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Q: Distinction between Iran and Persia ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Distinction between Iran and Persia
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: oscar4012-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 12 Feb 2005 10:23 PST
Expires: 14 Mar 2005 10:23 PST
Question ID: 473395
What is the distiction between Iranian and Persian?  Sometimes the
terms seen interechangeable; at other times there seems to be a subtle

I'm focusing on
the Safavid empire right now, but a more general discussion would be
appreciated, too.
Subject: Re: Distinction between Iran and Persia
Answered By: mwalcoff-ga on 12 Feb 2005 11:20 PST

This is an interesting question.

"Iran" is the word for the country in the major language of the
country (a language that itself has several names -- Iranian, Persian
or Farsi). "Persia" is how the country was known to Europeans from
antiquity until the mid-20th century. The word "Persia" comes from the
province of Fars or the ethnic group that lived there.

According to an article excerpted at the site of the Iran Chamber
Society, the Persian government in 1935 asked other countries to start
using the native name "Iran" instead of "Persia." There are several
reasons why the government might have done that. For one, the
government might have wanted to demonstrate its freedom from foreign
influence. Also, because not all people in the country live in Fars or
speak Persian, the name "Iran" could be considered more inclusive.

A third possible reason comes from the fact that the name "Iran" is
related to the word "Aryan." The Persians, like the Nazis, claimed
descent from the semi-mythical "Aryan race" of old. The name change
may have been an attempt to curry favor with the Germans.

Some people from the country still prefer the word "Persia."

I hope this answer has met your needs. If not, please request clarification. 

Sources: Ehsan Yarshater, "When 'Persia' Became 'Iran,'" Iran Chamber

Peyman Nasepour, "Some points about the words Iran, Iranian, Persia,
Persian, Fars and Farsi,"

Pejman Akbarzadeh, "Iran or Persia? Farsi or Persian? Which Ones
Should Use ?!" 20 Nov. 2003,

Foued Kazem, "A Brief History of Names," 20 Dec. 2004,

Search strategy:

name Iran aryan

Iran name change Persia

origin word Persia
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