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Iran 2018



The Masjed-e Jameh, or Friday Mosque, rises over the mud-brick houses of the desert city of Yazd, once a rich trading city along the Silk Road. With exceptionally tall minarets, it is a magnificent example of the 14th-century Azari period of Persian architecture and mosaics. Families who come to sit in the central courtyard of this congregational mosque sometimes show their reverence for the symbolism and beauty of the building itself—as this woman does in tenderly laying her hands upon the tiles.
– Ginna Fleming ©2008
Peace Corps Nigeria
Staff 1961–1963

Middle East

Area 618K mi2; 1.6M km2

Population 82.8M (134/mi²; 52/mi²)

Gov’t Theocratic republic

Capital Tehran (8.4M)

GCP/capita $18,100

Unemployment 11%

In poverty 19%

Life expectancy 71 yrs

Infant Mortality 37/1K live births (53rd)

Literacy 87%

Languages Persian, Azerbaijani/Turkic dialects, Kurdish, Gilaki/Mazandarani, others

Religions Muslim 99% (Shia 90-95%/Sunni 5-10%), other 1% (Baha’i, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian)

Education 2.9% of GDP (119th)

Labor Force Agriculture 16%, industry 35%, services 49%

PCVs 1962–1976 Agriculture, Education, Health; TTD: 1,500

Adult Books

Land of the Turquoise Mountains: Journeys Across Iran
Cyrus Massoudi, 2014

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: I.B.Tauris (November 26, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1848856370

For Cyrus Massoudi, a young British-born Iranian, the country his parents were forced to flee thirty years ago was a place wholly unknown to him. Wanting to make sense of his roots and piece together the divided, divisive and deeply contradictory puzzle that is contemporary Iran, he embarked on a series of journeys that spanned hundreds of miles and thousands of years. Rich portrayals of Sufis and ageing aristocrats, smugglers and underground rock bands are all woven together with history, religion and mythology to form a unique portrait of contemporary Iranian society. And, running through the heart of the narrative, lies Massoudi's poignant personal quest; his struggle echoing that of Iran itself, as it fights to forge a cohesive modern identity. Land of the Turquoise Mountains reveals a world beyond the propaganda-driven, media-fueled image of fractious, flag-burning fundamentalism and provides a compelling glimpse both into the heart of a deeply misunderstood nation and into what it is to seek out and discover one's heritage.

'A fascinating insider-outsider view of a complex country we badly need to know more about. Writers like Cyrus Massoudi who illuminate our ignorance are vitally important as the West squares up for yet ill-considered intervention in the Muslim world.'

- William Dalrymple;

'shed[s] salutary light on contemporary Iran...the more quickly we are able to see through the veneer, the better; and...Cyrus Massoudi...will help us to do that.'

—David Morgan, Times Literary Supplement;

'The value of this book is not in the description of the places or the history, but in the conversations he has with people he meets on the way ... these are the sixpences in the Christmas pudding.'

- Antony Wynn, Asian Affairs;

'a compelling glimpse of a deeply misunderstood nation'

- Good Book Guide;

'Adventurous...penetrating the ancient kingdoms, reaching every tribal redoubt, from the Kurds to the Turkomen, Massoudi reconstructs his own identity (that of a Brit of Iranian extraction) and challenges the stereotypes and conceits of what Iran means in the world today.'

- Tom Adair, The Scotsman;

'This debut travelogue, written with a maturity that belies Massoudi's relatively tender years, sheds much-needed light upon a land of contrasts and outright contradictions...This insightful essential reading for anyone seeking to understand one of the world's most enigmatic nations'

- Richard Tarrant, The Lady;

'takes the reader on an illuminating journey through Iran and its rich, turbulent history'

- Wanderlust Magazine

Kids' Books

Anahita’s Woven Riddle
By Meghan Nutall Sayres

Format: 361 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-9848359-2-8
Age Range: 10–14 years
Publisher: Orange County,CA: Nortia Press, 2013

Growing up as part of a Muslim nomadic tribe in Iran, Anahita has always been headstrong and independent. When her parents try to make a marriage match between her and her tribe's khan (a type of inter-tribe leader), Anahita rebels. She will gladly marry, she says, but only to the man who can solve the riddle she weaves into her wedding carpet.


Film: Daughter (Dokhtar)
Director: Reza Mirkarimi
Date of Release: 2016
Language: Persian
Run Time: 103 minutes

A young girl leaves her hometown in south of Iran for a half-day trip without permission of her strict father to attend a close friend's goodbye party. On her way back home, hazy weather changes all she had planned.

Winner of the Golden Peacock award at the 47th International Film Festival of India (IFFI)” - IMDb


Parissa and Ensemble Dastan
, by Parissa and Ensemble Dastan (artist)

Iranian singer Parissa was forced into a lengthy sabbatical when the ayatollahs took over her country in 1979. Under their rule, female singers weren't allowed to perform. It wasn't until 1995 that she returned to the concert stages of the world. For this project, she takes the work of the 13th-century mystic and poet (and founder of the Whirling Dervishes) Rumi as the basis for her music. Parissa proves to be a remarkable, sometimes eerie singer, giving to classical Persian vocal improvisations on melodies and themes. She captures the listener's attention and holds it. You might not understand the language, but its deeper meanings are quite apparent. Each of the two CDs in the set is a continuous, flowing piece, using the poems not only of Rumi, but of three other mystics—Hafiz, Sa'di, and Attar—to create a potent, sometimes magical force of sound and words that easily transcends the everyday in its aim for the stars.— ALLMUSIC, Chris Nickson.

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