Tehran is the capital of Iran and the Tehran Province. With a population of around 8. 3 million and surpassing 14 million in the larger metropolitan area, Tehran is Iran’s largest city and urban area, and one of the largest cities in Western Asia. In fact, Tehran is ranked 29th largest in the world by the population of its metropolitan area. The capital city is located in the northern, middle section of Iran near the border of the Caspian Sea. The Tehran Metropolitan area is about 265 sq miles in area.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, Tehran has been the subject of mass migration of people from all around Iran. The city is home to many historic mosques, churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian fire temples. However, modern structures like the Azadi Tower and the Milad Tower, have come to symbolize the city. Throughout Iran’s history, the capital has been moved many times and Tehran is the 32nd national capital of Iran, and has been Iran’s capital for about 220 years now. The origin of the name Tehran is unknown.
Tehran was well known as a village in the 9th century, but was less well-known than the city of Rhages which was flourishing nearby in the early era. Najm al-Din Razi, known as Dayya, gives the population of Ray as 500,000 before the Mongol invasion. In the 13th century, following the destruction of Ray by Mongols, many of its inhabitants escaped to Tehran. In some sources of the early era, the city is mentioned as “Rhages Tehran”. The city is later mentioned in Hamdollah Mostowfi’s Nuz’hat al-Qulub (written in 1340) as a famous village.
Tehran was originally a market town featuring the historic Grand Bazaar, then soon became a capital and a commercial city. Tehran has four airports : Mehrabad International Airport, Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, Ghalad Morghi Airfield (Velayat Park), and Doshan Tappeh Air Base. Tehran is the economic centre of Iran. With almost half of Tehran’s workforce working for the government, Tehran has about 30% of Iran’s public-sector workforce, and 45% of large industrial firms.
Most of the rest of the workers are factory workers, shopkeepers, laborers, and transport workers. Few foreign companies are found in Tehran because of the Iranian government’s relations with the west. Today many industries of this city include the manufacturing of automobiles, electronics, electrical equipment, weaponry, textiles, sugar, cement, and chemical products. Tehran is also known for its sales of carpets and furniture. Tehran relies heavily on private cars, buses, motorcycles, taxis, and is one of the most car-dependent cities in the world. The Tehran
Stock Exchange, which is a full member of the Federation Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs, and a founding member of the Federation of Euro-Asian Stock Exchanges, has been one of the world’s best performing stock exchanges in recent years. Tehran suffers from terrible air pollution and the city is often covered by smog making breathing difficult and causing many illnesses. It is estimated that about 27 people die each day from pollution-related diseases. According to local officials, 3,600 people died in a single month due to the hazardous air quality.
80% of the city’s pollution is caused by cars, and the remaining 20% is caused by industrial pollution. In 2007, Iran imposed fuel rations, but the plan has met little success in reducing the pollution levels. In 2011, with the improvements in the public transport system and the rise in fuel prices, the Government is hoping to be able to improve the problems of pollution and traffic. The air pollution is due to several different reasons: 1) Most Iranian industries are located on the outskirts of Tehran. The city is also overrun with old and aging cars which do not meet today’s emission regulations.
Iran’s busiest airport, Mehrabad International Airport, is located in the west of the city. Most people are then obliged to either use private cars or hire taxis. This has created severe traffic congestion. 2) Tehran is blocked in the north by the massive Alborz mountain range that is stopping the flow of the humid Caspian wind. The lack of humidity and clouds makes Tehran a very sunny city. The UV radiations then combined with the existing pollution significantly raise the level of the ozone. Tehran is home to many diverse ethnic groups from all over the country.
The native language of the city is the Tehrani accent of Persian, and most of the people in Tehran identify themselves as Persian. Azerbaijanis about 25% to 1/3 with other ethnic minority groups included ( Kurds, Arabs, Baluch, Armenians, Bakhtiari, Assyrians, Talysh ). According to a 2010 census conducted by the Sociology Department of Tehran University, 63% of people in Tehran were born in Tehran, 98% know Persian, 75% identify themselves as ethnic Persian, and 13% have some degree of proficiency in an European language. Tehran, as Iran’s showcase and capital city, has a lot of cultural attractions.
For example, the Peacock Throne of the Persian Kings can be found in Tehran’s Golestan Palace. Some of the well-known museums are The National Museum of Iran, Sa’dabad Palaces Complex, Glassware and Ceramics Museum of Iran, The Carpet Museum of Iran, Tehran’s Underglass Painting Museum, Niavaran Palace Complex, and Safir Office Machines Museum. The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art features works of famous artists such as Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol. The collection of these paintings were selected by former Empress, Farah Diba.
Tehran is also home to the Iranian Imperial Crown Jewels, also called the Imperial Crown Jewels of Persia. They are claimed to be the largest, most dazzling and valuable jewel collection in the world. The collection comprises of a set of crowns and thrones, about 30 tiaras, numerous aigrettes, jewel-studded swords and shields, a vast amount of precious loose gems, including the largest collections of emeralds, rubies and diamonds in the world. It also includes other items collected by the Shahs of Iran during the 2,500 year existence of the Persian Kingdom.
The Imperial Crown Jewels are still on display in the Iranian Central Bank in Tehran. There are many religious centers scattered around the city from old to newly built centers. There are mosques, churches, and synagogues where followers of these religions can practice their faith. The Friday prayer in Tehran is usually hosted by the University of Tehran which is led by a Friday prayer leader and on special occasions by the Supreme Leader of Iran. Hundreds of thousands of people participate in the prayers during which the city of Tehran comes to a standstill.