For more than three thousand years Persia was a melting pot of civilizations and demographic movements between Asia and Europe. Under Cyrus the Great, it became the center of the world’s first empire. The country has always been known to its own people as Iran (land of the Aryans) or “noble people”, although for centuries it was referred to as Persia (Pars or Fars) by the Europeans, mainly due to the writings of Greek historians. First inhabited 4000 B.C., the region was overrun by Aryans, who later split into two groups, the Medes and the Persians. The Persian Empire was founded 550 B.C. by Cyrus the Great and dominated the surrounding area until the time of Alexander the Great. Cyrus the Great overthrew the Median rulers, conquered the kingdom of Lydia in 546 BC and established the Persian Empire.
Cambyses II son of Cyrus the Great conquered the Egyptians in 525 BC and Darius the Great his successor pushed the Persian borders far as Indus River and constructed a canal connecting the Nile River and the Red Sea. Other well-known Persian Kings were Xerxes, Ardashir, Shapur, Yazdegerd, Firuz, Khosrau. The last of the Sassanid kings was Yazdegerd III, during whose reign (632-41) the Arabs invaded Persia and replaced Zoroastrianism (Persian religion at the time and still practiced by some Persians in Iran and around the globe) with Islam.