Iran Facts

Quick Facts

Official Title: Islamic Republic of Iran

Area: 1,648,000 km2

Terrain: A central desert basin surrounded by mountainous rims

Capital: Tehran

Major Cities: Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz & Mashhad

Population: 80.75 million (2017)

Brief History

For most of history, the tract of land now called Iran was known as Persia. It wasn’t until 1935 that it adopted its present name meaning the land of Aryans.

The First inhabitants of Iran were a race of people living in western Asia. When the Aryans arrived, they gradually started mingling with the old native Asians.

Recent discoveries indicate that, centuries before the rise of earliest civilizations in Mesopotamia, Iran was inhabited by human. But the written history of Iran dates back to 3,200 BC.

Cyrus the Great was the founder of the first Persian Empire in 500 BC. Since then Iran has witnessed the rise of numerous Empires and also been overrun by various occupiers such as Macedonians, Arabs, Turks and Mongols until 1979 when a revolution brought an end to over 2,500 years of monarchy in Iran.

General Geographical Info

Iran is a country in southwestern Asia, located on the eastern side of the Persian Gulf. It lies at the easternmost edge of the geographic and cultural region known as the Middle East.

With 1,648,000 km2 land area it is the 2nd largest country in the Middle East and the 18th in the world.

Iran is a high-altitude plateau surrounded by connected ranges of mountains.

One of the world’s most mountainous countries, Iran contains two major ranges of mountains, the Alborz with the highest peak Damavand (5,671 meters above sea level) and the Zagros that cuts across the country for more than 1,600 km extending from north west to the south east of the country. These two ranges capture a considerable amount of moisture coming either from the Caspian Sea southward or the Mediterranean eastward and stops the rainfall getting to some of the central areas.

As a result Iran has two of world’s largest deserts, Dasht-e-Kavir and Kavir-e-Lut. They are both some of the most arid and maybe hottest areas of their kinds in the world.

More than half of Iran’s international border of 4,430 km is coastline, including 740 km along the Caspian Sea in the north and 1,700 km along the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea in the south.


Iran is a vast country with different types of climate: wet and mild on the coast of the Caspian Sea, continental and arid in the plateau, cold in high mountains, desert and hot in the southern coast and the southeast.

Generally, Iran is an arid country, however in the west and the north the rains are a bit more abundant than in the east and the south. The only rainy area is the Caspian Sea coast. Summer is sunny in everywhere.

When to go
Given the vastness of Iran and its different climates, it is difficult to find a time which is best for all the country. However, you can choose spring (March to May), particularly April or Autumn (September to November) especially the month of October.
Population & People

Iran’s 80.75 million population ranks the country as the 2nd in the Middle East and the world’s 17th most populous country.

Although the majority of population are Persians (61%), Iran is home to many other ethnics containing Azaris (16%), Kurds (10%), Lors (6%), Arabs (2%), Baluchs (2%) and Turkmens (2%).


The majority of the Iranians speak the Persian language, which is also the official language of the country. Others include the rest of the Iranian languages within the greater Indo-European languages, and the languages of the other ethnicities in Iran. After Persian and its sub-branched languages such as Gilaki, Mazandarani & Lori the most spoken language in Iran is Azari following by Kurdish, Arabic & Baluchi.

Practical Info

Time Zone

Iran is 3.5 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time. During day light saving Iran is 4.5 hours ahead of GMT, which is usually from 21/22 March to 21/22 September.

Immigration & Visa

Mystic Tours applies for a visa pre-authorisation through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for all passengers.

Passengers can choose to obtain their visa from the Iranian Embassy in Canberra (or any other embassy/consulate across the world) or simply take advantage of visa on arrival arrangements.

Obtaining the visa through the Iranian Embassy costs 160 AUD* and the fee for Visa on arrival is 150 Euros* per person which must be paid in cash. Please refer to relevant Iranian Embassy/Consulate website for pre-purchase visa fees via other embassy/consulates.

Proof of a valid travel insurance policy is required to enter the country. Immigration authorities might condition your visa to a local travel insurance to be purchased at the airport if such proof is not available. The cost of this insurance is approximately 20 Euros (This is a guide only price).

*Subject to change without notice.


Iranian customs applies restriction on importing and exporting live animals, plants and plant products.

Import of medicines is allowed only for personal usage and at low volume. Please make sure you obtain a certificate from your GP/Physician if you are carrying an unusual amount of medicines.

Import of cigarettes/tobacco products is allowed at the amount of one box equal to 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars per passenger. The allowed amount of tobacco for each passenger is 250 grams.

According to the laws and regulations of Iran, import and export of below items are strictly forbidden;

  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Gambling tools
  • Narcotic drugs
  • Magazines, publications, photos, films, snaps and those goods which are against the religious and national dignity of the country (including pornography items).

All clients travelling with Mystic Tours must have personal travel insurance to cover all medical and repatriation costs.

We encourage all passengers to consult with their GP or a vaccination centre regarding required vaccinations for Iran.

Local Law

As any other country, all foreign travellers must respect the country’s rules.

Under Iranian law ladies are required to cover their hair and body in public, this includes a scarf and a loose overcoat, trench coat or a tunic to cover their hips. Men are required to wear long trousers in public, no shorts allowed!

Possessing and consuming alcohol and narcotic drugs in Iran is strictly forbidden by law.


The currency unit in Iran is ‘Iranian Rial’ (IRR). However Iranians commonly express amounts of money and prices of goods in ‘Tomans’. For this purpose, one Toman equals to 10 Rials. Despite this usage, amounts of money and prices of goods are virtually always written in Rials.

1 AUD equals to 92,000 IRR, 1 USD to 125,000 IRR and 1 Euro to 145,000 IRR.*

Iranian shops, ATM’s and banks do not accept foreign credit/debit cards. Although Australian Dollar is accepted by some exchange offices in Iran we recommend having your cash in US Dollars or Euros.

*Approximate rates in March 2019