Background and status
Persian is an ancient language with roots dating back to the Persian Empire of the 6th Century B.C. It is the language of many famous poems, stories, and writings of Hafez, Rumi, and Ferdowsi. Persian, also known as Farsi, is the most widely spoken member of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, a subfamily of the Indo-European languages. It is the language of Iran (formerly Persia) and is also widely spoken in Afghanistan and, in an archaic form, in Tajikistan and the Pamir Mountain region. There are approximately 110 million Persian speakers worldwide, with the language holding official status in Iran. Two varieties of Persian known as Dari and Tajik are official languages in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, respectively.
There are significant populations of speakers in other Persian Gulf countries (Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates). There are large groups of Persians who migrated to Europe and the USA, especially Los Angeles (called ‘Tehrangeles’).
Usage and growth
Persian is primarily known in Europe for its unique literary tradition which has produced some of the greatest epic, narrative and lyric poems of world literature. The unique artistic and literary tradition of the language has been sustained and developed in various genres, including notably cinema, theatre and poetry.
The language is currently in high demand as a result of Iran’s crucial political role in the Middle East and Persian Gulf region. With the potential relationship between Iran and the West on the horizon, Persian plays an important and growing part in government, international relations, the private sector, the oil industry, banking, multinational companies, journalism and peace-making.