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Geography of Iran

Learn the about the Middle Eastern Country of Iran


Ahmadinejad in Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad raises his hand during a news conference Aug. 29, 2006 in Tehran. Ahmadinejad challenged President Bush to a television debate and also continued his rejection of any plans to halt his country's nuclear ambitions.

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Population: 67,037,517 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Tehran
Bordering Countries: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan
Land Area: 636,371 square miles (1,648,195 sq km)
Coastline: 1,516 miles (2,440 km)
Highest Point: Kuh-e Damavand at 18,605 feet (5,671 m)
Lowest Point: Caspian Sea at -92 feet (-28 m)

Iran, officially called the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country located in the Middle East. It is considered the 18th largest country in the world with an area of 636,371 square miles (1,648,195 sq km). Iran is an important country internationally because it is home to large natural resource reserves like petroleum and natural gas.

History of Iran

Historically, Iran was known as Persia and archaeological evidence shows that humans lived in the area about 100,000 years ago. Around the 6th century B.C.E., Iran had developed agricultural societies and population centers. In the 7th century, Iran was taken over by the Arabs who introduced Islam to the region. Shortly thereafter, the Seljuk Turks and Mongols invaded the area. From 1502 to 1736, Iran was ruled by the Safavid Dynasty, which further helped to develop its culture and politics.

The modern history of Iran is usually considered to begin around 1906 when a limited constitutional monarchy was established. In 1921, Reza Khan took control of the government and in 1925 he declared himself Shah and formed the Pahlavi Dynasty. During this time, Reza Shah enacted policies of modernization and in 1935 he changed the country's name to Iran. During World War II after the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom entered western Iran, Reza Shah was forced to abdicate and his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi took the throne.

Following WWII, Soviet forces remained in Iran but in 1946, the United States and the United Nations forced them to withdraw their troops. During the Soviet occupation of Iran, separatist movements and revolts began to take place. After the Soviets were forced out however, the Shah began to suppress such movements.

In the 1950s, instability continued in Iran after Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh nationalized the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and the Shah fled to Rome. In 1953, there were questions that Mossadegh was tied to the Communist movement and a coup was launched on the Prime Minister by the United States and the United Kingdom. Shortly thereafter, the Shah returned to Iran after U.S. support and began authoritative government rule.

Throughout the 1960s, Iran grew economically and politically due to its immense petroleum reserves but in the 1970s, instability returned as civil unrest against the Shah began. This period was known in Iran as the Iranian or Islamic Revolution. In 1989, Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, Speaker of the Majles, was elected President and in 1993, he was re-elected but due to the still faltering economy he was replaced by Mohammad Khatami as President in 1997.

Khatami was Iran's president until 2005. During his time in office he some success in further developing the country's society and pushing participation in public elections. In 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became Iran's president. Since then, Iran has still had problems of political and social instability.

Government of Iran

Today Iran is considered a theocratic republic and has an executive branch of government that is made up of the chief of state who is called the Supreme Leader and the head of government who is the president. In addition, there is a cabinet with a Council of Ministers directly elected by the President. Iran also has a unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly for its legislative branch and the Supreme Court and the High Council of the Judiciary for its judicial branch. Iran is divided into 30 provinces for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Iran

Iran's economy is almost entirely dependent on its oil reserves. As a result, there is inequality throughout the economy and it is not well developed. In addition, most of the economy is controlled by the government and rigid price controls keep the economy from developing. There is however, informal activity within the population and agriculture plays a role as well. Iran's largest agricultural products include wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, sugar cane, fruits, nuts, cotton, dairy products, wool and caviar.

Geography and Climate of Iran

Iran is a country in the Middle East that borders the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea. It is located between Iraq and Pakistan. Iran's topography is rugged and largely undeveloped except for Tehran, its capital and largest city. The country has very rugged mountainous areas as well as a high central basin with deserts. Along its coasts, there are small patches of plain. Iran's climate is considered mostly arid or semiarid but there are subtropical areas on the coast near the Caspian Sea. Tehran, which is located near the Caspian, has a July average high temperature of 98°F (36°C) and a January average low of 30°F (-1°C).

More Facts about Iran

• Iran's population is predominantly Shi'a Muslim (89%) and conflicts between thus group and the Sunni Muslims (9%) in the country frequently arise
• Persian and Persian dialects are the main languages spoken in Iran
• Iran's literacy rate is 79%
• Iran's life expectancy is 70.86 years


Central Intelligence Agency. (24 June 2010). CIA - The World Factbook - Iran. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Iran: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107640.html

United States Department of State. (30 September 2009). Iran. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/5314.htm

Wikipedia.com. (6 July 2010). Iran - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iran

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