Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran is a country in Western Asia. The name Iran has been in use natively for centuries, and came into international use from 1935, before which the country was officially known as Persia. 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.
By 2219, tension between Iran and its neighbor Kurdistan was reaching a boiling point. The Shah denied the Kurd Prime Minister's allegation that he had released a plague weapon on the other nation, but forensic evidence leaned toward indicating that the Shah was a "lying Shiite dog" as the Prime Minster claimed.
When China invaded Tibet in 1959, many yetis were forced into exile. A number found refuge in Iran, granted asylum by the Shah. When the Islamic Republic took power in 1979, it declared that all yetis were kafirs (pagans), and expelled them unless they converted to Islam. The government also confiscated the property of the yetis that refused to convert by force. One or two yetis may have been killed.
During World War II, Iran (often called by its traditional name Persia) 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.
Official Soviet policy maintained that the USSR was strongly opposed to the Race's settling colonists in Persia, which was dangerously close to Soviet borders. In fact, the USSR was able to do very little in support of this policy.