Iranian descent is often tied in with Persian descent because both are used to describe people from Iran, and while some think that it means the same thing, which terms is exactly correct? Both terms are not the same thing sometimes. In some cases, claiming Iranian descent means a claim to a type of nationality, and Persian is about a specific ethnicity. A person can therefore claim an Iranian descent because it is their nationality, but not be from a Persian descent because it is about ethnicity.
History of Iran and Persia
Before 1935, the name of Iran at the time and the surrounding lands had been named “Persia” because of the ancient Persian empire. People with Persian descent do call their country Iran. Iran and The Islamic Republic of Iran was birthed into existence internationally in 1935, but the country and its current boundaries wasn’t officially founded until 1979 following the revolution.
Whenever someone mentions “Persia,” it’s important to note that Persia refers to the land Iran currently inhabits because the Persian empire and its citizens had lived in the heart of Iran well before it was founded. Many different tribal groups and ethnicities currently live in Modern day Iran. There are a majority of citizens who still identify as Persian, but there are groups who identify with Kurdish, Azeri, and Gilaki. Only a few citizens of Iran can truly claim lineage to Persia.
The 1979 Revolution of Iran
The revolution started in 1979 after the Islamic Republic government replaced the former monarchy of the Persian Empire, and the citizens of Persia were no longer called Persians. The last known King of the Persian monarch had also fled to live in exile. “Persian” is a term that brings history of the former Persian empire to mind, but it is still relevant and had cultural value. Iran and Persia combined together means history, bur Iran on its own often finds its way into political discussions and debates.
Ethnic Composition Of Iran
The CIA World Factbook for 2011 pins the ethnicity breakdown for Iran as follows:
According to the CIA World Factbook, Persians make up 51% of Iran’s ethnic composition while Azeri is 24% followed by Gilaki and Mazandaran at 8%, Kurd at 7%, and 3% of Arab.
Language of Iran
Persian is the official language of Iran, but it’s also referred locally as Farsi.
It should also be noted that 58% of Iranian descent speak Persian or a dialect of it while others may speak Turkic, Kurdish, and Arabic.
Misunderstandings About Iranian Descents
Iranian descents are no way shape or form an Arab
There are several countries in the Middle East that are part of the Arab world, but also in parts of North Africa. Only Iranian descents can be found in Iran and up the Indus River of Pakistan, but also in Turkey. Persians or Iranian descents are mainly found in Iran where the Persian empire originated while Arabs are connected to the tribes in Arabia, the Syrian Desert, and the Arabian Peninsula. Iranian descents stick to their own language and dialects while Arabs stick to their Arabic dialect.