Iran has a rich cultural and historic legacy, stemming from being the heart of the illustrious Persian Empire. It possesses one of the most singular histories and cultures in the Middle East yet is amongst the most culturally diverse countries in the region. Standing out from its Arab neighbours, Iran has preserved its own distinct identity through its own language and adherence to Shia Islam.

Iran is a country full of surprises, largely due to long-standing misconceptions about it. It is culturally and geographically diverse. Its capital city Tehran is one of the Middle East’s most thriving modern metropolises, filled with a variety of museums and historic sites.

These historic sites are found throughout the country and encompass Iran’s rich cultural history over thousands of years. Its 21 UNESCO World Heritage Sites are only the beginning.

Despite the plethora of historical and cultural destinations, Iran is often undervalued for its natural beauty. Those looking for a more relaxed visit should take note of its burgeoning resort communities along the beaches of the Caspian Sea in the country’s north and the Persian Gulf in the country’s south.

Perhaps not the first place that springs to mind as a holiday destination, Iran is currently more famous for its inclusion in American President George Bush’s so-called ‘axis of evil’. Its government is a political experiment – a combination of modern Islamic state and fledgling democracy – which is being closely watched by the rest of the world. Suffering high tensions between traditionalists and reformists within the country, and even higher tensions with the West, Iran is far from a freak anomaly, but a nation struggling with some of the most pertinent global dilemmas of the 21st century. British, American and Australian governments have all issued travel warnings, but if Iran is your idea of a holiday, there are ways of minimising danger. As Iran has never really developed its tourism industry, visitors are a novelty, and you will be rewarded with warm hospitality – and therefore privileged insights.

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