Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque, Iran
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Sheikh Lotf Allah Mosque, Iran

© 123rf.com / Javarman Javarman

Iran Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

1,648,195 sq km (636,371 sq miles).

Population

79.9 million (2013).

Population density

48.4 per sq km.

Capital

Tehran.

Government

Islamic Republic since 1979.

Head of state

Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khameni since 1989.

Head of government

President Hassan Rouhani since 2013.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are of the round two-pin type.

Iran is a remarkable travel destination in myriad ways, and chief among these is the fact that preconceptions of a stern, inhospitable destination are invariably shattered. No one’s pretending that the country’s current leadership can’t be shockingly hard-fisted in matters of civic law, but the most likely result of a Western visitor making an Iran trip remains an endless stream of tea invites.

Rich Persian heritage is evident throughout the country, both in terms of the historical sights – the ancient ruins of Persepolis and the still-glorious former capital of Esfahan being the two most prominent examples – and the country’s distinct cultural identity, which sets it as almost a nation apart in the Islamic world. It’s somewhere with issues, sure, and flashpoint travel advisories should be heeded, but street-level Iran is largely a separate entity to news-headline Iran, and it makes for a truly soul-stirring place to visit.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 19 October 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to within 100km of the entire Iran/Afghanistan border; within 10km of the entire Iran/Iraq border; the province of Sistan-Baluchistan; and the area east of the line running from Bam to Jask, including Bam.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Iran.

British travellers to Iran face greater risks than nationals of many other countries due to high levels of suspicion about the UK and the UK government’s limited ability to assist in any difficulty.

There’s a risk that British nationals could be arbitrarily detained in Iran despite their complete innocence. British nationals were arbitrarily detained in 2010 and 2011, and there is a risk of this occurring again. A group of eight Slovak paragliders were arrested in May 2013 and three US hikers were arrested near the Iraqi border in 2009.

Independent travellers, especially (but not exclusively) if going off the beaten track, face greater risk than those in tour groups or business visitors.

During a demonstration on 29 November 2011 the British Embassy in Tehran was attacked and set on fire. The Embassy is now closed and is unable to provide any consular services.

On 20 February Sweden ceased to be the protecting power for British interests in Iran; this follows the appointment of non-resident Chargés d’Affaires in November 2013. British nationals requiring urgent consular assistance in Iran should contact any EU Embassy in Tehran, including the Swedish Embassy.

Dual nationality is not recognised in Iran. The Iranian authorities will deny that the British government has any legitimate responsibility for British Iranians and are unlikely to grant any consular access.

There is a general threat from terrorism.

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