Flag of Iran

Flag of Iran

جمهوری اسلامی ایران


  • Population » 81 million
    • Iran is the world’s 18th-most-populous country.
  • Language » Persian
  • Religion » Islam
  • Ethnicity » Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%
  • Life expectancy » 75 years (men), 77 years (women)
  • Currency » Iranian Rial
  • Time Zone: GMT+3½ hours (GMT+4½ late March to late Sept, as from 2011)
  • Dial code: +98


  • Located in Western Asia.
  • Area: 1,648,195 sq km (636,313 sq miles)
    • Second largest country in the Middle East, and the 17th largest in the world.
  • Iran is a very rugged country of plateaus and mountains, dominated by the Elburz Mountains in the north, and the Zagros Mountains along its western borders.
  • The central and eastern portion of the country is covered by the Plateau of Iran. The Dasht-e Kavir is a sandstone and salty desert plateau, that in the heat of summer is one of the hottest places on the planet.
  • Iran’s highest point, Mt. Damavand reaches 18,934 ft (5,771m).
Map of Regions of Iran (Source » Wikimedia)

Map of Regions of Iran (Source » Wikimedia)



  • Having an Israeli stamp in your passport will see you turned away or put on the next flight out.
  • The Visa process is slow and rules often change without warning.
  • Iran offers a 90-day Visa on Arrival (VOA) for most tourists, based on nationality at airports – not land borders. Available at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini Airport.
    • Citizens of Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey and Venezuela do not require any form of visa.
    • Russians may enter Iran visa-free when in groups from five to 50 people.
    •  All nationalities are eligible to apply for VOA except for citizens from:
      • Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Canada, Colombia, India, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, Somalia, UK and USA
        • These citizens must apply for a travel visa prior to arrival.
        • Citizens of Israel may not enter under any circumstances.
        • Mandatory » Citizens of the USA, the UK, and Canada must have an official tour guide with them throughout their stay.
    • Iran has periodically barred US citizens from obtaining visas
    • Iran will not issue visas to Israeli passport holders. Similarly, having an Israeli stamp in any other passport will see you turned away.
  • Adventures are often attracted to the Golden Triangle region, including the cities of Hamadan, Kermanshah, and Khorramabad.
  • The most popular tourist destinations are Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shiraz.
  • Often overlooked ruins » Takht-e Soleyman – meaning Throne of Solomon, a breathtaking site built around a mineral-rich crater lake 30km north of Takab in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province.

Overland and Road Safety

  • Citizens of the USA, the UK, and Canada must have an official tour guide with them throughout their stay.
  • As of the July 2018 citizens from Canada, the UK, and the USA are not authorized to drive in Iran, even when accompanied by a guide.
    • However there are reports that in 2019, this rule was lifted and tourists may drive their own cars around Iran with a guide in tow. To be confirmed.
  • A Carnet de Passage is required for overland vehicles entering Iran.
  • There is a Ro-Ro ferry between Bandar Abbas, Iran and Sharjah, UAE
  • No foreign registered motorcycles larger than 250cc are permitted to cross the border into Iran.
  • No American branded vehicles are allowed to enter Iran.
  • Drive on the Right side of the road.
    • Drivers are supposed to overtake from the left, but in practice they will overtake wherever they find a gap.
  • Perhaps the most dangerous thing about Iran are the drivers. They have been, in all seriousness, been described by those that have driven around the world, as the worst in the world.
  • Driving in Iran’s larger cities (Tehran, Isfahan, Shiraz) can be challenging for some.
    • Almost nobody sticks to just one lane and indicating before changing the lane happens rather barely.
  • All roads have a speed limit. Within the city it is usually 50 to 80 km/h, for highways it is 120 km/h.
  • Roads are generally in good condition and all bigger cities are connected by highways.


  • In the summer months high temperatures occur along the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, and in the Dasht-e Kavir, where highs frequently reach into the mid 90s.
  • Winter weather varies from mild to cold, with heavy snow in the higher elevations.
  • The Caspian Sea coastal area is mild, with rainfall throughout the year.

Government Travel Advice for Iran


  • Marco Polo writes of the Persian kingdom of Kerman (Iran) along the Silk Road, where craftsmen made saddles, bridles, spurs and “arms of every kind”. Today, in the centre of Kerman, the former caravanserai building forms part of the Ganjali Khan Complex, which incorporates a bazaar, bathhouse and mosque.
  • Iranians are famous for their hospitality and gregarious manners.
  • Persia, as Iran was known before 1935, was one of the greatest empires of the ancient world. Together with the people of India and China, Iranian people are the most ancient civilization in Asia.
  • Iran has long maintained a distinct cultural identity within the Islamic world by retaining its own language and adhering to the Shia interpretation of Islam.
  • Iran is a Muslim country that observes the Hijab, an Arabic word deriving from the root hujb meaning modesty, decency, cover or shield. According to Islamic Sharia law, Iranian women are required to cover their bodies and their hair from men other than their fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands and fathers-in-law. Women are required to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and to cover their heads with a shawl or a scarf.
    • Women travelling in Iran should the dress very conservative; clothing should cover arms and legs, and when in public, hair must be covered.
  • When visiting mosques and holy shrines, you will need a Chador (a long veil covering the whole body) which will be freely distributed at the entrance.
  • Men are not allowed to wear short pants.
  • Physical display of affection between men and women is forbidden in the public.
  • The ownership, production, and consumption of alcoholic drinks is illegal in Iran.
  • Sexual relationships outside marriage is considered an offence in Iran and is punishable according to the law.






This page was updated May 16, 2023