Iran is rarely out of the headlines, and there is likely to be a rush of interest from tourists and investors if the provisional framework agreement reached in April 2015 is implemented, lifting most sanctions in exchange for limits on its nuclear program for at least ten years.
Western fascination with Iran is nothing new. For centuries, foreigners have been entranced by a country that is quite distinct from all others in the region. Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations. Travelers have long been seduced by the echoes of the extraordinary ancient history contained in the word "Persia." But Iran is also a modern society that is experiencing great change. Although it is still feeling the effects of the Islamic Revolution of 1979, social restrictions have loosened considerably in recent years. Strict Islamic rules coexist with an increasingly dynamic society driven by an overwhelmingly young population. Animosity toward the West at a political level sits side-by-side with a wholehearted welcome for foreigners as individuals.
Culture Smart! Iran takes you beyond the clichés to show how life in Iran really is and how you can feel comfortable in its society. It offers insights into a country full of surprises. Despite Iran's deep commitment to Islam, the pre-Islamic Zoroastrian past is still part of everyday culture. Its language, Farsi, shares linguistic roots with English and French. It is a country where one of the more genuine democracies in the Middle East is overlaid by an unelected theocracy. And where "no thank you" really does sometimes mean "yes please." If nothing else, this entrancing, beautiful, and sometimes infuriating place is a country whose inhabitants genuinely wish visitors Khosh amadi !-Welcome!