THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC of Iran is a Middle Eastern country with an ancient and prestigious history and a present marked by the presence of considerable resources of oil and gas that buttress its status and power in the modern world. It is bordered by Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east, the Persian Gulf to the south, Iraq and Turkey to the west, and the former Soviet Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan to the north, in addition to the Caspian Sea. Most of the country consists of mountain ranges surrounding the central plain, with much of the land more than 1,500 feet above sea level.

The country is ethnically diverse, including Turkic peoples, Aryans, Kurds, and the Bakhtyari people, together with Assyrians, Arabs, and Jewish people. ...

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