Historically known as Persia, Iran was engaged in an eight-year war with Iraq between 1980 and 1988. Thousands on both sides remain unaccounted for and the continuing danger of unexploded landmines and other munitions mean civilians still suffer the effects of the conflict 20 years on.
The situation in Iran has proved controversial both domestically and internationally, with inflation running in double figures, and the UN Security Council stepping up sanctions on the country for allegedly not stopping uranium enrichment in compliance with Council demands.
Iran hosts more refugees - nearly two million - than any other country in the world. Most are from Afghanistan and are dispersed throughout the country.
At the same time, tens of thousands of Iranians have left the country for political, social and economic reasons.