The Islamic Republic of Iran (1 April 1979-) is a unitary presidential theocratic republic located in the Persian Gulf region of the Middle East subcontinent, with its capital at Tehran. Ruled by sharia law implemented by Ayatollah Khomeini upon the foundation of the Islamic Republic on 1 April 1979 after the Iranian Revolution, Iran is the center of Shia Islam, and has a population of 77,176,930 people.
Iran was founded on 1 April 1979 after the Iranian Revolution of February, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was ousted from power and Iran became an Islamic state, the center of the Shia Islam denomination of Islam. Iran was a theocracy, with religion dictating every aspect of life. Women were forced to wear hijab masks and dresses in public to conceal all of their skin except for their hands and tiny slits for their eyes, and people were forced to adhere to Islamic traditions such as halal cuisinary law and going to madrassas. The vestiges of the old Pahlavi Dynasty were removed through the encouragement of the Ayatollah to Iranian student organizations, who thought the Ayatollah to be their father and guide. On 4 November 1979 they kidnapped 66 United States embassy workers in revenge for the Americans giving the Shah medical treatment in their country while the revolution happened, and they released the 15 women and African-Americans, knowing that they would face worse treatment back home than in Iran. An American rescue attempt - Operation Eagle Claw (24-25 April 1980) - was authorized by President Jimmy Carter, but two helicopters crashed and 8 elite American soldiers were killed. Most of the hostages remained in Iranian hands until the inaugaration of President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and further hostages were released after the American government secretly sold arms to Iran during the Iran-Iraq War. Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver North's secret arms deals led to the exposure of the affair, known as Irangate.
From 1980 to 1988, the Islamic Republic was at war with Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq War. Iran's support of Shi'ite rebels in Iraq and Iraq's support of the People's Mujahideen of Iran and the Mujahideen-e-Khalq in Iran led to disputes over the Shatt al-Arab Waterway of the Persian Gulf and a large war occurred between the two countries. The United States sent arms to both sides and the war ended in 1988 with stalemate, although both countries' economies were badly damaged by the war. Khomeini died in 1989 of natural causes and Ali Khamenei became the new Supreme Leader, the new Ayatollah.
From the 1980s onwards, Iran was responsible for several terrorist attacks carried out by the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, also known as the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), led by Mohsen Rezaee. The Iranian IRGC claimed responsibility for the 21 December 1988 Lockerbie bombing, in which they blew up a Pan Am airline and killed several innocents. The IRGC and Iran's special Quds Force elite soldiers also assisted in training the Shi'ite terrorist group Hezbollah in fighting Lebanon and Israel, gaining influence in the Levant. In 2001, Iran assisted in a coup against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan during the Afghanistan War, but they supported the Islamic rebels during the Iraq War, training the Shi'ite Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr to kill Americans and the Iraqi government forces.
The reign of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad from 2005 to 2013 saw a deterioration in relations with foreign countries and with his own cabinet: he publicly denied the Holocaust (sparking outrage around the world, especially the Jewish community), said that the 11 September 2001 attacks were caused by the US government at a United Nations meeting (many diplomats left the room as Ahmedinejad made the speech), banned fast food in Iran, increased oil taxes, was photographed kissing the hand of a former female school teacher and hugging the mother of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez at his funeral (both illegal in Islamic law). In the later years of his term (post-2011), Iran also took an active role in the Syrian Civil War, sending forces to support Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in crushing violent revolts against his Alawite Shia government by Sunnis and terrorists. They continue to play an active role in supporting the government even after the United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, France, Canada, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and other countries began to send aid to opposition groups while bombing the groups loyal to the extremist Islamic State.
In 2014, Iran had 77,176,930 people, with 124 people per square mile. 61% of the people are Persian, 16% Azerbaijani, 10% Kurdish, 6% Lurs, 2% Arabs, 2% Balochs, 2% Turkmen/Turkish, and 1% Armenian, Georgian, Circassian, Assyrian, and others. 95% of Iranians are Shi'ites, while 3% are Sunni and 2% are Baha'i, Mandean, Hindu, Yazidi, Yarsani, Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian. Their currency is the Rial, with a GDP of $974,406,000,000. Most of their money comes from their gas production, which was one of the reasons why the United States supported the pro-West Shah and not the nationalist rebel groups under Khomeini. Iran's new government nationalized the oil and the government became extremely-rich off of the industry.