Today the nation of Persia is known primarily as Iran.
The most widespread entity considered to have been a Persian Empire was the Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC) under Darius and Xerxes (or Xerkes) - famous in antiquity as the foe of the classical Greek states (See Greco-Persian Wars) - a united Iranian kingdom that originated in the region now known as Pars province of Iran.
It was formed under Cyrus the Great, who overthrew the empire of the Medes, and conquered much of the Middle East, including the territories of the Babylonians (Asuristan), the Phoenicians, and the Lydians. Cyrus' son, Cambyses, continued Cyrus' conquests by conquering Egypt.
Most of the successive states in Greater Iran prior to March 1600 are collectively called the Persian Empire by Western historians.
Virtually all the successor empires of Persia were major regional and some major international powers in their day.
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