Islamic Republic of Iran

Principal Government Officials
Leader of the Islamic Revolution--Ali Hosseini-Khamenei
President--Mahmud Ahmadi-Nejad
First Vice President--Parviz Davudi
Foreign Minister--Manouchehr Mottaki
Ambassador to the United Nations--Parviz Khazai

 Population 68,017,900

 Capital City Tehran (8.2 mil) metro (11.7 mil)

 Currency Iranian Rial (IRR)

 Languages Persian (58%), Turkic (26%), others

 Religions Shi'a Muslim (89%), Sunni Muslim (9%)


Iran Timeline

  • 559 - 332BC The Achaemenian Dynasty & the Great Persian Empire. The Persian Empire became the dominant world power for over two centuries

  • 550BC Cyrus the Great established the First World Empire

  • 525BC Persians conquer Egypt

  • 332 BC Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and Persia

  • 323-141 BC - The Seleucid Dynasty was established by one of Alexander's generals

  • 247 BC-224 AD - The Parthians conquered the Seleucids

  • 224 - 642 The Sasanian Dynasty

  • 570 - The Prophet Mohammad was born

  • 632 - The Prophet Mohammad died and his teachings were compiled into the Koran, the holy book of Islam

  • 642 - 1220 The Arab Caliphate

  • 1220 - Mongol Era when Persia conquered by Gangis Khan

  • 1271 - Marco Polo journeyed through Persia en route to China

  • 1295 - Ghazan Khan became the first Mongol leader to convert to Islam

  • 1501-1524 - Safavid Dynasty started by Shah Ismail I who united all of Persia under Iranian leadership

  • 1795 - Qajar Dynasty

  • 1851-1906 - The Qajars lost central Asian provinces to the Russians and were forced to give up all claims on Afghanistan to Great Britain

  • 1925-1940 - Pahlavi Dynasty

  • 1979 - The Shah was overthrown by the Islamic Revolution ending 2,500 years of monarchy

  • July 29, 1980 - The Islamic Revolution

Flag Description: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red; the national emblem (a stylized representation of the word Allah in the shape of a tulip, a symbol of martyrdom) 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 is one of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations. The history of Iran covers thousands of years.

There are records of numerous ancient and technologically advanced civilizations on the Iranian plateau before the arrival of Aryan tribes from the north, many of whom are still unknown to historians today. Archeological findings place knowledge of Persian prehistory at middle paleolithic times (100,000 years ago). The earliest sedentary cultures date from 18,000-14,000 years ago. In 6000 BCE the world saw a fairly sophisticated agricultural society and proto-urban population centers. The south-western part of Iran was part of the Fertile Crescent where most of humanity's first major crops were grown. 7000 year old jars of wine excavated in the Zagros Mountains and ruins of 7000 year old settlements such as Sialk are further testament to this. 

Many dynasties have ruled Persia throughout the ages. Scholars and archeologists are only beginning to discover the scope of the independent, non-Semitic Elamite Empire and Jiroft civilizations  5000 years ago. 

At the end of second millennium, the Aryan nomads from central Asia settled in Persia. These are some of the civilizations in Iran before the Aryans: Neolithic civilizations, Teppe Sialk, Shahr-e Sukhteh, Marlik civilization, Luristan civilization, Mannaeans civilization, Kingdom of Jiroft, Elamite kingdom.

The ancient nation of Iran was historically known to the West as Persia until March 21, 1935. The name was used in the West due to the ancient Greek name for Iran, Persis. Persia is used to describe the nation of Iran, its people, or its ancient empire. The Persians have called their country Iran / Iranshahr since the Sassanian period. 

The name Persia comes from a region in the south of Iran, called Fars or Pars in the Persian language. Persis is the Hellenized form of Pars, based on which other European nations termed it Persia. Eratosthenes however does make mention of the word "Iran" in his writings. This region was the core of the original Persian Empire. Westerners referred to the state as Persia until March 21, 1935, when Reza Shah Pahlavi formally asked the international community to call the country by its native name, Iran, which means Land of the Aryans but because of some Persian scholars' protests the government announced in 1959 that both Persia and Iran could be used.


 Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and the shah was forced into exile. 

Mohammad Reza Shah

There was much opposition against the Mohammad Reza Shah, and how he used the secret police, the Savak, to control the country. Strong Shi'i opposition against the Shah, and the country came close to a situation of civil war. The opposition was lead by Ayatollah Khomeini, who lived in exile in Iraq and later in France. His message was distributed through music cassettes, which were smuggled into Iran in small numbers, and then duplicated, and spread all around the country. This was the beginning of Iranian revolution. On January 16 1979, the Shah left Iran. Shapour Bakhtiar became the new prime minister with the help of Supreme Army Councils but he couldn't control the situation in the country anymore. 


Iranian Rally for Ayatollah Khomeini

Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran on February 1. Ten days later Bakhtiar went into hiding, eventually to find exile in Paris. 

Ayatollah Khomeini 

founder of Islamic Republic

Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority nominally vested in a learned religious scholar. 

Iranian Students scaling the wall at the U.S. Embassy

Iranian-US relations have been strained since a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter immediately applied economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran: oil imports from Iran were ended on November 12, 1979, a number of Iranians in the U.S. were expelled (some of whom were unrelated to the crisis or the new Iranian government), and around USD 8 billion of Iranian assets in the U.S. were frozen on November 14, 1979.

The Students held hostage 66 diplomats and citizens of the United States inside the U.S. embassy in Tehran. During the crisis, some hostages were released, but 52 were held until the end.

After the presidential elections in 1980 negotiations between the U.S. and Iran resulted in the "Algiers Accords" of January 19, 1981, committing Iran to free the hostages immediately. Essential to the Algiers Accords and reportedly a non-negotiable requirement of Iran that the Carter Administration reluctantly conceded was Point I: Non-Intervention in Iranian Affairs. It reads "The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs." Other provisions of the Algiers Accords were the unfreezing of 8 billion dollars worth of Iranian assets and immunity from lawsuits Iran might have faced.

U.S. Hostages

On January 20, 1981, twenty minutes after President Reagan's inaugural address, the hostages were formally released into U.S. custody, having spent 444 days in captivity. The hostages were flown to Algeria as a symbolic gesture for the help of that government in resolving the crisis, where former President Carter, acting as an emissary for the Reagan administration, received them.


During 1980-88, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq that eventually expanded into the Persian Gulf and led to clashes between US Navy and Iranian military forces between 1987-1988. 


Iran has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism for its activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world and remains subject to US economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement. Following the elections of a reformist president and Majlis in the late 1990s, attempts to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction floundered as conservative politicians prevented reform measures from being enacted, increased repressive measures, and made electoral gains against reformers. Parliamentary elections in 2004 and the August 2005 inauguration of a conservative stalwart as president, completed the reconsolidation of conservative power in Iran's government.

Credit : CIA Factbook



Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hoseyni Khamene'i  born 17 July 1939), also known as Ali Khamenei, He has been Supreme Leader of Iran since 1989 and before that was president of Iran from 1981 to 1989. 

The supreme leader - the highest power in the land - appoints the head of the judiciary, military leaders, the head of radio and TV and Friday prayer leaders.

Moreover, he selects six members of the Guardian Council, an influential body which has to pass all legislation and which can veto would-be election candidates. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was appointed for life in June 1989, succeeding Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic republic. He served two consecutive terms as president in the 1980s.


H.E. Dr. Ahmadi Nejad,  President of Islamic Republic of Iran

Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nejad was born in 1956 in the village of Aradan in the city of Garmsar. He moved and stayed in Tehran together with his family while he was still one-year old and completed his primary as well as his low and high secondary education there. In 1975, he successfully passed the university entrance exam with high marks and started his academic studies on the subject of civil engineering in the Science and Technology University in Tehran.
In 1986, he continued his studies at MS level in the same university. In 1989, he became a member of the Board of Civil Engineering Faculty of the Science and Technology University. In 1997, he managed to obtain his Ph.D. on transportation engineering and planning from the Science and Technology University.
Dr. Ahmadi Nejad is familiar with English language. During the years when he was teaching in the university, he wrote many scientific papers and engaged in scientific research in various fields. During the same period, he also supervised the theses of tens of students at MS and Ph.D. levels on different subjects of civil engineering, road and transportation as well as construction management.
While still a student, Dr. Ahmadi Nejad engaged in political activities by attending religious and political meetings before the Islamic Revolution. With the victory of the Islamic Revolution, he became a founder and also a member of the Islamic Association of Students in the Science and Technology University. During the war imposed on Iran, Dr. Ahmadi Nejad was actively present as a member of the volunteer forces (Basij) in different parts and divisions of the battlefronts particularly in the war engineering division until the end of the war.
Dr. Ahmadi Nejad is married and has three children- two sons and one daughter.

Career Background:
- Governor of Maku
- Governor of Khoy
- Advisor to the Governor General of Kordistan Province
- Advisor for cultural affairs to the Minister of Culture and Higher Education (1993)
- Governor General of Ardabil Province (1993-1997)
- Member of the Board of Civil Engineering Faculty of the Science and Technology University (since 1989 till present date)
- Tehran Mayor (2003-2005)
- He was elected by the Iranian people as the President during the 9th presidential election on June 24, 2005.
In addition to his academic and scientific pursuits as well as his executive positions, Dr. Ahmadi Nejad has engaged in the following careers and activities as well:
- Journalism; writing various political, social, cultural and economic articles,
- In the same career, he also held the position of managing director of Hamshahri newspaper and launched various affiliated periodicals including Neighborhood Hamshahri published and distributed in 22 areas of the city of Tehran, Hamshahri for Passengers, Diplomatic Hamshahri, Youth Hamshahri, Monthly Hamshahri and also extra pages attached to the Hamshahri newspaper for thinkers, students, etc.
- Founding and working as a member of Iran Tunnel Society,
- Working as a member of Iran Civil Engineering Society,
- Working as a member of the first central council of the Islamic Association of Students in the Science and Technology University,
- Working as a member of the first central council of the Union of Islamic Associations of University and Higher Education Institutes in Iran.

Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza PAHLAVI was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar referred to commonly as the Supreme Leader who, according to the constitution, is accountable only to the Assembly of Experts. US-Iranian relations have been strained since a group of 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 that eventually expanded into the Persian Gulf and led to clashes between US Navy and Iranian military forces between 1987 and 1988. Iran has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism for its activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world and remains subject to US, UN, and EU economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement in terrorism and its nuclear weapons ambitions. Following the election of reformer Hojjat ol-Eslam Mohammad KHATAMI as president in 1997 and similarly a reformer Majles (parliament) in 2000, a campaign to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction was initiated. The movement floundered as conservative politicians, through the control of unelected institutions, prevented reform measures from being enacted and increased repressive measures. Starting with nationwide municipal elections in 2003 and continuing through Majles elections in 2004, conservatives reestablished control over Iran's elected government institutions, which culminated with the August 2005 inauguration of hardliner Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD as president. The UN Security Council has passed a number of resolutions (1696 in July 2006, 1737 in December 2006, 1747 in March 2007, 1803 in March 2008, and 1835 in September 2008) calling for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and comply with its IAEA obligations and responsibilities. Resolutions 1737, 1477, and 1803 subject a number of Iranian individuals and entities involved in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs to sanctions. Additionally, several Iranian entities are subject to US sanctions under Executive Order 13382 designations for proliferation activities and EO 13224 designations for support of terrorism.
Geography Iran
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
2,440 km; note - Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf
continental shelf: natural prolongation
mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast
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: Kuh-e Damavand 5,671 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur
Land use:
arable land: 9.78%
permanent crops: 1.29%
other: 88.93% (2005)
Irrigated land:
76,500 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
137.5 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 72.88 cu km/yr (7%/2%/91%)
per capita: 1,048 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
periodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes
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; wetland losses from drought; soil degradation (salination); inadequate supplies of potable water; water pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste; urbanization
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport
People Iran
66,429,284 (July 2009 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 21.7% (male 7,394,841/female 7,022,076)
15-64 years: 72.9% (male 24,501,544/female 23,914,172)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,725,828/female 1,870,823) (2009 est.)
Median age:
total: 27 years
male: 26.8 years
female: 27.2 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.883% (2009 est.)
Birth rate:
17.17 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate:
5.69 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate:
-2.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2009 est.)
urban population: 68% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.1% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.92 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 35.78 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 35.98 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 35.56 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 71.14 years
male: 69.65 years
female: 72.72 years (2009 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.71 children born/woman (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
86,000 (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
4,300 (2007 est.)
Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea
vectorborne diseases: Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever and malaria
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
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%
Muslim 98% (Shia 89%, Sunni 9%), other (includes 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: 77%
male: 83.5%
female: 70.4% (2002 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2005)
Education expenditures:
5.1% of GDP (2006)
Government Iran
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
name: Tehran
geographic coordinates: 35 40 N, 51 25 E
time difference: UTC+3.5 (8.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
30 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-e Jonubi, Khorasan-e Razavi, Khorasan-e Shomali, Khuzestan, Kohgiluyeh va Buyer Ahmad, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan
1 April 1979 (Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed)
National holiday:
Republic Day, 1 April (1979)
2-3 December 1979; revised in 1989
note: the revision in 1989 expanded powers of the presidency and eliminated the prime ministership
Legal system:
based on Sharia law system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 4 June 1989)
head of government: President Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD (since 3 August 2005); First Vice President Parviz DAVUDI (since 11 September 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval; the Supreme Leader has some control over appointments to the more sensitive ministries
note: also considered part of the Executive branch of government are three oversight bodies: 1) Assembly of Experts (Majles-Khebregan), a popularly elected body charged with determining the succession of the Supreme Leader, reviewing his performance, and deposing him if deemed necessary; 2) Expediency Council or the Council for the Discernment of Expediency (Majma-e-Tashkise-Maslahat-e-Nezam) exerts supervisory authority over the executive, judicial, and legislative branches and resolves legislative issues on which the Majles and the Council of Guardians disagree and since 1989 has been used to advise national religious leaders on matters of national policy; in 2005 the Council's powers were expanded to act as a supervisory body for the government; 3) Council of Guardians of the Constitution or Council of Guardians or Guardians Council (Shora-ye Negaban-e Qanun-e Assassi) determines whether proposed legislation is both constitutional and faithful to Islamic law, vets candidates for suitability, and supervises national elections
elections: Supreme Leader is appointed for life by the Assembly of Experts; president is elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term and third nonconsecutive term); last held 17 June 2005 with a two-candidate runoff on 24 June 2005 (next presidential election slated for 12 June 2009)
election results: Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD elected president; percent of vote - Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD 62%, Ali Akbar Hashemi-RAFSANJANI 36%
Legislative branch:
unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majles-e-Shura-ye-Eslami or Majles (290 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 14 March 2008 with a runoff held 25 April 2008 (next to be held in 2012)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats by party - conservatives/Islamists 167, reformers 39, independents 74, religious minorities 5, other 5
Judicial branch:
The Supreme Court (Qeveh Qazaieh) and the four-member High Council of the Judiciary have a single head and overlapping responsibilities; together they supervise the enforcement of all laws and establish judicial and legal policies; lower courts include a special clerical court, a revolutionary court, and a special administrative court
Political parties and leaders:
formal political parties are a relatively new phenomenon in Iran and most conservatives still prefer to work through political pressure groups rather than parties; often political parties or coalitions are formed prior to elections and disbanded soon thereafter; a loose pro-reform coalition called the 2nd Khordad Front, which includes political parties as well as less formal groups and organizations, achieved considerable success in elections for the sixth Majles in early 2000; groups in the coalition included the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), Executives of Construction Party (Kargozaran), Solidarity Party, Islamic Labor Party, Mardom Salari, Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization (MIRO), and Militant Clerics Society (Ruhaniyun); the coalition participated in the seventh Majles elections in early 2004; following his defeat in the 2005 presidential elections, former MCS Secretary General and sixth Majles Speaker Mehdi KARUBI formed the National Trust Party; a new conservative group, Islamic Iran Developers Coalition (Abadgaran), took a leading position in the new Majles after winning a majority of the seats in February 2004;; following the 2004 Majles elections, traditional and hardline conservatives have attempted to close ranks under the United Front of Principlists and the Broad Popular Coalition of Principlists; several reformist groups, such as the Islamic Revolution, came together as a reformist coalition in advance of the 2008 Majles elections; the IIPF has repeatedly complained that the overwhelming majority of its candidates have been unfairly disqualified from the 2008 elections
Political pressure groups and leaders:
groups that generally support the Islamic Republic: Ansar-e Hizballah-Islamic Coalition Party (Motalefeh); Followers of the Line of the Imam and the Leader; Islamic Engineers Society; Tehran Militant Clergy Association (Ruhaniyat); active pro-reform student group: Office of Strengthening Unity (OSU); opposition groups: Baluchistan People's Party (BPP); Freedom Movement of Iran; Marz-e Por Gohar; National Front; and various ethnic and Monarchist organizations; armed political groups that have been repressed by the government: Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI); Jundallah; Komala; Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO); People's Fedayeen; People's Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK)
International organization participation:
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; FAX [1] (202) 965-1073
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none; note - the US Interests Section is located in the Embassy of Switzerland No. 39 Shahid Mousavi (Golestan 5th), Pasdaran Ave., Tehran, Iran; telephone [98] 21 2254 2178/2256 5273; FAX [98] 21 2258 0432
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red; the national emblem (a stylized representation of the word Allah in the shape of a tulip, a symbol of martyrdom) 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
Economy Iran
Economy - overview:
Iran's economy is marked by an inefficient state sector, reliance on the oil sector, which provides the majority of government revenues, and statist policies, which create major distortions throughout the system. Most economic activity is controlled by the state. Private sector activity is typically limited to small-scale workshops, farming, and services. Price controls, subsidies, and other rigidities weigh down the economy, undermining the potential for private-sector-led growth. Significant informal market activity flourishes. Corruption and shortages of goods are widespread. President Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD has proposed reforms to Iran's system of price controls and subsidies, particularly on food and energy. However, previous government-led efforts at reform - such as fuel rationing in July 2007 and the imposition of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) in October 2008 - were met with stiff resistance and violent protests. High oil prices in recent years allowed Iran to greatly increase its export earnings and amass over $70 billion in foreign exchange reserves. But with oil prices currently below $40 per barrel, the Iranian government is facing difficulties. Tehran has formulated a 2009 budget that anticipates lower oil prices. The government has drawn down the country's Oil Stabilization Fund, and may be dipping into foreign exchange reserves. Iran continues to suffer from double-digit unemployment and inflation - inflation climbed to 26% as of June 2008. Underemployment among Iran's educated youth has convinced many to seek jobs overseas, resulting in a significant "brain drain."
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$842 billion (2008 est.)
$790.6 billion (2007)
$733.2 billion (2006)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$382.3 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
6.5% (2008 est.)
7.8% (2007 est.)
5.8% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$12,800 (2008 est.)
$12,100 (2007 est.)
$11,300 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 10.8%
industry: 44.3%
services: 44.9% (2008 est.)
Labor force:
24.35 million
note: shortage of skilled labor (2008 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 25%
industry: 31%
services: 45% (June 2007)
Unemployment rate:
12.5% according to the Iranian government (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line:
18% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2%
highest 10%: 33.7% (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
44.5 (2006)
Investment (gross fixed):
27.7% of GDP (2008 est.)
revenues: $51 billion
expenditures: $103 billion (FY09/10 est.)
Fiscal year:
21 March - 20 March
Public debt:
25% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
note: official Iranian estimate (2008 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
12% (31 December 2007)
Stock of money:
$46.13 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$68.71 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
$109.7 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$45.57 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, sugar cane, fruits, nuts, cotton; dairy products, wool; caviar
petroleum, petrochemicals, fertilizers, caustic soda, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), ferrous and non-ferrous metal fabrication, armaments
Industrial production growth rate:
4.5% excluding oil (2008 est.)
Electricity - production:
193 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
145 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity - exports:
2.775 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity - imports:
2.54 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 97.1%
hydro: 2.9%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil - production:
4.7 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - consumption:
1.6 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - exports:
2.8 million bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - imports:
210,000 bbl/day (2007)
Oil - proved reserves:
138.4 billion bbl based on Iranian claims (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas - production:
111.9 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
111.8 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
6.2 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
6.1 billion cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
26.85 trillion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance:
$27.47 billion (2008 est.)
$106.4 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
petroleum 80%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, carpets
Exports - partners:
China 15%, Japan 14.3%, Turkey 7.4%, South Korea 7.3%, Italy 6.4% (2007)
$67.79 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
industrial raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services
Imports - partners:
China 14.2%, Germany 9.6%, UAE 9.1%, South Korea 6.3%, Russia 5.7%, Italy 5% (2007)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$96.56 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$21.77 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$6.954 billion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$993 million (2008 est.)
Currency (code):
Iranian rial (IRR)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Iranian rials (IRR) per US dollar - 9,142.8 (2008 est.), 9,407.5 (2007), 9,227.1 (2006), 8,964 (2005), 8,614 (2004)
note: Iran has been using a managed floating exchange rate regime since unifying multiple exchange rates in March 2002
Communications Iran
Telephones - main lines in use:
23.835 million (2007)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
29.77 million (2007)
Telephone system:
general assessment: currently being modernized and expanded with the goal of not only improving the efficiency and increasing the volume of the urban service but also bringing telephone service to several thousand villages, not presently connected
domestic: the addition of new fiber cables and modern switching and exchange systems installed by Iran's state-owned telecom company have improved and expanded the main line network greatly; main line availability has more than doubled to nearly 24 million lines since 2000; additionally, mobile service has increased dramatically serving nearly 30 million subscribers in 2007
international: country code - 98; submarine fiber-optic cable to UAE with access to Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic line runs from Azerbaijan through the northern portion of Iran to Turkmenistan with expansion to Georgia and Azerbaijan; HF radio and microwave radio relay to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Kuwait, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; satellite earth stations - 13 (9 Intelsat and 4 Inmarsat) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 72, FM 6, shortwave 5 (1998)
17 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
29 (plus 450 repeaters) (1997)
4.61 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
2,860 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
100 (2002)
Internet users:
23 million (2007)
Transportation Iran
317 (2008)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 130
over 3,047 m: 40
2,438 to 3,047 m: 29
1,524 to 2,437 m: 23
914 to 1,523 m: 32
under 914 m: 6 (2008)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 187
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 10
914 to 1,523 m: 144
under 914 m: 31 (2008)
14 (2007)
condensate 7 km; condensate/gas 12 km; gas 19,246 km; liquid petroleum gas 570 km; oil 7,018 km; refined products 7,936 km (2008)
total: 8,367 km
broad gauge: 94 km 1.676-m gauge
standard gauge: 8,273 km 1.435-m gauge (146 km electrified) (2006)
total: 172,927 km
paved: 125,908 km (includes 1,429 km of expressways)
unpaved: 47,019 km (2006)
850 km (on Karun River; additional service on Lake Urmia) (2008)
Merchant marine:
total: 74
by type: bulk carrier 18, cargo 34, chemical tanker 4, container 6, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 4, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 3
foreign-owned: 1 (UAE 1)
registered in other countries: 115 (Barbados 2, Bolivia 1, Cyprus 10, Hong Kong 15, Malta 79, Panama 7, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Assaluyeh, Bandar Abbas, Bandar-e-Eman Khomeyni
Military Iran
Military branches:
Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (Artesh): Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force of the Military of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Niru-ye Hava'i-ye Artesh-e Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran, IRIAF; Air Defense Command being formed); Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enqelab-e Eslami, IRGC): Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, Qods Force (special operations), and Basij Force (Popular Mobilization Army); Law Enforcement Forces (2008)
Military service age and obligation:
19 years of age for compulsory military service; 16 years of age for volunteers; 17 years of age for Law Enforcement Forces; 15 years of age for Basij Forces (Popular Mobilization Army); conscript military service obligation - 18 months; women exempt from military service (2008)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 20,212,275
females age 16-49: 19,638,751 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 17,658,573
females age 16-49: 17,148,290 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 700,213
female: 664,846 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures:
2.5% of GDP (2006)
Transnational Issues Iran
Disputes - international:
Iran protests Afghanistan's limiting flow of dammed tributaries to the Helmand River in periods of drought; Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Iran and UAE dispute Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island, which are occupied by Iran; Iran stands alone among littoral states in insisting upon a division of the Caspian Sea into five equal sectors
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 914,268 (Afghanistan); 54,024 (Iraq) (2007)
Trafficking in persons:
current situation: Iran is a source, transit, and destination country for women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation and involuntary servitude; Iranian women are trafficked internally for the purpose of forced prostitution and for forced marriages to settle debts; Iranian children are trafficked internally and Afghan children are trafficked into Iran for the purpose of forced marriages, commercial sexual exploitation, and involuntary servitude as beggars or laborers
tier rating: Tier 3 - Iran did not provide evidence of law enforcement activities against trafficking, and credible reports indicate that Iranian authorities punish victims of trafficking with beatings, imprisonment, and execution; Iran has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2008)
Illicit drugs:
despite substantial interdiction efforts and considerable control measures along the border with Afghanistan, Iran remains one of the primary transshipment routes for Southwest Asian heroin to Europe; suffers one of the highest opiate addiction rates in the world, and has an increasing problem with synthetic drugs; lacks anti-money laundering laws; has reached out to neighboring countries to share counter-drug intelligence


Credit:CIA Fact Book President of Iran Website

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