Farsi speaking areas in Iran and Afghanistan

The map to the right shows where Farsi written language is used:

Farsi writingFarsi is written from right to left, usually in a cursive style with some letters joined:

Farsi spoken dialects.

Farsi, also known as Persian Language is spoken today primarily in Iran and Afghanistan (Dari dialect). Total numbers of speakers is high: over 30 million Farsi speakers (about 50% of Iran's population); over 7 million Dari Persian speakers in Afghanistan (25% of the population); and about 2 million Dari Persian speakers in Pakistan.

Farsi written language.

Farsi in Iran is written in a variety of the Arabic script called Perso-Arabic:

English words of Farsi origin include "shawl", "pyjama", "taffeta", "khaki", "kiosk", "divan", "lilac", "jasmine", "julep", "jackal", "caravan", "bazaar", "checkmate" and "dervish".

Farsi language

Farsi is also referred to as Persian and is the main official language in Iran (based on the ancient dialect spoken in the south-western part of the country, in the province of Fars, as it is still known today).

IranFarsi uses a modified Arabic alphabet. Like Arabic, it is written from right to left.

Farsi is used in other countries and regions, besides Iran:

  • Tajikistan (Tajik, Тоҷики / تاجيكى)
  • Afghanistan (Dari, درى)

Iranian FlagThe map to the left shows Iran, the main Farsi speaking country.

Extensive contact with Arabic in its history led to a large influx of Arab vocabulary. This Farsi (Modern Persian) dialect still contains a large number of Arab terms, most borrowings have been nativised.


When Persia changed its name to Iran


In 1935 the Iranian government requested those countries which it had diplomatic relations with, to call Persia "Iran," which is the name of the country in Persian.

The suggestion for the change came with the advent of Reza Shah, Persia had turned a new leaf in its history and wanted to herald a new era in Iranian history free from British and Russian influences which had crippled the country.



Tajik (Тоҷики / تاجيكى) is a dialect of Farsi. It is spoken with some variation from Iranian Farsi.


In the written form it differs in that it uses the cyrilic alphabet, not the modified Arabic alphabet like Iran. This stems from its union with the Soviet Union and Russian influences.








Written modern Farsi is virtually identical in Iran and Afghanistan, with very minor lexical differences.

Dari (درى) which is spoken in most of Afghanistan (one of two official languages) is a spoken dialect of Farsi.

Dari is spoken in the North, West and central areas of Afghanistan, and is the common language spoken in cities such as Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Fayzabad, Panjshir, and Bamiyan.

In the South, Pashto is the main language.

In its written form, it uses the Arabic alphabet, so is written from right to left.

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