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  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

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, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation


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Population: 68,959,931 (July 1998 est.)
note: includes 607,252 non-nationals (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (male 15,371,060; female 14,513,782)
15-64 years: 53% (male 18,469,620; female 17,810,596)
65 years and over: 4% (male 1,428,471; female 1,366,402) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.04% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 31.37 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 6.19 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Net migration rate: -4.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1998 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: 1.05 male(s)/female (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 48.95 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.25 years
male: 66.83 years
female: 69.74 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.31 children born/woman (1998 est.)

noun: Iranian(s)
adjective: Iranian

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

Religions: Shi'a Muslim 89%, Sunni Muslim 10%, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i 1%

Languages: 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: 72.1%
male: 78.4%
female: 65.8% (1994 est.)


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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

Data code: IR

Government type: theocratic republic

National capital: Tehran

Administrative divisions: 25 provinces (ostanha, singular—ostan); Ardabil, Azarbayjan-e Gharbi, Azarbayjan-e Sharqi, Bushehr, Chahar Mahall va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshahan, Khorasan, Khuzestan, Kohkiluyeh va Buyer Ahmadi, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan
note: there may be three new provinces named Gorgan, Qom, and Qazvin

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:
chief of state: supreme leader (rahbar-e moazam) and functional 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 Hasan Ebrahim HABIBI (since NA August 1989)
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval
elections: supreme leader appointed for life by the Council of Experts; president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 23 May 1997 (next to be held NA May 2001)
election results: (Ali) Mohammad KHATAMI-Ardakani elected president; percent of vote - (Ali) Mohammad KHATAMI-Ardakani 69%

Legislative branch: unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majles-e-Shura-ye-Eslami (270 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 8 March and 19 April 1996 (next to be held NA March 2000)
election results: percent of vote—NA; seats—NA

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Political parties and leaders: Iran has no political parties; the most important political "groupings" are—Tehran Militant Clergy Association, Secretary General Ayatollah Mohammad EMAMI-KASHANI; Militant Clerics Association, Mehdi MAHDAVI-KARUBI and Mohammad Asqar MUSAVI-KHOINIHA; Servants of Reconstruction (G-6), Mohammad HASHEMI-RAFSANJANI, Hosein MARASHI

Political pressure groups and leaders: 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, 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, headed by Faramarz FATH-NEJAD; 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


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Economy—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. Newly elected President KHATAMI has continued to follow the market reform plans of former President RAFSANJANI and has indicated that he will pursue diversification of Iran's oil-reliant economy. In the early 1990s, Iran experienced a financial crisis and was forced to reschedule $15 billion in debt. The strong oil market in 1996 helped ease financial pressures on Iran and allowed for Tehran's timely debt service payments. Iran's financial situation tightened in 1997 and early 1998 because of lower oil prices. Iran may be forced to decrease imports and slow debt repayments if the oil market worsens further.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$371.2 billion (1997 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 3.2% (1997 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$5,500 (1997 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:
agriculture: 21%
industry: 37%
services: 42% (1994 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 23% (1996)

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

Unemployment rate: more than 30% (January 1998 est.)

revenues: $34.6 billion
expenditures: $34.9 billion, including capital expenditures of $11.8 billion (FY96/97)

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

Industrial production growth rate: 5.7% (FY95/96 est.)

Electricity—capacity: 25.117 million kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 79 billion kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 1,222 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, fruits, nuts, cotton; dairy products, wool; caviar

total value: $19 billion (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
commodities: petroleum 80%, carpets, fruits, nuts, hides, iron, steel
partners: Japan, US, UK, Germany, South Korea, UAE

total value: $15.6 billion (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
commodities: machinery, military supplies, metal works, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, technical services, refined oil products
partners: Germany, Italy, Japan, UAE, UK, Belgium

Debt—external: $21.9 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid:
recipient: ODA, $40 million (1993)

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—1,752.14 (January 1998), 1,750.76 (1996), 1,752.92 (1997), 1,747.93 (1995), 1,748.75 (1994), 1,267.77 (1993); black market rate: 4,600 rials per US$1 (March 1997); note—as of May 1995, the "official rate" of 1,750 rials per US$1 is used for imports of essential goods and services and for oil exports, whereas the "official export rate" of 3,000 rials per US$1 is used for non-oil exports and imports not covered by the official rate

Fiscal year: 21 March—20 March


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Telephones: 3.02 million (1992 est.)

Telephone system:
domestic: microwave radio relay extends throughout country; system centered in Tehran
international: satellite earth stations—3 Intelsat (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region); HF radio and microwave radio relay to Turkey, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; submarine fiber-optic cable to UAE

Radio broadcast stations: AM 77, FM 3, shortwave 0

Radios: 14.3 million (1992 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 28

Televisions: 3.9 million (1992 est.)


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total: 7,286 km
broad gauge: 94 km 1.676-m gauge
standard gauge: 7,192 km 1.435-m gauge (146 km electrified) (1996 est.)

total: 162,000 km
paved: 81,000 km (including 470 km of expressways)
unpaved: 81,000 km (1996 est.)

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

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

Ports and harbors: Abadan (largely destroyed in fighting during 1980-88 war), Ahvaz, Bandar 'Abbas, Bandar-e Anzali, Bushehr, Bandar-e 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: 135 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 3,465,226 GRT/6,128,443 DWT
ships by type: bulk 47, cargo 34, chemical tanker 4, combination bulk 2, container 4, liquefied gas tanker 1, multifunction large-load carrier 6, oil tanker 23, refrigerated cargo 3, roll-on/roll-off cargo 10, short-sea passenger 1
note: Iran owns an additional 5 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 245,742 DWT that operate under the registries of Cyprus, Honduras, and Panama (1997 est.)

Airports: 280 (1997 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:
total: 103
over 3,047 m: 36
2,438 to 3,047 m: 14
1,524 to 2,437 m: 27
914 to 1,523 m: 21
under 914 m: 5 (1997 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:
total: 177
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 14
914 to 1,523 m: 124
under 914 m: 34 (1997 est.)

Heliports: 11 (1997 est.)




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