The Islamic Republic of Iran is situated in Western Asia. The country has an area of 1,648,195 square kilometers and a population of around 80.8 million (2014 estimate). Iran is a diverse country with several different religious and ethnic groups, unified through a shared Indo-European Persian language (Farsi) and culture. The ethnic make-up of the country is estimated by the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook to be as follows: Persian (61%), Azerbaijanis (16%), Kurds (10%), Lurs (6%), Arabs (2%), Baluchi (2%), Turkmens and Turkic tribes (2%) and others such as Armenians, Georgians, Circassians and Assyrians (1%).
Iran shares its borders with Azerbaijan and Armenia to the north-west, the Caspian Sea to the north, Turkmenistan to the north-east, Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east, Turkey and Iraq to the west, and the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman to the south.
The country enjoys a rich and powerful history. Ancient civilizations have built settlements on the territory of present-day Iran which date back to 4000 BC. Iran also boasts one of the world’s most powerful ancient civilizations: the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus the Great in the sixth century BC, which at one point comprised colossal portions of the ancient world, making Iran the biggest empire in the world at the time.
The climate of a country is an essential consideration when moving, as it can impact on your quality of life. Expatriates living in Iran describe the summers as long, dry and hot with near-continuous sunshine, and the winters as very short and cool. January is the coldest month of the year, with temperatures falling as low as 5°C. The hottest month of the year is August when temperatures can reach in excess of 30°C or even higher in some areas. Parts of the country can also be very humid, especially along the Persian Gulf.
Iran experiences a mixture of climate zones. If you are going to be based in either the west or south-west parts of the country, you can expect a climate that is hot and dry. In the central part of the country, between the Persian Gulf and the Turkish border, the weather is similarly hot and dry. If you're planning to live in either the east or northern part of Iran, you can expect the climate to be mild and fairly humid, although in the summer months, temperatures of over 22°C are not unusual.
Iran’s mountainous regions of the north experience the coldest weather with heavy snowfalls, but hot, dry summers. In these parts, during the warmest months, temperatures between 20°C and 25°C are not unusual, and in the coldest months, temperatures can fall to between 2°C and 5°C.
Most of the scant annual precipitation falls between the months of November and March. In the majority of the country, yearly precipitation averages 25 cm or less. The months between June and August experience little to no rain.
Iran’s main airport is the Imam Khomeini International Airport (IKIA), located 37 km south-west of the capital city, Tehran. IKIA sees all of the country’s international air traffic. There are an additional 70 smaller regional airports, such as those in Shiraz, Mashhad and Isfahan, which have daily flights to several international destinations. The country’s national, government-owned airline is Iran Air.
It is possible to travel to Iran from other countries such as Dubai, which has scheduled flights to many Iranian cities. Flights are run by Iran Air, Iran Aseman Airlines, Mahan Air and a few of the country's other airline companies. Otherwise, should you need to get to destinations other than the capital, you would need to transfer from IKIA to Mehrabad airport, 40 km away, to board your flight.
You could also get to Iran by car, for example via Turkey. To do this you would need, in addition to your entry visa, an international driving permit, third party insurance valid for Iran and accredited with Iran Bimeh (the Iranian Green Card Bureau), and a ‘Carnet de Passage’ (a temporary importation document) for your car. Expats best contact their home country’s main driver associations for advice on how to obtain this.