Ethnic Groups

Ethnic Groups in Iran

by Mason Balouchian

Diversity of Ethnic Groups and their origin in Iran

The origin of Ethnic Groups

In prehistoric period, races descending from an ancient civilization dating back to about 7000 BC established urban societies in Iran. Pottery remains excavated at different archaeological sites indicate evidences to such civilized societies. Elam centered at the kingdom of Anshan was one of the leading political forces in that region about 3000 BC. During this period, Aryan tribes from around the Caspian sea had been gradually migrating into Iranian plateau for thousands of years. Early 2000 BC, the migration took a faster rate. They separated into three major groups and settled in different areas—the Persians in the southwest and central areas, the Medes in the west, and the Parthians in the east. They founded diverse systems of government in these regions. Since that period, many events have led to the appearance of diverse groups who share Racial and  Cultural heritage.
The Persians form about 51% of the population and are scattered all over Iran with major concentration in Pars province and other central regions. Gilakis and Mazenies living in central north are also Persians. The Kurds living in Zagros areas form 7% of the population and are of the Median descent. They speak Kurdish language. Baluchies who originate from Parthians form 2.5% of the population and live in Eastern Iran. Another group, Lurs, living in the Southwest form 2% of the population. They are the aboriginal people of Iranian plateau before Aryan tribes occupied it. All these groups share different dialect of the Persian language.
The Jewish community living in Iran immigrated to Persia after the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great. At present, the majority of them reside in Tehran and an area in northeastern Isfahan called Jewbareh. There is a large community of Armenian (Christians) populations who immigrated from Julfa to Isfahan and settled in southwest of the city during Safavid Period.
There are few countries in the world bringing together so many diverse ethnic groups in such a “Melting pot of Civilizations”.


1. IRAN, A Chronological History

(Authors: Saeed Alizadeh, Alireza Pahlavani, Ali Sadrnia)

2. American Heritage Dictionary

3. Encyclopedia Britannica

4. Encarta, the world Atlas