The name Iran is derived from the word "Aryan ", meaning one nobleman or king. Before being called Iran, the country was known as the Persian Empire. The Persian Empire was ruled by a series of kings called Shah's for 2500 years. Because of its closed off past, the Persian Empire was under a feudalism system that was suffering from poverty. Because of its strategic location between Asia, Africa, and Europe, the Persian Empire struggled to keep its national sovereignty and stay independent during a period of European Imperialism during the outset of the 20th century. In August of 1907, an agreement was made in which Russia took control of the south while Britain took control in the north. After World War I ended, Iran found itself in a predicament. The Qajar dynasty, a regime that had been in control prior to the war, was overthrown. Reza Shah, a key leader who played a crucial role in the development of modern day Iran, replaced the government. Reza Shah introduced modern education, industrialization, railroads, and started a program for Iranian students to travel to Europe to learn. After sometime, Iranians became dissatisfied with the Shah because of his political dominance. The Shah would also create strong culture and political ties with Germany. He would later be exiled from the country, but not before asking foreign delegates to refer to his country as Iran, which was the historical name the native people used. .
The outbreak of World War II brought even more problems. For one, it increased foreign pressure. Because of Iran's location in the Persian Gulf, it had vast amounts of oil. Britain was particularly interested because it saw Iran's oil as essential to the success of its Navy. Iran's oil not only appealed to UK, but also the US. In efforts to prevent the country from going to war, Iran declared it neutrality. But its effort to avoid the war was futile. The allies invaded Iran on August 26, 1941.