Iran (Persian: ایران Irān [ʔiːˈɾɒːn] ( listen)), also known as Persia (/ˈpɜːrʒə/), officially the Islamic Republic of Iran (Persian: جمهوری اسلامی ایران Jomhuri-ye Eslāmi-ye Irān ( listen)), is a sovereign state in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th-most-populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km (636,372 sq mi), it is the second-largest country in the Middle East and the 17th-largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, and to the west by Turkey and Iraq. The country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, and its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center.
Mashhad (Persian: مشهد, Mašhad IPA: [mæʃˈhæd] ( listen)), also spelled Mashad or Meshad, is the second most populous city in Iran and capital of Razavi Khorasan Province. It is located in the northeast of the country, near the borders with Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. It has a population of 3,001,184 inhabitants (2016 census), which includes the areas of Mashhad Taman and Torqabeh. It was a major oasis along the ancient Silk Road connecting with Merv to the East.
Razavi Khorasan Province (Persian: استان خراسان رضوی, Ostâne Xorâsâne Razavi) is a province located in northeastern Iran. Mashhad is the center and capital of the province. Other cities are Quchan, Dargaz, Chenaran, Sarakhs, Fariman, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Torbat-e Jam, Taybad, Khaf, Roshtkhar, Kashmar, Bardaskan, Nishapur, Sabzevar, Gonabad, Kalat. The counties of Razavi Khorasan Province are Khalilabad County, Mahvelat County, Chenaran County, Dargaz County, Kalat County, Quchan County, Mashhad County, Sarakhs County, Nishapur County, Firuzeh County, Khoshab County, Jowayin County, Joghatai County, Davarzan County, Sabzevar County, Bardaskan County, Bajestan County, Kashmar County, Gonabad County, Khaf County, Roshtkhar County, Taybad County, Bakharz County, Zaveh County, Fariman County, Torbat-e Jam County, Torbat-e Heydarieh County & Torqabeh and Shandiz County. Razavi Khorasan is one of the three provinces that were created after the division of Khorasan Province in 2004. In 2014 it was placed in Region 5 with Mashhad as the location of the region's secretariat.
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