Defining the Middle East
Nation-States and Stateless Nations
Iranian American is used interchangeably with Persian American, partly due to the fact that, in the Western world, Iran was known as "Persia." Most Iranian Americans arrived in the United States after 1979, as a result of the Iranian Revolution and the fall of the Persian monarchy, with over 40% settling in California, specifically Los Angeles. Unable to return to Iran, they have created many distinct ethnic enclaves, such as the Los Angeles Tehrangeles community. Today, the United States contains the highest number of Iranians outside of Iran.
There is a tendency among Iranian Americans to categorize themselves as "Persian" rather than "Iranian", mainly to dissociate themselves from the Islamic regime of Iran which has been in charge since the 1979 Revolution, and also to distinguish themselves as being of Persian ethnicity, which comprise about 65% of Iran's population. While the majority of Iranian Americans come from Persian backgrounds, there is a significant number of non Persian Iranians such as Azeris and Kurds within the Iranian American community, leading some scholars to believe that the label "Iranian" is more inclusive, since the label "Persian" excludes non Persian minorities.