Iran is a multiethnic country with its people coming from a myriad of cultures and backgrounds. Naturally, various languages and dialects are spoken in different regions of the country, namely Persian, Kurdish, Azari, Arabic, Armenian etc.
Persian is the official language of the country and the one with the highest number of speakers. It is one of the languages in the Indo-Iranian branch of Indo-European languages and has a 32-letter alphabet. It is mainly spoken in Iran, Afghanistan (known as Dari Persian) and Tajikistan (known as Tajiki Persian). The three variations have many similarities, and Persian speakers from these three countries can, to a considerable extent, understand each other with relative ease. In terms of orthography, the Persian language uses the Arabic alphabet, with the addition of four letters. Also, its alphabet is written cursively, i.e. in almost all words, some or all of the letters are connected to each other. Contemporary Persian has been greatly influenced by French, English and Russian, borrowing and naturalizing many lexical items in the fields of technology, sciences and humanities.
Persian is a literary language and numerous poets, writers and historians shine brightly through its history. One of the most notable instances is Hakim Abu ‘l-Qasim Ferdowsi Tusi (حکیم ابوالقاسم فردوسی توسی), commonly referred to as Ferdowsi, who is one of the most revered poets in the world, the author of the epic of Shahnameh (Book of Kings), and a national symbol of the Persian identity and heritage. More importantly, he is known as the preserver of the Persian language.