Which is correct, Persia or Iran?: Information Roundup
It is a mistake to suppose that Persia changed its name to Iran in recent years. Iran (pronounced ee-RAWN) has been for centuries the official name of the Asiatic country that foreigners call Persia. In ancient times part of this country comprised a kingdom known as Pars, and when the Greeks began to have intercourse with Iran they called it Persia, the name of one province and the ancient name of part of the territory. The ancient kingdom of Pars constituted the present province of Pars, which lies in the southwestern part of Iran »d which touches the Persian Gulf. While the inhabitants called [page 40] their country Iran and themselves Irani (ee-RAWN-ee), their government for convenience recognized Persia as the name of the country and Persians as the name of the inhabitants in diplomatic language and in external affairs. Early in 1935 the Iranian government advised all foreign governments that it had formally adopted Iran as the official name of the country in external as well as internal matters. In other words, the Iranian government insisted upon being called by its official name by foreigners. The order took effect on March 22, the Iranian New Year's Day. The United States Department of State announced that it would comply with the request and substitute Iran for Persia in diplomatic usage. On February 14, 1935, Second Assistant Postmaster General Harllee Branch published the following communication: "The Department has been advised that the country which has heretofore been designated as Persia should henceforth be known as Iran, the official name in the language of that country. In view of the foregoing, appropriate changes should be made on pages 203, 207, 211, 225 (see Teheran), 285, 241, 243, 244, 246, 265, 517, 518, and 519 of the Postal Guide for July, 1934. Postmasters will please cause due notice of the matter to be taken at their offices, and the widest publicity, without expense to the Department, to be given thereto." Other countries followed suit, but the British government apparently did not like the idea. On February 19, 1942, Richard K. Law, British undersecretary for foreign affairs, told the House of Commons that officials would be instructed to use Persia instead of Iran "so far as is practical." In l946 former Prime Minister Winston Churchill said he objected to Iran because it is easily confused with Iraq, the name of an adjoining country. Iran is derived from the same Sanskrit root as Aryan. All Aryans are supposed to have sprung from a tribe of farmers on the Iranian plateau. The Old Persian form of the word is Ariya and that was the name that the ancient Persians applied to themselves.