Geographically, Iran is located in West Asia and borders the Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, and Caspian Sea. Its mountains have helped to shape both the political and the economic history of the country for several centuries. The mountains enclose several broad basins, or plateaus, on which major agricultural and urban settlements are located. The topography of Iran consists of rugged, mountainous rims surrounding high interior basins.
The main mountain chain is the Zagros Mountains, a series of parallel ridges interspersed with plains that bisect the country from northwest to southeast. Many peaks in the Zagros exceed 3,000 meters (9,843 ft) above sea level, and in the south-central region of the country there are at least five peaks that are over 4,000 meters (13,123 ft).
As the Zagros continue into southeastern Iran, the average elevation of the peaks declines dramatically to under 1,500 meters (4,921 ft). Rimming the Caspian Sea littoral is another chain of mountains, the narrow but high Alborz Mountains. Volcanic Mount Damavand, 5,610 meters (18,406 ft), located in the center of the Alborz, is not only the country’s highest peak but also the highest mountain on the Eurasian landmass west of the Hindu Kush.
Alborz Mountains, also spelled as Albourz, Alburz, Elburz or Elbourz, with a length of 900 km is a major mountain range in northern Iran. Stretching from the borders of Azerbaijan and Armenia in the northwest to the southern end of the Caspian Sea, and ending in the east, near the borders of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan.
The term “Alborz Mountains” has been loosely used in reference to all of the mountains of northern Iran. The Alborz Mountains gain their maximum height and density along the southern shores of the Caspian Sea where they create a formidable barrier that separates the coastal plains from the internal plateau of Iran. Close proximity to the Caspian coast has created a steamy lush environment on the coastal plains and the northern-most slopes of the mountains. In some places (near the coastal towns of Ramsar and Noshahr), the strip of land between the mountains and the sea is no more than one kilometer wide.
The southern slopes of the Alborz drop onto the central plateau of Iran. The average elevation of this plateau at the base of the mountains is around 1500 m. In contrast to the lush northern slopes, the southern slopes of the Alborz Mountains are barren. Trees can be found only on stream banks at the bottom of the valleys. Grasslands, alpine tundra and permanent snow cover the higher slopes of the Alborz range. Winter brings a heavy coat of powdery snow, creating an ideal place for skiing. This much snow provides enough fresh water for the nearby cities including the 10 million mega-city of Tehran. The distance between 5671 m Mt. Damavand and Haraz Valley with an altitude of 1000 m in northeast of it, is less than 17 kilometers!
The only peak higher than 5000 m in Iran is Damavand with 5,610 meters (18,406 ft) altitude in center of Alborz range, 70 km from Tehran. Mount Damavand is the result of volcanic activities at the beginning of the quaternary geologic time (Pleistocene stage).
Mt-DamavandDamavand, like many volcanic mountains has a conic shape which is similar to Fujiyama in Japan.
Although Damavand is an inactive volcano but still produces Sulphur Dioxide. Basically, this means Damavand is going thorough the last stage before completely turning into a silent volcano. However, warm mineral springs, absence of extensive glaciers and frequent earthquakes in every few years, proves there is still a long way to go. Being visible from far distances, makes this isolated, high altitude conic shape volcano spectacular amongst other high mountains in the region.
Damavand region is one of the most beautiful natural surroundings with fields full of wild poppy and purple lily in springs and long grass plots in green moderate summers. Along with hard winters the summit and slopes are always covered by snow.
In Iran’s history, Damavand has always been a symbol of pride and resistance.
The Zagros Mountain range stretches south and west from the borders of Turkey and Iraq to the Persian Gulf, and is Iran’s largest mountain range (but not the highest which are The Alborz), rising in the western half of the country and along the northern border.
The range is about 1500 km (932 miles) long and stretches from northeastern Iraq, to the Strait of Hormuz. Many peaks are higher than 2,987 m. (9800 ft.). The tallest mountain is Zard-Kuh at an elevation of 4,548 m. (14,922 ft.). This range consists of folded mountains made up mostly of limestone and dolomite.
Snow is common in winter, and many peaks have some snow even in summer. The winters are severe, with temperatures often dropping to -18° C (0° F). The Karun and Zayandeh-Rud rivers start in these mountains.
The most common ecosystems are the forest and steppe areas which have a semi-arid temperate climate.