[Country map of Iran]



Location: Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf, between Iraq and Pakistan

Map references: Middle East

total area: 1.648 million sq km
land area: 1.636 million sq km
comparative area: slightly larger than Alaska

Land boundaries: total 5,440 km, Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan (north) 432 km, Azerbaijan (northwest) 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

International disputes: 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: Tunb as Sughra (Arabic), Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Kuchek (Persian) or Lesser Tunb, and Tunb al Kubra (Arabic), Jazireh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg (Persian) or Greater Tunb; it jointly administers with the UAE an island in the Persian Gulf claimed by the UAE, Abu Musa (Arabic) or Jazireh-ye Abu Musa (Persian); in 1992 the dispute over Abu Musa and the Tunb islands became more acute when Iran unilaterally tried to control the entry of third country nationals into the UAE portion of Abu Musa island, Tehran subsequently backed off in the face of significant diplomatic support for the UAE in the region, but in 1994 it increased its military presence on the disputed islands; periodic disputes with Afghanistan over Helmand water rights; Caspian Sea boundaries are not yet determined

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

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur

Land use:
arable land: 8%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 27%
forest and woodland: 11%
other: 54%

Irrigated land: 57,500 sq km (1989 est.)

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
natural hazards: periodic droughts, floods; duststorms, sandstorms; earthquakes along the Western border
international agreements: party to - Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands; signed, but not ratified - Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation


Population: 64,625,455 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 45% (female 14,113,933; male 14,995,015)
15-64 years: 51% (female 16,237,810; male 16,803,943)
65 years and over: 4% (female 1,197,869; male 1,276,885) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.29% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 34.85 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 6.85 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: -5.11 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 54.6 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 66.97 years
male: 65.77 years
female: 68.22 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.93 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Iranian(s)
adjective: Iranian

Ethnic divisions: Persian 51%, Azerbaijani 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%

Religions: Shi'a Muslim 95%, Sunni Muslim 4%, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i 1%

Languages: Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Baloch 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write (1991)
total population: 66%
male: 74%
female: 56%

Labor force: 15.4 million
by occupation: agriculture 33%, manufacturing 21%
note: shortage of skilled labor (1988 est.)


conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Iran
conventional short form: Iran
local long form: Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran
local short form: Iran

Digraph: IR

Type: theocratic republic

Capital: Tehran

Administrative divisions: 24 provinces (ostanha, singular - ostan); Azarbayjan-e Bakhtari (West Azerbaijan), Azarbayjan-e Khavari (East Azerbaijan), Bakhtaran, Bushehr, Chahar Mahall va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Khorasan, Khuzestan, Kohkiluyeh va Buyer Ahmadi, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan
note: there may be a new province named Ardabil formed from a part of Azarbayjan-e Khavari (East Azerbaijan) which may have been renamed Azarbayjan-e Markazi (Central Azerbaijan); the name Bakhtaran may have been changed to Kermanshahan

Independence: 1 April 1979 (Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed)

National holiday: Islamic 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:
supreme leader (rahbar) and functional chief of state: Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 4 June 1989)
head of government: President Ali Akbar Hashemi-RAFSANJANI (since 3 August 1989); election last held June 1993 (next to be held June 1997); results - Ali Akbar Hashemi-RAFSANJANI was elected with 63% of the vote
cabinet: Council of Ministers; selected by the president with legislative approval

Legislative branch: unicameral
Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majles-e-Shura-ye-Eslami): elections last held 8 April 1992 (next to be held April 1996); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (270 seats total) number of seats by party NA

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: there are at least 76 licensed parties; the three most important are - Tehran Militant Clergy Association, Mohammad Reza MAHDAVI-KANI; Militant Clerics Association, Mehdi MAHDAVI-KARUBI and Mohammad Asqar MUSAVI-KHOINIHA; Fedaiyin Islam Organization, Sadeq KHALKHALI

Other political or pressure groups: groups that generally support the Islamic Republic include Hizballah, Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution, Muslim Students Following the Line of the Imam; armed political groups that have been almost completely repressed by the government include Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), People's Fedayeen, Kurdish Democratic Party; the Society for the Defense of Freedom


Diplomatic representation in US:
chief of mission: Iran has an Interests Section in the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC
chancery: Iranian Interests Section, 2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 965-4990

US diplomatic representation: protecting power in Iran is Switzerland

Flag: 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 Alkbar (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


Overview: Iran's economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. Over the past several years, the government has introduced several measures to liberalize the economy and reduce government intervention, but most of these changes have moved slowly because of political opposition. Iran has faced increasingly severe financial difficulties since mid-1992 due to an import surge that began in 1989 and general financial mismanagement. At yearend 1993 the Iranian Government estimated that it owed foreign creditors about $30 billion; an estimated $8 billion of this debt was in arrears. At yearend 1994, Iran rescheduled $12 billion in debt. Earnings from oil exports - which provide 90% of Iran's export revenues - are providing less relief to Iran than usual because of reduced oil prices.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $310 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: -2% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $4,720 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 35% (1994)

Unemployment rate: over 30% (1994 est.)

revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

Exports: $16 billion (f.o.b., FY92/93 est.)
commodities: petroleum 90%, carpets, fruits, nuts, hides
partners: Japan, Italy, France, Netherlands, Belgium/Luxembourg, Spain, and Germany

Imports: $18 billion (c.i.f., FY92/93 est.)
commodities: machinery, military supplies, metal works, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, technical services, refined oil products
partners: Germany, Japan, Italy, UK, UAE

External debt: $30 billion (December 1993)

Industrial production: growth rate 4.6% (1993 est.); accounts for almost 30% of GDP, including petroleum

capacity: 19,080,000 kW
production: 50.8 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 745 kWh (1993)

Industries: petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and other building materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabricating, armaments and military equipment

Agriculture: accounts for about 20% of GDP; principal products - wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, fruits, nuts, cotton, dairy products, wool, caviar; not self-sufficient in food

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of opium poppy for the domestic and international drug trade; produced 35-70 metric tons in 1993; net opiate importer but also a key transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin to Europe

Economic aid:
recipient: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-80), $1 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-89), $1.675 billion; Communist countries (1970-89), $976 million
note: aid fell sharply following the 1979 revolution

Currency: 10 Iranian rials (IR) = 1 toman; note - domestic figures are generally referred to in terms of the toman

Exchange rates: Iranian rials (IR) per US$1 - 1,749.04 (January 1995), 1,748.75 (1994), 1,267.77 (1993), 65.552 (1992), 67.505 (1991); black market rate: 3,000 rials per US$1 (December 1994)

Fiscal year: 21 March - 20 March


total: 4,850 km; note - 480 km under construction from Bafq to Bandar-e 'Abbas; segment from Bafq to Sirjan has been completed and is operational; section from Sirjan to Bandar-e 'Abbas still under construction
broad gauge: 90 km 1.676-m gauge
narrow gauge: 4,760 km 1.432-m gauge

total: 140,200 km
paved: 42,694 km
unpaved: gravel, crushed stone 46,866 km; improved earth 49,440 km; unimproved earth 1,200 km

Inland waterways: 904 km; the Shatt al Arab is usually navigable by maritime traffic for about 130 km; channel has been dredged to 3 meters and is in use

Pipelines: crude oil 5,900 km; petroleum products 3,900 km; natural gas 4,550 km

Ports: Abadan (largely destroyed in fighting during 1980-88 war), Ahvaz, Bandar Beheshti, Bandar-e 'Abbas, Bandar-e Anzali, Bandar-e Bushehr, Bandar-e Khomeyni, Bandar-e Mah Shahr, Bandar-e Torkeman, Jazireh-ye Khark, Jazireh-ye Lavan, Jazireh-ye Sirri, Khorramshahr (limited operation since November 1992), Now Shahr

Merchant marine:
total: 132 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 3,816,820 GRT/6,991,693 DWT
ships by type: bulk 48, cargo 38, chemical tanker 5, combination bulk 2, liquefied gas tanker 1, oil tanker 26, refrigerated cargo 3, roll-on/roll-off cargo 8, short-sea passenger 1

total: 261
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 28
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 12
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 32
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 20
with paved runways under 914 m: 46
with unpaved runways over 3,047 m: 2
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 18
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 101


Telephone system: 2,143,000 telephones; 35 telephones/1,000 persons
local: NA
intercity: microwave radio relay extends throughout country; system centered in Tehran
international: 3 INTELSAT (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) earth stations; HF radio and microwave radio relay to Turkey, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; submarine fiber optic cable to UAE

broadcast stations: AM 77, FM 3, shortwave 0
radios: NA

broadcast stations: 28
televisions: NA

Defense Forces

Branches: Islamic Republic of Iran Ground Forces, Navy, Air and Air Defense Force, Revolutionary Guards (includes Basij militia with its ground, air, and naval forces), Law Enforcement Forces

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 14,639,290; males fit for military service 8,703,732; males reach military age (21) annually 615,096 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: according to official Iranian data, Iran spent 1,785 billion rials, including $808 million in hard currency, in 1992 and budgeted 2,507 billion rials, including $850 million in hard currency, for 1993
note: conversion of rial expenditures into US dollars using the current exchange rate could produce misleading results