Cultural richness of Iran in different arenas like different Eastern art, literature and Gnosticism has a global reputation. Iranian myth, fiction, philosophy, poetry, music, folklore, handicrafts, architecture, and decorative arts have contributed significantly to human thoughts. According to the Constitution of Iran, the common official language and handwriting (alphabet) is Farsi (Persian) language. The starting point for official Iranian calendar is the flight of Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) in 622 AD which marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. The first of Farvardin (March 21st) is the beginning of the New Year in Iran according to the solar calendar.
Iranian official flag is green, white, and red with the sign of Iran and also with 22 ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ (God is Great) in its margins. More than half of the people in Iran speak Farsi (Persian) language and various Persian dialects. The Persian language has its own eloquence and versatility. Consequently, some of the most outstanding literature in oriental countries, specially in the realm of Iranian culture, from Transoxiana to Asia Minor, has been written in Farsi. The rich Iranian culture and the Persian language impressed many tribes of Central Asia, in spite of their domination over geographical realm of Iran, for a short time.
The official Iranian calendar solar. The Iranian New Year begins 1st of Farvardin which coincides with the 21st of March. The lunar calendar is also formally used in Iran. Each lunar year is 11 days less than the solar year. Religious events and ceremonies are calculated according to the lunar calendar, which varies each year. It is recommended that tourists regulate their travel time in order to prevent coincidence of their travel with the fasting month of Ramadan or the mourning month of Moharram. During these months religious ceremonies and rituals influence normal daily activities, with extra holidays.
According to the latest census in 1996, the population of Iran was estimated to be a little more than 60 millions of which about 37 million were urban dwellers, 23 million villagers and a small percentage nomad tribes. The most populated cities are Tehran, Mashad, Esfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz, Ahwaz, Rasht, Orumieh, and Kermanshah.
More than half the population of the country is active. Total employed population of the country is reported at about 14.5 million, and about 39.5% of the total population are below 14 years of age. Thus, the population of Iran is one of the youngest in the world. From an employment point of view, the age distribution of the employed population, 10 years of age and above, in different economic sectors is 23.04% in agriculture, 44.5% in services, and 30.7% in industry.
Out of the total population of the country, 6 years of age and above, 79.51% are literate. The rate of literacy in urban areas is 96.88%, and in rural areas is 91.37%. This ratio is 84.66% for men and 74.21% for women with a greater difference between sexes in rural areas. In urban areas this ratio is 89.56% and 81.7% and in rural areas is 76.74% and 62.41% for men and women, respectively.
In general, tourists are very interested in seeing the decampment of nomad tribes. The main reason for that is the fact that these nomad tribes have well safeguarded their old traditions and culture. The present life style of nomads in Iran is not so different from that of our predecessors. Therefore, visiting the nomad tribes and recognition of their life style, specially decampment between winter and summer settlements is very interesting and will help them to get acquainted with the life and culture of ancient Iranians.
Iran is situated on the way of Central and the East Asia to western countries. As a result different ethnic groups live in Iran. Among them are Farsis, Kurds, Lors, Baluchis, Bakhtiaris, Azari Turks, Taleshs, Turkmens, Qashqais, and Arabs. Other smaller ethnic groups who live in Iran are Turkmen, who live in Turkmen Sahara and north of Khorassan. They are different from other Iranian ethnic groups in appearance, language, and culture. Qashqais are of Turkish origin and live in the central part of Iran. Arab clans, on the other hand, mostly live in Khuzestan and are scattered along the coastline of the Persian Gulf. Today, the geographic distribution and composition of ethnic groups is more or less mixed due to development and interaction between different ethnic groups.
Some groups of colored people scattered in the southern provinces of Iran are the descendants of slave trade with Zanzibar in the past. The existing Indian minority in the south of Iran are also descendants of Indian merchants of the past.