IRC-Galleria is the largest WWW-based virtual community in Finland. It was founded in December 2000 by Tomi Lintelä as a photo gallery for the Finnish users of Internet Relay Chat. As for February 2006, IRC-galleria boasts of over 302,000 registered users and over 3,600,000 images. About 85% of the users are active users who use the service on a weekly or daily basis. However, only about 20% of the users have identified themselves as actual users of IRC.
Despite all the features, IRC-Galleria is basically a photo gallery and it is not possible to have a user account without at least one accepted image. The maximum number of visible images per user is 60 (only for VIP-users), and the so-called default image must contain the face of the user.
The communication in IRC-Galleria is based on short messages, comments, each of which is associated with either a picture or a community. Each user can be a member of at most 40 communities. Some of the communities are named after IRC channels, and joining them requires IRC-based identification. Comments are only visible to those who are logged in.
IRC-Galleria is now maintained and developed by Dynamoid Oy, a company founded solely for the sake of IRC-Galleria. The service is financed with banner advertising, SMS-based services, T-shirts and optional VIP privileges which can be bought with SMS.
The unwillingness of the administrators of IRC-Galleria to exclude non-IRC-users has caused some schism, driving a few users to found their own alternative gallery services with a mandatory IRC-based registration. The administrators responded by introducing some features which aim at the minimization of the biggest problems related to the non-IRC-users.
The non-IRC-users registered in IRC-Galleria are sometimes ironically called galleriairkkaajat (gallery IRCers) due to the fact that many of them frequently refer to IRC-Galleria with the acronym IRC without necessarily even having a clue what the actual IRC is.
IRC-Galleria is now officially open for anyone who is over 12 years old and speaks Finnish.
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IRC-Galleria is now officially open for anyone who is over 12 years old and speaks Finnish. Additional references and bibliography can be found in the more detailed articles linked to in this article. The non-IRC-users registered in IRC-Galleria are sometimes ironically called galleriairkkaajat (gallery IRCers) due to the fact that many of them frequently refer to IRC-Galleria with the acronym IRC without necessarily even having a clue what the actual IRC is. In her book, New Food of Life, Najmieh Batmanglij writes that "Iranian food has much in common with the other cuisines of the Middle East, but is often considered to be the most sophisticated and imaginative of them all, as colorful and complex as a Persian carpet.". The administrators responded by introducing some features which aim at the minimization of the biggest problems related to the non-IRC-users. . The unwillingness of the administrators of IRC-Galleria to exclude non-IRC-users has caused some schism, driving a few users to found their own alternative gallery services with a mandatory IRC-based registration. Norouz was nominated as one of UNESCO's Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2004.
The service is financed with banner advertising, SMS-based services, T-shirts and optional VIP privileges which can be bought with SMS. The Iranian new year (Norouz) is celebrated on March 21, the first day of spring. IRC-Galleria is now maintained and developed by Dynamoid Oy, a company founded solely for the sake of IRC-Galleria. Respect for the elderly and hospitality for the foreigners are also integral part of the Iranian etiquette.. Comments are only visible to those who are logged in. The quest for social justice and equity is an important Iranian cultural trait. Some of the communities are named after IRC channels, and joining them requires IRC-based identification. Iran is now the world's fourth largest country of bloggers.
Each user can be a member of at most 40 communities. This includes the Internet, which has become an expanding means to accessing information and self expression among the younger population. The communication in IRC-Galleria is based on short messages, comments, each of which is associated with either a picture or a community. All media in Iran are controlled directly or indirectly by the state and must be approved by the Ministry of Islamic Guidance. The maximum number of visible images per user is 60 (only for VIP-users), and the so-called default image must contain the face of the user. Perhaps the best known director is Abbas Kiarostami. Despite all the features, IRC-Galleria is basically a photo gallery and it is not possible to have a user account without at least one accepted image. With 300 international awards in the past 25 years, films from Iran continue to be celebrated worldwide.
However, only about 20% of the users have identified themselves as actual users of IRC. Poets such as Hafez, Omar Khayyam, and Ferdowsi, Iranian poetry has received world wide attention for their beautiful poems and songs. About 85% of the users are active users who use the service on a weekly or daily basis. The Persian language being used for over 2500 years has left distinct marks in the history of the written word. As for February 2006, IRC-galleria boasts of over 302,000 registered users and over 3,600,000 images.
IRC-Galleria is the largest WWW-based virtual community in Finland.
Iran has a long history of art, music, architecture, poetry, philosophy, Traditions, and ideology. Iran's eight largest cities (2006 populations, unless otherwise noted) are as follows (non-metropolitan estimates): . See Persecution of Bahá'ís and Religious minorities in Iran for more information. Since the 1979 revolution the persecution has increased with executions and the denial of access to higher education.
In contrast, the Bahá'í Faith, the largest religious minority in Iran, is not officially recognized, and has been persecuted during its existence in Iran. The latter three minority religions are officially recognized and have reserved seats in the Majlis (Parliament), and are officially protected religions. The remainder consists of non-Muslim religious minorities, mainly Bahá'ís, Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians.. Most Iranians are Muslims; 90% belong to the Shi'a branch of Islam, the official state religion, and about 9% belong to the Sunni branch (many of whom are Kurds).
Inversely, Iran has a diaspora estimated between two to three million people who emigrated to North America, Western Europe and South America, after the Iranian revolution for the greatest part.   .    Iran hosts more than one million foreign refugees (mainly from Afghanistan with some from Iraq), one of the largest figures on earth, and official government policy and social factors aim towards repatriation. Iran's population density is 40 persons per square kilometer.
Iran's population size increased dramatically during the latter half of the 20th century to reach 70 million in 2006, although in recent years Iran appears to have taken control of its high population growth rate and many studies show that Iran's population growth rate will continue to decline until it will reach replacement level and stabilize by the year 2050 (100 million). The literacy rate in Iran is above 90% and nearly 100% for its younger population. There are no official statistics on ethnicity numbers or percentages in Iran.. These percentages however are only estimates.
While the number, percentage, and definition of the different Iranian peoples is disputed, the major ethnic groups and minorities in Iran include the Persians (51%), Azeris (24%), Gilaki and Mazandarani (8%), Kurds (7%), Arabs (3%), Baluchi (2%), Lurs (2%), Turkmen people (2%), Qashqai, Armenians, Georgians, Assyrians, Iranian Jews, Circassians and others (1 %). The majority of Iran's population speak one of the Iranian languages, though Persian is the official language. Iran is also expanding its trade ties with Turkey and Pakistan and shares with its partners the common vision for the creation of a single economic market in West and Central Asia. Since the late 90's, Iran has increased its economic cooperation with other developing countries, including Syria, India, Cuba, Venezuela and South Africa.
Iran's major commercial partners are France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea. Iran has also developed a biotechnology, nanotechnology and pharmaceuticals industry. Even though a series of droughts has held back output growth substantially, Agriculture remains one of the largest employers. Large-scale irrigation schemes, together with the wider production of export-based agricultural items such as dates, flowers and pistachios, produced the fastest economic growth of any sector in Iran over much of the 1990s.
State investment has boosted agriculture with the liberalization of production and the improvement of packaging and marketing helping to develop new export markets. The strong oil market in 1996 helped ease financial pressures on Iran and allowed for Tehran's timely debt service payments. It also has the world's second largest natural gas reserves (after Russia). Iran is OPEC's second largest oil producer and holds 10% of the world's proven oil reserves.
Iranian budget deficits have been a chronic problem, in part due to large-scale state subsidies– totaling some $7.25 billion per year–including foodstuffs and especially gasoline. Modern Iran has a solid middle class and a growing economy but continues to be plagued with high inflation and unemployment. Iran is also hoping to attract billions of dollars worth of foreign investment by creating a more favorable investment climate, such as reduced restrictions and duties on imports and the creation of free-trade zones like in Chabahar and the Island of Kish. The Iranian government is attempting to diversify by investing revenues in other areas, including, car manufacturing, aerospace industries, consumer electronics, petrochemicals and nuclear technology.
The current administration has continued to follow the market reform plans of the previous one and has indicated that it will pursue diversification of Iran's oil-reliant economy. Iran's economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures.
The islands of Iran are not shown in this picture. Iran consists of 30 provinces:. The Annual precipitation ranges from 135 mm to 355 mm (6 to 14 in). The coastal plains of the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman in southern Iran have mild winters and experience very humid and hot summers.
The average summer temperatures exceed 38°C (100°F). They get less than 200 mm (8 in) of rain and have occasional desert. The eastern and central basins are arid. These areas have severe winters, with average daily temperatures below freezing and have heavy snowfall.
At higher elevations to the west, settlements in the Zagros mountains basins experience lower temperatures. Annual precipitation is 680 mm (26 in) in the eastern part of the plain and more than 1700 mm (75 in) in the western side of the plain. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 29°C (84°F). On the northern edge of the country (the Caspian coastal plain) the temperatures nearly fall below freezing and remain humid for the rest of the year.
Iran's landscape produces several different climates. Iran is considered to be one of the fifteen states that comprise the so-called "Cradle of Humanity". The Iranian climate is mostly arid or semiarid, though subtropical along the Caspian coast. Smaller, discontinuous plains are found along the remaining coast of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman.
The only large plains are found along the coast of the Caspian Sea and at the northern end of the Persian Gulf, where Iran borders on the mouth of the Arvand river (Shatt al-Arab). The eastern half consists mostly of uninhabited desert basins like the saline Dasht-e Kavir, with the occasional salt lake. The populous western part is the most mountainous, with ranges such as the Zagros and Alborz Mountains, the latter of which also contains Iran's highest point, the Damavand at 5,604 m (18,386 ft). Iran's landscape is dominated by rugged mountain ranges that separate various basins or plateaus from one another.
That is approximately the land mass of Alaska. Iran's total land mass is 1,648,000 km² / ≈636,300 mi² (Land: 1,636,000 km² / ≈631,663 mi², Water: 12,000 km² / ≈4,633 mi²). Iran borders Azerbaijan (length of border: 432 km / 268 mi ) and Armenia (35 km / 22mi) to the northwest, the Caspian Sea to the north, Turkmenistan (992 km / 616 mi) to the northeast, Pakistan (909 km / 565 mi) and Afghanistan (936 km / 582 mi) to the east, Turkey (499 km / 310 mi) and Iraq (1,458 km / 906 mi) to the west, and finally the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. The rulings of the Special Clerical Court, which functions independently of the regular judicial framework and is accountable only to the Supreme Leader, are also final and cannot be appealed.
The Special Clerical Court handles crimes allegedly committed by clerics, although it has also taken on cases involving lay people. Decisions rendered in revolutionary courts are final and cannot be appealed. "Revolutionary" courts try certain categories of offenses, including crimes against national security. Public courts deal with civil and criminal cases.
The head of the Judiciary is appointed by the Supreme Leader, who in turn appoints the head of the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor. The Expediency Council has the authority to mediate disputes between Parliament and the Council of Guardians, and serves as an advisory body to the Supreme Leader, making it one of the most powerful governing bodies in the country. If a law passed by Parliament is deemed incompatible with the constitution or sharia, it is referred back to Parliament for revision. Hence the council can exercise veto power over Parliament.
The Council of Guardians is vested with the authority to interpret the constitution and determines if the laws passed by Parliament are in line with sharia (Islamic law). The head of the judiciary recommends the remaining six, which are officially appointed by Parliament. Twelve jurists comprise the Council of Guardians, six of whom are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The assembly has never been known to challenge any of the Supreme Leader's decisions, although according to the Iranian constitution it has the authority to remove the supreme leader from power at any time.
Members of the Assembly of Experts in turn elect the Supreme Leader. Like presidential and parliamentary elections, the Council of Guardians determines eligibility to run for a seat in this assembly. The Assembly of Experts, which meets for one week every year, consists of 86 "virtuous and learned" clerics elected by the public to eight-year terms. All MP candidates and all legislation from the assembly must be approved by the Council of Guardians.
It drafts legislation, ratifies international treaties, and approves the country's budget. The members are elected by direct and secret ballot. The unicameral Iranian parliament, the Islamic Consultative Assembly or "Majles-e Shura-ye Eslami", consists of 290 members elected to a 4-year term. Unlike many other states, the executive branch in Iran does not control the armed forces.
The Council of Ministers must be confirmed by Parliament. Eight vice presidents serve under the president, as well as a cabinet of 21 ministers. After his election, the president appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers (the cabinet), coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the parliament. According to the law, all presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians prior to running, after which he is elected by universal suffrage to a 4-year term by an absolute majority of votes.
The President of Iran is responsible for implementing the Constitution and acting as the head of the executive, except in matters directly concerned with (the office of) the Leadership. . He, or the council of religious leaders, are elected by the Assembly of Experts, on the basis of their qualifications and the high popular esteem in which they are held. He also appoints six of the twelve members of the Council of Guardians.
He has the power to appoint and dismiss the leaders of the judiciary, the state radio and television networks, and the supreme commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The Supreme Leader is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and controls the Islamic Republic's intelligence and security operations; he alone can declare war.  According to the Constitution, the Supreme Leader of Iran is responsible for the delineation and supervision of "the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran." In the absence of a single leader, a council of religious leaders is appointed. The concept of velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the jurist) plays a crucial role in governmental structure of Iran.
Iran's makeup has several intricately connected governing bodies, some of which are democratically elected and some of which operate by co-opting people based on their religious inclinations. Iran is a constitutional Islamic Republic, whose political system is laid out in the 1979 constitution called Qanun-e Asasi. The struggle between the reformists and conservatives over the future of the country continues today through electoral politics and was a central Western focus in the 2005 elections where conservative candidate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad triumphed. In 1980 Iran was attacked by neighbouring Iraq and the destructive Iran-Iraq War continued until 1988.
embassy personnel in 1979, Iran's subsequent attempts to export its revolution, and its support of anti-Western militant groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah. In particular Iranian-American relations were severely strained after the Iranian seizure of U.S. It also engaged in an anti-Western course due to Western support of the Shah. The new theocratic political system instituted some conservative Islamic reforms as well as introducing an unprecedented level of direct clerical rule.
An Islamic republic was soon established under the Ayatollah Khomeini. His autocratic rule led to the Iranian revolution in 1979. With strong support from the USA and the UK, the Shah further modernized Iranian industry but crushed civil liberties. Mosaddegh's fall, the Shah's rule became increasingly dictatorial, particularly in the late 1970s.
Following Dr. It reinstated the Iranian monarchy, handing power back to former Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The operation was conducted following the Prime-Minister's nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. Mohammed Mossadegh, was removed from power in a complex plot orchestrated by British and US intelligence agencies (dubbed "Operation Ajax").
In 1953 Iran's democratically elected prime minister Dr. With the arrival of modernization in the late 19th century, Iranians were longing for a change and thus followed the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1905/1911. From then on Persia increasingly became the rivalry arena for influencing colonial powers such as Russia and the United Kingdom. The Middle Ages saw the unfolding of many crucial events such as the Islamic Conquest of Iran, the destruction of Iran under the Mongol invasion begining in 1220, the conquest of Tamerlane, and the establishment of Iran's first Shi'a Islamic state under the Safavid dynasty in 1501.
Alexander the Great conquered Persia in 331 BC, soon only to be succeeded by the Parthian and Sassanid dynasties, who followed the Achaemenids as Persia's greatest pre-Islamic empires. The name Persia is derived from Persis, the ancient Greek name for the empire, although Eratosthenes also mentions the name "Iran". Written history in Iran begins with the Proto-Elamites around 3000 BC, and continues with the arrival of the Aryans and the establishment of the Median dynasty, followed by the Achaemenids, who built the world's first global empire, under Cyrus the Great in 546BC. The Iranian Revolution of 1979 ultimately led to the establishment of a theocratic Islamic Republic and the country retained its name, while its political title was changed to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
After Persian scholars protested, Mohammad Reza Shah in 1959 announced both Persia and Iran could be used interchangeably.  A dispute exists about the country's current official name. On March 21, 1935, Reza Shah Pahlavi issued a decree asking foreign delegates to use the native term Iran in formal correspondence. Until 1935, the country was referred to in the West as Persia, although Iranians have always referred to their country as Iran which means Land of the Aryans   .
. Iran is of great geo-strategic importance due to its position between the Middle East, Caucasia, Central Asia and the Persian Gulf and its proximity to Eastern Europe and the Indian subcontinent. The official name of the country is Islamic Republic of Iran and Shi'a Islam is the official state religion. In addition, it borders the Persian Gulf across which lie Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.
It borders Armenia, Azerbaijan (including its Nakhichevan exclave), and Turkmenistan to the north, Pakistan and Afghanistan to the east, and Turkey and Iraq to the west. Iran (Persian: ايران), also called Persia, is a Middle Eastern country located in Southwest Asia.