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30 Secret Gems About Iran You Need To Know

The Iranian Cuisine

When visiting a country, you can always look forward to experimenting with new dishes and Iran offers a wide variety. The food is a kind of mix up between Greek, Middle Eastern and Indian food. The only difference is that the food is more varied than Greek dishes and not as spicy as Indian cuisine.

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They also love fresh and healthy food. A typical plate of food will consist of either lamb, sheep or chicken accompanied by rice and unleavened or semi-unleavened bread with black tea.

Free Weddings

Weddings can get really pricey, especially when you come from a big family with many relatives. Because of this, many young Iranians are choosing not to marry. The Iranian government looked at this and came up with a clever solution.

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The country has set up a yearly fund of $720 million to not only bring down the costs but also cover them for couples who want to have a traditional Iranian wedding. Couples also have to sit through a 1-hour lecture about contraception.

This cat is one of the most popular breeds in the world.

The Fluffy Persian Cat

Cats are adorable. They love you and give you affection (sometimes) and enjoy playing and being themselves. The Persian cat originates from the high plateaus of Iran. They are one of the oldest breeds and evolved to grow very long fur to keep them warm in the Iranian mountains.

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The cats originally come from Italy, brought in the 17th century and today are one of the most sought-after cats because of their exceptional exotic beauty.

Persian Milk

Yogurt is valued highly in Iran because of all of its special properties. It is called “Persian Milk” in Iran. The Iranians don’t only consume the product but use it for many things.

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The Iranians believe that that the yogurt is magic that can be used as medicine to clear coughs, prolong life, prevent sleepiness, treat ulcers and help with sunburn. It is also used in Iran’s beauty industry as a face mask.

A country with over 20 public holidays? Yes, please!

Iranian Holidays

There are 25 public holidays in Iran. They hold the world record for the country with the most public holidays. Every year extra unofficial holidays are added onto the calendar making business awkward at times.

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The majority of holidays in Iran are for religious purposes to commemorate either the life or death of several Shi’a Imams. Even though the Iranians follow three official calendars: Solar Hijiri, Gregorian and Islamic lunar calendar, the holidays follow the lunar calendar.

Sports Stars

Iran is known for their awesome soccer players. Their national men’s team has qualified for three World Cup tournaments and have even won three Asian Cup titles. Both genders love the sport with the women wearing hijabs.

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This is the world’s largest carpet ever!

The World’s Biggest Carpet

Imagine stepping onto a soccer field, just instead of seeing the grass under your feet, there’s a carpet! Well, the biggest hand-woven carpet in history was produced in Iran. It was made in 2007 by the Iran Carpet Company for the Abu Dhabi mosque in the United Arab Emirates.

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The carpet started off in 9 different sections and was then put together in the mosque. It measured 60,600.81 ft2 – that’s 5,630 m2. Before the entire carpet was placed, some parts had to be taken away in order for it to fit perfectly.

Restricted Internet

Ever since 2012, Iran has used its own state-controlled national Internet. This can also be seen as a private Intranet network which absolutely every Iranian has to use. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can’t be accessed so private VPNs need to be used at times.

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The government launched this network with the aim of providing fast speeds with high-quality connections at a lower cost. When the first phase was completed, an inauguration ceremony was held by Iran’s communications and technology minister at the time Mahmoud Vaezi.

This commodity makes Iran’s economic value worth millions

Oil Drowning in Dollars

With 125 billion barrels (or 10%) of the world’s oil reserves, Iran pumps out, more or less, four million barrels each day! Now that’s a lot of oil. The Middle East is known for the fact that it owns most the world’s oil and Iran is part of that equation.

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At an eagle’s eye perspective, Iran is the fourth biggest oil producer worldwide, while the Persian Gulf holds at least 60 percent of all the world’s oil reserves. The Persian Gulf consists of: The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar, Iraq, Oman, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

Gorgeous Jewels

Not only is oil found in Iran but very rare and exceptionally expensive jewelry which are held by the Treasury of National Jewels in Tehran. Iran’s Imperial crown jewels are comprised of 30 tiaras, intricately designed crowns, stunning aigrettes, bejeweled shields and swords as well as gems and precious dining sets.

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These crown jewels are so valuable in the eyes of Iran that the country still uses them to back the Iranian currency. The last time they were used in public was before the Iranian Revolution, when the Pahlavi dynasty was in power.

This critically endangered animal can only be found in Iran.

The Asiatic Cheetah

The Asiatic Cheetah – also known as the Iranian Cheetah – is an exceptionally endangered cheetah subspecies that roams around Iran. Luckily the species is heavily guarded in protected areas in the eastern-central region of Iran namely due to the arid weather conditions.

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From December 2017, unfortunately only 50 of these beautiful creatures are believed to still exist. Iran’s national football team even wore an illustration of the cheetah on their jerseys at the 2014 FIFA World Cup to raise awareness of the animal’s dire situation.

Young & Exuberant

It may come at a great surprise that Iran has one of the youngest populations worldwide. In fact, 70% of the massive 80 million people that live in Iran are all under 30 years old. The Iranian youth are also the most politically involved compared to the other nations that fall under Islamic rule. Citizens actually start voting from age 15.

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In 2009, after the presidential election, it was the youth who created the largest “people power” movement for democratic change and they continue to push forward to this day.

The Paris Hiltons of Iran

The Rich Kids of Tehran

These privileged kids in their teens and ’20s know how to live the good life. They have collections of sports cars and jewelry.  These “Rich Kids of Tehran” are highly popular on Instagram, and get up to a whole bunch of naughty endeavors – even though the laws forbid it.

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The parties are enormous and lots of fun to be had with a ton of alcohol found in every corner – even though it is illegal. They also love showing off their social lives via Instagram – all they do is use a secret VPN.

When Only The Right Hand Will Do

When eating with a true Iranian family, you will most probably eat with them on the floor on a bunch of cushions. There is nothing out of the ordinary for the Iranians to eat this way, especially when eating dinner together as a family.

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Also, you will notice that utensils are not used. In place of utensils, the right hand must be used when eating. You will have to wait before you eat, be told where to sit and must have a taste of everything that is served.

Some of the most delicious delicacies are found in Iran

Delicious Delicacies

Most the world knows that Iran is an oil capital, but Iran also supplies the world with super-delicious delicacies. Iran, in fact, is the world’s biggest producer of high-demand delicacies such as saffron, caviar, and pistachios. Ever tried pistachio ice-cream? Well, these pistachios come from Iran.

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Iran actually controls 50% of the Caspian Sea caviar market. This makes them a lot of cash as the eggs of a Sturgeon are worth, more or less, $160 per 28 grams.

Special Definition

Where you aware that “Iran,” when translated into Persian it actually means “Land of the Aryans”?

Special definition

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Iranians initially used the phrase “Aryan” as an ethnic label. However, the definition was further used as a cultural, religious, and linguistic reference when describing Iranians.

Star of David

For more than 30 years, there was a Star of David on the roof of the Tehran International Airport’s main terminal building. The symbol stood there unnoticed until Google Earth spotted it in 2001.

Star of David

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By the time the symbol was revealed, the ornamental tiling was removed but it had left an outline on the roof. The government instructed for it to be removed entirely.

Persian Taarof

When you’re walking down the streets in Iran, you could come across a lot of well mannered, polite and humble antics, which is called Taarof. Ultimately, It happens to be the social glue of the Iranian culture and has its roots in Persian traditions. The phrase translates to “meeting together.”

Persian Taarof

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Taarof actually revolves around treating people with the utmost respect and honor. If you are welcomed to a hearty meal in a Persian household, you would have to refuse a second dish even if you are still hungry also if your host offers you more. If the offer is made for the third time, you may accept it.

Name Changes

Persia was once the common name for Iran until Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran from 1925 until 1941, informed locals that they’d have to start referring to it as Iran on Nowruz 1935, the Iranian New Year.

Name changes

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Iran’s official name became the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. The monarchy was defeated by religious member of the clergy who assumed political power during the Iranian Revolution under the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Soccer Fanatics

Iranian people have a flair for the sport soccer. However, the national men’s team did qualify for three World Cup tournaments and then won three Asian Cup titles. Soccer is highly loved by both women and men, while wearing hijabs.

Soccer fanatics

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When FIFA barred the hijab back in 2007, this unfortunately put a stop to Iranian women’s soccer teams taking part in the 2012 Olympic qualifier game.

A Lush Culture

The Persian society is famous for its beautiful poetry, lush gardens, and magnificent rugs and tapestry. Nonetheless, poetry is widely loved among Iranians with most able to recite lines from legendary Persian poems, the best being ‘Shahnameh’ and ‘The Epic of Kings.’

A rich culture

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Iranian poets have written some of the most gorgeous poems mankind has heard. Modern poets, novelists, and writers are quite equally respected and commemorated in Iran.

UNESCO Sites

Iran houses 23 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Ultimately, being home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, the Persian Civilization, Iran has a lot of remarkable sites such as Persepolis (Takht-e-Jamshid), the capital of the Achaemenid Empire.

UNESCO Sites

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According to travel sites, the beautiful palaces, places of prayer, bazaars, and prehistoric water systems dominate the list of all the recorded sites in the country.

Swimming in Oil

The Middle East is practically made of oil. It makes perfect sense that Iran has 10 percent alone, or 125 billion barrels consisting of the world’s oil reserves. Furthermore, Iran actually pumps out around four million barrels of oil each day. Wow!

Swimming in oil

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Iran is the 4th leading oil producer in the world. The Persian Gulf actually holds at least 60% of all the world’s oil reserves.

The Language

Though many presume Iranians speak in Arabic, they’d be amazed to find out that Persian actually the official language. Locals call the language ‘Farsi.’ Persian is also spoken in Tajikistan and Afghanistan.

The language

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There are seven recognized languages which are spoken in Iran such as Azerbaijani, Kurdish, Lori, Mazandarani, Gilaki, Balochi, and Arabic.

Cultural Mix Up

Islam is the overriding religion in Iran with a whopping 98% of the population being Muslim. The divide is between 89% of the population who are Shia Muslims and the other nine percent being Sunni Muslims.

Cultural Mix Up

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Other religions such as judiasm, Christianity, Baha’i, Zoroastrianism make up the remaining two percent of the population.

Short-Term Marriages

If you’re not prepared to devote your life to a long marriage, the Iranian government has a perfect solution for you. There is a method called ‘Sigheh.’ Sigheh permits a couple to have a short-term marriage.

Short-term marriage

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This marriage is acceptable under Sharia Law in certain Shia schools and can last anywhere from a few hours to a few years depending on the contract.

Literacy Rate

Throughout the mid ’70s, Iran’s literacy rate happened to be disturbingly low at just 37%. By 2015, that took a turn with 93% of the adult population being literate. That rate is growing higher, reaching 97% thereafter.

Literacy Rate

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From 1979, the government upheld a modern education system with more of a focus on the religion of Islam. This means that the students are divided by their gender and the curriculum schoolbooks reflect Islamic views.

They Don’t Wear Ties, Ever

Iranians don’t favor ties because they suggest it’s too much of a Western symbol. You won’t catch locals donning one to a work interview. This stigma came about in the late 1970s with the change of government.

Don’t wear ties

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However, the government believe that Islamic garments eliminate class and ethnic differences, thereby promoting equality. The same goes for ladies and girls, as well as tourists, who must wear a hijab. People need to cover their heads in public starting at the age of nine.

Heavy Metal

Strangely enough, there is a large underground heavy metal scene in Iran, mostly in the capital Tehran. In the last three decades, there has been a large increase in Iranian rock and blues musicians rising on the scene.

Heavy metal

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Ultimately, some locals like to believe that the music is about unity and love, and therefore, fully embrace the heavy metal genre over the classical and traditional music. Nowadays, most of the music in Iran also includes hip-hop, jazz and pop.

The Damavand Volcano

Iran is home to a massive volcano called the Damavand just 43 miles (70 km) from Tehran. The last time it erupted was 7,300 years ago, but the volcano is still active as fumaroles were detected at the summit crater.

Volcano

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The Damavand is the highest volcano in Asia and the highest peak in Iran, which is why it serves a special place in Persian folklore and mythology. It symbolizes Iranian resistance against foreign rule and tyranny.