The history of Iran is a mix of dynasties and invaders from the Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Mongols and others. It is one of the world’s oldest civilizations with historical and city remnants dating back to 4000 B.C.
The Medes made the country one nation in 645 B.C. The Achaemenid Empire (550-330 B.C.) was the first Iranian empire to rule a large region that stretched from the Balkans to North Africa and also Central Asia. Their capital was Persis (Persepolis).
Next came the Seleucid Empire, followed by the Parthians and the Sassanids. The Sassanids governed Iran for about 1,000 years. The Islamic conquest of Persia in the 600’s ended the Sassanid Empire. The Islam religion spread through Iran from the 8th-10th century. It led to the decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia.
After hundreds of years of other countries and dynasties ruling the land, Iran was once again reunified as an independent state in 1501 by the Safavid Dynasty. They made Shi’a Islam the official religion of their empire. Iran was a monarchy ruled by a shah or emperor for almost 500 years, from 1501 until 1979. The Iranian Revolution allowed Iran to become an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979.
From 1979, the country became a republic called the Islamic Republic of Iran. A Supreme Leader rules the country. Ali Khamenei has served in this position since 1989 having been the President of Iran from 1981-1989. A President is elected to be second in command by the people of this country. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad leads Iran as the sixth president.