Finds of stone tools, including the presence of hominids
in Iran's peripheral areas probably already dates to about
800,000-700,000 years ago, while very few evidence exists
for settlements in the central highlands. From the Middle
Paleolithic (100,000-40,000 BC), there are several cave
settlements in the Zagros Mountains (including Ghar-i Khar,
Varvasi and Kunji caves); contemporary finds from Iraq
(compare Shanidar) suggest that the residents were
Neanderthal people. Cave finds are also from younger
Paleolithic, mainly in Zagros down to the lakes southeast of
present-day Shiraz, but from about 10,500 BC. also in the
Elburz Mountains (Ghar-i Kamarband).
Already during the 8000s BC villages with agriculture and
livestock production grew on the slopes of the Zagros
mountains, mainly thanks to the proximity to different
ecological zones with varying nutritional resources.
Important sites are Ganj Dareh, Ali Kosh and Tepe Guran.
During the Neolithic, settlement spread over the lowlands
and parts of the high plateau.
In western Iran's lowlands, just as in Mesopotamia, an
urban civilization gradually developed. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Iran. Its development
began about 5500 BC and culminated in the Elamite empire,
which in the 3000s BC became a centralized state with Susa
as its capital. Already around 3000 BC a native script was
used, which was replaced by wedge writing in the latter part
of the 2000s BC. (compare Elam).
Findings show that extensive trade in copper, steatite,
lapis lazuli and carnelian were conducted between
Mesopotamia, Badakhshan in present-day Afghanistan and the
Indus Valley during the 3000 and 2000 BC. Along the trade
routes, cities with sometimes thousands of residents grew
up: Tepe Sialk, Tepe Elevators, Tepe Yahya and the
remarkably well-preserved Shahr-e Sokhta were significant
centers. Parts of the trade were probably controlled by
Elam. Ceramic finds indicate that the culture in eastern
Iran was closely related to places like Altin-depe and
Namazga-depe in Turkmenistan and Mundigak in Afghanistan.
During the period 2500-1000 BC Luristan was a significant
center for bridge manufacturing; By plundering its rich
burial ground, numerous weapons, jewelery and vessels have
been distributed to the world's museums.
During the third millennium BC appeared in a foreign mold
complex in northeastern Iran, characterized by a
characteristic dark gray ceramic (Turang Tepe). From the
middle of the following millennium, this culture of objects
gradually spread west and south, which was linked to the
Indo-European immigration. Parts of the find material from
Marlik (from about 1350 BC) have sometimes been interpreted
as a precursor to medical work.
The time around 1350-550 BC is considered Iran's Iron
Age. South of Lake Urmia, Ziwiye and Hasanlu were major
centers in the kingdom of the Meneras around 1000-700 BC. To
the west of Urmia there are remains from about 1200-700 BC.
of heavily fortified settlements (eg Haftavan Tepe) which
belonged to the kingdom of Urartu. Remains of medical
settlements (c. 750 BC) have been found in Nush-i Djan and
Despite continual conflicts with Sumerians, Assyrians and
Babylonians, the Elamite culture in southwestern Iran
continued into the first millennium BC. About the historical
development north and east of Elam is very little known
before the immigration of Indo-European-speaking Iranian
tribes into the highlands east of Mesopotamia. Their origins
are described in mythical form in the untouchable religious
record Avesta; their history and place-bound history first
began in the 8th century BC
Domestic sources for Iran's ancient history mainly
consist of public (royal) inscriptions. Coherent depictions
of political development can be found in Greek historians;
especially at Herodotos, whose sometimes legendary works,
however, rarely compress, simplify or misinterpret the
events. Other important writers are Ktesias, Xenophon and
Strabon; no actual domestic history writing was scarce in
Iran before the Islamic conquest.
For names of acemenid rulers, the article uses the
conventional Greek names (eg Xerxes instead of
Khshayarshan); in parentheses follow transliterations
of the ancient Persian names.
Medes and Persians
Assyrian annals state that King Salmanassar III 843 BC
took tax from 27 chiefs in the country of Parsua
northeast of Mesopotamia; Eight years later, the country of
Madai is similarly mentioned. Here the names of the
oldest known Iranian peoples, the Medes and Persians,
appear. It is likely that they began their immigration to
the Iranian high plateau at the end of the second millennium
BC. Their path from the Indo-Lithuanian common area is
unclear. A traditional view has been that they went west of
the Caspian Sea, while other researchers claimed that they
went east and that the Iranian tribes the Assyrians first
came into contact with only western outlets of a larger
eastern and central Iranian immigration area.
The northern neighbor of Assyria was the hostile kingdom
of Urartu, with which medical chiefs allied. A number of
these were defeated by King Sargon II (721-705 BC), and a
certain Daiaukku (ancient Persian Dahyuka) was
deported by him to Syria. Possibly Daiaukku was identical to
the Deiokes who, according to Herodotos, founded the medical
kingdom, had the capital Ekbatana built (ancient pers.
Hagmatana, now Hamadan) and then ruled for 52
years. However, it is more likely that the medians united
under Deioke's son Fraortes (Fravartish), who
adopted the throne name of Khshathrita and reigned according
to Herodotus for 22 years (ca. 647-625 or 675-653 BC).
During Fraortees, the Medes detached themselves from the
Assyrian dominion, but at the same time came a wave of
conquest from the north by Scythian and Kimmerian nomads.
These crowded south, shook Urartu, and ruled for some time
over the Media.
Fraortes was succeeded by his son Kyaxares (Huvakhshtra),
who drove out the shooters; he is said to have ruled for 40
years (about 624-585 BC). Under Kyax's government, Urartu
was crushed, and medical power spread across eastern and
southern Iran. In conjunction with the New Babylonian Empire
and Elam, the Assyrians were also defeated, and their
capital Nineveh was taken in 612 BC. Kyaxares was succeeded
by his son Astyages (Babylonian Ishtuwegu), who
ruled for about 35 years before he was overthrown by Kyros
II, the founder of the Akemenid Empire.
It is not known whether the media had their own writing
language. However, they conveyed Mesopotamian culture to
their Persian kinsmen, who appear to have migrated into
western Iran at about the same time. Probably already the
above-quoted Parsua refers to the Persians, then as
a term on some of the Media. A hundred years later, the
Assyrian name Parsu (m) ash unequivocally denoted
the Persian own land, now located in the district of Elam's
eastern capital, Anshan. In the 600s, the Persians seized
power in eastern Elam and Parsa (Greek Persis, now
Fars), the area that remained the Persian nuclear province
to our day.
The Akemenids (549-331 BC)
As the leader of the Persians emerged the Akemenid
dynasty, named after Achaimenes (Hakhamanish). Her
son Teispes (Chishpish) was the first "great king
of Anshan". Under his sons Kyros (Kurush) and
Ariaramnes (Ariyaramna), the dynasty was divided
into two branches. Possibly Kyros accepted the Assyrian king
Assurbanipal's supremacy around 646 BC During the Cyrus son
of Kambyses (Kambujiya), the Persian provinces
obeyed the Medes. Kambyses' son Kyros II, who became king
about 559 BC, turned against the medical great king
Astyages. It was abandoned by its own, and Cyrus took
Ekbatana 549 BC (Herodoto's depiction of the course of
events is entirely legendary.) The Akemenids, who have
already taken up Elamite ruling card traditions, now took
over a large kingdom with established administration; on
this, Kyros ("the great") and his successor built one of the
greatest and best organized empires of ancient times.
Cyrus defeated 547 BC the Lydian king Kroisos and
captured Sardes. The rest of Asia Minor was conquered, and
Babylon fell without battle 539. Finally, Susa was captured,
and the Elamite kingdom was wiped out. Cyrus resided in
Ekbatana and the Pasargadae founded by him in Parsa. During
an expedition to the massacres east of the Caspian Sea 530
BC he fell, according to legend in conflict with the Queen
of the Massages, Tomyris.
Cyrus was buried in Pasargadae and succeeded by his son
Kambyses II, who expanded the kingdom by conquering Egypt
in 525 BC. A rebellion in Iran forced Cambyses to return
home, but he died on the road, probably in Palestine, 522
BC. The Gaumata midfielder now sought to seize power by
pretending to be Cambyses' brother Bardiya, but he was
shortly overthrown by Dareios (Darayavahush), a
prince on the sidelines after Ariaramnes. The inscription
Dareios I had set up in Bisutun describes how he brought
order in the kingdom, which now extended from the Bosphorus
to Indus and from Transoxania to Egypt.
The Akemenids worshiped the god Ahuramazda; whether they
were also Zoroastrians is not known. The kingdom was ruled
from Susa, and near Pasargadae a new ceremonial capital,
Persepolis, was erected. Local rulers were allowed to stay
as vassals in the conquered countries, but the kingdom was
divided into some twenty provinces, subordinate to Persian
governors, satraps. Tax collection was controlled by a
central administration, and an imperial law was maintained
in parallel with local jurisdiction. Professional armies
were subordinate to the great king and the satrapers.
Dareios extended the kingdom all the way to Thrace and
Macedonia in the west. A Revolt in Joni 499 BC led to a
conflict with the city states of Greece, which culminated
when a Persian punishment expedition was defeated at the
Marathon outside Athens 490 BC. Preparations for an attack
on Greece were disrupted by a revolt in Egypt in 486 BC,
followed by Dareios' death the same year. His son Xerxes I (Khshayarshan)
inherited a kingdom that was at the height of his power.
Xerxes defeated the uprising in Egypt and a revolt in
Babylonia and invaded 480 BC Greece. After initial successes
(Athens was burned), the Persian fleet was defeated at
Salamis, whereupon Xerxes returned home, while one here
under his sister Mardonios (Marduniya) remained in
Greece. After the defeat of Plataiai and Mykale the
following year, the Persians finally withdrew from Europe;
however, they continued to exert influence on Greek politics
through alliances and subsidies (compare Greece, History and
the Persian Wars).
Xerxes was murdered, probably in Persepolis, 465 BC Under
his son Artaxerxes I (Artakhshassa), who reigned
until 424 BC, the territory of the empire was kept somewhat
intact, but Egypt revolted again, and an agreement with
Athens around 450 BC. gave the Ionian cities greater freedom
of action (compare Kallias).
After a brief interlude of Xerxes II, Dareios II
(423-404 BC) followed , during which the economic downturn
became apparent. Concerns were heightened by a war of
succession between the brothers Artaxerxes II and Kyros dy,
which ended with the latter falling near Babylon in 401 BC.
In doing so, Egypt liberated itself. A revolt of the satraps
in the west occupied Artaxerxes until he was assassinated in
359 BC. His son Ochos, by the throne name Artaxerxes III,
choked off the ever more powerful satrapers and recaptured
Egypt 343 BC. The ancient kingdom was thus largely restored.
Artaxerxes III was murdered 338 BC, his son Arses 336. A
prince on the sidelines, Dareios III Kodomannos, took over
as Grand King.
At the head of a Macedonian-Greek coalition army,
Macedonia's King Alexander III led in the spring of 334 BC
a campaign against the Persian Empire. After Persian defeats
at Granikos (334), Issos (333) and Gaugamela (331),
resistance was broken; Babylon and Susa gave up without a
fight, and Persepolis was burned (possibly by accident).
Dareios fled east, but was assassinated by the satirist
Bessos. The Macedonian king was the ruler of Iran.
Hellenistic Iran (331-129 BC)
When Alexander 324 BC returned to Susa after the train to
Indus, his empire had the same extent as the Akemenidic
under Dareios I. Alexander deliberately sought to restore
this kingdom under Macedonian-Greek-Persian leadership, took
over management systems and court ceremonies, and encouraged
his men to enter the conquered countries. However, the
large-scale fusion of peoples and cultures he wanted to
implement led to opposition among his own and in the Greek
military colonies he deployed in the provinces. The empire
had not taken firm shape when he died in Babylon 323 BC.
(compare Alexander the Great).
Alexander's general Seleukos now took power in the
eastern parts of the empire. After the Battle of Ipsos 301
BC his kingdom included the territory from Syria to India. A
new capital, Seleukia, was founded at Tigris. From there and
from Antioch, the Seleucid dynasty ruled. During Seleukos'
son Antiochus I, the eastern provinces of Bactria and
Parthia were set free. The Satrap in Bactria, Diodotos,
dates to about 240 BC. the basis of an independent
Antiochos' son, Seleukos II, tried unsuccessfully to
recapture Parthien. His own son, Antiochus III, was,
however, a tireless warrior; his campaign brought him to
Armenia in the north, the borders of the Indian Moorish
kingdom to the east, the Arabian peninsula to the south, and
finally to Greece, from where he was, however, driven by the
The Macedonian-Greek immigration to Iran led to the
establishment of Greek colonies and new mixed-population
cities. Eventually, however, Hellenization erupted, and the
Hellenistic elements were integrated into a more general
ancestral Oriental culture. Characteristic was the loose
cohesion of the provinces by the Seleucids.
Partherna (171 BC - 226 AD)
About 250 BC Parner, a horseman related to the Scythians,
settled in Parthien: they came to be called Parther. Their
leader Arsakes (Arshak) gave the name to the
dynasty that undermined most of Iran during the following
century. The Arsakids era dates back to 247 BC, but the
first ruler that can be historically located is Mithradates
I (c. 171-138 BC), who conquered the western provinces and
created a new capital, Ktesiphon, near Seleukia. His son
Fraates II, through his victory over Antiochus VII 129 BC.
finally eliminated the selukids from Iran but fell in battle
with Central Asian nomads. The same fate befell his
successor, Artabanos II.
Mithradates II (123-87 BC) was more successful. He
halted the Tokharas at Marv (in present-day Turkmenistan),
after which they founded the Kushan kingdom east of Iran
(compare Kushana), and also managed to keep the striking
things east of Herat. In the west, Mithradates appointed the
Armenian King Tigranes and guarded his interests against the
expanding Roman Empire. Following him were weak rulers who
competed with Rome for Armenia and the Euphrates.
Fraates III may have reached an agreement with the Roman
warlord Pompey on the interests of the two kingdoms, but
already during the reign of Orodes II, a Roman army was
destroyed during Crassus by the prince Surenas at Harran 54
BC. Fraates IV (37-2 BC) successfully defended himself
against the Romans, who in August chose to pursue a peaceful
policy. Artabanos III (c. 10-38 AD) maintained peace with
Rome through a compromise on Armenia, but the empire
suffered from internal unrest. Some stabilization occurred
during Vologase I (51-80 AD), but then the split increased.
The war's fortunes alternated during Vologases II
(105-147) and Vologases III (148-192). The Romans invaded
Armenia and entered Ktesipon 117, 165 and 198 AD Vologases
IV (192-207) was followed by his son Vologases V, after
civil strife 213-216 deposed by his younger brother
Artabanos V. This was attacked by the Romans under Emperor
Caracalla, who was, however, murdered by his own 217.
The Sasanids (226-651 AD)
The Parthians had inherited from the Seleukids a system
of loosely cohesive vassal states and never succeeded in
uniting them into a centralized state. The individual
provinces followed their own lines of development:
Persian-speaking culture lived on in Parsa, and a local
dynasty ruled in Stakhr near Persepolis. It bore the name of
Sasan, according to legend, a descendant of the Akemenids.
About 208 AD the sasanid Papak became vassal during the
Parthian great king, but his son Ardashir, who succeeded him
about 224, defeated Artabanos V and was crowned about 226
Ardashir united the kingdom, introduced a centralized
administration and created a strong army. The kingdom's
external enemies, led by the Arsakidian king of Armenia and
the ruler of Kushan, were defeated. The son Shapur I
(240-272) inherited a strong, Persian-dominated Iran and
expanded in the east by conquering Kushan and in the west by
taking parts of Syria from the Romans. In the year 260,
Emperor Valerian was captured in Edessa and sent captive to
Iran. During Shapur, religious founder Mani (compare
Manikeism) appeared, who received some support from the
great king. After his death in 272, however, Mani was
imprisoned and later executed. Shapur was succeeded by his
two sons Hormizd I (272) and Varahran (Bahram) I (273),
during which the Zoroastrian reaction to Manicheanism,
Christianity and Buddhism broke through.
During Varahran II (276-293), his successor Narseh and
Hormizd II (302-309), waged wars with Rome in the west and
the Cushans in the east. During the long reign of Shapur II
(309-379), the Kushan dynasty was able to reestablish its
kingdom at first, but at an old age, Shapur defeated the
Kushan people and appointed a Sasanid governor of Baktra
(now Balkh, Afghanistan). The Sasanidic influence is now
spreading in Central Asia all the way to China's borders. In
the west, Constantine's conversion to Christianity meant
closer contacts between the Roman Empire and Christian
Armenia. The front line in the west thus became a frontier
against Christianity, and the Christians in Iran were
During the period 379-531, Iran was plagued by war and
internal unrest, and the power of the nobility increased at
the expense of the unity of the kingdom. Fighting was
ongoing with the East Roman Empire and against the
Heftalites in northeastern Iran. The latter even succeeded
in capturing King Peroz (459-484), who could be redeemed
first with the support of Constantinople, and for a long
time the Hephalitic kings had a decisive influence in Iran.
During Kavad (488-531), a religious-revolutionary movement
of the disputed nature was founded by Mazdak, which
contributed to a social restructuring (compare Mazdakism).
Kavad's son Khusrov (Greek Chosroes) In
Anoshirvan (531-579), he was perhaps the foremost Sasanian
ruler; his long reign has been considered an Iranian golden
age. So, as in a short war 540, peace prevailed on the
western front, and in the east, the Heftalites were overcome
and Iran's border was restored to Oxus. In the south, Yemen
was annexed. Khusrov's son Hormizd IV (579-590) happened to
conflict with his victorious General Varahran (Bahram)
Chobin, which led to his fall. Hormizd's son, Khusrov II
Parvez (591-628), defeated Chobin with Byzantine assistance,
leaving Armenia to resign.
Twenty years later, Khusrov invaded the Byzantine Empire
and triumphed on all fronts: he reached the Bosphorus and
conquered Antioch, Damascus and Jerusalem, and Egypt.
However, the Byzantine emperor Herakleios went against the
attack and besieged Ktesiphon. Khusrov was murdered by his
own, leaving behind a kingdom in chaos, a condition which
continued under the successors of Kavad II, Ardashir III,
Boran and others. The last Sasanid king, Yazdagerd
III(632-651), fought in vain to keep the kingdom together.
Both the Byzantine Empire and Iran, after centuries of
bloody war, were weakened by the unexpected attack by the
Arabian Peninsula. Muslim armies defeated the Sasanids first
at Qadisiya 637 and then at Nihavand 642. Yazdagerd fled
east but was murdered in Marv 651. Iran was placed under the
Iran after the Arab conquest
For nearly nine hundred years after the Arab conquest of
about 637, Iran became part or parcel of a variety of
changing state formation. One sign that Zoroastrianism may
not have been particularly entrenched among the broader
masses is that the conquerors' religion, Islam, of all
judgments, made significantly faster progress in Iran than
in Christian Syria and Egypt. The newly converted mawali('clients'),
however, for a long time had difficulty obtaining the same
privileges as the Arabs, which during the Umayyad Caliphate
(661-750) created a growing dissatisfaction. The great
revolt that broke out in eastern Iran in 748 and led to
Abbas' 749 power was largely driven by newly converted
Iranians. With the Abbasids victory, the center of the
caliphate was moved to Mesopotamia, and the new capital
Baghdad was erected just north of Ktesiphon. Persian-born
officials and ancient Persian views and institutions left
their mark on the further development of the Caliphate.
The personal power of the caliphs was totally undermined
in the 9th century, and they came under military rule. From
945 to 1055, it was a Persian Shiite prince, the Buyids, who
held the post of commander, with their own Northern Iranian
troops as the base of power. They divided Mesopotamia and
the western half of Iran. Since the beginning of the 9th
century, eastern Iran and the West Turkestan were ruled by
another Persian prince, the Sami. Their court in Buchara
became a cultural center, where began to be written in
Nypersian. Towards the end of the century, Turkish ex-slave
general Seb邦ktegin established himself as the lord of
eastern Iran and Afghanistan and became the progenitor of
the ghaznavids. From the 1030s, a Turkish conqueror, the
Seljuks, who defeated Sami, Ghaznavids and finally Buyids
appeared and took over their kingdoms. Baghdad was conquered
in 1055,sultan (Arabic, 'power'). Iran was now the
most important part of the Seljuq Sultanate, which from the
1070s extended from Anatolia and Syria to the borders of
China and India. Although the ruling family was Turkish
dominated Persian culture and Persian language throughout
the empire, and the civilian officials were also Persians.
After Sultan Malik Shah's death in 1092, the kingdom
began to be divided into less fully or partially independent
national formations, so-called atabegatter. After the last
significant Seljuq sultan Sanjar's death in 1157, most of
Iran became part of a new Turkish-controlled great power,
the Khwarezm Sha'a kingdom, which was crushed by the Mongols
under the Genghis Khan in the 1220s. The Iranian area was
largely conquered in 1231, but Djingi's grandson H邦leg邦
continued the conquests west. In 1258, Baghdad fell, and the
last caliph was executed. During H邦leg邦 and his successors
as Ilkhans, Mesopotamia-Iran-West Turkestan became a near
enough independent Mongol empire that existed until 1335.
The ruling Mongols were initially Buddhists or Nestorian
Christians but were Islamized from the 1290s. Agriculture in
Iran had suffered severely during the conquest period, but
around the turn of the 1300s a recovery took place. Above
all, the Mongol era saw a boost to the transit trade across
Iranian territory. favored Italian merchants who set up
offices in the capital, Tabriz.
After the collapse of the Mongol dynasty, Iran and the
rest of the kingdom were divided into several smaller state
formations. These were swallowed up by the end of the 1300s
by Timur Lenk's Iranian-Central Asian empire, which was
divided after his death in 1405. In the eastern parts of
Herat, the Timurid dynasty remained until the early 1500s;
it consisted of remarkably peaceful and culturally loving
princes, who favored theology, miniature painting and
poetry. In the western half of Iran, a Turkmen
Confederation, Kara Koyunlu ('Black Sheep',
1406-68), established itself as ruler but was replaced by
another tribal federation, Ak Koyunlu ('White
Sheep'), which until the early 1500s the century came to
rule throughout Iran, Mesopotamia and eastern Anatolia.
Iran during the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736)
From 1500, a new ruler, Ismail, emerged the hereditary
leader of a Shiite dervish chord. Ismail, supported by a
federation of eight Turkmen tribes, defeated Ak Koyunlu, was
crowned Shah and conquered within a few years the whole of
Iran, the Caucasus region and about half the current
Afghanistan. In doing so, he became the founder of the
Safavid dynasty, whose regime has often been completely
unfounded as a carrier of a "Persian nation-state". In fact,
it was an extreme theocracy, supported by Turkmen who ruled
over a majority of Persians, whose political significance
was low. In 1503, Shia (Twelfth Sham) was declared a state
religion. The Shah was considered to represent "the hidden
imam," the sole bearer of both religious and political
authority, who would return in time to save the world. His
power was absolute, and all land within the realm was
considered his personal property. As a result, the
upper-class land holdings were very unstable, and properties
could be confiscated at any time. Towards the end of the
dynasty, however, the significance of the Shah diminished,
which was taken over by the theologians-jurists (ulama).
The political and cultural heyday of the Safavid Empire
came under Shah Abbas I (1588-1629), which made Esfahan the
capital. Foreign policy was constantly hostile to the
Ottoman Empire. During numerous wars between them, the
provinces of Baghdad and Basra changed owners several times,
in order to finally become Ottoman in 1639. In the army and
among the higher officials, the Turkmen were pushed aside
during Abbas I's time and replaced by slave militiamen,
recruited among the Christian people of the Caucasus
Iran during the Qajar dynasty (1796-1925)
Uprising among Sunni tribes, Russian and Ottoman
meddling, and fighting between various faithful dependents
of 1722 caused a chaotic state, which however came to a
temporary end in 1736. A Turkmen military of simple descent
proclaimed ruler by the name of Nader Shah and made rapid
and extensive conquests, i.a. in India, for a time again
Iran to a great power. The weakness was that everything was
built around the person of the Shah. At his death in 1747,
everything collapsed, and political chaos reigned for half a
Under these conditions, the leader of the Turkmen Qajar
tribe in 1796 was able to proclaim the Shah. The new dynasty
would sit on the Iranian throne until 1925. Most of the
Qajar Shahs viewed Iran as their personal property, whose
resources they could use at their own discretion. Under
them, the board and administration ceased to exist in the
proper sense. From the middle of the 19th century you can
also not talk about any centralized army. The only armed
forces were the various nomad tribes, which made up perhaps
1/4 of the population. (The nomad tribes were divided among
themselves, and Iran has had a very diverse population
composition since the 11th century. Persian speakers have
always been in the majority, but various Turkish-speaking
groups have been equally important.)
The defenseless country naturally attracted powerful
neighbors. During the Napoleonic Wars, Russia had seized
Iran's Caucasian and Trans-Caucasian possessions, and after
a new war, the border was moved down to the Aras River in
1828, a border that still exists. In the east, the kingdom
had been decimated by the emergence of the independent
emirate of Afghanistan from 1747. Through the Russian
conquest of the three Khanates of Buchara, Chiva and Kokand
(completed in 1876) and the subsequent annexation of the
steppe area east of the Caspian Sea, Iran also shared a
common border with Russia. here. In the absence of
functioning central power, the Shiite religious officials,
the mullahs, would play an increasingly important role. The
elite among them were the so-called mujtahid, those
who, by virtue of extraordinary teaching and piety, were
accorded full spiritual authority. In accordance with Shiite
ideology, they were considered to represent the hidden imam.
The Qajard dynasty was considered purely usurpators in
The regime and corruption during Shah Naser ad-Din's long
reign (1848-96) invited Russia and Britain to constantly
interfere in Iran's internal affairs. Through a headless
policy, the Shah made the country more and more indebted. In
order to raise money in the short term, he sold the
country's natural resources to foreigners. The
long-simmering dissatisfaction with the delusion came to an
outbreak in 1906 in a bloodless revolution. The clerical
leaders and merchants, through a gigantic demonstration and
with some support from the British Shah Muzaffar ad-Din,
forced to make the country a constitutional monarchy.
According to the constitution, the legislative power was
assigned to the elected National Advisory Assembly (Majlis),
to which Ministers would also be responsible. However, each
bill must be reviewed by a theological committee before it
could go through. The new Shah, Mohammad Ali, had sworn to
obey the constitution but opposed the reformists. With the
help of Russian troops, he carried out a coup d'谷tat in 1908
and dissolved the parliament. Now a civil war was taking
place where the strongest support for constitutionalism came
from the Turkish-speaking population of Azarbaijan and from
the Bakhtiyar tribe, whose chief was insulted by the Shah.
Russian troops moved into the country and besieged Tabriz.
Meanwhile, the long British-Russian rivalry over influence
over Iran had come to an end. In 1907, the two major powers
entered into an agreement in which they divided Iran into a
Russian area of interest in the north and a British in the
The revolt against the Shah spread to large parts of the
country, and Mohammad Ali fled to Russia in 1909. He was
declared deposed and succeeded by a minor son.
Constitutionalism seemed to have triumphed, but was in
reality limited by strong Russian pressure. The only working
military force was the Russian-controlled Cossack regiment.
When the First World War broke out in 1914, Iran declared
itself neutral, but was occupied until 1919 by conflicting
Russian and Turkish troops in the north and by British in
Iran during the Pahlavid dynasty (1925-79)
In February 1921, the commander of the Cossack regiment
seized power in Iran through a coup d'etat. In 1925, he
proclaimed himself to Iran's new king, Riza Shah, and thus
founded the Pahlavi dynasty. Riza Shah shunned all the
political freedoms and rights that the constitutional
revolution of 1906 had achieved. He wanted to modernize Iran
and build a strong state based on a European model. The
educational and judicial systems were reformed according to
European model and a Persian nationalism which turned to
Islam was undermined. Islam was identified as an inferior
Semitic religion that was an obstacle to progress in Iran.
National chauvinist rhetoric had a strong racist undertone
that drew inspiration from Nazi Germany.
In 1935, the Shah banned Iranian women from wearing veils
in public places, dressed as European women. State
anti-Islamic measures met resistance, but protests were
brutally defeated. The Allies invaded Iran in August 1941,
and the king was forced to abdicate from the throne and
replaced by the Crown Prince, Mohammad Riza. After the
invasion of 1941, limited political freedoms were allowed.
Parties, trade unions and press were allowed to operate in
Nationalization of the Iranian oil
After the fall of Riza Shah, a struggle between various
social groups and political interests started to determine
the new political system in Iran. Liberal groups and various
leftist groups wanted to rebuild the country. However, these
forces were not alone on the political scene, and Western
states played a crucial role in the country. Efforts to
determine the new political system in Iran went in two
directions. On the one hand stood the groups that wanted to
recreate an authoritarian state power and on the other there
was a mix of reform-friendly groups. The formation of a
political coalition consisting of national liberal and
democratic forces and the founding of a Soviet-supported
Iranian Communist Party, the Tudeh Party, were two important
and, for the most part, opposing elements of the
The national front - a coalition consisting of a loosely
composed alliance of liberals, various democratic and social
democratic forces, nationalists and religious groups -
formed government after the war. Its main objective was to
fight despotism, form a constitutional rule of law and fight
the political and economic influence of foreign states in
The British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company's continued
holding of Iran's oil resources aroused strong anti-British
sentiment. The work of consolidating a constitutional rule
of law continued in parallel with the fight against Western
states' interests in Iran.
Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq was in charge of the
nationalization of Iran's oil resources. In March 1950, the
Iranian Parliament decided to nationalize all of Iran's
natural resources, including the oil. Britain objected to
nationalization and brought the matter to the International
Court, which ruled in favor of Iran. The British responded
by imposing an oil embargo on Iran. Mosaddeq tried in vain
to win US support for its policy.
The last shah of Iran
In August 1953, the government of Mosaddeq was overthrown
in a military coup funded and organized by Britain and the
United States. After the coup, the Shah was reinstated as a
one-ruler. The coup d'谷tat was a great disappointment to
most intellectual and national liberal politicians and gave
the wind the sails for the Western critical votes. Extreme
leftist movements and Islamist groups that used armed
struggle, violence and terror in their opposition to the
shah were now fighting for revolutionary social upheavals.
In the early 1960s, the Shah passed a land reform set by
the Kennedy administration as a condition for continued
support for the Iranian regime. The reform was to be carried
out with a preventive purpose in order to safeguard the
sovereignty of the Shah against revolving revolutions. The
Shah used land reform, also called the White Revolution,
to outmaneuver their political rivals and thereby strengthen
their own position. One of the loudest critics was the
militant Ayatollah Khomeyni who protested against the
mismanagement of the country's economy, corruption and
widespread poverty. When the Shah granted US citizens active
in Iran legal immunity, the protests escalated. The immunity
meant that American citizens who committed crimes in Iran
could not be brought to trial by Iranian courts. Khomeyni
described this as a capitulation to foreign power and
accused the shah of being the head of state for a sovereign
Muslim state having waived the right to jurisdiction in its
own territory during peacetime.
Although Khomeyni's protests were political in nature,
there were religious leaders who attacked the Shah's reforms
on female suffrage. These were of the opinion that the right
to vote would involve women's involvement in the affairs of
society, which would in turn be accompanied by a number of
"unacceptable consequences". In March 1963, the police
opened fire on protesters who, at the urging of religious
leaders, demonstrated against the Shah. Hundreds of people
were killed and in the holy city of Qom, the police attacked
a religious school, resulting in many dead and injured
students. In an emotionally charged speech, Khomeyni
explained that the Shah personally bore responsibility for
the massacre. He described the attack on the school as an
abuse of Islam. Khomeyni was exiled after this speech. From
his exile in Iraq, Khomeyni launched the doctrine of the
jurists' rule,velayat-e faqih, which assumed that
the scholars would take over political and world power and
introduce a theocratic form of government.
The Shah crushed all political opposition and dismissed
democracy and human rights as something irrelevant and, like
his father, invested in transforming Iran into an economic
and military superpower.
The Islamic Republic of Iran (from 1979)
From 1978, protests against the Shah's regime increased.
Ayatolla Khomeyni urged from his exile to mass
demonstrations, general strike, mass deserters from the
armed forces, etc. The Shah's attempt to defeat the civilian
mass movement failed, and he fled the country in January
With the Islamic Revolution in February 1979, Khomeini's
ideas about the rule of the learned were transformed into a
state-bearing ideology. What was clear was that the country
would become a theocracy. This was reflected in the fact
that religion, its educational and moral systems and
religiosity would apply to all members of society. This
resulted in a strict moralism that was about putting the
religion's mark on both individual and public life.
In April 1979, a referendum was held in which the
election stood between two alternatives: Islamic Republic
and Monarchy. An overwhelming majority voted for the first
alternative. A new constitution that gave the religious
leaders the highest executive power was approved by a
referendum. Iran's new regime was theocratic, but contained
some democratic elements. In this form of government, there
was room for conducting general elections to the parliament,
local city council and the presidential office, but at the
same time there were institutions that could block a
conventional democratic process before the election. One
example is the Guardian Council, whose members are appointed
by the highest spiritual leader.
The 1979 constitution gave Ayatolla Khomeyni the role of
the country's highest leader with a number of important
powers. However, this form of governance came from the very
beginning with difficult problems. The reason was that those
who were united in the fight against the Shah's regime
represented various interest groups, political factions and
ideologies. The struggle was between Islamist groups,
religiously innovative groups, religiously traditional
groups, secular groups, various leftist groups, ethnic
groups and others. It was clear early on that these
political interests could not hold the same. Various
left-wing groups and ethnic separatist groups took up arms
against the central power. Common to the separatist and
armed groups was that they used terror, political murders
and bombings in their fight against the Islamist groups.
Their terror was met by an even harder counterterror,
summary executions and long detention. The government side
came out victorious in this bloody battle.
In November 1979, a group of radical Muslim students
occupied the US embassy in Tehran, demanding that the United
States extradite the former monarch who had applied to the
On September 22, 1980, Iran was attacked (see also
Iraq-Iran War). Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein exploited the
chaos in Iran after the revolution to strengthen his
position in the region. He used unconventional methods in
his warfare using, among other things, chemical weapons and
terrorist bombings of civilian housing areas far behind the
front line. The advance of the Iraqi army was stopped, among
other things. with the help of religious mass mobilization.
The war ended in the summer of 1988. The two countries'
troops then stood in the same places as before the outbreak
of the war.
After the war ended, a new era started in Iran. Now the
country would be built up through major economic projects
and normalization of relations with the outside world. Soon,
however, a new crisis came. In February 1989, Ayatollah
Khomeyni issued a (dead) fatwa against British author Salman
Rushdie for his book "The Satanic Verses" and accused him of
denouncing Islam's prophet. Fatwan was a severe setback for
the forces that wanted to normalize relations with the
Ayatolla Khomeyni passed away in June 1989 and his
successor Sayyed Ali Khamenei was appointed by the so-called
Expert Council. Until a short time before Ayatollah
Khomeini's death, it was thought that the great Ayatollah
Hussein Ali Montazeri (1922-2009) would succeed him, but he
was dethroned and placed under house arrest for his sharp
criticism of the totalitarian elements of the form of
government. He criticized the human rights abuses and was
particularly critical of the summary and extrajudicial
executions of political prisoners during the 1980s.
Montazeri demanded that the form of government of the
jurists should be abolished and replaced with a new one,
where the legitimacy of state power is taken from the ballot
boxes and where all citizens' freedoms and rights are
Reformists versus conservatives
The crack that emerged within the top echelon of Iran
revealed a dividing line between conservative,
traditionalist and Islamist groups, as well as
reform-friendly groups. The crack was made even more visible
in the 1997 and 200 presidential elections. In two rounds,
an overwhelming majority voted for reform-friendly Mohammad
Khatami, whose reform efforts were effectively blocked by
the Guardian Council, the conservative judiciary and other
so-called non-electoral bodies.
Khatami also tried to normalize relations with the West.
His government reached an agreement with the Western
countries on Iran's nuclear program. Iran stopped parts of
the program and in return it would receive security
guarantees and financial "carrots". None of these
countermeasures were met. Nevertheless, the Khatami
government was helpful when the US invaded Afghanistan in
2001. Two years later, his government sent a conciliatory
letter to the Bush administration in the United States
containing several proposals to put hostilities aside, but
the US government showed little interest. Khatami's
adversity in foreign policy and the disappointment of the
Iranian electorate paved the way for hard-line conservative
forces to return to power.
In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took office and shortly
thereafter the old agreement on the termination of the
nuclear program was revoked. Ahmadinejad claimed that the
Western countries had not delivered what was expected of
them. In order not to suffer the same fate as Iraq and
Afghanistan, it would counter US policy in the Middle East
and strengthen the country's military capabilities. Support
for groups such as Palestinian Hamas, Hizbullah in Lebanon,
Shiite groups in Iraq or cousins in Afghanistan were part of
In the area of domestic politics, the social climate has
hardened significantly. This now included not only
dissimilar thinking, but equally reform-minded groups.
Censorship, violations of human rights and interference with
people's privacy increased.
Iran's new nuclear program has led to increased pressure
from the outside world. Unemployment and inflation
skyrocketed. The economic deterioration and the toughening
political climate contributed to the emergence of a bloated
dissatisfaction in the country. This was most evident in
connection with the 2009 presidential election. Despite the
massive support for the reform-friendly counter-candidates
Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, Ahmadinejad was
announced as the winner of the election. The question marks
surrounding the election led to extensive protest actions.
These were brutally defeated by the riot police and the
paramilitary Basij militia organized by the Revolutionary
Guard. Over a hundred protesters died and a few thousand
were imprisoned. Many journalists, senior politicians and
officials in the reform-friendly camp were arrested and
subjected to brutal torture and sexual abuse. Prominent
politicians were forced to make confessions in rail
litigation. The government blamed the protest movement that
went under the namethe green movement to be
governed by western states to implement a velvet revolution
The brutal treatment of protesters and the abuses against
the prisoners led to even more extensive protests.
High-ranking religious authorities such as the Storayatollas
Montazeri and Sanei condemned the brutal treatment of the
political prisoners and rejected the forced confessions.
They rejected the election results, explaining that
Ahmadinejad's government lacked legal support and religious
The widespread popular protests, the religious leaders'
protests and the fact that the political opposition is led
by high-ranking politicians who once belonged to the inner
core of the Islamic Republic have exposed the deep crack
that has arisen within the Islamic Republic three decades
after the Islamic Revolution.. These groups should include
secular women's organizations that work against
discriminatory legislation against women, the labor movement
that fights against injustice against workers and a number
of other groups.
Unlike the development during the Arab Spring, when
popular protests forced dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt,
for example, the Iranian regime succeeded in defeating the
green opposition and its leaders Mousavi and Karroubi were
placed under house arrest. There were many similarities
between the protests in Iran in 2009 and developments in the
MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) during the early
stages of the Arab Spring. It was young and well educated
who led the protests, which used social media to break the
unilateral reporting of the events. Another similarity was
the reaction of the rulers to the demonstrations. They
responded to the protests with brutal force. Representatives
of power condemned the protests in arrogant terms and made
allegations of foreign involvement.
There, however, the similarities between the protests in
Iran in 2009 and the popular protests in the Arab spring
end. While protesters in Arab countries agreed behind
slogans like "The People Want to Overthrow the System", the
opposition in Iran was divided. Parts of the green
opposition wanted to change the political system from within
and cited the Iranian constitution as the basis for reforms
in the country. Other groups wanted to replace it with
something else. The Iranian regime used the divide in the
opposition to its advantage. Another difference was the
actions of the armed forces. In Tunisia, the military
refused to shoot sharply at protesters and in Egypt the
military emerged as the institution that would fill the void
after the fall of dictator Mubarak. In Iran, the regular
military forces were away from the political scene, while
the Revolutionary Guard and its paramilitary Basijmilis took
a very active part in defeating the protests.
Another difference between the protests in Iran and the
civil uprising in Tunisia and Egypt was that in the latter
countries, large sections of the population succeeded. They
carried out extensive general strikes, which eventually got
the authoritarian authorities to fall. In Iran, the divided
opposition did not succeed. Another difference is the
behavior of religious leaders and institutions. A majority
of religious leaders and institutions supported the protests
against the authoritarian regimes in the MENA region, but in
Iran only a handful of religious leaders protested the
regime's brutal treatment of protesters.
Prior to the 2013 presidential election, the
arch-conservative Guardian Council sold hard among the
candidates. None of those approved by the Guardian Council
challenged theocratic form of government in Iran. During the
election campaign, the reform-friendly and conservative
pragmatic forces united behind candidate Hassan Rohani, who
is known to be an experienced politician and bureaucrat with
strong ties to the inner circle of power in Iran. It was
during his time as chief negotiator that Iran in 2003
reached an agreement with Western countries to stop its
uranium enrichment program.
Rohani was supported by reform-friendly President Khatami
and Pragmatic President Rafsanjani. This proved to be a
successful concept as a majority of voters cast their votes
on the candidate who clearly distanced himself from the
politics of conservative and populist camps. The election of
Rohani was a distinct protest against the policies of the
country's top leadership in recent years. The protests were
aimed at increasing political oppression and human rights
violations as well as the confrontational foreign policy
that led to the country's international isolation. This was
particularly evident in the joy scenes that took place
around the country after the election results were published
on June 15, 2013. Over eighteen million voters or just over
50 percent had voted for Rohani.
The election result was also a strong mark against the
disastrous economic policies of the Iranian government.
Ahmadinejad had promised in his populist election campaigns
to distribute the large oil revenue among the Iranian
public. However, his policy of cash subsidies to households
had not reached the desired effect. According to official
statistics, rents increased during Ahmadinejad's eight years
as president by 354 percent. At the same time, house prices
increased by 320 percent. Prices of food items such as meat,
fish, eggs, milk and cheese rose by 53 percent during
Ahmadinejad's last year in power. The price increases,
together with inflation figures of more than 30 per cent and
high unemployment, led to widespread dissatisfaction with
Ahmadinejad's confrontation policy towards the outside
world and, above all, the dispute over Iran's nuclear
technology program was one of the main reasons behind the
deteriorating economic situation. The economic sanctions
imposed by the US and the EU hit hard on the Iranian
economy. The sanctions were not effective enough to hinder
the Iranian government's foreign policy and its stance on
the nuclear technology program. However, the sanctions
policy struck hard on the Iranian public through everything
from galloping inflation to currency shortages that, among
other things, affected chronically ill people who depended
on imported drugs. During Ahmadinejad's last year in power,
the value of the Iranian currency fell by half. This put
great strain on ordinary citizens, which made it
increasingly difficult to get the life puzzle together.
Many hopes were linked to the election of a more
pragmatic president who characterized his victory as the
victory of wisdom, moderation and consciousness over
fanaticism, narrow-mindedness and stupid behavior. Increased
political and civil liberties, the release of political
prisoners, constructive interaction with the outside world
and the removal of financial sanctions against the country
were at the top of the list of demands and expectations
placed on Rohani.
His election has not solved the paradox of the Iranian
political system. The problem lies in the parallel power
structure in the country. Despite the democratic varnish,
the people-elected power agencies in Iran, both the
parliament and the presidential office, lack sufficient
powers of power. The president has some room for maneuver,
for example in the field of economic policy and for
relations with the outside world, but the real power lies
with the deep state constituted by the non-elected power
agencies. The Guardian Council, which examines the
candidates for the parliamentary and presidential elections,
consists of twelve members, six lawyers and six jurists.
These are not elected by universal suffrage but are
appointed by the highest leader.
Parliament can establish what laws it wants. Ultimately,
it is the Guardian Council who decides whether the law comes
into force or not. Its task is to examine whether the law is
compatible with the country's constitution and the Council's
interpretation of the Islamic Sharia law. The same goes for
the office of president. The president can make whatever
decisions he wants, but the highest leader can step in and
cancel the decision, as he has the highest executive power
and can veto any decisions.
Changed relations with the United States
Under US President Barack Obama , the US relationship
with Iran was mitigated, since the Iranian revolution in
1979 was characterized by hostility. In 2013, a history and
risk agreement between the United States and Iran was
signed. This diplomatic agreement inclu T -ups even the UN
Security Council's other permanent members and Germany. In
exchange allowed for costs of sanctions against the country
promised the Iranian regime to stop its uranium enrichment
as o m world feared that the country would use nuclear
In 2015, the subsequent Iran agreement was signed. In
addition to limiting Iran's kärnteknikpr o grams and open up
its nuclear facilities to the IAEA negotiated agreement,
even if the international sanctions against Iran would have
a vase. The Iran agreement was controversial and had many
critics, both in Iran and the United States. The parties
whatsoever reached förhandlingsbo is that after decades of
hostile relations ANSA gs be due, on the one hand f
örändrade attitudes in both the United States that Iran's
erstwhile state lines, and the turbulent developments in the
Middle East that forced cooperation against common threats,
particularly the Islamic State.
The presidential election in Iran in 2017 meant continued
support for President Rohani, who was re-elected by a wide
margin (57 percent). The election results came to be seen as
continued support for the opening of Iran to the outside
world. In the following parliamentary elections in 2020
joined the conservative forces, however kra f term onwards,
at a time when the US action against Iran was the central
factor in the political and economic picture.
Since US President Donald Trump took office in 2017, the
thawed US-Iran relations have been reversed in their
opposite. In May 2018, the US withdrew from the Iran
agreement and introduced new financial sanctions. These
meant that other countries' economic transactions with Iran
were also blocked because of the threat of US sanctions.
Companies he d put with Iran could then not continue to do
business with the US or use Amer in the Church of the banks.
After a period of limited recovery after Iran Agreement led
the reintroduction of the sanctions that the Iranian economy
plummeted, unemployment increased benefit 's representation
and the Iranian currency's value was halved.
During 2019 and early 2020 boosted the US sanctions
further in different o m aisles with the stated objective to
achieve a radical change in the Iranian regime and pave the
way for the United States' perspective, more favorable
agreement with Iran.
The already echoes o thermally beleaguered Iranian
population were forced to tighten their belts further. In
the fall of 2019, street demonstrations erupted in major
cities across Iran, triggered by an increase in gasoline
prices but aimed at the regime and the Supreme Leader. The
security forces responded to the protests with violence and
some demonstrations degenerated into damage. The regime
faced a crisis at least as serious as during the
post-election demonstrations in 2009, and for a period shut
down all communication via the Internet to make it more
difficult to coordinate the protests.
In addition to domestic problems such as mismanaged
economy and widespread corruption, not least in the leading
tier, the protests also targeted the activist role that Iran
has developed in the Middle East's regional conflicts.
Iranian militia or military support in various forms had
become a prominent factor in, for example, the conflicts in
Syria, Iraq and Yemen. At the regional strategic level,
Iran's role in relation to the arch-rival Saudi Arabia had
been strengthened, not least after the US intervention in
Iraq in 2003, which overthrew Saddam Hussein's Sunni Muslim
rule. From the protesters' perspective, this meant costly
military action at the expense of the indigenous population.
Following a pair of Iranian-backed militia attacks on US
interests in Iraq, Donald Trump ordered a drone attack on a
car convoy just outside Baghdad on January 3, 2020, killing
about 10 people, including visiting Iranian general Qasem
Soleimani (1957-2020). Soleimani was the head of the
Revolutionary Guard and has been described as a symbol of
Iran's resistance to the United States.
In retaliation, Iran shortly afterwards attacked two US
military bases in Iraq with rockets. On the same day, a
Ukrainian passenger plane was shot down shortly after taking
off from Tehran International Airport. All 176 people on
board died, among them a large number of foreign nationals,
mainly Canadian but also 17 Swedish. Three days later, Iran
admitted that the plane was accidentally shot down.
||Neanderthal settlements in the Zagros Mountains.
|8,000 century BC
||Growth of villages with cultivation and
|about 5 500 BC
||Early city culture in Elam.
|3,000 and 2,000 BC
||Elam controls the remote trade with Afghanistan
and the Indus Valley.
|about 1 300-550 BC
||Iran's Iron Age. Indo-European speaking people
are invading Iran from the northeast.
|800 century BC
||Medes and Persians are mentioned as living in
||The medical realm is founded.
|circa 559 BC
||Cyrus II becomes king of the Persians and begins
extensive conquests in the Middle East.
||The Persian attempt to incorporate Greece fails.
||The Persian Empire is defeated by Alexander the
||Alexander dies and his kingdom shatters.
Seleucus takes power in the eastern parts of the
|about 250 BC
||The Parthians make their entry into Iran's
history and gradually conquer Iran for the following
||The Sasanids defeat the Parthians and face a
||Iran is conquered by the Arabs.
||Newly converted Iranians are gaining increasing
influence in the Islamic Caliphate.
||The Persian buyids become the commander of the
caliphate. Local regimes are established in Iran
during the course of the century.
||After a conquest train, the Seljuks take over
the worldly power of the Caliphate, adding the first
||Most of Iran will be part of the Khwarezm Shahs'
||The Khwarezm Shahs' empire is crushed by the
Mongols, who then continue the conquest westward.
||Mongol empire in Iran breaks down, and smaller
state formation occurs.
|The end of the 13th century
||Timur Lenk spreads his empire over Iran. His
descendants ruled the eastern parts of Iran until
the beginning of the 16th century.
||The Safavids take power in Iran, whereby Shiite
Islam becomes state religion.
||Politically expansionary period under Shah Abbas
||Chaotic conditions in Iran.
||Nader Shah temporarily makes Iran a superpower.
||Decline which leads to interference from foreign
||After a revolution, Iran becomes a
constitutional monarchy, but constitutionalism is
limited in reality.
||At the outbreak of the First World War, Iran
declares itself neutral, but is occupied by warring
Russia and Turkey in the north and by Britain in the
||Riza Khan becomes Shah and initiates a
modernization of Iran.
||Britain and the Soviet Union occupy Iran. Riza
Khan is forced to abdicate in favor of his son
||Mosaddeq nationalizes the oil industry, but is
overthrown in a US-backed coup.
||The Shah's campaign for land reform and improved
literacy, the "white revolution", is launched.
||Economic crisis followed by unrest.
||The Shah is forced to leave the country after
widespread unrest. Iran becomes an Islamic republic
under Khomeini's leadership.
||Iraq surprisingly attacks Iran.
||Armistice with Iraq.
||Khomeyni dies, and the new strong man Rafsanjani
seeks to reconstruct the economy and improve
||The reform-friendly Mohammad Khatami is elected
president and some democratization begins.
||Mahmoud Ahmadinejad takes office and runs an
aggressive, nationalist foreign policy line.
||Ahmadinejad is re-elected president. Question
marks surrounding the election lead to protest
actions, which are however brutally beaten down.
||Hassan Rohani is elected president and wants to
improve relations with the western world.
||The Iran agreement, which aims to increase
transparency in Iran's nuclear program and prevent
the country from developing nuclear weapons, is
||Hassan Rohani wins presidential election against
Conservative candidate Ibrahim Raisi.