Iran

Home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, Iran is seen as a force for stability by some and as a threat by others in a volatile region. Either way, it's one of west Asia's two major democracies — archrival Israel is the other — and a regional power. The majority Shia nation is a middle-income country, boasts one the world's largest oil and gas reserves, and is home to ancient archaeological wonders.

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