Originally produced on Oct. 3, 2016 for Mauldin Economics, LLC
If you ranked the civilizations that have most affected the course of human development, Persia would be among those at the top of the list. We forget this because in recent centuries, the various states that have ruled in present-day Iran have been either weak or isolated from the rest of the world.
Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, that has changed, and there was even a short-lived moment (right before the Syrian civil war broke out) where it seemed that Iran was poised to challenge for at least regional hegemony in the Middle East. That chance collapsed, and Iran has been consigned to the position of a secondary regional power for the foreseeable future. The four maps below explain why.
Geography has always been a double-edged sword for Iran. In terms of both area and population, Iran is the largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the wo