Islamic Republic of [formerly Persia] (Per. Jomhuri-e-Eslami-e-Iran). Country in the Middle East. It has an area of about 1·65 million km², of which a vast portion is desert, and a population of 76·43 million (2000 estimate). Most Iranians are of Aryan stock and speak an Indo-European tongue, Farsi (or Persian). The official state religion since 1501 has been Shi‘a Islam, but there are also 850,000 Sunnis in Iran (mostly Kurdish, Baluchi and Turkmen people but also some Sunni minorities in Persian-speaking areas, e.g. southern Khorasan), as well as smaller groups of other faiths (over 100,000 Armenians and 60,000 Jews, about 20,000 Parsis, 20,000 Nestorians, 8500 Protestants etc.). Aside from Kurdish music, little music research has been carried out among the religious minorities in Iran (e.g. Armenian and Assyrian Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews (although see Jewish music and Baha’is).
The name Persia is correctly confined to the period from 600