1. In the late 1960s, the Shah of Iran sent a series of letters to the King of Saudi Arabia, saying, 'Please, my brother, modernize. Open up your country. Make the schools mixed. Let women wear miniskirts. Have discos. Be modern. Otherwise I cannot guarantee you will stay on your throne.'
2. Despite homosexual sex being punishable by death (potentially) in Iran, sex change operations are perfectly legal and often state-funded. Iranians account for the second highest amount of sex changes in the world, behind Thailand.
3. Iran has one of the largest rates of brain drain in the world. It's estimated that 150,000-180,000 specialists leave the country every year, costing the country at least $50 billion in human capital annually.
4. 70% of science and engineering students in Iran are women.
5. Iran tried to get into the Guinness book of world records by making the worlds largest sandwich. But people started eating it before it could be officially measured so they failed.
6. Iran eliminated its kidney transplant waiting list by incentivizing unrelated donors with financial compensation and heath insurance.
7. In 1953 US and UK overthrow first Iranian democratic government because Iran wanted to nationalize the petroleum reserves.
8. As a man, you can be arrested in Iran for wearing shorts.
9. A girl in Iran gave birth at the age of 9 after being prostituted by her parents. When she was 19, she was sentenced to death for incest and prostitution. A lawyer intervened and had her sentence reduced to public beating and imprisonment.
10. In Iran, boys can't be held responsible for a crime under the age of 15. For girls, the age of criminal responsibility is 9.
11. During the Iran Hostage Crisis, American embassy staff tried to burn classified documents but the furnace malfunctioned, forcing them to use cheap paper shredders. After the takeover, Iran employed carpet weavers to put the shredded documents together.
12. The computers of Iran's nuclear program were hacked, causing them to blare 'Thunderstruck' by AC/DC.
13. Iran's largest airport had a Star of David embedded into its roof for 30 years before it was discovered through Google Earth.
14. In 2007 the Iranian army arrested a team of 14 "spy squirrels" found near a nuclear enrichment plant. Officials said they succeeded in apprehending the suspects "before they were able to take any action".
15. During the Iraq-Iran War, the United States shot down an Iranian civilian plane, killing 260 people.
16. Iran Air Flight 655 was an Iran Air civilian passenger flight that was shot down by the US Navy guided missile cruiser USS Vincennes. All 290 on board, including 66 children and 16 crew, died. Ranks ninth among the deadliest disasters in aviation history.
17. Mullets are illegal in Iran.
18. 40,000 people in Iran rely on a 45km long 'qanat' (underground aqueduct) built nearly 3000 years ago
19. The earliest archaeological findings from Persia date to the Paleolithic era, 100,000 years ago. By 5000 BCE, Persia hosted sophisticated agriculture and early cities.
20. Iran is the world’s oldest continuous major civilization, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 4000 BC.
21. The region now called Iran was occupied by the Medes and the Persians in the 1500s B.C. until the Persian king Cyrus the Great overthrew the Medes and became ruler of the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire, which reached from the Indus to the Nile at its zenith in 525 B.C.
22. Alexander The Great's wife, Roxanne, was an Iranian. “Roshanak” in Farsi. The name has several meanings such as shining star, lovely flare and luminous beauty.
23. The official name of Iran is the "Islamic Republic of Iran." It became an Islamic republic since the Pahlavi monarchy was overthrown on Feb. 11, 1979.
24. The former name of Iran was Persia, which was in use till 1935.
25. Persian is the official language of Iran; it is used for educational, administrative and business purposes. Many local languages such as Azeri, Kurdish, Arabic and Armenian are also spoken in the country.
26. Persian (Farsi) is still spoken in Tajikestan and Afghanistan. It was the official court language of India for 200 years.
27. Iran is a big country. It is the 18th largest country in the world, with a total of 1,648,195 Sq km. It is three times the size of Arizona.
28. Iran is divided into thirty one provinces that are further divided into counties, and subdivided into districts and sub-districts. The provinces are governed by their respective governors.
29. The population of Iran is near 80 million, making it the 18th most populated country in the world.
30. Islam is the dominant religion in Iran. Other religions, such as Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and the Baha’i have their fans in Iran.
31. The capital of Iran is Tehran, that means, “warm slope.” More than 14 million people live there.
32. In Persian language, the word Iran means “Land of the Aryans.”
33. The Alborz (aka Elburz) Mountains in the north rise to 5,670 m (18,603 ft) at Mount Damavend. From northwest to southeast, the country is crossed by a desert 1,287 km (800 mi) long.
34. Iran ranks seventh among countries in the world as regards number of World Heritage Sites recognized by UNESCO.
35. Iran ranks second in the world in natural gas and third in oil reserves.
36. Iran shares borders with ten countries, namely Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Iraq and Turkey.
37. The largest ethnic group of Iran is Persian, constituting about 61 percent of the population.
38. Iran’s constitution and Parliament were created on Aug 5th, 1906. The present one, which is Islamic, was adopted by referendum on 2 and 3 December 1979, and went into force replacing the Constitution of 1906. It was amended on 28 July 1989.
39. Famous biblical people buried in Iran: Daniel, Cyrus The Great, Queen Esther, Darius The Great, St. Thaddeus.
40. Iran's fertility rate is 1.92 per woman (2012) and life expectancy is 73.76 (2012).
41. In Iran, the family is the basis of the social structure.
42. Iranians take their responsibilities to their family quite seriously.
43. Loyalty to the family comes before other social relationship, even business.
44. Iranians give gifts at various social occasions such as returning from a trip or if someone achieves a major success in their personal or business life.
45. If you are invited to an Iranian's house, bring flowers, or pastry to the hosts. When giving a gift, always apologize for its inadequacy!
46. If you are invited to an Iranian's house check to see if the host is wearing shoes. If not, remove yours at the door.
47. Satellite television is banned in Iran, but receiver dishes sit in plain view on top of many houses!
48. Iran is one of the world's biggest producers of luxury foods and is known to have the world’s best caviar.
49. The current Iranian flag was adopted in 1980 and has three equal horizontal bands of green, white, and red.
50. Nearly half of Iran has an arid desert climate. It receives less than 4 inches of precipitation each year.
51. Iran first participated in the Olympics in 1948 and has sent athletes to every Summer Olympic Games since then, except for 1980 and 1984. Iran has also participated in the winter Olympics multiple times since 1956.
52. The Persian Gulf holds 60% of the world’s oil reserves. Iran alone has reserves of 125 billion barrels of oil, or 10% of the world’s total reserves. Iran pumps nearly 4 million barrels of oil each day.
53. Iran is one of the youngest countries in the world. Approximately 70% of Iran’s population is under the age of 30.
54. In Iran, men who do not marry usually stay with their natal family for their entire life.
55. In Iran, couples that want a marriage license are required to take an hour-long lecture on contraception.
56. Since ancient times, people in Iran have used a water supply system called a qanat (or kanat). It collects underground water and moves it through tunnels to places where people need it.
57. In Iran, females over the age of 13-15 must wear a hijab in public.
58. The Persian cat is one of the world’s oldest breeds. They originated in the high plateaus of Iran where their long silky fur protected them from the cold. Italian traders brought the breed to Europe in the 17th century, where they became an exotic status symbol.
59. Poetry holds a special place in Iranian culture. All Iranians can recite lines from famous Persian poems, such as the most famous poem in Iran called Shahnameh or The Epic of Kings.
61. In December 2003 earthquake struck the southeastern city of Bam, Iran, killed more than 30,000 people.
62. Men often wear Western styles, although traditional robes and turbans or hats are also worn in parts of the North and West, especially by religious
63. Iran experiences four seasons each year. Spring and fall are mild, while winters bring heavy snowfall to the mountains. In the summer, temperatures routinely top 38°C (100°F).
64. Iran's majority centrally-planned economy depends upon oil and gas exports for between 50 and 70% of its revenue.
65. The currency of Iran is the Rial. However, Iranians commonly express amounts of money and prices of goods in "Toman". 1 Toman = 10 Rial48. Iran GDP was $987.1 billion in 2013.
66. The war between Iran and the Republic of Iraq, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, was the 20th century's longest conventional war.
67. Only one river in Iran, the Karun, may be navigated by boat, only for short distances.
68. Although Iran’s constitution and parliament is 110 years old, it has been ruled by a single ruler for all of its history.
69. Iranian scientists extracted pure alcohol for creating customized alcoholic beverages for the first time in the history.
70. Drinking alcohol is illegal in Iran.
71. The most taught book in medical schools in history is written by an Iranian. Medical practices in Iran are at a very low standard.
72. 65 years ago, Iranians didn’t accept a partnership of the British Oil company for oil extraction due to onerous terms that were cheating Iran out significant profits.
73. Overall, Iran has lots of interesting paradoxes like what I mentioned. They have a repeated history of demonstrating against two opposing leaders in a week.
74. Iran is the only country that owns a regulated kidney market where people buy and sell kidneys. This is unbelievably interesting. You have to be Iranian to understand what I just said.
75. Iran became a Islamic Country in 1 April of 1979.
77. Iran’s capital and largest city, Tehran, has some of the worst air pollution in the world. An estimated 27 people die a day from air pollution-related diseases.
78. Approximately 26.1% of Iranians are obese, making it the 50th most obese country in the world.
79. In 1953, the CIA was involved in a covert operation code named Operation Ajax to overthrow the democratically elected Iranian government of Prime Minister Masaddegh. In return, the Shah rewarded the United States with a 40% stake in Iran’s oil industry. When the Iranians learned of the United State’s role, they would distrust the United States for years to come.
80. During the Iran-Iraq War, the United States officially supported Iraq and put pressure on other countries to stop selling weapons to Iran. However, the U.S. itself was later found to have been quietly selling weapons to the country. The resulting scandal was Iran-gate, or the Iran-Contra scandal.
81. Iran controls 50% of the Caspian Sea caviar market. The eggs of the Caspian beluga sturgeon can fetch up to $160 per ounce. The beluga sturgeon was swimming in lakes at the time of the dinosaurs—but the sturgeon, which can live to be 100 years old, are rapidly disappearing.
82. After the Shah of Iran was ousted in 1979, Iran reverted from a legal system to Islamic law. Women under this law are not considered mentally or legally the equal of males. Additionally, children are perceived as the “substance of the male” and merely incubated by the female body. In the case of divorce, women lose all custody of children.
83. An Iranian organization offered a reward of $3 million to anyone who killed Salman Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses. The book hinted that some of the verses of the Koran might not be real revelations from God and that the devil disguised himself to give Mohammed false ideas.
84. Iranians have woven beautiful rugs for over 2,500 years. When creating rugs, Iranian weavers often make a mistake intentionally. They want to show their belief that “only God is perfect.”
85. The capital of Iran is Tehran, which means, “warm slope.” Nearly 12 million people live there.
85. Sigheh, or short-term marriages, are permitted under Shari’a law in certain Shia schools. They can last one hour to several years depending on the contract. Many times they are used to satiate male pilgrims who visit holy shrines away from their families.
86. Iran is one of the primary trans-shipment routes for Southwest Asian heroin to Europe. Over 3,600 Iranians have been killed in the past 25 years fighting heroin smugglers.
87. While homosexual relationships are banned in Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini decreed that transsexuals are allowed to have sex change operations in Iran. Since 2008, Iran has conducted more sex change operations than any other country in the world, second only to Thailand. The government even provides financial assistance.
89. The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) banned the hijab in 2007, which prevented the Iranian women’s soccer team from playing in a 2012 Olympics qualifier game.
90. Iran has been dubbed “the nose job capital of the world,” as the Western nose has become the desired nose shape of young Iranian women.
88. Influential Iranian-Americans include Dara Khosrowshahi, President and CEO, Expedia, Inc; Omid Kordestani, Former Senior Vice President of Google & current Chairman of Twitter; Isaac Larian, manufacturer of Bratz dolls; David Merage, manufacturer of Hot Pockets; Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay; Christiane Amanpour, news anchor; Sean Rad, founder of Tinder, Reza Aslan, author/professor; Arash Ferdowsi, co-founder of DropBox; and Matt Ghaffari, Olympic silver-medal winning wrestler.
89. Iran is one of the world’s largest producers of caviar, pistachios, and saffron.d
90. Iran was the first country to have a condom factory in the Middle East.
91. Iran has around million foreign refugees, making it one of the top countries hosting refugees. Most of the refugees are from Afghanistan or are Iraqi Kurds. Consequently, Iran has acquired a large workforce willing to do manual labor for the lowest wages.
92. Iran has one of the highest opiate addiction rates in the world.m
93. In 2007, Iran produced the world’s largest handmade carpet for a mosque in the United Arab Emirates. It was the size of a soccer field.
94. Polo was played in Iran as early as the 6th century B.C., mainly as training for the cavalry.
95. Poetry holds a special place in Iranian culture. All Iranians can recite lines from famous Persian poems, such as the most famous poem in Iran called Shahnameh orThe Epic of Kings.
96. The Azadi Tower, formerly known as the Shahyad Tower. was erected in 1971 to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire. The name has since been changed to the Azadi Monument, which means “freedom” in the Farsi language.
97. Iran’s constitution dictates that women are mothers and homemakers. If they want to work outside of the home, they need permission from the male head of the household. The government also segregates schools by gender, and at the university level, there are some subjects women are not allowed to study. On city buses, men and women sit apart, and a woman may not appear in public with a man unless it is her husband or family member. However, unlike women in Saudi Arabia, Iranian women can drive and vote.
98. The first day of spring (Nowruz) in Iran is a festive day. Women prepare huge feasts and mothers eat hard-boiled eggs, one for each of their children. According to Persian ritual, the table is set with seven items, each beginning with the letter “s” in Farsi: such as apples (sib), green grass (sabze), vinegar (serkey), berries (senjed), ground wheat (samanoo), a gold coin (sekke), and garlic (sir).
99. Polygamy is legal in Iran. Men are permitted up to four wives, but only with the permission of the first wife.
100. Persians make up the most of Iran (61%), followed by Azeri (16%), Kurd (10%), Lur (6%), Baloch (2%), Arab (2%), Turkmen and Turkic tribes (2%), and other (1%).
~Four bonus facts b/c you read this far =)~
101. Islam is the dominant religion in Iran at 98%: Shia 89% and Sunni 9%. Other religions, such as Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and the Baha’i faith make up the remaining 2%.
102. The Iranian population in 2012 was 78,868,711, making it the 18th most populated country in the world.
103. In Iran, yogurt is referred to as “Persian Milk,” and many Iranians consider yogurt a miracle food. It is used to treat ulcers, relieve sunburn, and even prolong life. Some people use yogurt as a facemask.
104. Oil and natural gas are Iran’s most important exports, accounting for 82 percent of the country’s export revenues. Other exports include chemicals, plastics, fruits, ceramic products and metals. Iran’s main exports partners are: China (21 percent of total exports), Japan (9.2 percent) and Turkey (9 percent).
Do you have additional facts to add to this list? Please add them in the comments section.