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Ethnic Groups

Ethnic Groups Ethnic Groups Ethnic Groups
Iran is an ethnically diverse country and interethnic relations are generally amicable. Persians form the majority of the population. However, historically the terms "Iran" and "Persia" have referred to a confederation of all groups native to the Iranian Plateau, and the speakers of Iranian languages, whether located in Iran or not (e.g. Tajiks, Ossetians, etc.). Therefore, historically, the use of the term "Persian" has sometimes been used to include all the various regional dialects and subgroups of Iran.

The main ethno-linguistic minority groups in Iran are the Azeris, Kurds, Arabs, Baluchis, Turkmen, Armenians, Assyrians, Jews, and Georgians. The tribal groups include the Bakhtiaris, Khamseh, Lurs, Qashqai, as well as others. While many Iranians identify with a secondary ethnic, religious, linguistic, or regional background in some way, the primary identity unifying most of these sub-groups is their distinctly Iranian language, and/or culture. Though many of the tribal groups have become urbanized over the decades, some continue to function as rural tribal societies.

Ethnicity/race in Iran breaks down as follows:
Persian 51%
Azeri 24%
Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%
Kurd 7%
Arab 3%
Lur 2%
Baloch 2%
Turkmen 2%
Other 1%

However, these statistics are viewed as suspect by many, for a variety of reasons, one of them being that much of this data is alleged to ignore the considerable intermarriage rates over the last century between these groups, and the fact that almost all of these groups speak Persian as well as their ethnic language and identify with their sub-identity only secondarily moreover, there is debate as to what the definition of a Persian is.

While many of these ethnic groups have their own languages, cultures, and often literature, they are all native to Iran and majority of Iran's ethnic groups are considered Iranian people. In modern times, ethnic differences have occasionally emerged as political ambitions, sometimes as a result of provocation from outside powers. Some of these groups are also religious minorities. For instance, the majority of Kurds, Baluchis and Turkmen are Sunni Muslims, while the state religion in Iran is Shi'a Islam.

One of the major internal policy challenges during the centuries up until now for most or all Iranian governments has been to find the appropriate and balanced approach to the difficulties and opportunities caused by this diversity, particularly as this internal diversity has often been readily utilized by foreign powers.

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