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Iran is situated in the Middle East, sharing borders with Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Iraq and Turkey. The centre and east of the country is largely empty, undulating desert, broken by qanats (irrigation canals) and green oases, but there are mountainous regions in the west along the Turkish and Iraqi borders and in the north where the Elburz Mountains rise sharply from a fertile belt around the Caspian Sea.
Because of its size, topography and altitude, Iran experiences many climatic extremes. Winters (December to February) can be harsh and cold, especially in the north and west, and in most of the rest of the country the nights are very cold. Nevertheless, during the summer (June to August) temperatures can be as high as 50°C and humid. Avoid the Persian Gulf coast between early May and mid-October. Regular rainfall is restricted to the far north and west. In western Iran winter temperatures dip below freezing, and snow can be on the ground until early spring, making some mountain roads impassable.
Facts and Figures
|Population||78,868,711 (2012 estimate)|
|Language||Persian is the official language|
|Religion||Predominantly Shia Islam, with $-8% Sunni Islam.|
|Time||GMT + 3.30 and + 4.30 (summertime)|
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