Iran-or Persia, as it was known until the 1930s-is home to one of the world's oldest cultures. Over the years it has exerted a great influence over its neighbors in the Middle East and Central Asia. Although Iran was once a close ally of the United States, in 1979 supporters of the Islamic fundamentalist cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini overthrew the government and instituted a new one based on strict interpretation of Islamic law. In the years since then, U.S.-Iranian relations have been hostile. Today, however, Iran is once again undergoing an internal struggle. Iranians-particularly the younger generation-are trying to reconcile the changes that followed the 1979 Islamic Revolution with the needs and requirements of life in the 21st century. The outcome of this struggle between religious conservatives and the reformers will determine Iran's future. Discusses the geography, history, economy, government, religion, people, foreign relations, and major cities of Iran.
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