The Persians are an Iranian ethnic group that make up over half the population of Iran. They share a common cultural system and are native speakers of the Persian language, as well as closely related languages. The ancient Persians were a nomadic branch of the ancient Iranian population that entered modern-day Iran by the early 10th century BC. Together with their compatriot allies, they established and ruled some of the world's most powerful empires, well-recognized for their massive cultural, political, and social influence covering much of the territory and population of the ancient world. Throughout history, the Persians have contributed greatly to various forms of art, owning one of the world's most prominent literary traditions, and have made contributions in numerous other fields, including mathematics, theology, medicine, and various other sciences. In contemporary terminology, people of Persian heritage native specifically to present-day Afghanistan and Tajikistan are referred to as Tajiks, whereas those in the eastern Caucasus (primarily the present-day Republic of Azerbaijan), albeit heavily assimilated, are referred to as Tats. However, it is to be noted that the terms Tajik, Tat, and Persian were historically synonyms that were used interchangeably, and a substantial amount of the most influential Persian figures hailed from outside Iran's present-day borders to the northeast in Central Asia and Afghanistan and to a lesser extent to the northwest in the Caucasus proper.
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