Iran, (Persian: ايران, Īrān; pronunciation: [iːˈɾɒn]), officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ايران, transliteration: Jomhūrī-ye Eslāmī-ye Īrān), formerly known internationally as Persia, is a Southwest Asian country located in the geographical territories of the Middle East and Southern Asia.
The 18th largest country in the world in terms of area, Iran is slightly smaller than the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Germany combined. It has a population of over seventy million people.
Iran borders Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan to the north; Afghanistan and Pakistan to the east; and Turkey and Iraq to the west. In addition, it borders the Persian Gulf, an important oil-producing area, Gulf of Oman, and the Caspian Sea. From these extensive borders, Iran is considered a key country that provides a bridge from the Middle East to South Asia.
Shi'a Islam is the state religion and Persian the official language.
The political system of Iran comprises several intricately connected governing bodies. It is based on the 1979 Constitution. The highest state authority is the Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran as a land and a nation has one of the oldest histories in the world, extending nearly 6,000 years, and throughout history, Iran has been of geostrategic importance because of its central location in Eurasia. Iran is a founding member of the UN, NAM, OIC, OPEC, and ECO. Iran is a regional power in Southwest Asia and occupies an important position in the world economy due to its large reserves of petroleum and natural gas. The name Iran is a cognate of Aryan and literally means "Land of the Aryans".