Tehran, Political situation
The city of Tehran had a population of about 11 million people at the time of the last official census in 2006.
With its cosmopolitan air, Tehran houses diverse ethnic and linguistic groups from all over the country and represents the ethnic/linguistic composition of Iran (with a different percentage though). More than 60 percent of Tehranis were born outside Tehran.
Tehran is the largest Persian-speaking city in the world and Tehrani-spoken Persian is the standard spoken form of Persian language used throughout the country. Although indigenous people of Tehran before 19th century were Mazandaranis (Still residing in the southern slopes of Alburz), today the majority of Tehran residents are Persians who speak many different dialects of Persian corresponding to their hometown, including Esfahani, Shirazi, Yazdi, Khuzestani, Dari, Judeo-Persian, etc. The second largest linguistic group is that of the Azeri-speakers.
According to “Thomas Herbert”, Tehran’s fortification earlier surrounded a fairly small town with only 4.2 km2 area even though it had its 114 towers and 4 gates. In 1727 A.D., the City had a population of 3000 households, which was smaller than Kashan. However, it had a major marketplace (bazâr) and good quality buildings that were used as temporary residence for kings and rulers who happened to pass through the City on their way to other regions of the country.
Tehran was reborn in 1759 A.D., when Karim Khan-e Zand arrived in Tehran and repaired the City’s fortification that was destroyed in Afghans invasion. He also built a palace in 1766 that became to be known as Golestân because he was planning to make Tehran the Capital of Iran. Tehran at that period, however, was at a crossroads for rival tribes of Zand and Qajar clans. Therefore, the Capital moved to the City of Shirâz during the Zand dynasty.
Tehran became Iran’s capital in 1786, when Agha Mohammad Khan Qajar had his coronation there. His successor, Fath Ali Shah Qajar (1797 – 1834) built palaces only within the royal citadel (Golestan Palace) and in northern quarters of the City, where later became the location of Qasr prison. In 1806, P.A Jaubert estimated Tehran’s population at 30000, and Ouseley in 1811 enumerated 300 mosques and schools in Tehran.
Ker Porter, however, argues that Tehran’s population was 10000 during summer and 70000 during winter because many escaped its unpleasant and dusty climate in summer to villages on Alborz mountain slopes in Shemiranat shahrestân.
These seasonal migrations had major impacts on the city life until 1960 when the use of kerosene heaters made permanent residence in higher altitudes and greener parts of the City’s northern quarters possible.
The constitutional Revolution (Mashrutiyat) in 1906, discovery of petroleum in 1908 and the First World War that led to the overthrow of Qajars in 1923 evolved the notion of citizenship profoundly.
The new ideas accelerated the efforts and made Tehran a capital befitting a society involved in deep change.
Thus, during the Qajar Dynasty, Tehran became Iran’s Capital; albeit informally. By construction of new buildings inside the Arg (citadel), Karim Khan’s palace was expanded. In the early years of the 20th century, despite of its devel- opment and higher population, Tehran didn’t look like a Capital and still had the traditional feel of a small town with little motor car traffic. At the same period, cities such as Tabriz had a more international character than Tehran. However, after the constitutional Revolution (Mashruteh) in 1906 and the discovery of oil in 1908, Iran found a new international role and, Tehran rapidly grew out other cities. Tehran’s population at the beginning of the Pahlavi Dynasty was around 500,000.
The measures taken by Reza Shâh Pahlavi (1925-1941) to develop Tehran came too late and most remained unfinished by the end of his reign. Nevertheless, his efforts in this regard were profound and irreversible. For the first time in 1930, the laws and regulations that promised the beginning of a new era in urban development policy, were enacted, aiming at spatial expansion of the City by removal of its fortifications, developing its internal functioning by broadening the streets in Hausmann’s style in Paris, and establishing a modern political and administrative center in the western side of Golestân palace inside the Qajar Arg. The City expanded to 46 km2 and began to spread out beyond the surrounding walls.