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Iran Geography and Nature

Covering an area of 1,648,000 square kilometers, Iran is located in southwestern Asia. The Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Armenia in the north; Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east; Turkey and Iraq in the west surround the country. On the south Iran borders the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Total terrestrial borders of the country are 6,032 km. and total water borders are 2,700 km. Iran is situated at the heart of the Middle East and, as a bridge, links the Caspian Sea, the largest land-locked body of water in the world, to the Persian Gulf.

It is also a crossroad between the East and the West. Thus, historically, Iran has been in the juncture of cultural, intellectual and political manifestations of both the East and the West, while preserving its unique identity.
Unique landscapes such as limpid water springs, pomegranate orchards, pistachio gardens, rows of lombardy poplars, decampment of nomads in different seasons, stelliferous nights, rocky mountains, endless high and low lands, extinct snow-clad volcanoes, dense forests of the Alborz Mountain Range, and coastlines of the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman are all eyecatching and memorable.
Iran's landscapes vary remarkably at different seasons. They are at times full of stone and sand, at times full of floodwater, sometimes covered by snow or by lush vegetation. Iranian artists have portrayed Iran's nature as a sign of diversity and charm in their different and diverse artistic works. Iranians also have trade tionally valued Water as a symbol of life and development. Innumerable permament streams can be seen flowing in meadows, gardens, orchards, homes, mosques and sacred places irrigating trees.
Nature and its diversity in Iran are valuable parameters for development of the tourism industry. In total, it is estimated that 19 million hectares of terrestrial land are covered by orchards, gardens and farmlands; 10 million hectares are plain and pastures; 19 million hectares are forests; and the remaining include barren lands, desert, and mountains.
Among significant characteristics of the vast land of Iran is the existence of high mountains as well as flat plains, desert areas, rivers and lakes contributing to unique geographical conditions in which, at any time of the year, and in each section of the country, one of the four seasons is visible.
Thus, in winter, swim-ming and water skiing are possible in the warm waters of the Persian Gulf, and at the same time winter sports, like skiing are possible in the northern and western mountains of the country, while one can enjoy the pleasant spring weather along the shores of the Caspian Sea- at the same time of the year. The high Alborz Mountains, sealing off the narrow Cas-pian strip, are covered with dense forests and lush vegetation, which have to be crossed when traveling to northern Iran.
The coastline of the Persian Gulf in the south is rocky and mountainous in some areas and sandy and swampy in others; it is not as even as the northern shores of the country. The southern provinces of Iran, especially Khuzistan, which encompass some parts of vast Mesopotamia (between two rivers) plain, are very flat and level with low altitude. If one walks in the northern or western mountains of Iran, he/she will be able to see so many eye-catching views and towns, villages, orchards, gardens and meadows with an amazing landscape. In any case, Iran has many amazing landscapes in much-unexpected places.
The overall elevations of the plateau of Iran give many provinces an altitude of over 1,000 m., and this is an important geographic feature of this land. The magnificent Alborz Mountain Range in the north, the Zagross Mountain Range in the west and some other mountain chains, which extend from Khorassan to Baluchistan in the east, surrounded plateau of Iran, which is mostly desert in the middle. The most important summits in Iran are: Damavand (5,671 m.) north-east of Tehran; Sabalan (4,880 m.) west of Ardebil; Sahand (3,707) in the south of Tabriz; Takht-e-Solayman (4,820 m.) in the center of Mazandaran; Zardkooh (4,550 m.) in Bakhtiari; Dena (4,309 m.) north of Yasouj; and Taftan (3,941 m.) south of Zahedan.
Complexity and diversity of geological and calcareous structures have contributed to the formation of so many caves in different provinces, especially in Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, and Hamedan, which are attractive to numerous tourists, Visiting some of these caves is highly recommended and they are amongst important tourism Attractions. The Mountains of Iran belong to the folding of the Cenozoic Period and some of them, with volcanic origins, have brought about the means of formation of thermal springs. They have created suitable conditions for winter and mountain sports. The two well-known deserts of Iran, Dasht-e-Lout and Dasht-e-Kavir, covering an area of over 360,000 square kilometers, are amongst the most interesting yet unknown places. With more than 500 known mineral water and thermal springs used for different purposes, Iran has an important potential in this regard. Most of these springs are located in the Alborz Mountain Range, in Azarbaijan and in the Zagross Mountain and some are located close to Isfahan, Mashhad and Bandar Abbas. The thermal springs of Sarain (Ardebil), Larijan (at the slopes of Alborz), and Mahallat attract many people all arround the year for recreation and therapeutic purposes.
The coasts of the Caspian Sea, with pleasant sandy beaches, are among the most important tourist attractions in Iran. Moreover, the southern shores and islands of Iran have their own natural beauty and being used as tourism attractions especially in winter. The slopes of Alborz and Zagross Mountains with numerous springs, lakes and wetlands haver their own beautiful and eyecatching landscapes.

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