Iran or Persia?

Iran Nomad ToursOtherIran or Persia?

Iran: The Ancient Name Going Back to 5 BC

Iran is the name that the Aryan tribes gave to this land. The Aryans were one of the Indo-European tribes who gradually entered the Iranian plateau from the fifth millennium BC and gave the name of their former land to the new lands and called it “Iranne Vaetje” which means the land of Aryan people (the land of Aryan race or the land of noble people).

Iranne Vaetjhe is named several times in Avesta. This name was later used as “Iranvich” and finally “Iran” in Iranian languages. In Ancient Persian, the word Iran is written as “Ariya” (Ariya), and in the Middle Persian language it’s written as “Iran” (Eran). Ferdowsi, one of the pioneers of Persian literature, has repeatedly mentioned Iran, Iranshahr Irani, and Iranians in his great Shahnameh. Not only Ferowsi but also almost all the great poets of Persian literature have mentioned Iran in their poems. Nezami Ganjavi, a poet of the 6th century of Hijri, sings like this in Haft Pekir from the Khamsa collection.

All the world is the body and Iran is the heart
The speaker is not ashamed of his comparison
Because Iran is the heart of the earth
No doubt the heart is more precious than the body

The Cultural Identity of Iran

The cultural essence or the cultural identity of Iran has a very ancient history. The word Iran not only represents a geographical unit, but it also represents an identity, language, ethnicity, religion, and in general, a cultural identity that is more than 2,500 years old. The use of the words Arya and Iran in the Achaemenid era and After that, Parthians and Sasanians were common and showed a distinct cultural and geographical identity. In the inscriptions of Darius I and Xerxes, the Achaemenid king, the Iranian nation is mentioned. Xerxes and Darius the Achaemenid call themselves Iranian” and “from the Iranian lineage, namely Ariya and Ariya cisa”

Iran in Different Iranian Languages

During the Achaemenid period, the word “Ariyanam” was used in the ancient Persian language, and in the Parthian period, the word “Aryan” was used to express the cultural identity, but from the Sassanid era, the words “Irn” & “Irn” khshatar (Iranshahr)” were also used to define not only its cultural and geographical identity but its political identity. All these words in different Iranian languages are derived from the common root “Er” or “Iir”. On a coin left by Ardeshir Babakan, he has named himself “the king of Iran” and in the stone inscription carved on the wall of the Zoroastrian Kaaba in the Naqsh Rostam, as well as the Naqsh Rajab inscription, Sassanid Shapur I introduces himself as “the king of Iranian and non-Iranian” and the “Lord of Iranshahr”. Although the fall of the Sassanids led to the destruction of the political unity of Iran, in the Islamic era, the name ‘Iran’ was still used to express the historical, cultural, and geographical identity of this land. In all the important historical and geographical sources of the Islamic era, such as Fatuh al-Buldan, Belazari, 2nd century AH, Tarikh al- Rasul wa al-Muluk (Tabari, late century AH), Al-Masalak and al-Mamaluk Istakhri, 4th century Tarikh Balami (Balami, 4th century AH), Ahsan al-Taqasim in Marifah al-Aqalim (Maqdisi, 4th century AH, Al-Mishad and al- Tarikh Maqdisi, 4th century AH), Moruj al-Zahab and Mines of Al-Jawhar (Masoodi, 4th century AH), Athar al-Baqiyyah (Abu Rihan Biruni, late 4th century AH), Ghorar al-Akhbar of the Kings of Persia (Thalabi, 4th and 5th century AH) ), Majamal al-Tawarikh and Al-Qasas (anonymous, Aq century), Majam al-Baldan (Yaqut Hamavi, 6th and 7th century AH), Nazhat al-Kholub (Hamadullah Mostofi, 

8th century AH) and… also the word Iran is used to name this land and the word ‘Iranians’ to address the people living in it. After the Mongol invasion, in the Ilkhans and Timurids eras, as well as after the creation of political unity by the Safavid government and in the governments after that, such as Afshariya, Zandiyeh, and Qajar, the titles of ‘the states and provinces of Iran’, ‘land of Iran’, ‘countries of Iran’, ‘the enclosed countries of Iran’, etc. were also used to express the identity, history, culture, geography and also the political identity of this land.

Iran vs Persia

Despite the fact that Iranians used to call their country “Iran” in writing and verbally throughout history, some Europeans, imitating the ancient Greek historians, called our country by different titles derived from the word “Persia”, such as Persia, Persian, Persien, Perser Perse, Persis. The Persians were one of the Aryan tribes who were able to establish the glorious Achaemenid Empire in this country in 550 BC. On this occasion, the region of their presence and lands was called Pars, because, for the first time in this era, communication between Iranians and the Greeks was established. Theeeks got to know about Iran with the Achaemenid government and the Persian people, so they used this name for our country, which later became a reference for historians and Western countries.

Iran; Free of Ethnic Meaning

During the Achaemenid period and also after their overthrow in 330, this name was not used as a “specific name” for a people and their region of presence, but as a general name for the entire land regardless of the other tribes living in it  (Mad, Parthians, Scythians and many others used to live in Iran back then in the Achaemenid period). But the name “Iran” was free of ethnic meaning and geographically it included all the regions of the Iranian plateau and it involved all the people living in this land historically it was an ancient land. 


During the first Pahlavi era, to unify the different titles used for the country (Iran) by different foreign countries in different Western languages and to prevent the multiplicity of words and legal and judicial disputes in the correspondence of treaties and international agreements, it was officially decided “IRAN” should be used as the official name of the country by all countries. Therefore, according to the announcement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, from April 1, 1314 (1940), all foreign countries were required to use the name “Iran ” in all correspondence. As a result, from this date in Foreign correspondence, exactly like domestic ones, the name ‘Iran’ was used to call this country.