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Known as Persia until 1935 A.D., Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 A.D. after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and the shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar referred to commonly as the Supreme Leader who, according to the constitution, is accountable only to the Assembly of Experts. US-Iranian relations have been strained since a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 A.D. and held it until January 20, 1981 A.D.. During 1980 A.D.-88, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq that eventually expanded into the Persian Gulf and led to clashes between US Navy and Iranian military forces between 1987 A.D. and 1988 A.D.. Iran has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism for its activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world and remains subject to US and UN economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement in terrorism and conventional weapons proliferation. Following the election of reformer Hojjat ol-Eslam Mohammad Khatami as president in 1997 A.D. and similarly a reformer Majles (parliament) in 2000 A.D., a campaign to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction was initiated. The movement floundered as conservative politicians prevented reform measures from being enacted, increased repressive measures, and made electoral gains against reformers. Starting with nationwide municipal elections in 2003 A.D. and continuing through Majles elections in 2004 A.D., conservatives reestablished control over Iran's elected government institutions, which culminated with the August 2005 A.D. inauguration of Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad as president. Persian, Persian dialects, Turkic, and Turkic dialects are spoken by the majority of the populace; Kurdish, Luri, Balochi, Arabic, and Turkish are also spoken.

I`ran" (e`rän"), n. Etym: [Mod. Persian Iran. Cf. Aryan.]

Defn: The native name of Persia.


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