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    Nepal
    This landlocked country mixes the cultures of the Indian sub-continent with the high Himalayas. Explore Nepal!

  • Japan!

    Japan: Traditional foods. Go Now!

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    Japan has a rich culture that is visible today in the country's dress, architecture, language, food (pictured), and lifestyle. Begin Your Journey!

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    Bahrain: Desert. Go Now!

    Bahrain
    This tiny country has overcome the desert and has found a way to thrive, like this tree on al Jazair Beach. Explore Bahrain!

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    Laos: Karst peak. Go Now!

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    The simplicity and natural beauty of the countryside make Laos a hidden gem in Southeast Asia overlooked by most travelers. Begin Your Journey!

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    Tajikistan: A yurt in the mountains. Go Now!

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Culture & Identity of Iran

WARNING: International disputes with Iran are ongoing, please read this travel warning before going!

Introduction

Iran is a changing country and the way of life in the country today is quickly transforming. The government has strict laws in place that dictate how people dress, act, and behave, but how long these laws will remain is in question. Many young people abide by these rules, but privately speak out about many aspects of the culture, religion, and lifestyle demanded by the government.

Today the greatest differences in the way of life in Iran come with the generational gaps. Many older people tend to be fairly conservative as life is focused on the home and family. Going out with friends is uncommon and religion is the center of the world for many of these people. On the other hand much of the younger generation enjoys going out with friends and have a much more active social life.

No matter the differences, life in Iran is centered on religion. The weekend is Thursday afternoon and Friday, which aligns with Islam's holy day on Fridays. The five daily prayers also tend to dictate the daily routine for nearly everyone. Even the people that aren't overly religious must at least nominally observe these prayers when in the workplace to avoid ostracism.

The workplace does generally have a somewhat regular routine though as most Iranians generally begin work at the same time each morning, usually between 7:30 and 9:00 am. However, the seasons, heat, and day of the week can mean some people work until about noon while others take a long lunch then work until 6:00 pm.

After work most Iranians go home for dinner with their family, but many of the farmers, who make up about a quarter of the working population, tends to set their schedule based on the sun, weather, and seasons.

Iran is a very well educated country, particularly in the larger cities, and there is a thriving student life in many large cities. While there are restrictions on drinking alcohol and dating (as well as touching anyone of the opposite sex), socialization is common amongst friends and there is an active night scene filled with students and young people talking over coffee, perhaps a glimpse of the future.

Identity

Identity in Iran is somewhat in flux at the moment and has been over the past couple centuries. Throughout history Iran (and formerly Persia) has been a very diverse country so there was a clear distinction between a national identity and an ethnic one. This political identity included all people no matter their ethnicity, language, or culture; however the new government is slowly changing this definition as being a Muslim is now seemingly a necessity to being a citizen of Iran and as a religious state, to be "Iranian" now means being both a citizen of Iran as well as a Muslim.

Nearly everyone also identifies in a secondary way, which is based on ethnicity. The largest of these ethnic groups are the Persians, but there are dozens of minority groups, which together form about a third to half of the population. While these people generally identify by their ethnicity, most of these ethnicities are also tied to a language, history, and culture.

This page was last updated: December, 2013