General information: Iran, until 1935 known as Persia, in 1979, after the expulsion of the ruling Shah, became an Islamic republic. Gradually, conservative clerical forces crushed the resistance of Western-oriented liberal elements. On November 4, 1979, armed Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran and held it until January 20, 1981. From 1980 to 1988. Iran waged a bloody, senseless war with Iraq over disputed territories. Iran’s main pressing problem is how quickly the country will open the door to modernization coming from outside.
Location: Middle East, coast of the Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan.
Geographical coordinates: 32° 00′ N. latitude, 53° 00′ E
Reference map: Middle East.
Area: total: 1.648 million square kilometers; land surface area: 1.636 million square kilometers; water surface area: 12,000 km2
Comparative area: slightly larger than the state of Alaska.
Land borders: total: 5,440 km; with neighboring states: with Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan proper) 432 km, with Azerbaijan (Nakhichevan Republic) 179 km, with Armenia 35 km, with Afghanistan 936 km, with Iraq 1,458 km, with Pakistan 909 km, with Turkmenistan 992 km, with Turkey 499 km.
Coastline: 2,440 km; note: Iran also has access to the Caspian Sea (740 km).
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 24 nautical miles; continental shelf: entirely; exclusive economic zone: the line established by bilateral agreements or the median line of the Persian Gulf; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: mostly arid or semi-arid, subtropical along the Caspian coast.
Relief: hills and mountains on the outskirts; in the center of the country there is a high basin with deserts and mountains; along both coasts are small, mountainous lowlands.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m; highest point: Damavend Volcano 5,671 m
Natural Resources: oil, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur.
Land use: arable land: 10%; cultivated land: 1%; pastures: 27%; forests and plantations: 7%; others: 55% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 94,000 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: periodic droughts and floods; dust storms, sandstorms; along the western border and in the northeast – earthquakes.
Current environmental issues: air pollution, especially in urban areas, from vehicle exhaust and liquid industrial waste; as well as as a result of the activities of oil refineries; deforestation; overgrowth of pastoralism; desertification; oil pollution in the Persian Gulf; insufficient supply of drinking water.
International environmental agreements: member: Biodiversity, Climate change, Desertification, Endangered species, Hazardous waste, Marine pollution, Nuclear test ban, Ozone layer protection, Wetlands; signed but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation.
Note to the section “Geography”:
Population: 66,128,965 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 32.97% (male 11,150,053; female 10,654,884); 15 to 64 years old: 62.38% (male 20,765,001; female 20,488,672); over 65: 4.65% (male 1,617,045; female 1,453,310) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 0.72% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 17.1 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 5.41 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: -4.51 people / 1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.05 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 1.01 male/female; over 65: 1.11 male/female; for the general population: 1.03 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 29.04 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 69.95 years; men: 68.61 years; women: 71.37 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 2.02 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: less than 0.01% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: Iranian; adjective: Iranian.
Ethnic groups: Persians 51%, Azerbaijanis 24%, Gilans and Mazenderans 8%, Kurds 7%, Arabs 3%, Lurs 2%, Balochi 2%, Turkmens 2%, others 1%.
Believers: Shia Muslims 89%, Sunni Muslims 10%, Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians and Baha’is 1%.
Language(s): Farsi and its dialects 58%, Turkic languages and their dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Lur 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 72.1%; men: 78.4%; women: 65.8% (1994 est.).
conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Iran;
conventional short form: Iran; local long form: Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran; local short form: Iran
State structure: theocratic republic. See a2zgov.com to know more about Iran government and politics.
Administrative division: 28 provinces (ostan): Ardabil, Boyerakhmed and Kohgiluyeh, Bushhir, East Azerbaijan, Gilan, Gulistan, West Azerbaijan, Zanjan, Ilam, Isfahan, Yazd, Qazvin, Kerman, Kermanshah, Qom, Kurdistan, Lourestan, Mazandaran, Markazi, Semnan, Sistan and Balochistan, Tehran, Fars, Hamadan, Khorasan, Hormozgan, Khuzestan, Chekhar Mekhal and Bakhtiariyya.
Independence: April 1, 1979 (Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed).
National holiday: Islamic Republic Day, April 1 (1979).
Constitution: adopted December 2-3, 1979; revised in 1989 in the direction of expanding the powers of the president and abolishing the post of prime minister.
Legal system: the principles of the Islamic state are enshrined in the constitution.
Suffrage: from 15 years old; universal.
chief of state: leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-KHA-MENEI (since 4 June 1989);
head of government: President Mohammad KHATAMI-Ardakani (since 3 August 1997) First Vice President Mohammad Reza AREF-YAZDI (since August 2001);
Government: a council of ministers selected by the president and confirmed in office by the legislature; elections: the leader of the Islamic revolution is elected for life by the Council of Spiritual Authorities; the president is directly elected for a four-year term; elections last held 8 June 2001 (next to be held in 2005); election results: Mohammad Khatami-Ardakani re-elected president; percentage of votes – Mohammad Khatami-Ardakani 77%.
Legislature: unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majles-e-Shura-ye-Eslami) (290 seats, note – prior to the elections on February 18, 2000, there were 270 seats; members of the chamber are directly elected for a term of 4 years); elections: last held 18 February to April 2000 (next to be held in 2004); election results: percentage of votes – no data; distribution of seats by party – reformers 170, conservatives 45, independents 10; 65 seats were distributed in the second round of elections on May 5, 2000 – Reformers 52, Conservatives 10, Independents 3.
Judiciary: Supreme Court.
Political parties and leaders: the following organizations achieved significant success in the 2000 elections: Assembly of Followers of the Imam’s Course; Free Thinkers Front; Islamic Iranian Participation Front; Party of Moderation and Development; Party of servants of creation; Society of Selfless Zealots of the Faith.
Political influence groups and their leaders: active student groups, which include the pro-reform Organization for the Strengthening of Unity and the Union of Islamic Student Societies; groups generally supporting the Islamic Republic, such as the Ansar Hezbollah, the Mujahideen of the Islamic Revolution, the Muslim Students of the Imam’s Course, and the Islamic Coalition Association; opposition groups include the Movement for the Liberation of Iran and the Iranian Nation party; armed political groups that have been almost completely destroyed by the government include the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MEK), the Fedayeen Organization of the Iranian People, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan; Freedom Defense Society.
Participation in international organizations: CCC, SR, 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, j IOM (observer), ISO, ITU, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: no; note – Iran has an Interests Section at the Pakistani Embassy; Address: Iranian Interests Section, Pakistani Embassy, 2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007; telephone: [ 965-4990.
US diplomatic representation: no; note – US interests in Iran are represented by Switzerland.
Flag Description: three identical horizontal stripes of green (top), white and red; the state emblem (a stylized spelling of the word ‘Allah’) is located in red in the center of the white stripe; the inscription ALLAH AKBAR (God is great) in white in Arabic is repeated 11 times along the lower edge of the green stripe and 11 times along the upper edge of the red stripe.