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Route information on Iran:

Background information on Iran:

Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar. A group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and held it until 20 January 1981 . During 1980-88, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq over disputed territory. Over the past decade, popular dissatisfaction with the government, driven by demographic changes, restrictive social policies, and poor economic conditions, has created a powerful and enduring pressure for political reform.

The Lonely Planet reports:

Visitors will find it hard to reconcile their own experiences with the pronouncements that Iran is part of an 'axis of evil'. F or culture seekers, Iran has magnificent ruins of ancient cities, plus glorious mosques and mausoleums, and museums so interesting they're bound to leave your feet sore.
The more adventurous can enjoy trekking, budget-priced skiing, or swooping off cliffs strapped to a hang-glider. F or the traveller who doesn't mind covering up (preferably not in a stars and stripes poncho) and eschewing ale and heartfelt feminist discourse, Iran has a vast amount to offer.

Factsheet China :

Area: 1.64 million sq km
Population: 68.27 million
People: Persian ( F arsis ) (65%), Azari (25%), Arab (4%), Lors (2%), Turkmen (2%), Kurdish, Armenian, Jewish
Language: Persian, Kurdish
Religion: Shi'ite Muslim (89%), Sunni Muslim (10%), Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, Baha'i (1%)
Government: Islamic Republic
Head of State: Spiritual Leader ( Rahbar ) Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei

GDP: US$340 billion
GDP per capita: US$5,000
Annual Growth: 4.2%
Inflation: 19%
Major Industries: Oil, gas, agriculture, carpets, armaments
Major Trading Partners: Japan , Germany , F rance , Italy , United Kingdom , United Arab Emirates , Belgium

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