On the Behistun inscription of 515 BC, Darius I of Persia indirectly confirmed that Urartu and Armenia are synonymous when describing his conquests. Armenia became a satrap of the Persian Empire for a long period of time. Regardless, relations between Armenians and Persians were cordial.
Prior to the 3rd century AD, no other neighbor had as much influence on Armenian life and culture as Persia. They shared many religious and cultural characteristics, and intermarriage among Iranian and Armenian nobility was common. Armenia's conversion to Christianity in 301 alienated them from the Persians, who were mostly Zoroastrian, and the Persian conversion to Islam in the 7th century deepened this alienation.
In the 11th century, the Seljuk Turks drove thousands of Armenians to Iranian Azerbaijan, where some were sold as slaves and others worked as artisans and merchants. After the Mongol conquest of Iran in the 13th century many Armenian merchants and artists settled in Iran, in cities bordering historic Armenia such as Khoi, Maku, Maraghe, Urmia, and especially Tabriz.
Although Armenians have a long history of interaction with Persia/Iran, Iran's Armenian community emerged when Shah Abbas relocated tens of thousands of Armenians from Nakhichevan to an area of Isfahan called New Julfa, which was created to become an Armenian quarter. Iran quickly recognized the Armenians' dexterity in commerce. The community became active in the cultural and economic development of Iran.
Bourvari (Բուրւարի) is a collection of villages in Iran, between the city of Khomein (Markazi Province) and Aligoodarz (Lorestān Province). It was mainly populated by Armenians who were brought to the region by Shah Abbas of the Safavid dynasty in 1603 and 1604. The following villages populated by the Armenians in Bourvari were: Dehno, Khorzend, Farajabad, Bahmanabad and Sangesfid
By the 20th century, Iran (Persia at the time) was a major center of Armenian life. As we have seen, by the end of the nineteenth century, there were some 100,000 Armenians in Iran. Armenian political movements opened cells seeking refuge from the tsarist and Turkish police. The massacres of the end of 19th century and early 20th century brought more Armenians refugees to north-western Iran.
The Revolution of 1905 in Russia had a major effect on northern Iran and, in 1906, Iranian liberals and revolutionaries, joined by many Armenians, demanded a constitution in Iran. In 1909 the revolutionaries forced the crown to give up some of its powers. The role of Armenian military units under the command of leaders such as Yeprem Khan and Keri, in the Iranian constitutional revolution is well-documented.
Thousands of Armenians had escaped to Iran during the Armenian genocide. The community experienced a political rejuvenation with the arrival of the Dashnak leadership from Armenia in 1921. Further immigrants and refugees from Russia continued to increase the Armenian community until 1933.
The establishment of the Pahlavi dynasty began a new era for the Armenians.. The modernization efforts of Reza Shah (1924-1941) and Mohammad Reza Shah (1941-1979) gave the Armenians ample opportunities for advancement and Armenians gained important positions in the arts and sciences, economy and services sectors, mainly in Tehran, Tabriz, and Isfahan that became major centers for Armenians with their numbers up to some 250,000.
Armenian churches, schools, cultural centers, sports clubs and associations flourished and Armenians had their own senator and member of parliament, 30 churches and 50 schools and libraries served the needs of the community.
Armenian presses published numerous books, journals, periodicals, and newspapers, the prominent one being the daily "Alik".
The Islamic Revolution has signaled the end of the "golden age" of the Armenian community in Iran. Restrictions by the leaders of the Islamic Revolution, the Iran-Iraq War, and the economic problems resulting from Iran's isolation. forced the exodus of many Armenians. The wave of mass emigration of Armenians from the country has significantly reduced their figures by some 100,000 according to various estimates. Armenian-Iranians immigrated mostly to Europe, North America and Australia.
Many Armenians however served in the army, and some died in action during the Iran–Iraq War.
Later Iranian governments have been much more accommodating and the Armenians continue to maintain their own schools, clubs, and churches. The fall of the Soviet Union, the common border with Armenia, and the Armeno-Iranian diplomatic and economic agreements have opened a new era for the Iranian Armenians. Iran remains one of Republic of Armenia major economic and trade partners and Iranian government has helped ease the hardship of the Armenians in Armenia caused by the blocade imposed by Turkey. This includes important consumer products, access to air travel, and energy sources (like petrol and electricity).
The remaining Armenian minority in the Islamic Republic of Iran is still the largest Christian community in the country.
Armenians are a recognized religious minority and are apportioned two seats in the Iranian parliament. In addition to having their own churches and clubs, Armenians are one of the few linguistic minorities in Iran with their own schools.