Iran is located in the Middle East, bounded by Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Oman, Iraq and Turkey. The centre and east of the country is largely barren desert withmountainous regions in the west. Tehran, the capital, is essentially a busy and modern city, but the best of the old has been preserved.
As one of the first countries to be occupied by the early Islamic armies which came out of Arabia in the seventh century, Iran has a rich and detailed history. The antique sights of Persia, one of the greatest empires of the ancient world, can be witnessed alongsidebustling metropolises and vast mountain ranges. Several bazaars are just as old and Iran is the destination for those in search of the most expensive rugs and carpets in the world.
Iran has maintained a distinct cultural identitywithin the Islamic world by retaining its own language and adhering to the Shi'a interpretation of Islam. As a unique Islamic Republic, Iran is ruled by both supreme leaders and elected presidents