Iran is mostly desert and in area is three times the size of Texas. On the north, it borders the Caspian Sea which is really a lake, not a sea, and is five times the size of Lake Superior. Although mostly desert, there is an Iranian district in the northeastern part of the country that gave us its Persian name to our word for jungle. And near that district are the remains of a remote fortress that was for a time the headquarters of a religious sect that practiced assassination and gave us the word assassin. Living in largely desert, Iranians prize greenery, and most Iranian homes have a prized garden with fountains behind their walls.
The infrastructure and bureaucracy of Iran make travel within the country difficult. However, as I read about the country, I try to find places using Google Earth. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of Iranian buildings and the landscape available on Google Earth. I was surprised at how green and beautiful the holy city of Mashhad in the northeastern part of the country is. Mashhad is Iran’s second most populous city and also a center of manufacturing. Iranians are avid skiers, mountain climbers and hang-gliding enthusiasts. The games of backgammon and chess are Iranian (Persian).
I would certainly like to visit the country if the infrastructure made travel easier. Iranians are very hospitable people and extend a warm welcome to Americans. It is our government’s policies that they dislike. A typical Iranian home has little or no furniture. The floors are covered with Persian rugs and people visit, eat and sleep on the floor. Thus an Iranian home can accommodate many visitors overnight by bringing mattresses out of hiding in closets and spreading them on the floor.
My recommended reading list:
- Neither East Nor West by Christiane Bird
- The Ayatollah Begs to Differ by Hooman Majd
- The Ayatollahs‘ Democracy by Hooman Majd
- Persian Mirrors by Eleaine Sciolino
- All the Shah’s Men by Stephen Kinzer
- Negotiating with Iran by John Limbert
Please see Iran
- Iran, Russia discuss Caspian Sea problems (en.trend.az)
- Travel Iran for Eight Unforgettable Days with Arab Explorers (greenprophet.com)