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It was through its oil contacts that Iran gradually became Westernized, a process consciously accelerated during the "white revolution" of 1962-1963, when various reforms were enacted (including giving women the right to vote and to hold public office) and opposition—increasingly centered in the religious community—was suppressed.
Prior to 1979, Iran was ruled by a constitutional monarchy; however, it was in name only, not in practice.
By the eleventh century, the religion of Islam dominated the plateau and the advanced Persian sciences, literature, and learning had seduced the leaders of more than one invading army, including Genghis Khan in the thirteenth century and Tamerlane in the fourteenth.
Various native rulers controlled the region over the next centuries.
Unemployment grew throughout the 1980s, however, reaching an estimated 28.5 percent in 1986 due to the nation's faltering economy in the face of the ongoing border war with neighboring Iraq and the drop in worldwide oil prices.
Iran is the nineteenth most populous nation in the world, approaching 50 million people in the late 1980s.
It is difficult to trace immigration to the United States from the region designated by the modern world as the Middle East because of the way in which immigration officials on both sides have kept records.
Prior to 1900, the destination of all those leaving the Ottoman Empire was officially Egypt, as the West was considered off-limits; upon arrival in the United States, these immigrants were indiscriminately labeled "Arabs." After 1900, when the popular term became "Syrians," and as late as 1930, all Middle Eastern immigrants were both officially and unofficially designated as Syrians.
The Islamic Republic of Iran occupies 635,932 square miles (1,648,000 square kilometers) on the Asian continent.The Safavids ruled from the early sixteenth century until 1736.Their founder and first ruler, Shah Ismail, tried to unify the conglomeration of loosely united tribes scattered through the land by their conversion to Shi'ism as the state religion.After the revolution, which toppled the Western-backed government of the Shah, who had led the country for nearly four decades, Iran officially became an Islamic republic governed by the laws of the Koran and the traditions of the Shi'i religion as interpreted by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1900-1989).Khomeini was the nation's official spiritual guide ( faqhi ) until his death a decade after the revolution; he was replaced by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in 1989.