Iran lies between the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea in the south and north, the Alborz and Zagros Mountain ranges in the north and west and has two deserts,Markazi and Lut, at its heart. The hottest spot on earth has been identified in Lut Desert where temperatures reach 70.7 °C.

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Blossoms mark the start of spring in Iran

This geographical situation has made Iran dry and warm in its central parts, hot and humid near the Caspian Sea and Persian Gulf, and cold in the northwest and areas close to the mountains. This geographical variety has resulted in the country experiencing four seasons often at the same time.

 

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Summer – Chabahar , Tis Beach (Photo by Shahin Kamali)

This has also contributed to the unique landscape of the country, bestowing upon it long winding rivers, captivating waterfalls, aquatic caves, snow-topped mountains, lush valleys, golden deserts and green forests which are thousands and sometimes millions of years old. One of the many natural treasures of Iran is the Caspian Hyrcanian Mixed Forests, which have survived from the Tertiary. The lush landscape of these ancient forests captivates all with their relic and endemic plant species. These forests were once the habitant of the now extinct Caspian Tiger and are considered a living museum that showcases the evolution of plant and animal lives over 40 million years.

There is a Persian saying that guests bring with them bread and blessing to the Sofreh (table spread where food is set) of the host. The importance of the Sofreh and its blessing to Iranians highlights the significance of the culture of hospitality among them.

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Autumn in Tehran,Iran. (Niavaran Park)

Accounts given by adventurers, explorers of the ancient world and modern travelers about their journey to Persia/Iran each detail the graciousness, warmth and hospitality of Iranians and often urge others to visit this mysterious land. In Persian literature there are numerous examples encouraging the importance of hospitality to familiars and strangers alike. These values have been passed down through the words of Persian bards from one generation to the next and are instilled in Iranian children from a young age.

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Winter. Dizin,Iran.

This is perhaps one of the reasons behind thousands of years of peaceful coexistence among different nations and ethnicities in the Iranian plateau. What is known today as the Persian culture is the result of the amalgamation of Kurdish, Azeri, Baluch, Lur, Arab, Turkmen and… subcultures. This unique model of peaceful diversity is definitely one of the many reasons that makes Iran great.