Form of Government: Islamic republic
Area: 1 628 792 sq km
Population: 82 084 000 inhab. (estimate 2019)
Density: 50.4 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 40° - 25° N; long. 44° - 63° E
Capital: Tehrān (capital) 8 895 947 inhab. (2018);
Currency: Iranian rial (100 dinars)
Human development index: 0.783 (rank: 70)
President and head of government: Ebrahim Raisi, elected on 18 June 2021, in office since 3 August 2021
Supreme Leader (Rahbar): Mohamad Ali Khamenei, since 3 June 1989
Islamic Consultative Assembly: seats based on the elections of 21 February 2020: Conservatives, 221; Reformists, 20; independents, 33; religious minorities, 5; undecided seats, 11
Internet: www.amar.org.ir (Statistical Centre of Iran)
Member of OIC, OPEC, SCO observer, UN, WTO observer
International license plate code IR
International dialling code 0098
Travel vaccinations requirement yellow fever (required only if traveling from a country with risk of transmission); malaria prophylaxis (recommended for some areas)
Electricity (Voltage) 230
Driving side rigth
Internet code .ir
DST duration (start-end) early Spring-early Autumn
Annual average temperature (°C) Teheran 17.1; Bandar-e ‘Abbas 26.9
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Teheran 3/30.5; Bandar-e ‘Abbas 17.5/34
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Teheran 11.5/5.5; Bandar-e ‘Abbas 10/7.5
Annual average precipitation (mm) Teheran 227; Bandar-e ‘Abbas 176
Days of rainfall (annual average) Teheran 40; Bandar-e ‘Abbas 12
Politics and current affairs
Former head of judicial power and conservative candidate Ebrahim Raisi won the presidential elections held on 18 June 2021. The Guardian Council excluded the main reformist candidates from the vote. Abstention was high due to general discontent and the difficult economic predicament. The Natanz nuclear plant was damaged on 11 April 2021 as part of a long series of Israeli attacks both on Iran and on Iranian interests abroad. After the US presidential change, talks began in Vienna in April 2021 to revitalize the 2015 agreement on restricting the Iranian nuclear programme.
Iran is bordered to the north by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the west by Iraq and Turkey. It lies on the Caspian Sea to the north and on the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman to the south. There is a considerable contrast between the outlying mountain chains (the Elburz and the Zagros) and the inland areas that are made up of a large rocky depression with no outlet to the sea, alternating with large salty expanses, saline steppes and sandy desert areas (such as the Dasht-e Kavīr).
The climate is continental on the upper plains; on the coasts the winters are warm and the summers are hot.
The monarchy, particularly under Shah Pahlavi who ruled from 1941 and was supported by the USA, encouraged the country’s modernisation. In January 1979, however, the Shah was forced into exile by a popular revolt led by the Ayatollah Khomeini; in the referendum of 30 March 1979 Iran was transformed into an Islamic Republic, proclaiming itself defender of the destitute masses of Islam fighting against the “Great Satan” (the USA) and its ally (Israel). In the period 1980-88, Iran was involved in a long war against Iraq which ended with neither side having won or been defeated, but with an exceptionally high number of victims (more than a million dead) as well as material damage. The presidential elections in 1997 and the parliamentary elections 2000 paved the way to the government of the moderate Mohammad Khatami. The “reformist spring” ended in 2005 with the ultra-conservative Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning the presidential elections. He was re-elected in 2009, but defeated in 2013 by Hassan Rouhani, a reformist backed by former presidents Rafsanjani and Khatami. The development of the Iranian civil nuclear programme, opposed by Israel and the USA, slowed down considerably following the agreement signed in Vienna on 14 July 2015, which in exchange provided for the economic sanctions to be slackened, but this was rejected in 2018 by the USA’s new administration.
The 2 December 1979 Constitution ratified the subordination of the State to Shia religious authority. As a result, the supreme head of the state is the Rahbar, the religious leader appointed for life by the Assembly of Experts (86 theologians elected by the people for a term of eight years); he presides over the Guardian Council of the Constitution (6 members appointed by him and 6 elected by the Islamic Assembly), who controls the laws and the organs of the State, including the President of the Republic. The latter, also head of the government, is elected by direct suffrage for a term of four years and may be re-elected only once. The legislative organ is the Islamic Assembly, made up of 290 members elected for a term of four years; the candidates must have the approval of the Guardian Council.
Defence & justice.
Apart from the armed forces, there is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Pasdaran), that controls the Basij, a body of volunteers who may mobilise in cases of emergency. The judicial system is based on Islamic (sharia) law.
|Homicides||4.1||per 100 000 pop.||2015|
|Tehrān||8 895 947||inhab.||2018|
|Mashhad||3 001 184||inhab.||2016|
|Population by age and gender (% - 2020)|
The 2021 recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic was limited by the economic impact of sanctions imposed by the USA and the low revenues of the oil sector, with the rial depreciating and prices rising. Unemployment and company debt remain high.
H. Rouhani’s administration reviewed the inefficient system of subsidies, replaced by direct support for the poorer classes, allowing for public accounts to be improved, though this caused widespread anger. Most production activities are under the control of religious foundations (Bonyad), which keep the prices of consumer goods controlled, and by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Pasdaran).
|Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)||110.07||index||2016|
|Agricultural prod. index (2014-16=100)||95.57||index||2019|
|Active population||26 813 681||units||2020|
|Active population, Females||19.5||%||2019|
|Unemployment rate, Females||31.9||%||2019|
|Expenses||2 429 400||M LCU||2017-18|
|Revenues||1 675 700||M LCU||2017-18|
|Currency in circulation||2 852 300||BN LCU||2018-19|
Agriculture and forests.
Agricultural production does not satisfy domestic needs due to the scarcity of water, the lack of technologies in the water sector and the excessive fragmentation of land ownership. Wheat and barley are grown mainly in the northern provinces; maize in Fārs, Khūzestān and Kermānshāh; rice in Gīlān and Māzandarān; sugar beet in Khūzestān, in the oasis of Eṣfahān and in the areas of Yazd, Tehrān and Kermān; vegetables and fruit, destined for export, on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Tea production is significant (the national drink) in Gīlān and Māzandarān. Iran is the largest producer of pistachios in the world (especially in Rafsanjān area). Cotton, the main industrial crop, is widespread in the provinces of Khorā-sān-e Raẕavī, Golestān and Fārs. Wooded areas are scarce (the Caspian slopes of the Elburz mountains, the mountain chains of Kordestān and Lorestān).
Spontaneous floral production includes tragacanth and Asafoetida.
Livestock and fishing.
Sheep are numerous and produce the finest of skins (Karakul, Persian). Oceanic fishing is important (tuna, oily fish), as is sturgeon fishing developed along the coasts of the Caspian Sea, from whose eggs caviar is produced (prepared in Bandar-e Anzalī); aquaculture is also relevant (carp, trout, crustaceans).
|barley||3 600||1000 t||2019|
|cereals, total||23 812.431||1000 t||2019|
|potatoes||3 483.387||1000 t||2019|
|roots and tubers, total||3 483.387||1000 t||2019|
|beans, dry||122.789||1000 t||2019|
|beans, green||67.693||1000 t||2019|
|grapes||1 945.93||1000 t||2019|
|castor oil seed||0.111||1000 t||2019|
|mustard seed||0.005||1000 t||2019|
|sugar beet||5 297.063||1000 t||2019|
|sugar cane||9 284.942||1000 t||2019|
|seed cotton||105.673||1000 t||2019|
|apples||2 241.124||1000 t||2019|
|citrus fruits||4 073.067||1000 t||2019|
|citrus fruits, nes||619.3||1000 t||2019|
|dates||1 307.908||1000 t||2019|
|barley||2 161.219||1000 ha||2019|
|beans, dry||60.027||1000 ha||2019|
|beans, green||7.727||1000 ha||2019|
|castor oil seed||0.057||1000 ha||2019|
|mustard seed||0.007||1000 ha||2019|
|sugar beet||78.999||1000 ha||2019|
|sugar cane||113.15||1000 ha||2019|
|seed cotton||43.298||1000 ha||2019|
|citrus fruits||143.46||1000 ha||2019|
|citrus fruits, nes||26.294||1000 ha||2019|
|cattle||5 193.919||1000 heads||2019|
|cattle and buffaloes||5 266.353||1000 heads||2019|
|sheep||41 303.611||1000 heads||2019|
|goats||15 034.487||1000 heads||2019|
|asses||1 533.73||1000 heads||2019|
|asses and mules||1 712.397||1000 heads||2019|
|birds||1 095 990||1000 heads||2019|
|silk, raw||0.9||1000 t||2018|
|crustaceans and molluscs||71 615||t||2019|
|freshwater fishes||289 500||t||2019|
Iran is one of the world’s greatest producers of oil. The main deposits are at Masjed-e Soleymān, Haftgel, Gachsārān, Āghājārī, Naft Sefīd, Ahvāz, Kūpāl, Mārūn, Bībī Hakīmeh, Kāranj, Bīnak and Manṣūrī, connected by oil pipelines to the refinery of Ābādān. There are also significant offshore deposits at Doroud, Soroush, Ras Bahrgān and Salmān as well as oil wells in Naft Shahr, along the border areas with Iraq (at Khānaqīn), which are connected by oil pipeline to the refinery in Kermānshāh. There are further deposits in Resālat, Reshadat and Salmān, connected by three oil pipelines to the island of Lāvān; a further undersea oil pipeline, 44 km in length, connects the island of Khārk to Gonāveh, on the mainland. Iran has vast natural gas reserves both offshore (North and South Pars fields) and on the mainland: the main extraction plants are in Gorgān, Sarājeh, Rāmshīr, Dālān, Aghar, Kangān, Nar, Varāvī, Lāmard, Sūrū and Sarkhūn. There are, moreover, rich deposits of copper (in Cheshmeh and Bīrjand); coalmines (in Kermān, Māzandarān, Semnān and Ṭabas), iron (in Kermān and Yazd), lead (in Nakhlak, Shāh Kūh and Angūrān), zinc (at Yazd, Eṣfahān and Qom), chromite (at Mīnāb, Forūmad and Esfandaqeh), bauxite (in Jājarm), sulfur (in Bandar ‘Abbās) and uranium mines (in Yazd).
Energy and industry.
The most important nuclear plants and research centres are in Naṭanz, Arāk, Eṣfahān, Būshehr and Fordow. Large oil refineries are located at Ābādān, Arāk, Bandar ‘Abbās, Eṣfahān, Kermānshāh, Lavan, Shīrāz, Tehrān and Tabrīz; the petrol produced, however, is less than domestic requirements. Among the chemical plants those worthy of note are those involved in the production of sulfuric acid, caustic soda and nitrogenous fertilizers in Ābādān, Karaj, Tehrān and Shīrāz. The iron and steel industry is centred on Eṣfahān and Ahvāz; there are also plants involved in aluminium production (in Arāk), foundry copper, refined copper and lead. The automotive industry is very developed (Kāshān, Mashhad, Semnān, Tabrīz,Tehrān). The woollen textile industry is important (in Eṣfahān, Tehrān, Kermān, Yazd and Qazvīn) as well as the cotton industry (in Qā’emshahr, Semnān, Tehrān, Qazvīn, Eṣfahān, Mashhad, Shīrāz, Yazd and Bandar ‘Abbās). Carpet-making is renowned, for the most part produced with modern systems (at Tabrīz, Kermān, Eṣfahān and Shīrāz). Cement-making is also important (with over 80 plants), as are the rubber and glass (in Tehrān, Sāveh, Tabrīz and Qazvīn), leather and hide (in Mashhad, Tehrān, Tabrīz and Hamadan), sugar (in Karaj, Varāmīn-Tehrān, Marv Dasht-Shīrāz, Eslamābād, Arāk, Torbat-e Heydarīyeh, Miāndowāb and Mashhad) industries.
|coal||1 778||1000 t||2020|
|coal, total||1 778||1000 t||2020|
|pumice||1 500||1000 t||2012|
|precious stones - kg||21 000||kg||2015|
|- thermal||269 694.46||M kWh||2019|
|- hydro||30 071.25||M kWh||2019|
|- thermal||64 829||1000 kW||2018|
|- hydro||11 130||1000 kW||2019|
|total net generation||306 297.71||M kWh||2019|
|total installed capacity||78 349.56||1000 kW||2018|
|commercial vehicles||54 787||no.||2020|
|TVs||1 214 436||no.||2015|
|bitumen||4 662||1000 t||2018|
|petrol||20 420.9||1000 t||2014|
|ammonia||3 500||1000 t||2020|
|nitrogen fertilizers||1 826.6||1000 t||2019|
|carpets||33 256||1000 m²||2015|
|fabrics - m||244 000||1000 metres||2015|
|beer of barley||70$||1000 t||2018|
|cottonseed oil||9.5||1000 t||2018|
|cigarettes||13 110||M units||2015|
|cigars and cigarettes||13 110||M units||2015|
|chemical pulp||75$||1000 t||2019|
|chemi-mechanical pulp||209||1000 t||2019|
|cement||60 000||1000 t||2020|
|chemicals production||9 388.064||M US$||2018|
|food, beverages and tobacco production||4 830.737||M US$||2018|
Economic sanctions and low oil prices have becalmed the country’s balance of payments. Imports are made up of machinery, petrol, military supplies, food products, steel, metal and pharmaceutical products. Intensive exports to China and imports from the United Arab Emirates, through which the embargo is partly circumvented.
Main exports (M US$ - 2016) crude oil and petroleum products 50 710, natural gas 5 296, plastics and articles thereof 4 940, chemicals 4 705, iron and steel 2 999, fruit and vegetables 2 872, metal ores 1 103, fertilizers 790
Finance and banking.
All banking institutions, even those that are private and foreign, are subject to Islamic law, which forbids interest. The uncertain application of the law has led to a significant accumulation of bad debt.
|fuels||68.678||% of goods exports||2018|
|manufactures||21.866||% of goods exports||2018|
|China||9 218||M US$||2018|
|Iraq||8 961||M US$||2018|
|China||10 249||M US$||2018|
|United Arab Emirates||5 706||M US$||2018|
Tourism. There are numerous centres of archaeological worth, especially at Eṣfahān, Yazd, Tabrīz, Susa and Persepolis.
|Expenditures||11 928||M US$||2017|
|Number of arrivals||9 107 000||units||2019|
The Tehrān-Qom-Eṣfahān high-speed railway line is under construction
|Civil aviation, km flown||91 400 000||km flown||2004|
|Civil aviation, passengers carried||21 641.4||1000 units||2019|
|Broadband subscribers||105.788||per 1000 pop.||2019|
|Computers||106||per 1000 pop.||2008|
Social and welfare
Education, culture & research.
Elementary education is obligatory and free; secondary schools are divided into two cycles of 4 and 3 years. The literacy gap between men and women has diminished considerably: indeed, at the higher levels of education the number of female students has overtaken that of the males.
|Expected years of schooling||14.814||years||2017|
|Students, primary level||8 171 667||units||2017|
|Students, secondary level||5 684 238||units||2017|
|Social protection spending||37.3||% of total expenses||2009|
|Hospital beds||2$||per 1000 pop.||2018|
|Physicians||1.58||per 1000 pop.||2018|
|HIV||-0.1||% of adults||2019|
|Museums, visitors||7 064 000||units||2018|
|Research and development spending||0.83||% of GDP||2017|
|Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking||96.5||%||2019|
|Access to electricity||100||%||2019|