Iran, officially known as Islamic Republic of Iran is located in Western Asia; on the Persian Gulf’s north-east coast and the Strait of Hormuz – both being vital waterways for the transportation of crude oil.To the north it borders with Caspian Sea; to the north-west with Armenia and Azerbaijan; to the west with Iraq and Turkey; to the north-east with Turkmenistan; to the east with Afghanistan and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road; and to the south with Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.
Iran was initially known as Persia and became an Islamic Republic in year 1979 after an Islamic movement. Covering the area of 1,648,195 km2, Iran has the significance of being eighteenth largest country in the world. It has a population of over seventy four million people, the majority of whom belong to the official religion of Iran – the Shia Islam.
Being positioned at a significant geo-strategic location, the land of Iran is mostly mountainous. Its landscape mainly incorporates rugged mountainous ranges separating a number of plateaus. Its climate ranges between arid/semiarid to subtropical. Iran is rich in natural resources. All over the world, it stands 2nd in natural gas reserves and 3rd in oil reserves. The main trading areas of Iran include gas, mining, agriculture and petrochemicals.
Iran is the home to ancient history and modern civilization. It has many beautiful places to discover such as the Persian Gulf, lakes, volcanoes, deserts, mountains, forests, hot springs and subtropical islands. The people of Iran are very hospitable and welcome tourists from all over the world.
How the Silk Road(s) developed?
The Silk Road is basically an extensive trans-continental network of trade routes that connects East Asia, West Asia, South Asia as well as North Africa, North-east Africa and Europe with the Mediterranean world.It was named after the remunerative Chinese silk trade that started during the era of Han Dynasty – the second imperial dynasty of China who ruled between 206 BCE and 220 CE.
These Silk Road was basically meant for the exchange of lucrative goods like jewels, silk, satin fabrics, fine fabrics, perfumes, musk, medicines, spices, glassware and rhubarb etc between traders, merchants, missionaries, pilgrims, soldiers, urban inhabitants and nomads. It also served as a route for the spread of cultural, commercial and technological knowledge and ideas.
Silk Road connected the powerful ancient territories of Rome, Persia, Kushan and China. It played a significant role in developing the civilizations of Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Persians, Arabians, and Romans.
The Persian Empire was conquered by Sassanid emperors in 224. International trading was vital for Sassanid Persians and this was the time when Persian territory was increased considerably. By the start of century 1 AD, the major trade routes were developed across Iran.
The imperial road started in Afghanistan leading north to Mery and Samarkand merged with the Silk Road from Chine across Eastern Turkestan. Syria and Minor Asia got connected to Silk Road by the road that lead along Euphrates to Persian Gulf’s harbors or ancient caravan route from Syria athwart Iran.
Goods like lucrative items, Chinese Raw Silk, perfumes, jewels, spices and opium were transferred to Iran by land routes. Persians used to act as an intermediary agent for the trade of fine fabric. They bought it from the traders from East and sell it to West with markup.
Sassanid Persians, with the aim of dominating the busiest areas of Silk Road often posed wars with the Byzantium. The major sector of Silk Road came under the influence of Turkic Khaganate during 5th century. Due to conflicts with Iran, they tried to build a new trade route to Byzantium passing by Iran.
Key Historical Sights and Architecture:
Although, today’s Iran is just a part of the ancient Sassanid Empire but it is an important part of Silk Road. It is rich in key historical sights and architecture. The Iranian provinces of Southern Azerbaijan are also rich in historical sights of the Silk Road period. Most of these monuments lie in the provinces of Tehran, Golestan, Khurasan, Semnan, Zanjan and Kazvin that used to be on the Silk Road. These include:
Bisotoun Inscriptions and Reliefs
Blue Mosque of Tabriz
The Ziggurat of Chogha-Zanbil
The Holy Shrine of Imam Reza
Tomb of Omar Khayyam
Robat Sharaf Caravanserai