Tehran is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With a population of around 8.3 million and surpassing 14 million in the wider metropolitan area, Tehran is Iran’s largest city and urban area, and the largest city in Western Asia.
In the 20th and 21st centuries, Tehran has been the subject of mass migration of people from all around Iran. The city is home to many historic mosques, churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian fire temples. However, modern structures, notably Azadi (Freedom) Tower and the Milad Tower, have come to symbolise the city. Tehran is ranked 29th in the world by the population of its metropolitan area. Throughout Iran’s history, the capital has been moved many times, and Tehran is the 32nd national capital of Iran although it has been Iran’s capital for about 220 years. Although a variety of unofficial languages are spoken, roughly 99% of the population understand and speak Persian. The majority of people in Tehran identify themselves as Persians. In pre-Islamic and early Islamic times, Tehran was an unimportant village and part of the area of present-day Tehran was occupied by Rey, now a part of the city of Tehran, which took over its role after the destruction of Rey by the Mongols in the early 13th century.
Tehran features a semi-arid, continental climate. Tehran’s climate is largely defined by its geographic location, with the towering Alborz Mountains to its north and the central desert to the south. It can be generally described as mild in the spring and autumn, hot and dry in the summer, and cold in the winter. Because the city is large with significant differences in elevation among various districts, the weather is often cooler in the hilly north than in the flat southern part of Tehran. For instance, the 17.3 kilometre Vali E Asr street runs from the Tehran’s railway station, 1,117 metres (3,665 ft) above sea level, in the south of the city to the Tajrish square, 1,612 metre (5,289 ft) elevation above sea level, in the north. However, the elevation can even rise up to 1,900 metres (6,200 ft) at the end of the Velenjak street in the north of Tehran.
Tehran’s climate can be described to have some monsoon influences; the summers are very dry, and the spring and fall are rather lush, with the main precipitation occurring at this time. Summer is usually hot and dry with very little rain, but relative humidity is generally low and the nights are cool. Most of the light annual precipitation occurs from late autumn to mid-spring, but no one month is particularly wet. The hottest month is July, with a mean minimum temperature of 26°C and a mean maximum temperature of 36°C, and the coldest is January, with a mean minimum temperature of −1°C and a mean maximum temperature of 8°C.
Although Tehran enjoys a more moderate climate than other parts of the country, the weather can sometimes be unpredictably harsh. The record high temperature is 43°C and the record low is −17°C .
The majority of Tehranis are followers of Twelver Shia Islam, which is also the state religion. Religious minorities include followers of various sects of Sunni Islam, Mystic Islam, Yârsânism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity (including the adherents of the Assyrian Church of the East, Armenian Apostolic Church, Roman Catholic Church, Chaldean Catholic Church, Iranian Protestant churches like Jama’at-e Rabbani (Assemblies of God), Armenian Evangelical Church, Armenian Brotherhood Church, Russian Orthodox Church, and the Presbyterian Church) and some from the Bahá’í Faith. Tehran also has small number of third generation Iranian Sikh community that has a gurudwara visited by Indian Prime Minister in 2012.
As there are many parks and trees throughout Tehran the end of March and early April would be a good time to visit as the temperature is quite moderate and the blossoms are blooming.
The Conference organisers arranged a dinner near the Darakeh Mountains, about an hour’s drive from central Tehran.
Iran offers the traveller many new experiences. The top hotels are excellent and cheap, the food is very good and inexpensive, the people are friendly and there is much to see and learn. It is a wonderful travel destination – don’t believe all the travel advisory blogs that warn you about travelling to Iran.