Year Founded: 1979
Situated in South Asia and formerly known as Persia before the 20th century, revolution broke out in Iran in 1979, leading to Rouhollah Khomeini taking power and establishing the Islamic Republic of Iran as a state where the supreme ruler of the country also controls the religious hierarchy. As one of the world's top 10 crude oil producing states, Iran’s GDP ranks in the top 25 in the world. Iran's relationship with the U.S. is hostile. The U.S. levied severe sanctions on its economy due to its developments in nuclear technology, and western countries have served as negotiating intermediaries. A major country practicing Shia Islam, Iran works actively to raise its politial and religious status in the Middle East. Iran is believed by Western countries to have supported many of the civil wars in the Middle East countries over the years by covertly supplying armed forces.