Iran: Land of the Ancient and the Modern

Gabbeh Rug from Iran

A Gabbeh style rug from Iran. © Sharon Lundahl

Even though we have never been to Iran, we sell many rugs from this famous “Carpet Country”.   In fact, we maintain active relationships with Iranian carpet merchants, who send us hundreds of pictures of rugs from which to choose and buy.  Our shop is a richer and more beautiful place because of these purchases.

Also Known As Persia

The Jameh Mosque of Yazd is the grand, congregational mosque of Yazd city. © ali reza_parsi/flickr

Iran is the greatest of all the carpet-making countries.  Known also by its historical name, Persia, it also has a rich tradition in painting, calligraphy, architecture, pottery, stone masonry and metalworking.  It was one of the first to use mathematics, geometry and astronomy in its architecture and, in fact, Persians contributed to our knowledge of natural science, medicine, astronomy, mathematics and philosophy.  We don’t have enough space here to comment on Persia as one of the greatest empires of the ancient world, as the first Iranian dynasty was formed in 2800 BCE during the Elamite kingdom.

The Iranian Revolution

Our contemporary knowledge of Iran started with the Iranian revolutionaries who overthrew the Shah, and in 1979 created an Islamic republic under the religious clerics and the supreme leader Ayatollah Khomenei.   Young people who have never studied history sometimes have the mistaken impression that Iran was always as it is now…or that all if its people hold the views of its ruling party.

A Potential Energy Super-power

Iran has the second-highest natural gas reserves in the world and ranks third in oil reserves.  Should Iran return to a more stable and reasoned government, it certainly has the potential to become an energy super-power.  As a result of a number of factors such as inefficient domestic use and contraband, in 2005 it was forced to spend four billion U.S. dollars on the import of oil.

Iranian Youth and Iran’s Future

Two thirds of Iran's population is younger than 30 years old, and women make up more than half of university enrollments. © Hamed Saber/Flicr

What can change the current troubled country of Iran?   One factor may be its youth, as more than 2/3 of its population is under the age of 30.  What some do not realize is that the literacy rate in Iran is as high as 83%, and that women make up more than half of the incoming classes in universities in the country.

Iranians Are Active Bloggers

Another interesting factor is that the Iranian youth have become obsessed with the internet; Iran ranks now as the fourth largest country of bloggers in the world.  As of December 2009, there were more than 32 million internet users in Iran, making up about 50% of the population.  Even though Islamic authorities block internet sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Twitter and YouTube, dissident young voices manage to make themselves heard on the world stage.  Don’t underestimate their power for change.

Iran As Tourism Destination

There is great potential for tourism in Iran in the future.  Iran now ranks only 89th in tourist income, even though it is described as among the “10 most touristic countries” in the world.    My husband and I are certainly looking forward to the day when we can visit the greatest of the carpet-making countries.