Surprising Facts about Iranian Culture


The country of Iran can seem as far removed as possible from American norms, but people are people—no matter where they are from. Iran has its fair share of very human, hilarious, and quirky facts that might have you doing a double-take.

Iranians Love Their Booze

Officially, alcohol is against the law in Iran. The reality is that up to 80 million liters of alcoholic drinks are smuggled, bootlegger style, into Iran every year. If citizens are caught with a stout glass or a cold one, the punishment is 80 lashes, but citizens take the risk every year regardless. For an industry that’s illegal in this country, the alcohol industry is sure booming, as it can gross up to $700 million dollars in a year. Despite all the red tape, modern Iranians embrace the general feeling of Prohibition Era America, and opt for taking the risk to have a good time.

Move Over, Rich Kids of Instagram

In case you missed the trend, Instagram is a favored place for the obscenely wealthy to show off their ridiculously luxurious lives. Known and tagged as the “rich kids of Instagram,” there’s a subgenre of this group that lives in Iran: “the rich kids of Tehran.” This hashtag can reveal a series of images that might make you think of the parties and extravagance of Beverly Hills, bikini-clad women and popping champagne included. As these children belong to the elite class of Iran, lawmakers and morality police in Iran have been unusually silent on the long list of morality laws that these obscenely wealthy kids not only break, but spread around the internet for the world to see.

A Love Affair With (Illegal) American Films

The industry of cool is a money-making machine, and America has dominated the scene more and more with the creation and growth of the Hollywood film industry. The late 1970s and shifting leadership in Iran democracy led Iran’s lawmakers to place a ban on American films. However, before this ban, and even since, Iranians have loved to consume Western media at breakneck pace. In the age of Top Gun, aviator sunglasses and Tom Cruise haircuts were so much in style that laws were enacted to make men shave their hair. More recently, the film Argo that depicts the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, while banned by the government, became one of the country’s most popular bootleg films—with hundreds of thousands of copies sold.

Iranians love life the same way that Westerners do, even if their expressions may be more limited. Iran freedom is limited by its laws and restrictive government, but its citizens are no less in touch with their own humanity.

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