Iran is a country of mountains, deserts, and fertile valleys - about 70% of it scarcely populated. The center of Iran, a vast plateau, is an empty desert made of salt, sand, and gravel. To the north, the Elburz Mountains tilts down to the landlocked Caspian Sea. In these warm waters, sturgeon are caught for their eggs, known as caviar. The coastal plains and valleys are green and fruitful. Farmers living in scattered villages grow tobacco, cotton, and tea while the nomads travel with herds of donkeys and sleep in round tents made of black felt, called yurts.
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