Persia or Iran? Many people these days know these two terms refer to the same place geographically and often use them interchangeably. Outside the country, Iran used to be referred to as Persia, but there’s a curious reason why it changed. Keep reading to discover the story of how Iran got its name.
Iran was always known as ‘Persia’ to foreign governments and was once heavily influenced by Great Britain and Russia. In 1935, however, the Iranian government requested that all countries with which it had diplomatic relations call the country by its Persian name, Iran. It’s thought that it was the Iranian ambassador to Germany who suggested this change. At that time, Germany had good relations with countries of Aryan descent. To signal the changes that had come to Persia under the rule of Reza Shah, namely that Persia had freed itself from the grip of the British and Russians, it would be known as Iran. As a cognate of the word ‘Aryan’_,_ this name change to Iran was also a nod to the population’s Aryan race and encompassed all ethnicities in the country, not just the Persians.