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In the last 500 years the borders of Iran have remained more or less the same. This is because of the topographical barriers. The country is surrounded by thee mountainous borders and a coastline in the south. The center of the country is an uninhabitable wasteland. Iran's rough terrain brought forth the 16th century metaphor, "The walls of Iran". And despite Iran's growing regional influence, the country remains vulnerable from the inside. Although the country is also known as Persia, almost half of Iran's total population is actually non-Persian. Many of Iran's strategic regions are populated by ethnic minorities such as the Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Balochis and Arabs.