Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia. The name Iran has been in use natively and came into international use from 1935, before which the country was officially known as Persia. However, Iran was already in use in the preceding centuries, and Persia continued to be a popular name after 1935. The name Iran is a cognate of Aryan, and means "Land of the Aryans".
Iran is home to one of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 7000 BC. The first Iranian dynasty formed during the Elamite kingdom in 2800 BC. The Iranian Medes unified Iran into an empire in 625 BC. They were succeeded by three Iranian Empires, the Achaemenids, Parthians and Sassanids, which governed Iran for more than 1000 years. Iranian post-Islamic dynasties and empires expanded the Persian language and culture throughout the Iranian plateau. Early Iranian dynasties which re-asserted Iranian independence included the Tahirids, Saffarids, Samanids and Buyids.
The blossoming of Persian literature, philosophy, medicine, astronomy, mathematics and art became major elements of Muslim civilization and started with the Saffarids and Samanids. Iran was once again reunified as an independent state in 1501 by the Safavid dynasty—who promoted Twelver Shi'a Islam as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in the history of Islam. "Persia's Constitutional Revolution" established the nation's first parliament in 1906, within a constitutional monarchy. Iran officially became an Islamic republic on 1 April 1979, following the Iranian Revolution.
The political system of Iran, based on the 1979 Constitution, comprises several intricately connected governing bodies. The highest state authority is the Supreme Leader. Shia Islam is the official religion and Persian (Farsi) is the official language.
As the naming transition from Persia to Iran was not universally accepted overnight, some Harry Turtledove stories refer to "Persia" but describe a nation that more closely resembles Iran, and are included here.
In the home timeline, Iran had seen the Shah restored in the 21st century, although this did little to stabilize the country. American and European troops had intervened in Iran in the middle decades of the century, which did not turn out the way the US and the EU wanted. Randolph Brooks was an American combat veteran who even years later had traumatic memories from a battle near the holy city of Qom. In 2097, the Shah's secret police began the latest in a round of mass executions of Ayatollahs. The prime minister of the country was very nearly blown up in retaliation.
Due to their Aryan ancestry, Persians were declared "Aryans" by the Institute for Racial Studies, and thus avoided the persecution suffered by other conquered races like the Arabs, Jews, Slavs and Africans. Persians were among the Reich's few groups of non-German subjects invited to study at German universities.
During World War II, Iran had been invaded by a joint Anglo-Soviet task force in Operation Countenance, for the purpose of securing the Iranian Oil Fields, after its government proved too friendly to the Axis powers.
Iran's arid desert climate made it desirable to the Race, but it was a restive province, with its Islamic majority in constant rebellion, and required heavy policing by veterans of the Conquest Fleet. Iranian Ruhollah Khomeini (ironically, operating out of nearby Iraq) was a thorn in the Race's side until his capture and exile to South America.