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Tehran (تهران)

Tehran is Iran's largest city. Tehran is also the capital of Iran, and has been since 1788. It is, as well, the capital of Tehran Province. The city population is approximately seven million within a 1,200 square kilometer area, which includes the extensive suburban areas of the city. The province has a population of nearly 12 million. Most of the inhabitants are Muslims and Persian language is most generally spoken. Azen Turkish is also widely spoken, by some estimates by as many as one-fourth of the population.

Tehran is located 100 kilometers south of the Caspian Sea on the slopes of the Alborz Mountains. The elevation of the city is 1,200 meters above sea level. Due to its altitude, Tehran experiences four distinct seasons with pleasant but brief springs and autumns, frigid winters, and very warm summers. A 50 degree centigrade (122 degree Fahrenheit) swing in temperature from winter to summer is not uncommon. The high central Iranian Plateau is to the south of Tehran, the most adjacent portion of which is the Dasht-e Kavir.

The name Tehran is dervided from the Old Persian "teh "meaning "warm" and "ran" meaning "place." Rayy, now essentially a suburb of Tehran, was the far more important historical town prior to its destruction by the Mongols in 1220. Parts of the ancient city of Rayy can still be found in the southern part of Tehran.

During the Pahlavi Dynasty, modernization and industrialization took place with Tehran experiencing a building boom, partly due to the thriving oil sector. After the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Shah in 1979, the economic status of Tehran suffered due to the Iran-Iraq War, lack of investment, and internal strife. Modernization and growth took an upward turn under the presidency of Mohammad Khatami during the 1990s.

The increase of motor traffic and the increase of the use of fossil fuel by industry have brought about the rapid decline of air quality. Tehran has been cited as one of the cities with the worst traffic congestion in the world in world travelers' lists. Tehran is home to more than 50 percent of Iran's industry. The manufacturing industry includes electrical equipment, textiles, sugar, chinaware, pottery, pharmaceuticals, and an assembly plant for motor vehicles.

Tehran has three paved roads that go northward and one road that goes west; two roads run south and one road runs east. There is an Iranian State Railway that has lines going in all directions from Tehran and the trans-Europe railway system that links Tehran to Turkey. The National Iranian Oil Company located in Tehran administers the crude-oil industry.

Given the relative newness of Tehran, there are few historical sites of note. Perhaps the most notable is the famous Peacock Throne found in the Gulistan Palace, dating back to the period of Nader Shah. There are a number of important museums in Tehran, in particular an archaeological museum and an ethnographical museum. As well, several of the Shah's palaces have been turned under the Islamic Republic into museums, the Sa'adabad Palace and the Niavaran Palace, with the intent of displaying the extravagant opulence of the Pahlavi Dynasty.

Beyond its role as a political and administrative center, Tehran is also a center of education. The highest concentration of educational institutions exists in Tehran including the largest and oldest modern state university in the country, University of Tehran. The more modern area of the town is found to the north of the city, with the older area of the town and bazaar to the south of the city. The bazaar, which is large in size, is the leading center for the sale and export of carpets. Since most of the increase of growth of Tehran has been post-World War II, it has the feel of a modern city. Most architecture is new, with many 10- to 18- story buildings. Significant building additions have been a stadium capable of holding 100,000 people and a new international airport.

 Refrence(s):

Lorentz, H. John. 2007. Historical Dictionary of Iran: Tehran. Lanham, Maryland, Toronto, Plymouth, UK. The Scarecrow Press, Inc. Second Edition. Pp. 327-329

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