Recent archaeological studies indicate that as early as 10,000 BC, people lived on the southern shores of the Caspian, one of the few regions of the world which according to scientists escaped the Ice Age. They were probably the first men in the history of mankind to engage in agriculture and animal husbandry.

The first country known as Iran was founded by Achaemenes’s, by unifying different tribes living there. Though the history of Iran is long and complex, its shape is determined by the rise and fall of successive dynasties – with intervals of chaos and confusion. The Persian Empire (founded by Cyrus the Great in 6th BC), the Macedonians, Parthians, the Sassanid’s, the Arabs, the Seljuk’s and Mongols, the Timurids and the Safavids, all held sway here at one time or another.

After the Arab conquest in the middle of the 7th century, the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism gave way to Islam. Persia continued to be overrun by foreign powers for another thousand years.

The Turkish Safavids belonged to a Sufi religious order and made Shiite Islam the official religion of Iran, undertaking a major conversion campaign of Iranian Muslims. The Safavid dynasty reached its height during the reign of Shah Abbas 1st (1587-I629). It was during his reign that Persia once again came to be known in Europe as a superpower, because it was the greatest opponent of the Ottomans, and their wars saved Europe, the Ottomans being too occupied on the east fighting Iran to make headway in the west.

In 18th-19th centuries Iran fall under the increasing pressure of European nations, particularly the Russian Empire and the Great Britain. The discovery of oil in early 1900s intensified the rivalry of the Great Britain and Russia for power over the nation. After the World War 1st Iran was admitted to the League of Nations as an original member.

In 1921 Reza Khan, an army officer, established a military dictatorship. He was subsequently elected hereditary Shah, thus ending the Qajar dynasty and founding the new Pahlavi dynasty.

In 1979 Iran’s most important religious nation-wide uprising led by Ayatollah Khomeini, took place in protest to the so-called White Revolution. After the victory of the Islamic Revolution the same year, the shah was overthrown and Iran, officially renamed the Islamic Republic of Iran, became a theocratic state. The Constitution of 1979 designated Ayatollah Khomeini as the pious jurist or faqih (the policy guide and ultimate decision-maker). April 1, 1979 became the Islamic Republic Day.

Chronology of Significant Events



1200 BC

Zenith of Elamite Kingdom. Iron Age.

844 BC

First mention of Iranians in Assyrian texts.

728 BC

Rise of the Median Empire.

6th century BC

The Persian Achaemenes Empire is found.

330 BC

Alexander the Great invades Persia, collapse of the Persian Achaemenes Empire.

312 BC

The Seleucid Greek Dynasty is founded.

161-138 BC

Set up of Parthian Empire.

87 BC – 244 AD

Decline of the Parthian Empire and the rise of Rome.


Sassanian Empire is founded.


The Arabs defeat the Iranians at Nihavend. Iran is formally annexed to the Arab Empire. The ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism gave way to Islam.


Shiite revolt led by Abu Muslim, to establish the Abbasid Caliphate.


Samanid dynasty in Khorasan.


Ghaznavi dynasty rises in the east, challenging the Samanids.


Seljuk Turks, originating from Oghuz tribes, invaded Iran.

1073 – 1092

Zenith of Seljuk power.


End of Seljuk rule in Iran.


Genghis Khan devastates Iran.


Timor conquers Iran. Suspension of the Nestorian Church.


Overthrow of the Timurids.


Foundation of Safavid dynasty. Conversion of Iran to Shiite Islam.


Zenith of Safavid power. Golden Age. Prosperity of Iran’s art and culture.


Afsharid dynasty is founded.


Foundation of Zand dynasty.


Mohammad Qajar overthrows Zand dynasty and founds Qajar dynasty.


Treaty of Gulistan. Iran cedes territories to Russia.


The Constitutional Revolution. Promulgation of the Constitution.


Nationalist uprising.


Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (later British Petroleum) formed.


Qajar dynasty overthrown and plans prepared to establish a republic, with Reza Khan as its President.


Proclamation of Reza Khan as Reza Shah, founder of the Pahlavi dynasty.


Tehran Conference (Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin).


Religious nation-wide uprising led by Ayatollah Khomeini, in protest to the so-called White Revolution.


Coronation of Mohammad Reza.


2500 anniversary of the Iranian Monarchy celebrated.


New waves of Islamic uprising all over Iran force Shah to flee the country.

1 April, 1979

The nation votes for the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Government under the leadership of the late Ayatollah Khomeini (1900-1989).

1980 – 1988

Iran – Iraq war


Ayatollah Seyed Ruhollah Mustafavi, known as Musavi Khomeini, founder and leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran passes away on 03 June. Ayatollah Khamenei was elected as the new Leader of the country, and Hojjatol-Islam Rafsanjani as the new president of I.R.I.


Finally, after a series of presidents since then, the actual recently elected one is Mr. Rouhanni