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Iran, also known as Persia, is a large Western Asian country, bigger in geographical size than Alaska. Farsi is the official language, but a wealth of others including Kurdish, Lurish, Gilaki, and Balochi are spoken. The only country on both the Caspian Sea and the Indian Ocean, Iran has diverse terrain. There are many mountains, some with salt lakes above where rain clouds can reach, as well as rainforests and deserts. The climate ranges from arid to humid. There are many birds, and bears, gazelles, wild pigs, wolves, jackals, panthers, Eurasian Lynx, and foxes. Carpet weaving and other artworks are often of excellent quality, and Iranian music and dance can be spellbinding. When in Iran, see the ancient city of Persepolis and the splendors of the Golestan Palace in Tehran. You can also visit the Zagros Mountains in the center of the country. Rice is a very important part of meals in Iran, and there are many types of breads. Eggplant is the supreme vegetable, and other common ones are pumpkin, spinach, green beans, zucchini, and carrots. Good fruits include plums, pomegranates, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins. Plain yogurt, or m─üstÔÇÄ, is often added to a meal. Spices like dried lime, saffron, and cinnamon play an important role in the cuisine. Dolma, a typical food, is rice and sometimes meat stuffed in vegetables like grape leaves or cabbage, or even fruit like apples or quince. Try fesenj─ün, a casserole from Esfahan with pomegranate pur├®e and ground walnut cooked with either chicken, duck, lamb, or beef and served over rice. You can find vegetarian or even vegan Iranian, Middle Eastern, and Italian restaurants. If you're lucky you might be able to get some organic Persian food or shop at a health food store, but you probably won't just stumble across such places. Iran is considered to be a producer of fine caviar and the home of the first ice cream, so why not indulge in a bit of local tradition?