- NATIONAL ANTHEM (Ey Iran)
About 51 per cent of Iranians are
ethnic Persian. Other groups include Azerbaijani, who account for 24 per
cent; the Gilaki and Mazandarani, who together make up 8 per cent; Kurds, 7
per cent; Arabs, 3 per cent; Lur, 2 per cent; Baloch, 2 per cent; and
Turkmen, 2 per cent. Nomadic life has always played a role in traditional
Iranian society, and more than 10 per cent of the population is nomadic or
semi-nomadic, including the Lur, Bakhtiari, Shahsevan, and Qashqa'i.
Modern Persian is the
official language of Iran. An ancient literary language, Persian was written
in the Pahlavi script before the Arab conquest in the 7th century. The official language is
Persian (Farsi), but there are many other languages and Persian dialects
spoken by the various ethnic groups in the country. Azerbaijani,
Turkmen, Kurdish, Luri,
and Arabic are among the
major languages spoken. Azeri is the most widely spoken language after
Persian, as it is the language of both the Azerbaijani and Turkmen. All
school instruction is in Persian.
Islam is the state
religion. Before Islam, Persians were
Zoroastrian. About 95 per cent of the population is Shiite Muslim
now, with about 4 per cent belonging to the Sunni branch of Islam. Shi’a
doctrine adds a strong nationalist element to the religious principles of
Islam. Iran has the largest Shi’a Muslim population in the world. Since the
1979 revolution, a strongly conservative interpretation of Islam has been
carried out by the clergy, called the mullayan, or mullahs.
[PAST . PRESENT . FUTURE]
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