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Iran    Introduction Top of Page
Background: Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces subsequently crushed westernizing liberal elements. Militant 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 over disputed territory. The key current issue is how rapidly the country should open up to the modernizing influences of the outside world.
Iran    Geography Top of Page
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: contiguous zone:  24 NM

continental shelf:  natural prolongation

exclusive economic zone:  bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf

territorial sea:  12 NM
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:  Qolleh-ye Damavand 5,671 m
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur
Land use: arable land:  10%

permanent crops:  1%

permanent pastures:  27%

forests and woodland:  7%

other:  55% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 94,000 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: periodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes along western border and in the northeast
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; inadequate supplies of potable water
Environment - international agreements: party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified:  Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Iran    People Top of Page
69,018,924 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 28% (male 9,935,527; female 9,411,647)
15-64 years: 67.2% (male 23,608,621; female 22,744,128)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 1,645,246; female 1,673,755) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 23.5 years
male: 23.3 years
female: 23.7 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.07% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
17.1 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
5.53 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
-0.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 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: 0.98 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 42.86 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 43.01 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 42.69 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.66 years
male: 68.31 years
female: 71.07 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.93 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
20,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
290 (2001 est.)
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%
Shi'a Muslim 89%, Sunni Muslim 9%, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i 2%
Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.4%
male: 85.6%
female: 73% (2003 est.)


Iran    Government Top of Page
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: 28 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, 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)
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:  Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 4 June 1989)

head of government:  President (Ali) Mohammad KHATAMI-Ardakani (since 3 August 1997); First Vice President Dr. Mohammad Reza AREF-YAZDI (since NA August 2001)

cabinet:  Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval

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 8 June 2001 (next to be held NA 2005)

election results:  (Ali) Mohammad KHATAMI-Ardakani reelected president; percent of vote - (Ali) Mohammad KHATAMI-Ardakani 77%
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 18 February-NA April 2000 (next to be held NA 2004)

election results:  percent of vote - NA%; seats by party - reformers 170, conservatives 45, and independents 10; 65 seats were up for runoff election on 5 May 2000 (reformers 52, conservatives 10, independents 3)
Judicial branch: Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders: the following organizations appeared to have achieved considerable success at elections to the sixth Majlis in early 2000: Assembly of the Followers of the Imam's Line, Freethinkers' Front, Islamic Iran Participation Front, Moderation and Development Party, Servants of Construction Party, Society of Self-sacrificing Devotees
Political pressure groups and leaders: active student groups include the pro-reform "Organization for Strengthening Unity" and "the Union of Islamic Student Societies'; groups that generally support the Islamic Republic include Ansar-e Hizballah, Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution, Muslim Students Following the Line of the Imam, and the Islamic Coalition Association; opposition groups include the Liberation Movement of Iran and the Nation of Iran party; armed political groups that have been almost completely repressed by the government include Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), People's Fedayeen, Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan; the Society for the Defense of Freedom
International organization participation: CCC, CP, ECO, ESCAP, FAO, G-19, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, 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
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 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
Iran    Economy Top of Page
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 $22 billion in foreign exchange reserves, but have not eased economic hardships such as high unemployment and inflation. In December 2003 a major earthquake devastated the city of Bam in southeastern Iran, killing more than 30,000 people.
purchasing power parity - $478.2 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6.1% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $7,000 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 12.5%
industry: 41.2%
services: 46.2% (2003 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
28.6% of GDP (2003)
Population below poverty line:
40% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
16.4% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
22.32 million
note: shortage of skilled labor (2003 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 30%, industry 25%, services 45% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
15.7% (2002 est.)
revenues: $40.38 billion
expenditures: $40.29 billion, including capital expenditures of $7.6 billion (2003 est.)
Public debt:
28.2% of GDP (2003)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, fruits, nuts, cotton; dairy products, wool; caviar
petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabricating, armaments
Industrial production growth rate:
3% excluding oil (2003 est.)
Electricity - production:
124.6 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
115.9 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
3.804 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
1.277 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
2.2 million bbl/day (2003)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
94.39 billion bbl (1 January 2002)
Natural gas - production:
61.5 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
65.59 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
110 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
4.2 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
24.8 trillion cu m (1 January 2002)
Current account balance:
$3.935 billion (2003)
$29.88 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
petroleum 80%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, carpets
Exports - partners:
Japan 21.8%, China 9.7%, Italy 6.3%, Taiwan 5.5%, Turkey 5.4%, South Korea 5.4% (2003)
$25.26 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
industrial raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services, military supplies
Imports - partners:
Germany 11%, France 8.6%, China 8.4%, Italy 8.1%, UAE 7.9%, South Korea 6.5%, Russia 4.8%, Japan 4.1% (2003)
Reserves of foreign exchange & gold:
$25.13 billion (2003)
Debt - external:
$10.96 billion (2003 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$408 million (2002 est.)
Iranian rial (IRR)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
rials per US dollar - 8,193.89 (2003), 6,906.96 (2002), 1,753.56 (2001), 1,764.43 (2000), 1,752.93 (1999)
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
Iran    Transportation Top of Page
total: 7,203 km
broad gauge: 94 km 1.676-m gauge
standard gauge: 7,109 km 1.435-m gauge (189 km electrified) (2003)
total: 167,157 km
paved: 94,109 km (including 890 km of expressways)
unpaved: 73,048 km (1998)
850 km (on Karun River and Lake Urmia) (2004)
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:
Abadan (largely destroyed in fighting during 1980-88 war), Ahvaz, Bandar 'Abbas, Bandar-e Anzali, Bushehr, Bandar-e Emam Khomeyni, Bandar-e Lengeh, Bandar-e Mahshahr, Bandar-e Torkaman, Chabahar (Bandar Beheshti), Jazireh-ye Khark, Jazireh-ye Lavan, Jazireh-ye Sirri, Khorramshahr (limited operation since November 1992), Now Shahr
Merchant marine:
total: 134 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 4,715,242 GRT/8,240,069 DWT
by type: bulk 40, cargo 36, chemical tanker 3, container 7, liquefied gas 1, multi-functional large load carrier 5, petroleum tanker 33, roll on/roll off 8, short-sea/passenger 1
registered in other countries: 10 (2004 est.)
303 (2003 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.)
13 (2003 est.)
Iran    Military Top of Page
Military branches: Islamic Republic of Iran regular forces (includes Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces), Revolutionary Guards (includes Ground, Air, Navy, Qods, and Basij-mobilization-forces), Law Enforcement Forces
Military manpower - military age: 21 years of age
Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49:  18,319,328 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49:  10,872,407 (2001 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males:  823,040 (2001 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure: $5.787 billion (FY98/99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.9% (FY98/99)
Iran    Transnational Issues Top of Page
Disputes - international: Iran and Iraq restored diplomatic relations in 1990 but are still trying to work out written agreements settling outstanding disputes from their eight-year war concerning border demarcation, prisoners-of-war, and freedom of navigation and sovereignty over the Shatt al Arab waterway; Iran occupies two islands in the Persian Gulf claimed by the UAE: Lesser Tunb (called Tunb as Sughra in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Kuchek in Persian by Iran) and Greater Tunb (called Tunb al Kubra in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg in Persian by Iran); Iran jointly administers with the UAE an island in the Persian Gulf claimed by the UAE (called Abu Musa in Arabic by UAE and Jazireh-ye Abu Musa in Persian by Iran) - over which Iran has taken steps to exert unilateral control since 1992, including access restrictions and a military build-up on the island; the UAE has garnered significant diplomatic support in the region in protesting these Iranian actions; Caspian Sea boundaries are not yet determined among Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan#