Zakaria: Reflections on Iran
CNN / Fareed Zakaria

Here is my snapshot from a brief visit to Iran. I thought it might add some color to the picture you have of Iran.

Tehran is a big, sprawling city of 8 million people, nestled in a semi-arid plain in the shadow of the Albroz mountains. The highest peaks of these mountains are always snowcapped, with a well-known ski resort. Yes, Iranians ski.

My first impression of Tehran was of cleanliness. It is a remarkably clean city for one in the developing world – certainly a far cry from the chaos of Cairo, for example. The streets are swept daily; garbage is picked up daily. Traffic in the city is terrible but that is largely a consequence of a growing middle class that buys more cars each year. The city has a large network of roads and highways and public buses and the underground metro - all of them effective and clean. The overall impression is of order. Iranians I spoke to said this was attributable to an Iranian fetish with cleanliness and order, though some did credit the city government. Remember the last Mayor of Tehran is currently the President of Iran and the current Mayor of Tehran is reported to be eyeing the presidency as well.

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