which Ministers would also be responsible. However, each bill must be reviewed by a theological committee before it could go through. The new Shah, Mohammad Ali, had sworn to obey the constitution but opposed the reformists. With the help of Russian troops, he carried out a coup d’谷tat in 1908 and dissolved the parliament. Now a civil war was taking place where the strongest support for constitutionalism came from the Turkish-speaking population of Azarbaijan and from the Bakhtiyar tribe, whose chief was insulted by the Shah. Russian troops moved into the country and besieged Tabriz. Meanwhile, the long British-Russian rivalry over influence over Iran had come to an end. In 1907, the two major powers entered into an agreement in which they divided Iran into a Russian area of interest in the north and a British in the south.

The revolt against the Shah spread to large parts of the country, and Mohammad Ali fled to Russia in 1909. He was declared deposed and succeeded by a minor son. Constitutionalism seemed to have triumphed, but was in reality limited by strong Russian pressure. The only working military force was the Russian-controlled Cossack regiment. When the First World War broke out in 1914, Iran declared itself neutral, but was occupied until 1919 by conflicting Russian and Turkish troops in the north and by British in the south.

Iran during the Pahlavid dynasty (1925-79)

In February 1921, the commander of the Cossack regiment seized power in Iran through a coup d’etat. In 1925, he proclaimed himself to Iran’s new king, Riza Shah, and thus founded the Pahlavi dynasty. Riza Shah shunned all the political freedoms and rights that the constitutional revolution of 1906 had achieved. He wanted to modernize Iran and build a strong state based on a European model. The educational and judicial systems were reformed according to European model and a Persian nationalism which turned to Islam was undermined. Islam was identified as an inferior Semitic religion that was an obstacle to progress in Iran. National chauvinist rhetoric had a strong racist undertone that drew inspiration from Nazi Germany.

In 1935, the Shah banned Iranian women from wearing veils in public places, dressed as European women. State anti-Islamic measures met resistance, but protests were brutally defeated. The Allies invaded Iran in August 1941, and the king was forced to abdicate from the throne and replaced by the Crown Prince, Mohammad Riza. After the invasion of 1941, limited political freedoms were allowed. Parties, trade unions and press were allowed to operate in the country.

Nationalization of the Iranian oil

After the fall of Riza Shah, a struggle between various social groups and political interests started to determine the new political system in Iran. Liberal groups and various leftist groups wanted to rebuild the country. However, these forces were not alone on the political scene, and Western states played a crucial role in the country. Efforts to determine the new political system in Iran went in two directions. On the one hand stood the groups that wanted to recreate an authoritarian state power and on the other there was a mix of reform-friendly groups. The formation of a political coalition consisting of national liberal and democratic forces and the founding of a Soviet-supported Iranian Communist Party, the Tudeh Party, were two important and, for the most part, opposing elements of the reform-friendly grouping.

The national front – a coalition consisting of a loosely composed alliance of liberals, various democratic and social democratic forces, nationalists and religious groups – formed government after the war. Its main objective was to fight despotism, form a constitutional rule of law and fight the political and economic influence of foreign states in Iran.

The British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company’s continued holding of Iran’s oil resources aroused strong anti-British sentiment. The work of consolidating a constitutional rule of law continued in parallel with the fight against Western states’ interests in Iran.

Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq was in charge of the nationalization of Iran’s oil resources. In March 1950, the Iranian Parliament decided to nationalize all of Iran’s natural resources, including the oil. Britain objected to nationalization and brought the matter to the International Court, which ruled in favor of Iran. The British responded by imposing an oil embargo on Iran. Mosaddeq tried in vain to win US support for its policy.

The last shah of Iran

In August 1953, the government of Mosaddeq was overthrown in a military coup funded and organized by Britain and the United States. After the coup, the Shah was reinstated as a one-ruler. The coup d’谷tat was a great disappointment to most intellectual and national liberal politicians and gave the wind the sails for the Western critical votes. Extreme leftist movements and Islamist groups that used armed struggle, violence and terror in their opposition to the shah were now fighting for revolutionary social upheavals.

In the early 1960s, the Shah passed a land reform set by the Kennedy administration as a condition for continued support for the Iranian regime. The reform was to be carried out with a preventive purpose in order to safeguard the sovereignty of the Shah against revolving revolutions. The Shah used land reform, also called the White Revolution, to outmaneuver their political rivals and thereby strengthen their own position. One of the loudest critics was the militant Ayatollah Khomeyni who protested against the mismanagement of the country’s economy, corruption and widespread poverty. When the Shah granted US citizens active in Iran legal immunity, the protests escalated. The immunity meant that American citizens who committed crimes in Iran could not be brought to trial by Iranian courts. Khomeyni described this as a capitulation to foreign power and accused the shah of being the head of state for a sovereign Muslim state having waived the right to jurisdiction in its own territory during peacetime.

Although Khomeyni’s protests were political in nature, there were religious leaders who attacked the Shah’s reforms on female suffrage. These were of the opinion that the right to vote would involve women’s involvement in the affairs of society, which would in turn be accompanied by a number of “unacceptable consequences”. In March 1963, the police opened fire on protesters who, at the urging of religious leaders, demonstrated against the Shah. Hundreds of people were killed and in the holy city of Qom, the police attacked a religious school, resulting in many dead and injured students. In an emotionally charged speech, Khomeyni explained that the Shah personally bore responsibility for the massacre. He described the attack on the school as an abuse of Islam. Khomeyni was exiled after this speech. From his exile in Iraq, Khomeyni launched the doctrine of the jurists’ rule,velayat-e faqih, which assumed that the scholars would take over political and world power and introduce a theocratic form of government.

The Shah crushed all political opposition and dismissed democracy and human rights as something irrelevant and, like his father, invested in transforming Iran into an economic and military superpower.

The Islamic Republic of Iran (from 1979)

From 1978, protests against the Shah’s regime increased. Ayatolla Khomeyni urged from his exile to mass demonstrations, general strike, mass deserters from the armed forces, etc. The Shah’s attempt to defeat the civilian mass movement failed, and he fled the country in January 1979.

With the Islamic Revolution in February 1979, Khomeini’s ideas about the rule of the learned were transformed into a state-bearing ideology. What was clear was that the country would become a theocracy. This was reflected in the fact that religion, its educational and moral systems and religiosity would apply to all members of society. This resulted in a strict moralism that was about putting the religion’s mark on both individual and public life.

In April 1979, a referendum was held in which the election stood between two alternatives: Islamic Republic and Monarchy. An overwhelming majority voted for the first alternative. A new constitution that gave the religious leaders the highest executive power was approved by a referendum. Iran’s new regime was theocratic, but contained some democratic elements. In this form of government, there was room for conducting general elections to the parliament, local city council and the presidential office, but at the same time there were institutions that could block a conventional democratic process before the election. One example is the Guardian Council, whose members are appointed by the highest spiritual leader.

The 1979 constitution gave Ayatolla Khomeyni the role of the country’s highest leader with a number of important powers. However, this form of governance came from the very beginning with difficult problems. The reason was that those who were united in the fight against the Shah’s regime represented various interest groups, political factions and ideologies. The struggle was between Islamist groups, religiously innovative groups, religiously traditional groups, secular groups, various leftist groups, ethnic groups and others. It was clear early on that these political interests could not hold the same. Various left-wing groups and ethnic separatist groups took up arms against the central power. Common to the separatist and armed groups was that they used terror, political murders and bombings in their fight against the Islamist groups. Their terror was met by an even harder counterterror, summary executions and long detention. The government side came out victorious in this bloody battle.

In November 1979, a group of radical Muslim students occupied the US embassy in Tehran, demanding that the United States extradite the former monarch who had applied to the United States.

On September 22, 1980, Iran was attacked (see also Iraq-Iran War). Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein exploited the chaos in Iran after the revolution to strengthen his position in the region. He used unconventional methods in his warfare using, among other things, chemical weapons and terrorist bombings of civilian housing areas far behind the front line. The advance of the Iraqi army was stopped, among other things. with the help of religious mass mobilization. The war ended in the summer of 1988. The two countries’ troops then stood in the same places as before the outbreak of the war.

After the war ended, a new era started in Iran. Now the country would be built up through major economic projects and normalization of relations with the outside world. Soon, however, a new crisis came. In February 1989, Ayatollah Khomeyni issued a (dead) fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie for his book “The Satanic Verses” and accused him of denouncing Islam’s prophet. Fatwan was a severe setback for the forces that wanted to normalize relations with the outside world.

Ayatolla Khomeyni passed away in June 1989 and his successor Sayyed Ali Khamenei was appointed by the so-called Expert Council. Until a short time before Ayatollah Khomeini’s death, it was thought that the great Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri (1922-2009) would succeed him, but he was dethroned and placed under house arrest for his sharp criticism of the totalitarian elements of the form of government. He criticized the human rights abuses and was particularly critical of the summary and extrajudicial executions of political prisoners during the 1980s. Montazeri demanded that the form of government of the jurists should be abolished and replaced with a new one, where the legitimacy of state power is taken from the ballot boxes and where all citizens’ freedoms and rights are respected.

Reformists versus conservatives

The crack that emerged within the top echelon of Iran revealed a dividing line between conservative, traditionalist and Islamist groups, as well as reform-friendly groups. The crack was made even more visible in the 1997 and 200 presidential elections. In two rounds, an overwhelming majority voted for reform-friendly Mohammad Khatami, whose reform efforts were effectively blocked by the Guardian Council, the conservative judiciary and other so-called non-electoral bodies.

Khatami also tried to normalize relations with the West. His government reached an agreement with the Western countries on Iran’s nuclear program. Iran stopped parts of the program and in return it would receive security guarantees and financial “carrots”. None of these countermeasures were met. Nevertheless, the Khatami government was helpful when the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Two years later, his government sent a conciliatory letter to the Bush administration in the United States containing several proposals to put hostilities aside, but the US government showed little interest. Khatami’s adversity in foreign policy and the disappointment of the Iranian electorate paved the way for hard-line conservative forces to return to power.

In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office and shortly thereafter the old agreement on the termination of the nuclear program was revoked. Ahmadinejad claimed that the Western countries had not delivered what was expected of them. In order not to suffer the same fate as Iraq and Afghanistan, it would counter US policy in the Middle East and strengthen the country’s military capabilities. Support for groups such as Palestinian Hamas, Hizbullah in Lebanon, Shiite groups in Iraq or cousins in Afghanistan were part of this policy.

In the area of domestic politics, the social climate has hardened significantly. This now included not only dissimilar thinking, but equally reform-minded groups. Censorship, violations of human rights and interference with people’s privacy increased.

Iran’s new nuclear program has led to increased pressure from the outside world. Unemployment and inflation skyrocketed. The economic deterioration and the toughening political climate contributed to the emergence of a bloated dissatisfaction in the country. This was most evident in connection with the 2009 presidential election. Despite the massive support for the reform-friendly counter-candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, Ahmadinejad was announced as the winner of the election. The question marks surrounding the election led to extensive protest actions. These were brutally defeated by the riot police and the paramilitary Basij militia organized by the Revolutionary Guard. Over a hundred protesters died and a few thousand were imprisoned. Many journalists, senior politicians and officials in the reform-friendly camp were arrested and subjected to brutal torture and sexual abuse. Prominent politicians were forced to make confessions in rail litigation. The government blamed the protest movement that went under the namethe green movement to be governed by western states to implement a velvet revolution in Iran.

The brutal treatment of protesters and the abuses against the prisoners led to even more extensive protests. High-ranking religious authorities such as the Storayatollas Montazeri and Sanei condemned the brutal treatment of the political prisoners and rejected the forced confessions. They rejected the election results, explaining that Ahmadinejad’s government lacked legal support and religious legitimacy.

The widespread popular protests, the religious leaders’ protests and the fact that the political opposition is led by high-ranking politicians who once belonged to the inner core of the Islamic Republic have exposed the deep crack that has arisen within the Islamic Republic three decades after the Islamic Revolution.. These groups should include secular women’s organizations that work against discriminatory legislation against women, the labor movement that fights against injustice against workers and a number of other groups.

Voters act

Unlike the development during the Arab Spring, when popular protests forced dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt, for example, the Iranian regime succeeded in defeating the green opposition and its leaders Mousavi and Karroubi were placed under house arrest. There were many similarities between the protests in Iran in 2009 and developments in the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) during the early stages of the Arab Spring. It was young and well educated who led the protests, which used social media to break the unilateral reporting of the events. Another similarity was the reaction of the rulers to the demonstrations. They responded to the protests with brutal force. Representatives of power condemned the protests in arrogant terms and made allegations of foreign involvement.

There, however, the similarities between the protests in Iran in 2009 and the popular protests in the Arab spring end. While protesters in Arab countries agreed behind slogans like “The People Want to Overthrow the System”, the opposition in Iran was divided. Parts of the green opposition wanted to change the political system from within and cited the Iranian constitution as the basis for reforms in the country. Other groups wanted to replace it with something else. The Iranian regime used the divide in the opposition to its advantage. Another difference was the actions of the armed forces. In Tunisia, the military refused to shoot sharply at protesters and in Egypt the military emerged as the institution that would fill the void after the fall of dictator Mubarak. In Iran, the regular military forces were away from the political scene, while the Revolutionary Guard and its paramilitary Basijmilis took a very active part in defeating the protests.

Another difference between the protests in Iran and the civil uprising in Tunisia and Egypt was that in the latter countries, large sections of the population succeeded. They carried out extensive general strikes, which eventually got the authoritarian authorities to fall. In Iran, the divided opposition did not succeed. Another difference is the behavior of religious leaders and institutions. A majority of religious leaders and institutions supported the protests against the authoritarian regimes in the MENA region, but in Iran only a handful of religious leaders protested the regime’s brutal treatment of protesters.

Prior to the 2013 presidential election, the arch-conservative Guardian Council sold hard among the candidates. None of those approved by the Guardian Council challenged theocratic form of government in Iran. During the election campaign, the reform-friendly and conservative pragmatic forces united behind candidate Hassan Rohani, who is known to be an experienced politician and bureaucrat with strong ties to the inner circle of power in Iran. It was during his time as chief negotiator that Iran in 2003 reached an agreement with Western countries to stop its uranium enrichment program.

Rohani was supported by reform-friendly President Khatami and Pragmatic President Rafsanjani. This proved to be a successful concept as a majority of voters cast their votes on the candidate who clearly distanced himself from the politics of conservative and populist camps. The election of Rohani was a distinct protest against the policies of the country’s top leadership in recent years. The protests were aimed at increasing political oppression and human rights violations as well as the confrontational foreign policy that led to the country’s international isolation. This was particularly evident in the joy scenes that took place around the country after the election results were published on June 15, 2013. Over eighteen million voters or just over 50 percent had voted for Rohani.

The election result was also a strong mark against the disastrous economic policies of the Iranian government. Ahmadinejad had promised in his populist election campaigns to distribute the large oil revenue among the Iranian public. However, his policy of cash subsidies to households had not reached the desired effect. According to official statistics, rents increased during Ahmadinejad’s eight years as president by 354 percent. At the same time, house prices increased by 320 percent. Prices of food items such as meat, fish, eggs, milk and cheese rose by 53 percent during Ahmadinejad’s last year in power. The price increases, together with inflation figures of more than 30 percent and high unemployment, led to widespread dissatisfaction with economic policy.

Ahmadinejad’s confrontation policy towards the outside world and, above all, the dispute over Iran’s nuclear technology program was one of the main reasons behind the deteriorating economic situation. The economic sanctions imposed by the US and the EU hit hard on the Iranian economy. The sanctions were not effective enough to hinder the Iranian government’s foreign policy and its stance on the nuclear technology program. However, the sanctions policy struck hard on the Iranian public through everything from galloping inflation to currency shortages that, among other things, affected chronically ill people who depended on imported drugs. During Ahmadinejad’s last year in power, the value of the Iranian currency fell by half. This put great strain on ordinary citizens, which made it increasingly difficult to get the life puzzle together.

Many hopes were linked to the election of a more pragmatic president who characterized his victory as the victory of wisdom, moderation and consciousness over fanaticism, narrow-mindedness and stupid behavior. Increased political and civil liberties, the release of political prisoners, constructive interaction with the outside world and the removal of financial sanctions against the country were at the top of the list of demands and expectations placed on Rohani.

His election has not solved the paradox of the Iranian political system. The problem lies in the parallel power structure in the country. Despite the democratic varnish, the people-elected power agencies in Iran, both the parliament and the presidential office, lack sufficient powers of power. The president has some room for maneuver, for example in the field of economic policy and for relations with the outside world, but the real power lies with the deep state constituted by the non-elected power agencies. The Guardian Council, which examines the candidates for the parliamentary and presidential elections, consists of twelve members, six lawyers and six jurists. These are not elected by universal suffrage but are appointed by the highest leader.

Parliament can establish what laws it wants. Ultimately, it is the Guardian Council who decides whether the law comes into force or not. Its task is to examine whether the law is compatible with the country’s constitution and the Council’s interpretation of the Islamic Sharia law. The same goes for the office of president. The president can make whatever decisions he wants, but the highest leader can step in and cancel the decision, as he has the highest executive power and can veto any decisions.

Changed relations with the United States

Under US President Barack Obama , the US relationship with Iran was mitigated, since the Iranian revolution in 1979 was characterized by hostility. In 2013, a history and risk agreement between the United States and Iran was signed. This diplomatic agreement inclu T -ups even the UN Security Council’s other permanent members and Germany. In exchange allowed for costs of sanctions against the country promised the Iranian regime to stop its uranium enrichment as o m world feared that the country would use nuclear weapons development.

In 2015, the subsequent Iran agreement was signed. In addition to limiting Iran’s kärnteknikpr o grams and open up its nuclear facilities to the IAEA negotiated agreement, even if the international sanctions against Iran would have a vase. The Iran agreement was controversial and had many critics, both in Iran and the United States. The parties whatsoever reached förhandlingsbo is that after decades of hostile relations ANSA gs be due, on the one hand f örändrade attitudes in both the United States that Iran’s erstwhile state lines, and the turbulent developments in the Middle East that forced cooperation against common threats, particularly the Islamic State.

The presidential election in Iran in 2017 meant continued support for President Rohani, who was re-elected by a wide margin (57 percent). The election results came to be seen as continued support for the opening of Iran to the outside world. In the following parliamentary elections in 2020 joined the conservative forces, however kra f term onwards, at a time when the US action against Iran was the central factor in the political and economic picture.

Since US President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the thawed US-Iran relations have been reversed in their opposite. In May 2018, the US withdrew from the Iran agreement and introduced new financial sanctions. These meant that other countries’ economic transactions with Iran were also blocked because of the threat of US sanctions. Companies he d put with Iran could then not continue to do business with the US or use Amer in the Church of the banks. After a period of limited recovery after Iran Agreement led the reintroduction of the sanctions that the Iranian economy plummeted, unemployment increased benefit ‘s representation and the Iranian currency’s value was halved.

During 2019 and early 2020 boosted the US sanctions further in different o m aisles with the stated objective to achieve a radical change in the Iranian regime and pave the way for the United States’ perspective, more favorable agreement with Iran.

The already echoes o thermally beleaguered Iranian population were forced to tighten their belts further. In the fall of 2019, street demonstrations erupted in major cities across Iran, triggered by an increase in gasoline prices but aimed at the regime and the Supreme Leader. The security forces responded to the protests with violence and some demonstrations degenerated into damage. The regime faced a crisis at least as serious as during the post-election demonstrations in 2009, and for a period shut down all communication via the Internet to make it more difficult to coordinate the protests.

In addition to domestic problems such as mismanaged economy and widespread corruption, not least in the leading tier, the protests also targeted the activist role that Iran has developed in the Middle East’s regional conflicts. Iranian militia or military support in various forms had become a prominent factor in, for example, the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. At the regional strategic level, Iran’s role in relation to the arch-rival Saudi Arabia had been strengthened, not least after the US intervention in Iraq in 2003, which overthrew Saddam Hussein’s Sunni Muslim rule. From the protesters’ perspective, this meant costly military action at the expense of the indigenous population.

Following a pair of Iranian-backed militia attacks on US interests in Iraq, Donald Trump ordered a drone attack on a car convoy just outside Baghdad on January 3, 2020, killing about 10 people, including visiting Iranian general Qasem Soleimani (1957-2020). Soleimani was the head of the Revolutionary Guard and has been described as a symbol of Iran’s resistance to the United States.

In retaliation, Iran shortly afterwards attacked two US military bases in Iraq with rockets. On the same day, a Ukrainian passenger plane was shot down shortly after taking off from Tehran International Airport. All 176 people on board died, among them a large number of foreign nationals, mainly Canadian but also 17 Swedish. Three days later, Iran admitted that the plane was accidentally shot down.

Historical overview

100,000-40,000 BC Neanderthal settlements in the Zagros Mountains.
8,000 century BC Growth of villages with cultivation and livestock management.
about 5 500 BC Early city culture in Elam.
3,000 and 2,000 BC Elam controls the remote trade with Afghanistan and the Indus Valley.
about 1 300-550 BC Iran’s Iron Age. Indo-European speaking people are invading Iran from the northeast.
800 century BC Medes and Persians are mentioned as living in Iran.
600s BC The medical realm is founded.
circa 559 BC Cyrus II becomes king of the Persians and begins extensive conquests in the Middle East.
480-479 BC The Persian attempt to incorporate Greece fails.
334-331 BC The Persian Empire is defeated by Alexander the Great.
323 Alexander dies and his kingdom shatters. Seleucus takes power in the eastern parts of the empire.
about 250 BC The Parthians make their entry into Iran’s history and gradually conquer Iran for the following century.
226 AD The Sasanids defeat the Parthians and face a centralized administration.
637-651 Iran is conquered by the Arabs.
the 700s Newly converted Iranians are gaining increasing influence in the Islamic Caliphate.
945 The Persian buyids become the commander of the caliphate. Local regimes are established in Iran during the course of the century.
1055 After a conquest train, the Seljuks take over the worldly power of the Caliphate, adding the first sultan.
ca 1157 Most of Iran will be part of the Khwarezm Shahs’ kingdom.
1220s The Khwarezm Shahs’ empire is crushed by the Mongols, who then continue the conquest westward.
1335 Mongol empire in Iran breaks down, and smaller state formation occurs.
The end of the 13th century Timur Lenk spreads his empire over Iran. His descendants ruled the eastern parts of Iran until the beginning of the 16th century.
1501 The Safavids take power in Iran, whereby Shiite Islam becomes state religion.
1588-1629 Politically expansionary period under Shah Abbas I.
1722-36 Chaotic conditions in Iran.
1736-47 Nader Shah temporarily makes Iran a superpower.
1800s Decline which leads to interference from foreign powers.
1906 After a revolution, Iran becomes a constitutional monarchy, but constitutionalism is limited in reality.
1914-19 At the outbreak of the First World War, Iran declares itself neutral, but is occupied by warring Russia and Turkey in the north and by Britain in the south.
1925 Riza Khan becomes Shah and initiates a modernization of Iran.
1941-46 Britain and the Soviet Union occupy Iran. Riza Khan is forced to abdicate in favor of his son Mohammad Riza.
1953 Mosaddeq nationalizes the oil industry, but is overthrown in a US-backed coup.
1962-63 The Shah’s campaign for land reform and improved literacy, the “white revolution”, is launched.
1976-77 Economic crisis followed by unrest.
1979 The Shah is forced to leave the country after widespread unrest. Iran becomes an Islamic republic under Khomeini’s leadership.
1980 Iraq surprisingly attacks Iran.
1988 Armistice with Iraq.
1989 Khomeyni dies, and the new strong man Rafsanjani seeks to reconstruct the economy and improve international relations.
1997 The reform-friendly Mohammad Khatami is elected president and some democratization begins.
2005 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad takes office and runs an aggressive, nationalist foreign policy line.
2009 Ahmadinejad is re-elected president. Question marks surrounding the election lead to protest actions, which are however brutally beaten down.
2013 Hassan Rohani is elected president and wants to improve relations with the western world.
2015 The Iran agreement, which aims to increase transparency in Iran’s nuclear program and prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons, is signed.
2017 Hassan Rohani wins presidential election against Conservative candidate Ibrahim Raisi.