Being the capital of Fars Province, Shiraz is located in southwest Iran. Fars Province has played such a major role in the country’s ancient history that it is considered the center of Iranian identity - the Persian language spoken today is called Farsi. Indeed, Fars was one of the main seats of the great Achaemenian Empire, stretching from Egypt to India. The province is home to numerous precious monuments including the UNESCO-inscribed sites such as the Persepolis, the Pasargadae, eight archaeological sites situated in three geographical areas in the southeast of Fars Province under the title “Sassanid Archeological Landscape of Fars Province,” and Eram Garden and ancient Garden of Pasargadae as examples of the Persian Garden.
Covering an area of 240 square kilometers, Shiraz has a population of around 1.8 million, making it the fifth most populous city in Iran and first in the southern half of the country. The earliest reference to the city is on Elamite clay tablets which date back to 2000 B.C. Recent excavations attribute early settlements in the plain of Shiraz to 6000 B.C. Founded in the Achaemenian Dynasty (2500 years ago), Shiraz became one of the main cities of the province. It was chosen as Iran’s capital several times, the last one being during Zand Dynasty (1749-1779), the time when many architectural masterpieces (Karim Khan Citadel, Vakil Bazar, Vakil Mosque, etc,) were built. The literary center of Iran – thanks to the world-known poets like Hafez and Sa’adi – boasts a long tradition of art, with its specific painting style flourishing in the 14th century. Today’s numerous handicrafts produced in the city (Khatam and Monabbat, kinds of wood marquetry, Ghalamzani, seven-colored tiles, to mention just a few) as well as architectural masterpieces reflected in the historical sites (especially the old mosques like Nasir-ol Mulk and Atiq) bear witness to this claim.
Shiraz has a semi-arid climate with hot summers and cold winters and is famous for its beautiful moderate springs and falls. The city is abounded with gardensو some of which are known all over the world. In spring the gardens are filled with the sour orange blossom aroma. Yet, the winter enters the city with the scent of Narcissus of Shiraz.
Having been noted as a regional trade center for more than a thousand years, the city enjoys industries such as cement production, sugar, fertilizers, textile products, wood products, metalwork and rugs. It also has a major oil refinery and is a major center for Iran's electronic industries.
Shiraz is also noted for its quality higher education, with Shiraz University and Shiraz University of Medical Sciences ranking among the best in the region. It is a major health hub in the region, with a prestigious reputation for organ transplant (Kidney and liver in particular) beyond the Asian countries.
Shiraz is one of the most favorite tourist destinations for domestic travellers and its rich diversity of tourist attractions is perhaps one of the most important drives for the country's growing tourism industry. The third most important religious city – thanks to housing the Shahcheragh Shrine of Ahmad ibn Mousa (A) –also enjoys a variety of natural and cultural attractions including the Jahan Nama garden, Afifabad garden and Karim Khan Citadel, to just mention a few. The city houses tombs of the world known poets Sadi and also Hafez, whose work influenceی such renowned literary figures as Goethe.
Shiraz has sister-city relationships with Chongqing (China), Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Nicosia (Cypress), Weimar (Germany) Pecs (Hungry) and Nanjing (China) and has a network of friend cities including Yerevan, Baghdad, Lviv, Dresden, Gaziantep, and Grozny. It is also a member of the World Association of Major Metropolises (Metropolis), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Mayors for Peace, Organization of Islamic Capitals and Cities (OICC), UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC), the World e-Government Organizations (WeGo), the League of Historical Cities (LHC) as member of the board of directors, Asian Mayors Forum (AMF) as member of the executive board, and Inter-city Cooperation Network for Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICCN) as member of the executive board.