The first country known as Iran was founded by Achaemenians, by unifying different tribes living there. Though the history of Iran is long and complex, its shape is determined by the rise and fall of successive dynasties - with intervals of chaos and confusion. The Persian Empire( founded by Cyrus the Great in 6th BC), the Macedonians, Parthians, the Sassanids, the Arabs, the Seljuks and Mongols, the Timurids and the Safavids, all held sway here at one time or another.
After the Arab conquest in the middle of the 7th century, the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism gave way to Islam. Persia continued to be overrun by foreign powers for another thousand years.
The Turkish Safavids belonged to a Sufi religious order and made Shiite Islam the official religion of Iran, undertaking a major conversion campaign of Iranian Muslims. The Safavid dynasty reached its height during the reign of Shah Abbas 1st (1587-I629). It was during his reign that Persia once again came to be known in Europe as a superpower, because it was the greatest opponent of the Ottomans, and their wars saved Europe, the Ottomans being too occupied on the east fighting Iran to make headway in the west.