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Iran[Country flag of Iran]
[Country map of Iran]

Introduction Iran
Background:
Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and the shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority nominally vested in a learned religious scholar. Iranian-US relations have been strained since a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and held it until 20 January 1981. During 1980-88, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq that eventually expanded into the Persian Gulf and led to clashes between US Navy and Iranian military forces between 1987-1988. Iran has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism for its activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world and remains subject to US economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement. Following the elections of a reformist president and Majlis in the late 1990s, attempts to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction have floundered as conservative politicians have prevented reform measures from being enacted, increased repressive measures, and consolidated their control over the government.
Geography Iran
Location:
Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan
Geographic coordinates:
32 00 N, 53 00 E
Map references:
Middle East
Area:
total: 1.648 million sq km
land: 1.636 million sq km
water: 12,000 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly larger than Alaska
Land boundaries:
total: 5,440 km
border countries: Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan-proper 432 km, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1,458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, Turkmenistan 992 km
Coastline:
2,440 km; note - Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf
continental shelf: natural prolongation
Climate:
mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast
Terrain:
rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
highest point: Kuh-e Damavand 5,671 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur
Land use:
arable land: 8.72%
permanent crops: 1.39%
other: 89.89% (2001)
Irrigated land:
75,620 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
periodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes
Environment - current issues:
air pollution, especially in urban areas, from vehicle emissions, refinery operations, and industrial effluents; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; oil pollution in the Persian Gulf; wetland losses from drought; soil degradation (salination); inadequate supplies of potable water; water pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste; urbanization
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport
People Iran
Population:
68,017,860 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 27.1% (male 9,465,475/female 8,973,828)
15-64 years: 68% (male 23,556,970/female 22,701,065)
65 years and over: 4.9% (male 1,637,512/female 1,683,010) (2005 est.)
Median age:
total: 24.23 years
male: 24.03 years
female: 24.44 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.86% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:
16.83 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:
5.55 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:
-2.64 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.97 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 41.58 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 41.75 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 41.41 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.96 years
male: 68.58 years
female: 71.4 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.82 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
31,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
800 (2003 est.)
Nationality:
noun: Iranian(s)
adjective: Iranian
Ethnic groups:
Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%
Religions:
Shi'a Muslim 89%, Sunni Muslim 9%, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i 2%
Languages:
Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.4%
male: 85.6%
female: 73% (2003 est.)
Government Iran
Country name:
conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Iran
conventional short form: Iran
local long form: Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran
local short form: Iran
former: Persia
Government type:
theocratic republic
Capital:
Tehran
Administrative divisions:
30 provinces (ostanha, singular - ostan); Ardabil, Azarbayjan-e Gharbi, Azarbayjan-e Sharqi, Bushehr, Chahar Mahall va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshah, Khorasan-e Janubi, Khorasan-e Razavi, Khorasan-e Shemali, Khuzestan, Kohgiluyeh va Buyer Ahmad, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan
Independence:
1 April 1979 (Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed)
National holiday:
Republic Day, 1 April (1979)
note: additional holidays celebrated widely in Iran include Revolution Day, 11 February (1979); Noruz (New Year's Day), 21 March; Constitutional Monarchy Day, 5 August (1925)
Constitution:
2-3 December 1979; revised 1989 to expand powers of the presidency and eliminate the prime ministership
Legal system:
the Constitution codifies Islamic principles of government
Suffrage:
15 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 4 June 1989)
head of government: President Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD (since 3 August 2005) First Vice President Dr. Mohammad Reza AREF-Yazdi (since 26 August 2001)
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval; the Supreme Leader has some control over appointments to the more sensitive ministries
elections: leader of the Islamic Revolution appointed for life by the Assembly of Experts; president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 17 June 2005 with a two-candidate runoff on 24 June 2005 (next to be held NA 2009)
election results: Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD elected president; percent of vote - Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD 62%, Ali Akbar Hashemi RAFSANJANI 36%; note - 2% of ballots spoiled
Legislative branch:
unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majles-e-Shura-ye-Eslami (290 seats, note - changed from 270 seats with the 18 February 2000 election; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 20 February 2004 with a runoff held 7 May 2004 (next to be held February 2008)
election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats by party - conservatives/Islamists 190, reformers 50, independents 43, religious minorities 5, and 2 seats unaccounted for
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court - above a special clerical court, a revolutionary court, and a special administrative court
Political parties and leaders:
formal political parties are a relatively new phenomenon in Iran and most conservatives still prefer to work through political pressure groups rather than parties; a loose pro-reform coalition called the 2nd Khordad front, which includes political parties as well as less formal pressure groups and organizations, achieved considerable success at elections to the sixth Majles in early 2000; groups in the coalition include: Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF); Executives of Construction Party (Kargozaran); Solidarity Party; Islamic Labor Party; Mardom Salari; Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization (MIRO); and Militant Clerics Society (Ruhaniyun); the coalition participated in the seventh Majles elections in early 2004; a new apparently conservative group, the Builders of Islamic Iran, took a leading position in the new Majles after winning a majority of the seats in February 2004
Political pressure groups and leaders:
political pressure groups conduct most of Iran's political activities; groups that generally support the Islamic Republic include Ansar-e Hizballah, Muslim Students Following the Line of the Imam, Tehran Militant Clergy Association (Ruhaniyat), Islamic Coalition Party (Motalefeh), and Islamic Engineers Society; active pro-reform student groups include the Organization for Strengthening Unity; opposition groups include Freedom Movement of Iran, the National Front, Marz-e Por Gohar, and various ethnic and Monarchist organizations; armed political groups that have been almost completely repressed by the government include Mujahidin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), People's Fedayeen, Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, and Komala
International organization participation:
CP, ECO, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMEE, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none; note - Iran has an Interests Section in the Pakistani Embassy; address: Iranian Interests Section, Pakistani Embassy, 2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007; telephone: [1] (202) 965-4990; FAX [1] (202) 965-1073
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none; note - protecting power in Iran is Switzerland
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red; the national emblem (a stylized representation of the word Allah in the shape of a tulip, a symbol of martyrdom) in red is centered in the white band; ALLAH AKBAR (God is Great) in white Arabic script is repeated 11 times along the bottom edge of the green band and 11 times along the top edge of the red band
Economy Iran
Economy - overview:
Iran's economy is marked by a bloated, inefficient state sector, over reliance on the oil sector, and statist policies that create major distortions throughout. Most economic activity is controlled by the state. Private sector activity is typically small-scale - workshops, farming, and services. President KHATAMI has continued to follow the market reform plans of former President RAFSANJANI, with limited progress. Relatively high oil prices in recent years have enabled Iran to amass some $30 billion in foreign exchange reserves, but have not eased economic hardships such as high unemployment and inflation. The proportion of the economy devoted to the development of weapons of mass destruction remains a contentious issue with leading Western nations.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$516.7 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6.3% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $7,700 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 11.2%
industry: 40.9%
services: 48.7% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
23 million
note: shortage of skilled labor (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 30%, industry 25%, services 45% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
11.2% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
40% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
15.5% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
31.3% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $43.34 billion
expenditures: $47.7 billion, including capital expenditures of $7.6 billion (2004 est.)
Public debt:
27% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, fruits, nuts, cotton; dairy products, wool; caviar
Industries:
petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabrication, armaments
Industrial production growth rate:
3.5% excluding oil (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:
129 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 97.1%
hydro: 2.9%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
119.9 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:
3.962 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
1.4 million bbl/day (2002 est.)
Oil - exports:
2.5 million bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - imports:
NA
Oil - proved reserves:
130.8 billion bbl (2004 est.)
Natural gas - production:
79 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
72.4 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
3.4 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
4.92 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
26.7 trillion cu m (2004)
Current account balance:
$2.1 billion (2004 est.)
Exports:
$38.79 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
petroleum 80%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, carpets
Exports - partners:
Japan 18.4%, China 9.7%, Italy 6%, South Africa 5.8%, South Korea 5.4%, Taiwan 4.6%, Turkey 4.4%, Netherlands 4% (2004)
Imports:
$31.3 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
industrial raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services, military supplies
Imports - partners:
Germany 12.8%, France 8.3%, Italy 7.7%, China 7.2%, UAE 7.2%, South Korea 6.1%, Russia 5.4% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$29.87 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$13.4 billion (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$408 million (2002 est.)
Currency (code):
Iranian rial (IRR)
Currency code:
IRR
Exchange rates:
rials per US dollar - 8,614 (2004), 8,193.9 (2003), 6,907 (2002), 1,753.6 (2001), 1,764.4 (2000)
note: Iran has been using a managed floating exchange rate regime since unifying multiple exchange rates in March 2002
Fiscal year:
21 March - 20 March
Communications Iran
Telephones - main lines in use:
14,571,100 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
3,376,500 (2003)
Telephone system:
general assessment: inadequate but currently being modernized and expanded with the goal of not only improving the efficiency and increasing the volume of the urban service but also bringing telephone service to several thousand villages, not presently connected
domestic: as a result of heavy investing in the telephone system since 1994, the number of long-distance channels in the microwave radio relay trunk has grown substantially; many villages have been brought into the net; the number of main lines in the urban systems has approximately doubled; and thousands of mobile cellular subscribers are being served; moreover, the technical level of the system has been raised by the installation of thousands of digital switches
international: country code - 98; HF radio and microwave radio relay to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Kuwait, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; submarine fiber-optic cable to UAE with access to Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic line runs from Azerbaijan through the northern portion of Iran to Turkmenistan with expansion to Georgia and Azerbaijan; satellite earth stations - 9 Intelsat and 4 Inmarsat
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 72, FM 5, shortwave 5 (1998)
Radios:
17 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
28 (plus 450 low-power repeaters) (1997)
Televisions:
4.61 million (1997)
Internet country code:
.ir
Internet hosts:
5,269 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
100 (2002)
Internet users:
4.3 million (2003)
Transportation Iran
Railways:
total: 7,203 km
broad gauge: 94 km 1.676-m gauge
standard gauge: 7,109 km 1.435-m gauge (189 km electrified) (2004)
Highways:
total: 167,157 km
paved: 94,109 km (including 890 km of expressways)
unpaved: 73,048 km (1998)
Waterways:
850 km (on Karun River and Lake Urmia) (2004)
Pipelines:
condensate/gas 212 km; gas 16,998 km; liquid petroleum gas 570 km; oil 8,256 km; refined products 7,808 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:
Assaluyeh, Bushehr
Merchant marine:
total: 144 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 4,715,242 GRT/8,240,069 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 38, cargo 49, chemical tanker 4, container 14, liquefied gas 1, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 30, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 1 (UAE 1)
registered in other countries: 8 (2005)
Airports:
305 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 127
over 3,047 m: 39
2,438 to 3,047 m: 25
1,524 to 2,437 m: 26
914 to 1,523 m: 32
under 914 m: 5 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 178
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 129
under 914 m: 39 (2004 est.)
Heliports:
13 (2004 est.)
Military Iran
Military branches:
Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (Artesh): Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force (includes Air Defense)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enqelab-e Eslami, IRGC): Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, Qods Force (special operations), and Basij Force (Popular Mobilization Army)
Law Enforcement Forces: (2004)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for compulsory military service; 16 years of age for volunteers; soldiers as young as 9 were recruited extensively during the Iran-Iraq War; conscript service obligation - 18 months (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 18,319,545 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 15,665,725 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males: 862,056 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$4.3 billion (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
3.3% (2003 est.)
Transnational Issues Iran
Disputes - international:
Iran protests Afghanistan's limiting flow of dammed tributaries to the Helmand River in periods of drought; Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Iran and UAE engage in direct talks and solicit Arab League support to resolve disputes over Iran's occupation of Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island; Iran stands alone among littoral states in insisting upon a division of the Caspian Sea into five equal sectors
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 1,223,823 (Afghanistan) 124,014 (Iraq) (2004)
Illicit drugs:
despite substantial interdiction efforts, Iran remains a key transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin to Europe; domestic narcotics consumption remains a persistent problem and according to official Iranian statistics there are at least two million drug users in the country; lax anti-money-laundering regulations

This page was last updated on 1 November, 2005


 

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