Teheran is the capital of Iran. The tricolor design of the Iranian flag has been in use since at least the 18th century. The central emblem of a sword with flanking crescents was added in 1980. The inscription Allah o Akbar (God is Great) was added at the same time along the edges of the red and green bands to commemorate the return of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran in 1979. It is repeated 22 times.
Modern Iranian history began when Arab armies conquered Persia (Iran). Iran became a leading center of Islam in the 600s. Seljuk Turks conquered much of Iran during the 1000s. Mongol armies led by Genghis Khan overran Iran in 1220.
The Safavid dynasty ruled Iran from 1501 to 1722. Eºfahân became one of the world’s great capitals. Afghan armies captured Eºfahân in 1722. Nadir Shah drove the Afghans from Iran and plundered the Indian city of Delhi from 1729 to 1739. The Qajar dynasty was established in 1794. Muzaffar al-Din Shah granted Iran a constitutional government in 1906.
Although it remained neutral, Iran was a battleground during World War I as some of the warring countries sought to control the region’s vast oil deposits from 1914 to 1918. Reza Khan, a former cavalry officer, became shah (Also known as Reza Shah Pahlavi) in 1925. He introduced many reforms to Iran.
British and Soviet troops invaded Iran during the First World War. Muhammad Reza Pahlavi became shah in 1941. Iran nationalized its oil industry in 1951. The shah introduced a program of economic and social reforms called the White Revolution in the 1960s. He assumed nearly complete control of the government, and the Savak secret police ruthlessly suppressed all government opposition.
After the shah left the country, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile to found the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. Iran went to war with Iraq in 1980. A cease-fire was negotiated in 1988.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died of illness, and Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was elected president by popular vote in 1989. Rafsanjani sought to improve Iran’s relations with Western nations in 1990.
An earthquake struck northwestern Iran, killing an estimated 40,000 people in 1990. The United States instituted a trade embargo against Iran in an attempt to curb what U.S. officials claimed was the country’s continuing support for international terrorism in 1995. Moderate Islamic cleric Mohammed Khatami was elected president by a wide margin in 1997.
Mohammed Khatami held office from 1997 to 2005. Khatami relaxed a few social constraints, but he was criticized by conservative Islamic clerics. Iranian support of terrorist groups and its nuclear program damaged relations with the European Union (EU), The Unites States (US), and Israel. The US elevated worries concerning Iran’s developing long-range advance missiles in 2002. With Russian technical support, Iran began building its first nuclear powered reactor. While Iran refused to comply with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demands in 2004, Teheran decided to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
Finally, the UN discovered Iran was violating its nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2005, and in 2006, Iran was reported to the UN Security Council by IAEA for using its nuclear reactor and continuing its uranium development program. Conservative candidates recaptured the majority in Iran’s legislature following the Majles ban on reformist candidates running for office in the 2004 elections. Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad, was elected president in 2005. Since Ahmadi-Nejad election to power, Teheran’s relationship with the West has continually declined and its nuclear enrichment program has continued unabated. Meanwhile, Ahmadi-Nejad’s popularity in Iran has continued to increase because he regularly threatens Israel with annihilation.
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