Iran is a modern country infused with rich traditions. Cities offer fast-food restaurants and international business districts alongside bazaars selling spices and carpets.

Because of the revolution, the war and current economic difficulties, the employment situation in Iranian cities today has changed significantly over the last few decades. Traditionally, trained professionals found work easily in Iran, but unemployment has risen. Because of the Islamic revolution, some professions are also now restricted by gender. For example, male gynecologists and female judges are forbidden to practise, and female employment outside the home is discouraged. However, many women do work outside the home to support their families, while others pursue careers, dominating the professions of nursing and primary school teaching; women also work in law and medicine.

Iran's economy has been heavily reliant on oil and natural gas production, which began early in the 20th century and is controlled at the state level. Consequently, the economy is subject to world fluctuations is oil prices. The current government is attempting to diversify the economy and encourage foreign investment.

About one-third of Iranians work in agriculture, mostly on small farms. Iran's diverse landscape supports many crops, such as wheat, barley, rice, cotton, sugar cane, and numerous fruits, vegetables and nuts such as pistachios. Wool, as well as wool byproducts such as carpets, is also an important export. In farming families, both men and women help work the fields.

Industry, which employs about one-quarter of the workforce, has traditionally been controlled by the government, though privatization began in 1991. Iranian factories produce carpets, textiles, sugar, construction materials and metals, food products, clothing, pharmaceuticals, plastics and motor vehicles.

Iran's business week is five and a half days long, running from Saturday to Thursday at noon. Workplaces are typically hierarchical, and employees are expected to follow their superiors. Family ties are very important in business: relatives consider it a duty to help each other with employment and business opportunities.

  Did you know?
In the 6th century BC, Iran became the first country to issue coins with a ruler's portrait on them. The country also had a regular courier service operated by messengers on horseback.

  Did you know?
For thousands of years, Iranian farmers have irrigated land on the central plateau by using qanats, or underground water channels. People sometimes had to dig down 100 metres to reach a water source.