Following the fracture of the Mongol Empire in 1256, Hulagu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, established the Ilkhanate in Iran. In 1370, yet another conqueror, Timur, followed the example of Hulagu, establishing the Timurid Empire which lasted for another 156 years. In 1387, Timur ordered the complete massacre of Isfahan, reportedly killing 70,000 citizens. The Ilkhans and the Timurids soon came to adopt the ways and customs of the Iranians, surrounding themselves with a culture that was distinctively Iranian.
The Safavid era peaked in the reign of Abbas I (1587–1629), surpassing their Turkish archrivals in strength, and making Iran a leading science and art hub in western Eurasia. The Safavid era saw the start of mass integration from Caucasian populations into new layers of the society of Iran, as well as mass resettlement of them within the heartlands of Iran, playing a pivotal role in the history of Iran for centuries onwards. Following a gradual decline in the late 1600s and the early 1700s, which was caused by internal conflicts, the continuous wars with the Ottomans, and the foreign interference (most notably the Russian interference), the Safavid rule was ended by the Pashtun rebels who besieged Isfahan and defeated Sultan Husayn in 1722.
In 1729, Nader Shah, a chieftain and military genius from Khorasan, successfully drove out and conquered the Pashtun invaders. He subsequently took back the annexed Caucasian territories which were divided among the Ottoman and Russian authorities by the ongoing chaos in Iran. During the reign of Nader Shah, Iran reached its greatest extent since the Sasanian Empire, reestablishing the Iranian hegemony all over the Caucasus, as well as other major parts of the west and central Asia, and briefly possessing what was arguably the most powerful empire at the time.
Nader Shah invaded India and sacked far off Delhi by the late 1730s. His territorial expansion, as well as his military successes, went into a decline following the final campaigns in the Northern Caucasus against then revolting Lezgins. The assassination of Nader Shah sparked a brief period of civil war and turmoil, after which Karim Khan of the Zand dynasty came to power in 1750, bringing a period of relative peace and prosperity.
Compared to its preceding dynasties, the geopolitical reach of the Zand dynasty was limited. Many of the Iranian territories in the Caucasus gained de facto autonomy, and were locally ruled through various Caucasian khanates. However, despite the self-ruling, they all remained subjects and vassals to the Zand king. Another civil war ensued after the death of Karim Khan in 1779, out of which Agha Mohammad Khan emerged, founding the Qajar dynasty in 1794.
In 1795, following the disobedience of the Georgian subjects and their alliance with the Russians, the Qajars captured Tbilisi by the Battle of Krtsanisi, and drove the Russians out of the entire Caucasus, reestablishing the Iranian suzerainty over the region.
By the early 20th century, the five-year-old industry of cinema came to Iran. The first Iranian filmmaker was probably Mirza Ebrahim (Akkas Bashi), the court photographer of Mozaffar-ed-Din Shah of the Qajar dynasty. Mirza Ebrahim obtained a camera and filmed the Qajar ruler's visit to Europe. Later in 1904, Mirza Ebrahim (Sahhaf Bashi), a businessman, opened the first public movie theater in Tehran. After him, several others like Russi Khan, Ardeshir Khan, and Ali Vakili tried to establish new movie theaters in Tehran. Until the early 1930s, there were around 15 cinema theaters in Tehran and 11 in other provinces. The first Iranian feature film, Abi and Rabi, was a silent comedy directed by Ovanes Ohanian in 1930. The first sounded one, Lor Girl, was produced by Ardeshir Irani and Abd-ol-Hosein Sepanta in 1932.
Between 1872 and 1905, a series of protests took place in response to the sale of concessions to foreigners by Qajar monarchs Naser-ed-Din and Mozaffar-ed-Din, and led to the Constitutional Revolution in 1905. The first Iranian constitution and the first national parliament of Iran were founded in 1906, through the ongoing revolution. The Constitution included the official recognition of Iran's three religious minorities, namely Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, which has remained a basis in the legislation of Iran since then. The struggle related to the constitutional movement was followed by the Triumph of Tehran in 1909, when Mohammad Ali Shah was defeated and forced to abdicate. On the pretext of restoring order, the Russians occupied northern Iran in 1911 and maintained a military presence in the region for years to come. But this did not put an end to the civil uprisings and was soon followed by Mirza Kuchik Khan's Jungle Movement against both the Qajar monarchy and foreign invaders.
Despite Iran's neutrality during World War I, the Ottoman, Russian and British empires occupied the territory of western Iran and fought the Persian Campaign before fully withdrawing their forces in 1921. At least 2 million Persian civilians died either directly in the fighting, the Ottoman perpetrated anti-Christian genocides or the war induced famine of 1917-1919. A large number of Iranian Assyrian and Iranian Armenian Christians, as well as those Muslims who tried to protect them, were victims of mass murders committed by the invading Ottoman troops, notably in and around Khoy, Maku, Salmas, and Urmia.
Apart from the rule of Agha Mohammad Khan, the Qajar rule is characterized as a century of misrule. The inability of Qajar Iran's government to maintain the country's sovereignty during and immediately after World War I led to the British directed 1921 Persian coup d'état and Reza Shah's establishment of the Pahlavi dynasty. Reza Shah, became the new Prime Minister of Iran and was declared the new monarch in 1925.
Iran's official calendar is the Solar Hejri calendar, beginning at the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, which was first enacted by the Iranian Parliament on 31 March 1925. Each of the 12 months of the Solar Hejri calendar correspond with a zodiac sign, and the length of each year is absolutely solar. The months are named after the ancient Iranian months, namely Farvardin (Fravaši), Ordibehešt (Aša Vahišta), Xordād (Haurvatāt), Tir (Tištrya), Amordād (Amərətāt), Šahrivar (Xšaθra Vairya), Mehr (Miθra), Ābān (Āpō), Āzar (Ātar), Dey (Daθuš), Bahman (Vohu Manah), and Esfand (Spəntā Ārmaiti).
In June 1925, Reza Shah introduced conscription law at National Consultative Majlis. At that time every male person who had reached 21 years old must serve for military for two years. The conscription exempted women from military service after 1979 revolution. Iranian constitution obliges all men of 18 years old and higher to serve in military or police bases. They cannot leave the country or be employed without completion of the service period. The period varies from 18 to 24 months.
Iran's contemporary art traces its origins back to the time of Kamal-ol-Molk, a prominent realist painter at the court of the Qajar dynasty who affected the norms of painting and adopted a naturalistic style that would compete with photographic works. A new Iranian school of fine art was established by Kamal-ol-Molk in 1928, and was followed by the so-called "coffeehouse" style of painting.
Iran's first symphony orchestra, the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, was founded by Qolam-Hoseyn Minbashian in 1933. It was reformed by Parviz Mahmoud in 1946, and is currently Iran's oldest and largest symphony orchestra. Later, by the late 1940s, Ruhollah Khaleqi founded the country's first national music society, and established the School of National Music in 1949.
In 1935, Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, Iran, effective 22 March that year. Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision in 1959, and Professor Ehsan Yarshater, editor of Encyclopædia Iranica, propagated a move to use Persia and Iran interchangeably. Today, both Iran and Persia are used in cultural contexts, while Iran remains irreplaceable in official state contexts.
In the midst of World War II, in June 1941, Nazi Germany broke the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact and invaded the Soviet Union, Iran's northern neighbor. The Soviets quickly allied themselves with the Allied countries and in July and August, 1941 the British demanded that the Iranian government expel all Germans from Iran. Reza Shah refused to expel the Germans and on 25 August 1941, the British and Soviets launched a surprise invasion and Reza Shah's government quickly surrendered. The invasion's strategic purpose was to secure a supply line to the USSR (later named the Persian Corridor), secure the oil fields and Abadan Refinery (of the UK-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company), prevent a German advance via Turkey or the USSR on Baku's oil fields, and limit German influence in Iran. Following the invasion, on 16 September 1941 Reza Shah abdicated and was replaced by Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, his 21-year-old son.
During the rest of World War II, Iran became a major conduit for British and American aid to the Soviet Union and an avenue through which over 120,000 Polish refugees and Polish Armed Forces fled the Axis advance. At the 1943 Tehran Conference, the Allied "Big Three"—Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill—issued the Tehran Declaration to guarantee the post-war independence and boundaries of Iran. However, at the end of the war, Soviet troops remained in Iran and established two puppet states in north-western Iran, namely the People's Government of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Mahabad. This led to the Iran crisis of 1946, one of the first confrontations of the Cold War, which ended after oil concessions were promised to the USSR and Soviet forces withdrew from Iran proper in May 1946. The two puppet states were soon overthrown and the oil concessions were later revoked.
Iran's National Olympic Committee was founded in 1947. Wrestlers and weightlifters have achieved the country's highest records at the Olympics. In September 1974, Iran became the first country in West Asia to host the Asian Games. The Azadi Sport Complex, which is the largest sport complex in Iran, was originally built for this occasion.
Iran's avant-garde modernists emerged by the arrival of new western influences during World War II. The vibrant contemporary art scene originates in the late 1940s, and Tehran's first modern art gallery, Apadana, was opened in September 1949 by painters Mahmud Javadipur, Hosein Kazemi, and Hushang Ajudani. The new movements received official encouragement by mid-1950s, which led to the emergence of artists such as Marcos Grigorian, signaling a commitment to the creation of a form of modern art grounded in Iran.
In 1951, Mohammad Mosaddegh was appointed as the Prime Minister. He became enormously popular in Iran after he nationalized Iran's petroleum industry and oil reserves. He was deposed in the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, an Anglo-American covert operation that marked the first time the United States had participated in the overthrow of a foreign government during the Cold War.
Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BC. It was first unified by the Iranian Medes in the seventh century BC, and reached its territorial height in the sixth century BC, when Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire, which became one of the largest empires in history. The empire fell to Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC and was divided into several Hellenistic states. An Iranian rebellion established the Parthian Empire in the third century BC, which was succeeded in the third century AD by the Sasanian Empire, a major world power for the next four centuries. Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century AD, which led to the Islamization of Iran, and it subsequently becoming a major center of Islamic culture and learning, with its art, literature, philosophy, and architecture spreading across the Muslim world and beyond during the Islamic Golden Age. Over the next two centuries, a series of native Muslim dynasties emerged before the Seljuq Turks and the Mongols conquered the region. In the 15th century, the native Safavids re-established a unified Iranian state and national identity, with the country's conversion to Shia Islam marking a turning point in Iranian and Muslim history. Under the reign of Nader Shah in the 18th century, Iran once again became a major world power, though by the 19th century a series of conflicts with the Russian Empire led to significant territorial losses. The early 20th century saw the Persian Constitutional Revolution. Efforts to nationalize its fossil fuel supply from Western companies led to an Anglo-American coup in 1953, which resulted in greater autocratic rule under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and growing Western political influence. He went on to launch a far-reaching series of reforms in 1963. After the Iranian Revolution, the current Islamic Republic was established in 1979.
Iran's animation industry began by the 1950s, and was followed by the establishment of the influential Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults in January 1965. The 1960s was a significant decade for Iranian cinema, with 25 commercial films produced annually on average throughout the early 60s, increasing to 65 by the end of the decade. The majority of the production focused on melodrama and thrillers. With the screening of the films Qeysar and The Cow, directed by Masoud Kimiai and Dariush Mehrjui respectively in 1969, alternative films set out to establish their status in the film industry and Bahram Beyzai's Downpour and Nasser Taghvai's Tranquility in the Presence of Others followed soon. Attempts to organize a film festival, which had begun in 1954 within the framework of the Golrizan Festival, resulted in the festival of Sepas in 1969. The endeavors also resulted in the formation of the Tehran's World Film Festival in 1973.
Iran's population grew rapidly during the latter half of the 20th century, increasing from about 19 million in 1956 to more than 84 million by July 2020. However, Iran's fertility rate has dropped significantly in recent years, coming down from a fertility rate of 6.5 per woman to less than 2 just two decades later, leading to a population growth rate of about 1.39% as of 2018. Due to its young population, studies project that the growth will continue to slow until it stabilizes around 105 million by 2050.
Television was introduced in Iran in 1958. Although the 1974 Asian Games were broadcast in color, full color programming began in 1978. Since the 1979 Revolution, Iran's largest media corporation is the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). Despite the restrictions on non-domestic television, about 65% of the residents of the capital city and about 30 to 40% of the residents outside the capital city access worldwide television channels through satellite dishes, although observers state that the figures are likely to be higher.
Iranian scientists outside Iran have also made some major contributions to science. In 1960, Ali Javan co-invented the first gas laser, and fuzzy set theory was introduced by Lotfi A. Zadeh. Iranian cardiologist Tofigh Mussivand invented and developed the first artificial cardiac pump, the precursor of the artificial heart Furthering research and treatment of diabetes, the HbA1c was discovered by Samuel Rahbar. Iranian physics is especially strong in string theory, with many papers being published in Iran. Iranian American string theorist Kamran Vafa proposed the Vafa–Witten theorem together with Edward Witten. In August 2014, Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman, as well as the first Iranian, to receive the Fields Medal, the highest prize in mathematics.
Ruhollah Khomeini, a radical Muslim cleric, became an active critic of the Shah's far-reaching series of reforms known as the White Revolution. Khomeini publicly denounced the government, and was arrested and imprisoned for 18 months. After his release in 1964, he refused to apologize, and was eventually sent into exile.
Before the 1979 Revolution, the Iranian national stage had become a famous performing scene for known international artists and troupes, with the Roudaki Hall of Tehran constructed to function as the national stage for opera and ballet. Opened on 26 October 1967, the hall is home to the Tehran Symphony Orchestra, the Tehran Opera Orchestra, and the Iranian National Ballet Company, and was officially renamed Vahdat Hall after the 1979 Revolution.
Iran has the world's second largest proved gas reserves after Russia, with 33.6 trillion cubic metres, and the third largest natural gas production after Indonesia and Russia. It also ranks fourth in oil reserves with an estimated 153,600,000,000 barrels. It is OPEC's second largest oil exporter, and is an energy superpower. In 2005, Iran spent US$4 billion on fuel imports, because of contraband and inefficient domestic use. Oil industry output averaged 4 million barrels per day (640,000 m /d) in 2005, compared with the peak of six million barrels per day reached in 1974. In the early 2000s, industry infrastructure was increasingly inefficient because of technological lags. Few exploratory wells were drilled in 2005.
Education in Iran is highly centralized. K–12 is supervised by the Ministry of Education, and higher education is under the supervision of the Ministry of Science and Technology. The adult literacy rated 93.0% in September 2015, while it had rated 85.0% in 2008, up from 36.5% in 1976.
Beauty pageant festivals inside Iran were not held after the 1979 revolution, and the last selection ceremony of the "beauty queen of Iran" was held in 1978 in this country. Since then, a high number of Iranian girls participated in the Beauty pageant and Miss Universe outside of Iran. Sahar Biniaz (Miss Universe Canada 2012) and Shermineh Shahrivar (Miss Germany and Miss Europe) are examples of Iranian models outside Iran. Girls of Enghelab Street was a series of protests in 2017–2019 against a compulsory hijab in Iran.
The 1979 Revolution, later known as the Islamic Revolution, began in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations against the Shah. After a year of strikes and demonstrations paralyzing the country and its economy, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled to the United States, and Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile to Tehran in February 1979, forming a new government. After holding a referendum, Iran officially became an Islamic republic in April 1979. A second referendum in December 1979 approved a theocratic constitution.
On 4 November 1979, a group of Muslim students seized the United States Embassy and took the embassy with 52 personnel and citizens hostage, after the United States refused to extradite Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to Iran, where his execution was all but assured. Attempts by the Jimmy Carter administration to negotiate for the release of the hostages, and a failed rescue attempt, helped force Carter out of office and brought Ronald Reagan to power. On Jimmy Carter's final day in office, the last hostages were finally set free as a result of the Algiers Accords. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left the United States for Egypt, where he died of complications from cancer only months later, on 27 July 1980.
The Cultural Revolution began in 1980, with an initial closure of universities for three years, in order to perform an inspection and clean up in the cultural policy of the education and training system.
On 22 September 1980, the Iraqi army invaded the western Iranian province of Khuzestan, launching the Iran–Iraq War. Although the forces of Saddam Hussein made several early advances, by mid 1982, the Iranian forces successfully managed to drive the Iraqi army back into Iraq. In July 1982, with Iraq thrown on the defensive, the regime of Iran took the decision to invade Iraq and conducted countless offensives in a bid to conquer Iraqi territory and capture cities, such as Basra. The war continued until 1988 when the Iraqi army defeated the Iranian forces inside Iraq and pushed the remaining Iranian troops back across the border. Subsequently, Khomeini accepted a truce mediated by the United Nations. The total Iranian casualties in the war were estimated to be 123,220–160,000 KIA, 60,711 MIA, and 11,000–16,000 civilians killed.
Following the Iran–Iraq War, in 1989, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and his administration concentrated on a pragmatic pro-business policy of rebuilding and strengthening the economy without making any dramatic break with the ideology of the revolution. In 1997, Rafsanjani was succeeded by moderate reformist Mohammad Khatami, whose government attempted, unsuccessfully, to make the country more free and democratic.
Iran received access to the Internet in 1993. According to Internet World Stats, as of 2017 , around 69.1% of the population of Iran are Internet users. Iran ranks 17th among countries by number of Internet users. According to the statistics provided by the web information company of Alexa, Google Search is Iran's most widely used search engine and Instagram is the most popular online social networking service. Direct access to many worldwide mainstream websites has been blocked in Iran, including Facebook, which has been blocked since 2009 due to the organization of anti-governmental protests on the website. However, as of 2017 , Facebook has around 40 million subscribers based in Iran (48.8% of the population) who use virtual private networks and proxy servers to access the website. Some of the officials themselves have verified accounts on the social networking websites that are blocked by the authorities, including Facebook and Twitter. About 90% of Iran's e-commerce takes place on the Iranian online store of Digikala, which has around 750,000 visitors per day and more than 2.3 million subscribers and is the most visited online store in the Middle East.
After the Revolution of 1979, and following the Cultural Revolution, a new age emerged in Iranian cinema, starting with Long Live! by Khosrow Sinai and followed by many other directors, such as Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi. Kiarostami, an acclaimed Iranian director, planted Iran firmly on the map of world cinema when he won the Palme d'Or for Taste of Cherry in 1997. The continuous presence of Iranian films in prestigious international festivals, such as the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival, and the Berlin International Film Festival, attracted world attention to Iranian masterpieces. In 2006, six Iranian films, of six different styles, represented Iranian cinema at the Berlin International Film Festival. Critics considered this a remarkable event in the history of Iranian cinema.
Alongside the capital, the most popular tourist destinations are Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shiraz. In the early 2000s, the industry faced serious limitations in infrastructure, communications, industry standards, and personnel training. The majority of the 300,000 travel visas granted in 2003 were obtained by Asian Muslims, who presumably intended to visit pilgrimage sites in Mashhad and Qom. Several organized tours from Germany, France, and other European countries come to Iran annually to visit archaeological sites and monuments. In 2003, Iran ranked 68th in tourism revenues worldwide. According to the UNESCO and the deputy head of research for Iran's Tourism Organization, Iran is rated fourth among the top 10 destinations in the Middle East. Domestic tourism in Iran is one of the largest in the world. Weak advertising, unstable regional conditions, a poor public image in some parts of the world, and absence of efficient planning schemes in the tourism sector have all hindered the growth of tourism.
Although tourism declined significantly during the war with Iraq, it has been subsequently recovered. About 1,659,000 foreign tourists visited Iran in 2004, and 2.3 million in 2009, mostly from Asian countries, including the republics of Central Asia, while about 10% came from the European Union and North America. Since the removal of some sanctions against Iran in 2015, tourism has re-surged in the country. Over five million tourists visited Iran in the fiscal year of 2014–2015, four percent more than the previous year.
In 2004, a large share of Iran's natural gas reserves were untapped. The addition of new hydroelectric stations and the streamlining of conventional coal and oil-fired stations increased installed capacity to 33,000 megawatts. Of that amount, about 75% was based on natural gas, 18% on oil, and 7% on hydroelectric power. In 2004, Iran opened its first wind-powered and geothermal plants, and the first solar thermal plant was to come online in 2009. Iran is the world's third country to have developed GTL technology.
In 2006, about 45% of the government's budget came from oil and natural gas revenues, and 31% came from taxes and fees. As of 2007 , Iran had earned $70 billion in foreign-exchange reserves, mostly (80%) from crude oil exports. Iranian budget deficits have been a chronic problem, mostly due to large-scale state subsidies, that include foodstuffs and especially gasoline, totaling more than $84 billion in 2008 for the energy sector alone. In 2010, the economic reform plan was approved by parliament to cut subsidies gradually and replace them with targeted social assistance. The objective is to move towards free market prices in a five-year period and increase productivity and social justice.
The government of Iran has a paramilitary, volunteer militia force within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, called the Basij, which includes about 90,000 full-time, active-duty uniformed members. Up to 11 million men and women are members of the Basij who could potentially be called up for service. GlobalSecurity.org estimates Iran could mobilize "up to one million men", which would be among the largest troop mobilizations in the world. In 2007, Iran's military spending represented 2.6% of the GDP or $102 per capita, the lowest figure of the Persian Gulf nations. Iran's military doctrine is based on deterrence. In 2014, the country spent $15 billion on arms, while the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council spent eight times more. The United States under President Donald Trump officially labeled the Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization. It is the first time that an element of a foreign state was designated as a terrorist organization.
In 2009, a SUSE Linux-based HPC system made by the Aerospace Research Institute of Iran (ARI) was launched with 32 cores, and now runs 96 cores. Its performance was pegged at 192 GFLOPS. The Iranian humanoid robot Sorena 2, which was designed by engineers at the University of Tehran, was unveiled in 2010. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has placed the name of Surena among the five prominent robots of the world after analyzing its performance.
Iran's official New Year begins with Nowruz, an ancient Iranian tradition celebrated annually on the vernal equinox. It is enjoyed by people adhering to different religions, but is considered a holiday for the Zoroastrians. It was registered on the UNESCO's list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2009, described as the Persian New Year, shared with a number of other countries in which it has historically been celebrated.
Since 2005, Iran's nuclear program has become the subject of contention with the international community, mainly the United States. Many countries have expressed concern that Iran's nuclear program could divert civilian nuclear technology into a weapons program. This has led the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions against Iran which had further isolated Iran politically and economically from the rest of the global community. In 2009, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence said that Iran, if choosing to, would not be able to develop a nuclear weapon until 2013.
Iran placed its domestically built satellite Omid into orbit on the 30th anniversary of the 1979 Revolution, on 2 February 2009, through its first expendable launch vehicle Safir, becoming the ninth country in the world capable of both producing a satellite and sending it into space from a domestically made launcher.
Demographic trends and intensified industrialization have caused electric power demand to grow by 8% per year. The government's goal of 53,000 megawatts of installed capacity by 2010 is to be reached by bringing on line new gas-fired plants, and adding hydropower and nuclear power generation capacity. Iran's first nuclear power plant at Bushire went online in 2011. It is the second nuclear power plant ever built in the Middle East after the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant in Armenia.
Asghar Farhadi, a well-known Iranian director, has received a Golden Globe Award and two Academy Awards, representing Iran for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012 and 2017. In 2012, he was named as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the world by the American news magazine Time.
Iran has increased its publication output nearly tenfold from 1996 through 2004, and has been ranked first in terms of output growth rate, followed by China. According to a study by SCImago in 2012, Iran would rank fourth in the world in terms of research output by 2018, if the current trend persists.
The Leader of the Revolution ("Supreme Leader") is responsible for delineation and supervision of the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian president has limited power compared to the Supreme Leader Khamenei. The current longtime Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, has been issuing decrees and making the final decisions on the economy, environment, foreign policy, education, national planning, and everything else in the country. Khamenei also outlines elections guidelines and urges for the transparency, and has fired and reinstated presidential cabinet appointments. Key ministers are selected with the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's agreement and he has the ultimate say on Iran's foreign policy. The president-elect is required to gain the Leader Khamenei's official approval before being sworn in before the Parliament (Majlis). Through this process, known as Tanfiz (validation), the Leader agrees to the outcome of the presidential election. The Supreme Leader is directly involved in ministerial appointments for Defense, Intelligence and Foreign Affairs, as well as other top ministries after submission of candidates from the president. Iran's regional policy is directly controlled by the office of the Supreme Leader with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' task limited to protocol and ceremonial occasions. All of Iran's ambassadors to Arab countries, for example, are chosen by the Quds Corps, which directly reports to the Supreme Leader. The budget bill for every year, as well as withdrawing money from the National Development Fund of Iran, require Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's approval and permission. The Supreme Leader Khamenei can and did order laws to be amended. Setad, estimated at $95 billion in 2013 by the Reuters, accounts of which are secret even to the Iranian parliament, is controlled only by the Supreme Leader.
Hassan Rouhani was elected as the president on 15 June 2013, defeating Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf and four other candidates. The electoral victory of Rouhani relatively improved the relations of Iran with other countries.
The Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for developing and maintaining the Iranian rial, which serves as the country's currency. The government does not recognize trade unions other than the Islamic labour councils, which are subject to the approval of employers and the security services. The minimum wage in June 2013 was 487 million rials a month ($134). Unemployment has remained above 10% since 1997, and the unemployment rate for women is almost double that of the men.
Economic sanctions against Iran, such as the embargo against Iranian crude oil, have affected the economy. Sanctions have led to a steep fall in the value of the rial, and as of April 2013 , one US dollar is worth 36,000 rial, compared with 16,000 in early 2012. In 2018, after the withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA, the price of dollar hit an all-time high at just over 190,000 rials, which halted the market from trades and stores from selling goods, particularly in the consumer electronics sector until the prices were stable. In 2015, Iran and the P5+1 reached a deal on the nuclear program that removed the main sanctions pertaining to Iran's nuclear program by 2016.
On 14 July 2015, Tehran and the P5+1 came to a historic agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) to end economic sanctions after demonstrating a peaceful nuclear research project that would meet the International Atomic Energy Agency standards.
The political system of the Islamic Republic is based on the 1979 Constitution. According to international reports, Iran's human rights record is exceptionally poor. The regime in Iran is undemocratic, has frequently persecuted and arrested critics of the government and its Supreme Leader, and severely restricts the participation of candidates in popular elections as well as other forms of political activity. Women's rights in Iran are described as seriously inadequate, and children's rights have been severely violated, with more child offenders being executed in Iran than in any other country in the world. Sexual activity between members of the same sex is illegal and is punishable by up to death. Since the 2000s, Iran's controversial nuclear program has raised concerns, which is part of the basis of the international sanctions against the country. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1, was created on 14 July 2015, aimed to loosen the nuclear sanctions in exchange for Iran's restriction in producing enriched uranium.
In 2016, Iran made global headlines for international female champions boycotting tournaments in Iran in chess (U.S. Woman Grandmaster Nazí Paikidze) and in shooting (Indian world champion Heena Sidhu), as they refused to enter a country where they would be forced to wear a hijab.
Iran's economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. In 2017, GDP was $427.7 billion ($1.631 trillion at PPP), or $20,000 at PPP per capita. Iran is ranked as an upper-middle income economy by the World Bank. In the early 21st century, the service sector contributed the largest percentage of the GDP, followed by industry (mining and manufacturing) and agriculture.
In September 2018, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations asked the UN to condemn Israeli threats against Tehran and also bring Israel's nuclear program under the International Atomic Energy Agency's supervision.
In April 2019 the U.S. threatened to sanction countries continuing to buy oil from Iran after an initial six-month waiver announced in November expired. According to the BBC, U.S. sanctions against Iran "have led to a sharp downturn in Iran's economy, pushing the value of its currency to record lows, quadrupling its annual inflation rate, driving away foreign investors, and triggering protests."
On 1 September 2019, the Iranian authorities took a step to enhance its relations with Qatar, and decided to grant Qatari passport holders tourist visas upon arrival at Iranian airports. Besides, Qatari nationals were also permitted to obtain a single or multiple-entry visa from Iran's embassy in Doha.
In 2020 Fatih Birol the head of the International Energy Agency said that fossil fuel subsidies should be redirected, for example to the health system.
On 3 January 2020, the revolutionary guard's general, Qasem Soleimani, was assassinated by the United States in Iraq, which considerably heightened the existing tensions between the two countries. Three days after, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched a retaliatory attack on US forces in Iraq and shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, killing 176 civilians and leading to nation-wide protests. An international investigation led to the government admitting to the shootdown of the plane by a surface-to-air missile after three days of denial, calling it a "human error".
Football has been regarded as the most popular sport in Iran, with the men's national team having won the Asian Cup on three occasions. The men's national team has maintained its position as Asia's best team, ranking 1st in Asia and 33rd in the world according to the FIFA World Rankings (as of May 2020 ).
In the biomedical sciences, Iran's Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics has a UNESCO chair in biology. In late 2006, Iranian scientists successfully cloned a sheep by somatic cell nuclear transfer, at the Royan Research Center in Tehran.