English Reading Practice


Iran is a country in the Middle East. It borders Iraq and Afghanistan.


Iran is one of the largest countries in the world. It is also one of the oldest. The first civilization in Iran was around 4000 years ago. "Civilization" means a group of people and their way of life.

Iran became one country, called Persia, while it was ruled by the Median empire. This was between 728 and 612 BCE (Before the Common Era).

The most famous emperor of the empire was Cyrus the Great. He not only expanded Persia, but also was a kind and gentle ruler. "Expanded" means made bigger.

He was very loved in Persia and in the lands that he conquered. "Conquered" means took over. This was very unusual (different) and is why today he is known as a hero.

Cyrus the Great

Cyrus the Great was born in 580 BCE. When he became emperor of the empire in 550 BCE, he made the empire bigger by taking over other cities that were nearby. Under Cyrus the Great, Persia stretched from Egypt to India.

However, Cyrus the Great was very different from other conquerors (people who take over other countries). Usually, conquerors would force (make) the people in the lands they took over forget their history. They would want the people to learn the language and culture of the conqueror's country. Cyrus the Great did not do this.

When Cyrus the Great conquered a new land, he allowed the people there to continue to speak their own language and practice their own traditions and culture. He would let the people continue to live as they had before. For this reason, many of the people who lived in the lands he conquered loved and respected him.

In 539 BCE, Cyrus the Great and the Persians conquered Babylon. Babylon is part of what we know today as Iraq. After the conquest, he created the Cyrus cylinder. A "cylinder" is an object that is in the shape of a circle.

On this cylinder, he wrote his beliefs about human rights, or how people should be treated. This is the first human rights document that we know about today.

Cyrus the Great believed three important things. The first was that all people were equal no matter what their race, language, or religion.


The second was that all people who were slaves or had been deported (forced out of their country) would be allowed to return home. Because of this, thousands of people were allowed to return to their home countries.

The third belief was that all temples that had been destroyed in wars should be rebuilt. This would allow everyone to practice their religion.


These beliefs made Cyrus the Great famous not only while he was alive, but also after he had died. Many leaders of countries have studied Cyrus the Great and tried to be like him.

For example, Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders (first leaders) of the United States studied the life and beliefs of Cyrus the Great. He used some of what he learned when he was president of the United States. This is just one example of how Cyrus the Great had influence not only on his world but on the world as we know it today.

And now, practice:

Iran - Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

1. What does "expanded" mean?

a) made bigger

b) made smaller

c) made more important

d) made more interesting

2. What does "conquer" mean?

a) give away

b) take over

c) leave alone

d) explore

3. What does "founder" mean?

a) first person

b) first citizen

a) first leader

b) first follower

Grammar Questions

1. Iran is one of _________ largest countries in _________ world.

a) a...a

b) the...the

c) a...the

d) the...a

2. He _________in Persia and in the lands that he conquered.

a) loves

b) loved

c) was loved

d) will love

3. Cyrus the Great had influence not only _________ his world but _________ the world as we know it today.

a) in...on

b) on...in

c) on...on

d) in...in

Comprehension Questions

1. What did Iran used to be called?


2. Why was Cyrus the Great so loved?


3. What three things did Cyrus the Great believe?


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