Country Profile

Location: Iran is located in the Middle East and borders Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Turkey. Iran is located between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf; consequently, fishing is an important industry there. The Caspian Sea is an excellent supply of sturgeon, salmon and other species of fish.

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Population: 79.8 million

Ethnic Groups: Persian - 61%, Azeri - 16%, Kurd - 10%, Lur - 6%, Baloch - 2%, Arab - 2%, Turkmen and Turkic tribes - 2%, other - 1%

Languages: Persian (official) - 53%, Azeri Turkic and Turkic dialects - 18%, Kurdish - 10%, Gilaki and Mazandarani - 7%, Luri - 6%, Balochi - 2%, Arabic - 2%, other - 2%

Religions: Muslim (official) - 98% (Shia 89%, Sunni 9%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i) - 2%

Before 1935, Iran was known as Persia. The 1979 Islamic Revolution converted Iran into a theocratic country. Iraq invaded in 1980, which solidified the power of the Muslim clerics (known as Ayatollahs). Although the Reformists were victorious in the 1997 election, they were thwarted by Ayatollah Khamenei. Today, Iran continues facing social problems such as gender inequality and a lack of press freedoms.

In Iran, Shi'a Islam is the state religion. Sunni Islam is also respected. Iran is a religious dictatorship; anyone who converts to a different religion is declared an apostate and could face death. Bibles and Christian literature in Farsi are illegal. Intellectuals and members of the press are often arrested for "un-Islamic" writings.

Iranians in the GTA

1) Iranian Population

Number of Iranians:

  • In Canada: 121,510
  • In the GTA: 56,925
  • In the City of Toronto: 6,175

Primary Areas of Settlement in the GTA (Social Atlas): Newmarket, Aurora, Richmond Hill, Markham, Willowdale, Don Valley West, Don Valley East

Communication Style and Interpersonal Relations: An Iranian’s personal space is generally closer than that of a Canadian. Men are openly affectionate with each other, often holding hands in public and frequently greeting each other with a hug and two or three kisses to the cheeks. Women are also very affectionate with each other in public. What is considered proper etiquette becomes less clear when both men and women are involved. It is important to remember not to be too direct, and the general rule of thumb is to always be respectful.

2) Social and Settlement Services

South Asian Family Support Services 
1200 Markham Road, Suite #214
Toronto, ON
M1H 3C3

Phone: 416-431-4847 

3) Church Information

Mohabat Alliance Church
89 Centre Avenue at Wellspring Church
North York, ON
M2M 2L7

The Spirit of Truth Church
25 Centre Avenue
Toronto, ON
M2M 3W8

Phone: 416-356-9967

Iranian Church of Richmond Hill
75 Oxford Street
Richmond Hill, ON 
L4C 4L6

Phone: 647-866-4182

Toronto Iranian Christian Church
432 Sheppard Avenue East
Toronto, ON
M2N 3B7

Phone: 416-443-9996

4) Iranian Testimony

Listen to Testimony in Farsi


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Central Intelligence Agency. (2014, June 22). The World Factbook: Iran. Retrieved July 9, 2014, from

Encyclopedia of the Nations. (n.d.). Iran. Retrieved July 9, 2014, from 

Encyclopedia of the Nations. (n.d.). Iran - Fishing. Retrieved July 9, 2014, from

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. (2009, October 15). Cultural Information - Iran. Retrieved July 9, 2014, from 

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. (2011, December 15). Overview - Iran. Retrieved July 9, 2014, from

Iranians. (2009). In T. L. Gall & J. Hobby (Eds.), Worldmark Encyclopedia of Cultures and Daily Life (2nd ed., Vol. 3, pp. 382-390). Detroit: Gale.
Retrieved July 14, 2014, from

Mandryk, J. (2010). Operation World: The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation (7th ed.). Colorado Springs: Biblica Publishing.

Prayercast. (n.d.). Iran. Retrieved July 9, 2014, from

Statistics Canada. (2011, April 7). 2006 Census of Canada: Topic-based tabulations/Ethnic Origin, Single and Multiple Ethnic Origin Responses and
Sex for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census - 20% Sample
. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from