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Approximately 30 percent of this boundary is seacoast. Iran's central plateau is actually a tectonic plate.

It forms a basin surrounded by several tall, heavily eroded mountain ranges, principally the Elburz Mountains in the north and the Zagros range in the west and south.

Rainfall varies from less than two inches (five centimeters) annually in Baluchistan, near the Pakistani border, to more than eighty inches (two hundred centimeters) in the subtropical Caspian region where temperatures rarely fall below freezing. Iran's population has not been accurately measured since the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Recent population estimates range from sixty-one to sixty-five million.

It is perhaps easiest to speak of the various ethnic groups in the country in terms of their first language.

Approximately half of the population speaks Persian and affiliated dialects as their primary language.

Ancient Greek geographers designated the territory as "Persia" after the territory of Fars where the ancient Achamenian Empire had its seat.

Today as a result of migration and conquest, people of Indo-European, Turkic, Arab, and Caucasian origin have some claim to Iranian cultural identity.

Several important volcanoes, including Mount Damāvand, the nation's highest peak at approximately 19,000 feet, (5,800 meters) also ring the country.

The term "Persian" is used as an adjective— especially pertaining to the arts—and to designate the principal language spoken in Iran.

The term is often used to designate the larger cultural sphere of Iranian civilization.

Iran's climate is one of extremes, ranging from subtropical to subpolar, due to the extreme variations in altitude and rainfall throughout the nation.

Temperatures range from as high as 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius) in the southwest and along the Persian Gulf coast to -40 degrees Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius).

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