The Iranian peoples or Iranic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group that comprise the speakers of Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, as such forming a branch of the Indo-European-speaking peoples. Their historical areas of settlement were on the Iranian plateau (mainly Iran) and certain neighbouring areas of Central Asia (such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, western Pakistan, northern Iraq and eastern Turkey, and scattered part of the Caucasus Mountains) reflecting changing geopolitical range of the Persian empires and the Iranian history. Their current distribution spreads across the Iranian plateau, and stretches from Pakistan's Indus River in the east to eastern Turkey in the west, and from Central Asia and the Caucasus in the north to the Persian Gulf in the south – a region that is sometimes called the Iranian cultural continent, or Greater Iran by scholars, and represents the extent of the Iranian languages and influence of the Iranian people, through the geopolitical reach of the Iranian empire.
The Iranian group emerges from an earlier Iranian group during the Late Bronze Age, and it enters the historical record during the Early Iron Age.
The Iranians comprise the Persians, Kurds, Medes, Scythians, Bactrians, Parthians, Sarmatians, Alans, Ossetians,Cimerians and their sub-groups. The Iranians had domesticated horses, had travelled far and wide, and from the late 2nd millennium BCE to early 1st millennium BCE they had migrated to and settled on the Iranian Plateau. They moved into the Zagros Mountains (inhabited by Gutians, Kassites and others, home of the Mannaean kingdom) above the indigenous non-Iranian Elamite Kingdom. For approximately three centuries after arriving in the region, the Medes and Persians fell under the domination of the Assyrian Empire (911–609 BCE), based in nearby Mesopotamia. In 646 BCE, Susa and many other cities of Elam were plundered and wrecked by Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria, allowing the Iranian peoples to become the predominant group in Iran. After the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 BCE, the Assyrian Empire began to unravel due to a series of bitter civil wars. In 616 BCE the Median king Cyaxares threw off the Assyrian yoke, united the Medes and Persians, and in alliance with Nabopolassar of Babylon and the Scythians, attacked the civil war ridden Assyrian Empire. By 609 BCE, the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies had been defeated. This began the Iranian domination in the Iranian Plateau. Persians formed the Achaemenid Empire by the 6th century BCE, while the Scythians dominated the Eurasian steppe. With numerous artistic, scientific, architectural and philosophical achievements and numerous kingdoms and empires that bridged much of the civilized world in antiquity, the Iranian peoples were often in close contact with the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Indians, and Chinese. The various religions of the Iranian peoples, including Zoroastrianism, Mithraismand Manichaeism, are believed by some scholars to have been significant early philosophical influences on Christianity and Judaism.