Iran ( or ;〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Definition for Iran – Oxford Dictionaries Online (World English) )〕 (ペルシア語:Irān – ایران) ), also known as Persia ( or ),〔("Communication" ), ''Iranian Studies'', Jan. 1989, vol. 22, no 1, Ehsan Yarshater, pp. 62-65. A decree of December 1934 asked foreign countries to use the name "Iran" instead of "Persia". However, in 1959, both names were authorized.〕〔(【引用サイトリンク】 url=http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsMiddEast/EasternPersia.htm )〕 officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (), is a country in Western Asia.〔(【引用サイトリンク】publisher=BBC NEWS )〕〔(【引用サイトリンク】title="CESWW" – Definition of Central Eurasia )〕 It is bordered to the northwest by Armenia, the ''de facto'' Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and Azerbaijan; with Kazakhstan and Russia across the Caspian Sea; to the northeast by Turkmenistan; to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan; to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman; and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. Comprising a land area of , it is the second-largest nation in the Middle East and the 18th-largest in the world. With 78.4 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 17th most populous nation.〔 It is the only country that has both a Caspian Sea and an Indian Ocean coastline. Iran has long been of geostrategic importance because of its central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz.〔(【引用サイトリンク】Iran's Strategy in the Strait of Hormuz )〕
Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations,〔Christopher A Whatley (2001). Bought and Sold for English Gold: The Union of 1707 (Tuckwell Press, 2001)〕 beginning with the formation of the Proto-Elamite and Elamite kingdoms in 3200–2800 BC. The Iranian Medes unified the area into the first of many empires in 625 BC, after which it became the dominant cultural and political power in the region. Iran reached the pinnacle of its power during the Achaemenid Empire founded by Cyrus the Great in 550 BC, which at its greatest extent comprised major portions of the ancient world, stretching from parts of the Balkans (Thrace-Macedonia, Bulgaria-Paeonia) and Eastern Europe proper in the west, to the Indus Valley in the east, making it the largest empire the world had yet seen. The empire collapsed in 330 BC following the conquests of Alexander the Great. The Parthian Empire emerged from the ashes and was succeeded by the Sassanid Dynasty in 224 AD, under which Iran again became one of the leading powers in the world, along with the Roman-Byzantine Empire, for a period of more than four centuries.〔Norman A. Stillman ''The Jews of Arab Lands'' pp 22 Jewish Publication Society, 1979 ISBN 0827611552〕〔International Congress of Byzantine Studies ''Proceedings of the 21st International Congress of Byzantine Studies, London, 21–26 August 2006, Volumes 1-3'' pp 29. Ashgate Pub Co, 30 sep. 2006 ISBN 075465740X〕
In 633 AD, Rashidun Muslims invaded Iran and conquered it by 651 AD, largely replacing the indigenous faiths of Manichaeism and Zoroastrianism. Iran became a major contributor to the Islamic Golden Age, producing many influential scientists, scholars, artists, and thinkers. Establishment of the Safavid Dynasty in 1501, which promoted Twelver Shia Islam as the official religion, marked one of the most important turning points in Iranian and Muslim history.〔R.M. Savory, ''Safavids'', Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd edition〕 Starting in 1736 under Nader Shah, Iran reached its greatest territorial extent since the Sassanid Empire, briefly possessing what was arguably the most powerful empire at the time. During the 19th century, Iran irrevocably lost swaths of its territories in the Caucasus which made part of the concept of Iran for centuries, to neighboring Imperial Russia.〔Timothy C. Dowling (''Russia at War: From the Mongol Conquest to Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Beyond'' ) pp 728-730 ABC-CLIO, 2 dec. 2014 ISBN 1598849484〕 Popular unrest culminated in the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906, which established a constitutional monarchy and the nation's first parliament. Following a coup d'état instigated by the U.K. and the U.S. in 1953, Iran gradually became close allies with the United States and the rest of the West, remained secular, but grew increasingly autocratic.〔Anthony H. Cordesman ("Iran's Military Forces in Transition: Conventional Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction" ) p 22〕 Growing dissent against foreign influence and political repression culminated in the 1979 Revolution, which led to the establishment of an Islamic republic on 1 April 1979.〔
Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading cultural and economic center. Iran is a major regional and middle power, exerting considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy through its large reserves of fossil fuels, which include the largest natural gas supply in the world and the fourth-largest proven oil reserves.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Iran )〕 Iran's rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the fourth-largest number in Asia and 12th-largest in the world.〔World Heritage List, UNESCO World Heritage Sites official sites〕
Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, and OPEC. Its political system is based on the 1979 Constitution which combines elements of a parliamentary democracy with a theocracy governed by Islamic jurists under the concept of a ''Supreme Leadership''. A multicultural nation comprising numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, most inhabitants are officially Shia, and Persian is the official language.〔(【引用サイトリンク】url=http://fa.wikisource.org/wiki/قانون_اساسی_جمهوری_اسلامی_ایران )〕
(詳細はIran'' is a Modern Persian derivative from the Proto-Iranian term ''Āryānam'', meaning "land of the Aryans," first attested in Avesta. The term ''Ērān'' is found in a 3rd-century Middle Persian inscription at Naqsh-e Rostam, and the term ''Āryān'' is used in the Parthian inscription that accompanies it, in reference to Iranians.
Historically, Iran has been referred to as ''Persia'' by the West, due mainly to the writings of Greek historians who called Iran ''Persis'' (Περσίς),〔(Persia ), ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', "The term Persia was used for centuries ... () use of the name was gradually extended by the ancient Greeks and other peoples to apply to the whole Iranian plateau."〕 meaning "land of the Persians." As the most extensive and close interaction the Ancient Greeks ever had with any outsider was that with the Persians, the term became coined forever, even long after the Persian rule in Greece.
In 1935, Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, ''Iran''. As the New York Times explained at the time, "At the suggestion of the Persian Legation in Berlin, the Tehran government, on the Persian New Year, Nowruz, March 21, 1935, substituted ''Iran'' for ''Persia'' as the official name of the country." Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision, and Professor Ehsan Yarshater, editor of Encyclopædia Iranica, propagated a move to use ''Persia'' and ''Iran'' interchangeably. Today, both ''Persia'' and ''Iran'' are used in cultural contexts; although, ''Iran'' is the name used officially in political contexts.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Persia or Iran, a brief history )〕
Historical and cultural usage of the word ''Iran'' is not restricted to the modern state proper. ''Irānzamīn'' or ''Irān e Bozorg'' (Greater Iran) correspond to territories of the Iranian cultural and linguistic zones. In addition to modern Iran, it includes portions of the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Central Asia.〔Farrokh, Kaveh. Shadows in the Desert: Ancient Persia at War. ISBN 1846031087〕
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