Persia is a constitutional monarchy under the Pahlavi Dynasty.
For nearly two centuries Persia, known to its people as Iran, has been precariously balanced between conflicting forces. Internally the elements of reform and westernization conflict with an increasingly conservative clergy. Internationally Persia was split, in 1907, into a Russian northern sphere and a British south, although it would never be a formal colony of either power. After several attempts at a constitutional monarchy in the first decades of the 20th Century, Persia was thrown into social, political, and economic chaos. Reza Khan, an army officer, finally staged a successful coup against the corrupt Qajar Dynasty in 1921. Though the intent was originally to proclaim a republic, pressure from the conservative clergy (who feared being left out of any republican power structure) convinced now Prime Minister Reza Khan to crown himself Reza Shah Pahlavi. Strongly authoritarian and nationalistic, Reza Shah soon began a vigorous program of industrialization and secular reform, establishing universities, improving infrastructure, establishing public education, and reducing the influence of the mullahs, thereby laying the foundations for a modern, secular Iranian state. Just as important as modernization and secularizing, however, was his determination that Persia maintain its independence. Even if the British and the Russian are no longer in the position to influence Persia, the new neighbours which emerged in the recent years might try to extend their authority over Persia. In fact, the defense of the country is the matter most often debated in the Persian government.