We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!

Iran: Table A. Chronology of Important Events
Country Study > Table A. Chronology of Important Events


Early History

ca. 3400 B.C. - Elamite kingdom emerges in southwestern Iran and Mesopotamia.

ca. 2000 B.C. - Nomadic peoples—Scythians, Medes, and Persians move from Central Asia to Iranian plateau.

Sixth Century B.C.

ca. 553–550 B.C. - Cyrus II (also known as Cyrus the Great or Cyrus the Elder) overthrows Medean king; becomes ruler of Persia and Media; founds Achaemenian Empire.

539 B.C. - Cyrus captures Babylon, releases Jews from captivity.

525 B.C. - Cyrus’s son Cambyses II conquers Egypt.

522 B.C. - Darius I becomes king; restablishes and extends empire, carries out administrative reorganization.

Fifth Century B.C.

490 B.C. - Darius invades Greek mainland; defeated at the Battle of Marathon.

Fourth Century B.C.

334 B.C. - Alexander the Great begins Persian campaign; completes conquest of Persia and Mesoptamia, 330 B.C.

323 B.C. - Death of Alexander; division of empire among generals; Seleucids emerge as principal heirs in Iran.

Third Century B.C.

247 B.C. - Parthians overthrow Seleucids; establish own dynasty.

Third Century A.D.

A.D. 224 - Ardeshir overthrows last Parthian ruler; establishes Sassanian dynasty with capital at Ctesiphon.

A.D. 260 - Shahpur I wages campaign against Romans, takes emperor Valerian captive.

Seventh Century

637 - Muslim armies capture Ctesiphon, Sassanian Empire begins to crumble.

641–42 - Sassanian army defeated at Nahavand; Iran comes under Muslim rule.

661 - After assassination of Ali, son-in-law of Muhammad, Umayyads establish new dynasty with capital at Damascas.

Eighth Century

750 - Abbasids, from base in Khorasan, overthrow Umayyads, establish capital at Baghdad.

NINTH–TENTH CENTURIES - Emergence of virtually independent local dynasties in northeastern and eastern Iran; court patronage leads to flowering of Persian language, poetry, and literature.

Eleventh Century

1055 - Seljuk chief Tughril Beg consolidates rule over Iran; receives title “King of the East” from caliph in Baghdad.

Thirteenth Century

ca. 1219 - Beginning of Mongol invasion under Genghis (Chinggis) Khan.

1258 - Mongols sack Baghdad and consolidate rule over Iran.

1295 - Ghazan Khan, a convert to Islam, becomes Mongol ruler, aided by his famous Iranian vizier, Rashid ad Din; period of reform, stabilization.

Fourteenth Century

ca. 1335 - End of centralized Mongol rule.

1381 - Timur, also called Tamerlane (Timur the Lame), makes himself master of Iran.

Fifteenth Century

1405 - Death of Timur; rapid disintegration of his empire; long period of fragmented rule in Iran.

Sixteenth Century

1501 - Safavis seize power in Tabriz; Ismail Safavi proclaimed shah.

1587 - Shah Abbas succeeds to the throne; his reign (1587–1629) marks apogee of Safavi power, cultural flowering.

Eighteenth Century

1722 - Afghan tribesmen enter Esfahan; Safavi Empire collapses.

1729 - Tahmasp Quli, chief of Afshar tribe, expels Afghans, rules in name of Safavis.

1736 - Tahmasp Quli assumes throne in own name as Nader Shah.

ca. 1738–39 - Nader Shah, in series of military campaigns, extends Iran’s borders into Georgia, Armenia, and Afghanistan; sacks Delhi.

1747 - Assassination of Nader Shah; his empire fragments.

1750 - Karim Khan Zand consolidates power in southern Iran with his capital at Shiraz; adopts title of vakil al ruaya, or deputy of the subjects.

1779 - Death of Karim Khan; tribal struggle for succession ensues.

1795 - Agha Mohammad Qajar, having made himself master of Iran, is crowned king, inaugurating Qajar dynasty; establishes capital at Tehran.

1797 - Death of Agha Mohammad; succession of Fath Ali Shah.

Nineteenth Century

1812 - First Russo-Persian War ends in Treaty of Gulistan. Iran cedes territory to Russia in Caucasus.

1828 - Second Russo-Persian War ends in Treaty of Turkmanchay. Iran cedes additional territory in Caucasus, pays indemnity, extends capitulatory rights to Russian (and later to other European) subjects.

1834 - Death of Fath Ali Shah; succession of Mohammad Shah.

1848 - Death of Mohammad Shah; succession of Naser ad Din Shah.

1851 - Founding of Dar ol Fonun, first school based on European model. Amir Kabir, Naser ad Din Shah’s powerful prime minister, dismissed, executed on shah’s orders.

ca. 1853 - Beginning of Russian expansion in Central Asia into territories claimed by Iran.

1857 - British land troops in south; force Iran to end second siege of Herat in Afghanistan (first siege had ended under British pressure in 1837). Treaty of Paris signed with Britain; Iran gives up all claims to Herat.

1871 - Appointment of Mirza Hosain Khan Moshir od Dowleh as prime minister, marking start of era of reform, including cabinet-style government, advisory council to the shah, and foreign concessions.

1872 - Shah grants railroad concession to British national, Baron Julius de Reuter; later cancels concession after protests by high officials, clergy.

1888 - Shah opens Karun River in Khuzestan Province to international commercial traffic; Imperial Bank of Persia established under concession to Reuter.

1891–92 - Shah grants tobacco monopoly to a British national. Nationwide protests force him to cancel it.

1896 - Naser ad Din Shah assassinated by follower of Jamal ad Din al Afghani; succeeded by Muzaffar ad Din Shah.

Twentieth Century

1900, 1902 - Shah contracts first and second Russian loans.

1901 - British speculator William D’Arcy receives a concession to explore and develop southern Iran’s oil resources.

1905–6 - Antigovernment protests culminate in demand for a constitution.

1906 - Muzaffar ad Din Shah issues a decree promising a constitution. Majlis (parliament) ratifies constitution, shah signs it, changing government to a constitutional monarchy.

1907 - Supplementary Laws to constitution enacted. Anglo-Russian Agreement signed, dividing Iran into spheres of influence.

1908 - Mohammad Ali Shah bombards parliament, suspends constitution. Oil is discovered in Iran.

1909 - Overthrow of Mohammad Ali Shah, restoration of the constitution; Ahmad Shah begins reign. Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) is formed.

1911 - American Morgan Shuster arrives as financial adviser. Russian ultimatum and invasion, dismissal of Shuster, closure of parliament.

1914 - Britain gains control of APOC.

1914–19 - Iran declares neutrality in World War I but becomes battleground for Russian, British, and Turkish forces.

1919 - Anglo-Persian Agreement signed, establishing a virtual British protectorate in Iran.

1921 - Anglo-Persian Agreement rejected by the Majlis.

1921–25 - Army commander Reza Khan brings tribes under control.

1923 - Ahmad Shah names Reza Khan prime minister, leaves Iran, never to return.

1924 - Campaign to establish a republic abandoned after clerical objections.

1925 - Qajars deposed by act of Majlis. Reza Khan named shah by Majlis, establishes Pahlavi dynasty.

1927–32 - New civil code enacted.

1932 - Uniform European dress code imposed. Shah cancels agreement under which the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) produced and exported Iran’s oil.

1933 - A new 60-year Anglo-Persian oil agreement is signed.

1935 - APOC is renamed the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). Tehran University inaugurated.

1936 - Abolition of the wearing of the veil. Troops fire on protesters inside the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashhad, eroding the shah’s popular support.

August, 1941 - Anglo-Russian invasion of Iran after shah, who had declared Iran neutral in World War II, refuses to expel German nationals.

September, 1941 - Abdication of Reza Shah; Mohammad Reza Shah becomes ruler.

December, 1945 - Azarbaijan Democratic Party declares autonomous republic. Kurdish Republic of Mahabad declared in Kurdistan.

December, 1946 - Iranian army moves into Azarbaijan; autonomy movement, Kurdish Republic of Mahabad collapse.

March, 1951 - Majlis nationalizes oil industry.

April, 1951 - Mohammad Mossadeq becomes prime minister.

August, 1953 - Mossadeq overthrown in a coup engineered by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Britain’s MI–5, supported by Iranian royalists.

1954 - A new agreement divides profits equally between the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and the multinational consortium that replaced the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC).

October, 1955 - Iran is a charter member of the U.S.-supported Baghdad Pact (renamed the Central Treaty Organization—CENTO—after Iraq’s withdrawal in 1958).

January, 1962 - Government approves law mandating breakup of large landholdings.

January, 1963 - Shah’s “White Revolution” approved in a national referendum.

June, 1963 - Riots in Tehran and other major cities support Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini.

November, 1964 - Khomeini sent into exile.

1971 - Celebrations held to mark 2,500 years of Iranian monarchy.

1974 - Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quadruples oil prices; Iran’s oil revenues rise dramatically.

1975 - Algiers Agreement establishes the “thalweg” as the border between Iran and Iraq in the Shatt al Arab, giving Iran equal navigation rights in the waterway.

1978 - Riots rock major Iranian cities.

January, 1979 - Shah leaves Iran.

February, 1979 - Khomeini returns from exile, names provisional government and Revolutionary Council; collapse of Pahlavi monarchy.

March–April, 1979 - National referendum approves establishment of Islamic Republic, which is declared on April 1.

May, 1979 - Khomeini authorizes establishment of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

June–July, 1979 - Private-sector banks, insurance companies, industrial enterprises, and large businesses are nationalized or expropriated.

November, 1979 - Iranian “students of the Imam’s Line” occupy the U.S. embassy compound in Tehran and take American diplomats hostage. United States and Iran break diplomatic relations.

December, 1979 - Second national referendum approves new constitution, vesting supreme authority in the faqih, or Islamic religious law expert.

January, 1980 - Abolhasan Bani Sadr elected first president of the Islamic Republic.

April, 1980 - United States tries but fails to rescue embassy hostages.

September, 1980 - Iraq invades Iran, launching Iran–Iraq war.

January, 1981 - U.S. Embassy hostages released.

June, 1981 - Bani Sadr impeached. Bloody struggle between regime and opposition forces ensues.

October, 1981 - Sayyid Ali Khamenei elected president.

August, 1985 - Khamenei elected to a second term as president.

1985–86 - “Iran–Contra Affair,” covert selling of U.S. arms to Iran for money given to anticommunist “contra” groups in Nicaragua, causes major scandal in United States.

August, 1988 - Iran–Iraq war ends with cease-fire, after about 1 million casualties and major shifts in regional politics; reform factions gain seats in parliamentary elections.

February, 1989 - Khomeini appoints Expediency Council composed of 12 ex-officio members and his own representative, with wide powers to resolve differences between the Majlis and Guardians Council. Khomeini issues a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses, deemed insulting to the Prophet.

June, 1989 - Khomeini dies. Hojjatoleslam Ali Khamenei succeeds him as Leader of the Revolution.

July, 1989 - Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani elected president.

1990 - Large-scale protests against economic conditions begin, continue through early 1990s.

1992 - Iran asserts sovereignty over southern half of Persian Gulf island of Abu Musa, in violation of a 1971 Memorandum of Understanding, thus beginning a territorial dispute with the United Arab Emirates.

June, 1993 - Rafsanjani reelected president, with declining support.

1995 - Russia agrees to assume construction of nuclear reactors at Bushehr.

1996 - Iran–Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) passed by the U.S. Congress places economic sanctions on Iran.

May, 1997 - Election of Mohammad Khatami as president, at the head of a reform movement; in ensuing years, struggle heightens in courts and parliament between reformist and conservative factions.

1998 - Iran announces first test-firing of Shahab–3 ballistic missile.

February, 1999 - First local elections since the Revolution are held.

February, 2000 - Guardians Council disqualifies large numbers of reformist candidates for parliamentary elections, but reformists make significant gains.


March, 2001 - Russia agrees to complete nuclear reactor construction at Bushehr.

June, 2001 - Khatami wins second term as president, but conservatives retain control of Guardians Council.

September, 2001 - Iranian officials express deep sympathy with the United States following the terrorist attacks of September 11.

2002 - Iran continues to support Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan in successful anti-Taliban campaign. Repression of press and dissident activities increases in Iran; student demonstrators are arrested.

January, 2002 - Israel intercepts the freighter Karine A in the Mediterranean Sea. The ship was carrying Iranian weapons believed to be bound for the Palestinian Authority. U.S. President George W. Bush links Iran with Iraq and North Korea in an “axis of evil.”

February, 2003 - Conservatives make large gains in local elections. International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) begins examination of Iran’s nuclear program.

March, 2003 - United States deposes Saddam Hussein in Iraq; Iran opposes ensuing occupation but remains neutral.

May, 2003 - Guardians Council vetoes key reform legislation of Khatami.

July, 2003 - Death of a Canadian journalist in an Iranian jail causes international outcry.

October, 2003 - Human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

December, 2003 - Earthquake destroys the Iranian city of Bam.

February and May 2004 - After many reformist candidates are disqualified, conservatives gain a parliamentary majority in elections.

September, 2004 - Three new provinces, North Khorasan, South Khorasan, and Razavi Khorasan, are created from the province of Khorasan.

March, 2005 - United States offers economic incentives for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.

June, 2005 - In a runoff election, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is elected president with a populist platform.

October, 2005 - Iran reconfirms its right to develop peaceful nuclear technology.

April, 2006 - IAEA officially reports Iran’s failure to suspend uranium enrichment, as mandated by the United Nations (UN) Security Council.

June, 2006 - United States offers to join talks on Iran’s nuclear program; international powers offer new incentives for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment.

December, 2006 - UN Security Council imposes limited sanctions on Iran.

March, 2007 - UN Security Council widens scope of the December 2006 sanctions against Iran.

May, 2007 - U.S. and Iranian negotiators meet, for first time in 27 years, to discuss stability in Iraq.

August, 2007 - Iran and the IAEA reach agreement on a timetable according to which Iran will allow IAEA inspectors to resume inspecting declared nuclear sites.

October, 2007 - Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator (Ali Larijani) resigns and is replaced by a close associate of President Ahmadinejad. United States unilaterally imposes tougher new economic sanctions on Iran, focusing on the Revolutionary Guards, Ministry of Defense, and a number of Iranian individuals, banks, and companies.

November, 2007 - An official U.S. government intelligence report concludes that Iran likely ceased work on its nuclear weapons program in 2003, although uranium enrichment continued.

March, 2008 - Ahmadinejad is the first Iranian president since the Revolution to visit Iraq. UN Security Council tightens existing economic sanctions against Iran.

Last Updated: December 1987

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Iran was first published in 1987. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

Iran Main Page Country Studies Main Page

Section 5 of 246


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

(﷼) Iran Rial (IRR)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map