Home to one of the world's oldest continuous civilizations, Iran's historical and urban settlements date back to 4000 BCE. Once known for its modern ways influenced by Western culture, the Iran of today is officially an Islamic republic. It occupies a strategic position in international energy security and world economy due to its large reserves of petroleum and natural gas. The country has been in the forefront of the media, due to its nuclear program, accusations that it supports terrorism, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's controversial comments about Israel, describing the Holocaust as a myth. Students and general readers who want to know more about this country that continues to have a major impact on world affairs will find coverage of recent current events, along with new photographs, updated chronology, bibliography, and index.