The Geographical Setting

Iran is a huge country occupying 1.6m sq. km. Mercator's projection distorts our perception of the land, but, if it were superimposed on Europe it would spread from Sardinia to Budapest in a horizontal direction. Its northern reaches lie on the same latitude as Athens, while the southern ones fall on the edge of the Tropic of Cancer. It is six times the size of Britain and three times that of France. The humid climate round the Caspian sea supports rice and tea growing while much of the rest of the country is arid desert or steppe. Most of the country is high. Isfahan lies 1400 metres above sea level, Hamadan 1800 and Shiraz 1600. Tehran the capital is built on the side of a mountain, rising from 1200 to 1700 metres within its boundaries.