Today, Iran is a country that has adopted much from modern times and yet it has preserved much of its traditions and ways of life. Alongside the Internet one can find a number of tents that belong to a migrating tribe. Old Iranian schools have preserved their traditional structure but are now equipped with modern facilities. Here one sees a huge skyscraper and over there large black tents that are homes to nomad families.
One could say that Iran, vis-a-vis the modernism or modernity movement, has neither accepted it totally and blindly, nor has it rejected it. It has, rather, preferred to adopt the positive aspects of the modernity school of thought while preserving its own cultural and social identity.
In this section an attempt is made to present a profile of modern Iran.
1- Major National Elements:
- Official Name: Islamic Republic of Iran
- Emblem: The emblem is a combination of Islamic and Revolutionary symbols but the combination reads La Ilaha Ilallah a phrase in Arabic that means: "There is no god but Allah"
- Flag: The flag has three parallel horizontal stripes in green (top), white (middle) and red (bottom), with the emblem in the middle of the white stripe. Below the green stripe and above the red, the phrase Allah-o-Akbar, "God is Great", is repeated.
2- State Structure
Following the Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran was established on the basis of an overwhelming majority vote in a special referendum. This was Iran's first republic as previously the system had always been some type of monarchy, throughout history. This Republic is based on the principle of the segregation of the three powers. That is to say that there are three independent bodies as the backbone of the system: Jurisdiction, Executive and Judiciary. These three powers operate under the supervision of the Supreme Leader.
Supreme Leader: According to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic the Leader is in charge of supervising and coordinating the functions and performances of the three powers. He appoints the heads of the justice administration and of the armed forces, as well as the major military commanders. Following the decease of Hazrat Imam Khomeini (RH), the Assembly of Experts convened and selected Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei as the Leader which office he still occupies. Ayatollah Khamenei had previously been elected twice as the president. He has written a number of books on Islam and is a scholar in Persian literature and arts.
The Assembly of Experts, which is responsible for selecting the Leader, is itself put to general elections every seven years.
Executive Body: The President is the head of this body and is appointed for four years through general elections. Once elected to office he must propose every member of the Cabinet, ie the ministers, and for each one of them obtain the approval of the Consultative Assembly or Majlis, the Iranian parliament. The President is responsible for the implementation of the Constitution and observance of its principles.
Presently the President is Mr Seyed Mohammad Khatami, who was reelected to this office through a majority vote. It was at his suggestion that the UN named the year 2001 as the year of Dialogue among Civilizations. Mr Khatami has a number of books on philosophy and politics.
Legislative Body: The Legislative Body or Majlis (parliament) has 290 members who are elected through direct general elections. Each part of the country is represented by an appropriate number of representatives depending on its population. For example, Tehran has 30 representatives. Religious minorities also have representatives in the parliament.
The Council of Guardians, comprising of 12 members of whom six are theological scholars (foghaha) and six others must be lawyers. This Council supervises the decision-makings of the parliament to ensure that they conform to the Islamic laws and the Constitution. It returns to the Majlis any bill that it finds not quite compatible with these rules. The Majlis must revise and amend such billss. The representatives elect the Chairman and the Board of the Majlis for one year. Presently Mr Karroobi occupies this office.
Judiciary: This is an independent body that deals with the people's grievances and claims against one another. The Leader chooses the head of the Judiciary for five years. In the year ending 20 March 2000 the judiciary system operated through 3,288 courts. Presently the head of the justice administration is Ayatollah Hashemi Shahroodi.
Iran and International Organizations
Iran was one of the first countries to join the UN in 1945, and has been an active member of this and the related organizations ever since. Iran is also a founding and important member of the ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization) and of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). It is also a member of ICO (Islamic Conference Organization) and from 1997 till 2000 was the head of this organization.
Iran is also member in the following international organizations:
- International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
- International Labor Organization
- International Civil Aviation Organization
- Customs Cooperation Council
- Inter-Parliamentary Organization
- Economic & Social Cooperation for Asia and the Pacific
- Food and Agriculture Organization
- International Development Association
- International Maritime Organization
- World Meteorological Organization
- International Finance Corporation (IFC)
- International Postal Union
- World Health Organization (WHO)
The Iranian currency is the "rial". It is available in bank notes of 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, and 10,000 rials; and in coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 250 rials.
Officially the currency is the rial but in everyday life people deal in "toomans", which is equivalent to 10 rials.
At the time of writing (May 2001) the exchange rate of the rial is about 8,000 to the US dollar; 11,100 to the sterling; 3,500 to the German mark, and 1,000 to the French franc.