Farsi, commonly called Persian in the West, is the official language of Iran. An Indo-European language of the Indo-Iranian group, Farsi derives from ancient Persian, with an admixture of many Arabic words. Arabic characters and script are used in writing modern Persian.

Dialects of Turkish, or Turki—especially Azeri, the language of the Azerbaijanis—are spoken throughout northwestern Iran, by the Qashqa’i tribe in the southwest, and in parts of the northeast by Turkmen tribes and others. The Lurs, Kurds, and Bakhtiari have languages and dialects of their own that descend from earlier Indo-European languages, and the Balochi language spoken in southeastern Iran also is of Indo-European origin.

A small number of Brahui in the southeast speak a Dravidian language. About 58% of the population speaks Persian or Persian dialects, 26% Turkic or Turkic dialects, 9% Kurdish, 2% Luri, 1% Balochi, 1% Arabic, 1% Turkish, and 2% other.