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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2003
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2003.

This page was last updated on 18 December, 2003

Map of Iran

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Iran
Definition Field Listing
Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar. 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 over disputed territory. Over the past decade, popular dissatisfaction with the government, driven by demographic changes, restrictive social policies, and poor economic conditions, has created a powerful and enduring pressure for political reform.
   Geography    Iran
Definition Field Listing
Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
32 00 N, 53 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Middle East
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 1.648 million sq km
land: 1.636 million sq km
water: 12,000 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly larger than Alaska
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
2,440 km; note - Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: natural prolongation
exclusive economic zone: bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf
Definition Field Listing
mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast
Definition Field Listing
rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
highest point: Kuh-e Damavand 5,671 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 10.17%
permanent crops: 1.16%
other: 88.67% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
75,620 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
periodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes along western border and in the northeast
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport
   People    Iran
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
68,278,826 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 29.3% (male 10,279,588; female 9,727,668)
15-64 years: 65.9% (male 22,916,431; female 22,095,124)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 1,625,113; female 1,634,902) (2003 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 22.9 years
male: 22.7 years
female: 23.2 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.08% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
17.23 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.54 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
-0.86 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
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: 0.99 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 44.17 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 44.02 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 44.31 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 69.35 years
male: 68.04 years
female: 70.73 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.99 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
20,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
290 (2001 est.)
Definition Field Listing
noun: Iranian(s)
adjective: Iranian
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Persian 51%, Azeri 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%
Definition Field Listing
Shi'a Muslim 89%, Sunni Muslim 10%, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i 1%
Definition Field Listing
Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.4%
male: 85.6%
female: 73% (2003 est.)
   Government    Iran
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Iran
conventional short form: Iran
local short form: Iran
former: Persia
local long form: Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
theocratic republic
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
28 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, Khuzestan, Kohkiluyeh va Buyer Ahmad, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan
Definition Field Listing
1 April 1979 (Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Republic Day, 1 April (1979)
note: additional holidays celebrated widely in Iran include Revolution Day, 11 February (1979); Noruz (New Year's Day), 21 March; Constitutional Monarchy Day, 5 August (1925)
Definition Field Listing
2-3 December 1979; revised 1989 to expand powers of the presidency and eliminate the prime ministership
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
the Constitution codifies Islamic principles of government
Definition Field Listing
15 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 4 June 1989)
elections: leader of the Islamic Revolution appointed for life by the Assembly of Experts; president elected by popular vote for a four-year term; election last held 8 June 2001 (next to be held June 2005)
election results: (Ali) Mohammad KHATAMI-Ardakani reelected president; percent of vote - (Ali) Mohammad KHATAMI-Ardakani 77%
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval; the Supreme Leader has some control over appointments to the more sensitive ministries
head of government: President (Ali) Mohammad KHATAMI-Ardakani (since 3 August 1997); First Vice President Dr. Mohammad Reza AREF-YAZDI (since 26 August 2001)
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majles-e-Shura-ye-Eslami (290 seats, note - changed from 270 seats with the 18 February 2000 election; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 18 February 2000 with a runoff held 5 May 2000 (next to be held February 2004)
election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats by party - reformers 189, conservatives 54, independents 42, seats reserved for religious minorities 5
Judicial branch:
Definition Field Listing
Supreme Court
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
a loose pro-reform coalition called the 2nd Khordad front achieved considerable success at elections to the sixth Majles in early 2000, and groups in the coalition include: Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF); Executives of Construction Party (Kargozaran); Solidarity Party; Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organization (MIRO); and Militant Clerics Society (Ruhaniyun); a new apparently conservative group, the Builders of Islamic Iran, emerged at the local level in early 2003
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
active pro-reform student groups include the "Organization for Strengthening Unity"; groups that generally support the Islamic Republic include Ansar-e Hizballah, Muslim Students Following the Line of the Imam, Tehran Militant Clergy Association (Ruhaniyat), Islamic Coalition Association, and Islamic Engineers Society; opposition groups include Freedom Movement of Iran, the National Front, Marz-e Por Gohar, and various Monarchist organizations; 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, and Komala
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
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
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
none; note - protecting power in Iran is Switzerland
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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. 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 although he has made little progress toward that goal. Relatively high oil prices in recent years have enabled Iran to amass some $15 billion in foreign exchange reserves, but have not solved Iran's structural economic problems, including high unemployment and inflation.
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $458.3 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7.6% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $6,800 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 19%
industry: 26%
services: 55% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
40% (2002 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
15.3% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
21 million
note: shortage of skilled labor (1998)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture 30%, industry 25%, services 45% (2001 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
16.3% (2003 est.)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $29.5 billion
expenditures: $31.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabricating, armaments
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.5% excluding oil (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
124.6 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 97.1%
hydro: 2.9%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
115.9 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3.804 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.277 million bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
94.39 billion bbl (37257)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing
61.5 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
65.59 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing
110 million cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing
4.2 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
24.8 trillion cu m (37257)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, fruits, nuts, cotton; dairy products, wool; caviar
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$24.8 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum 85%, carpets, fruits and nuts, iron and steel, chemicals
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Japan 17.4%, China 8.6%, UAE 7.6%, Italy 6.6%, South Korea 4.9%, South Africa 4.4% (2002)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$21.8 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
industrial raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services, military supplies
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Germany 10.9%, Italy 9%, France 7.9%, China 7.4%, South Korea 6.5%, UAE 4.4%, Japan 4.1%, Russia 4% (2002)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$8.7 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$408 million (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
Iranian rial (IRR)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
rials per US dollar 6,906.96 (2002), 1,753.56 (2001), 1,764.43 (2000), 1,752.93 (1999), 1,751.86 (1998)
note: from 1997 to 2001, Iran had a multi-exchange-rate system; one of these rates, the official floating exchange rate, by which most essential goods were imported, averaged 1,750 rials per US dollar; in March 2002, the multi-exchange-rate system was converged into one rate at about 7,900 rials per US dollar
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
21 March - 20 March
   Communications    Iran
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.313 million (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
265,000 (August 1998)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: inadequate but 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: as a result of heavy investing in the telephone system since 1994, the number of long-distance channels in the microwave radio relay trunk has grown substantially; many villages have been brought into the net; the number of main lines in the urban systems has approximately doubled; and thousands of mobile cellular subscribers are being served; moreover, the technical level of the system has been raised by the installation of thousands of digital switches
international: HF radio and microwave radio relay to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Kuwait, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; 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; satellite earth stations - 9 Intelsat and 4 Inmarsat
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 72, FM 5, shortwave 5 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
28 (plus 450 low-power repeaters) (1997)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
100 (2002)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.326 million (2002 est.)
   Transportation    Iran
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 7,201 km
broad gauge: 94 km 1.676-m gauge
standard gauge: 7,107 km 1.435-m gauge (146 km electrified) (2002)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 167,157 km
paved: 94,109 km (including 890 km of expressways)
unpaved: 73,048 km (1998)
Definition Field Listing
904 km
note: 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
Definition Field Listing
condensate/gas 212 km; gas 16,998 km; liquid petroleum gas 570 km; oil 8,256 km; refined products 7,808 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Abadan (largely destroyed in fighting during 1980-88 war), Ahvaz, Bandar 'Abbas, Bandar-e Anzali, Bushehr, Bandar-e Emam 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:
Definition Field Listing
total: 139 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 4,190,576 GRT/7,276,700 DWT
ships by type: bulk 43, cargo 34, chemical tanker 4, container 10, liquefied gas 1, multi-functional large-load carrier 6, petroleum tanker 30, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 9, short-sea passenger 1 (2002 est.)
Definition Field Listing
309 (2002)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 122
over 3,047 m: 39
2,438 to 3,047 m: 25
914 to 1,523 m: 27
under 914 m: 4 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 27
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 187
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
under 914 m: 39 (2002)
914 to 1,523 m: 138
Definition Field Listing
13 (2002)
   Military    Iran
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Islamic Republic of Iran regular forces (includes Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force and Air Defense Command), Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) (includes Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy, Qods [special operations], and Basij [Popular Mobilization Army] forces), Law Enforcement Forces
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
21 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 20,343,063 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 12,094,551 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 870,711 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$9.7 billion (FY00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3.1% (FY00)
   Transnational Issues    Iran
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
Iran protests Afghanistan's limiting flow of dammed waters on Helmand River tributaries in response to prolonged drought in region; thousands of Afghan refugees still reside in Iran; despite restored diplomatic relations in 1990, disputes with Iraq over maritime and land boundaries, navigation channel, and other issues from eight-year war persist; UAE engage direct talks and Arab League support to resolve disputes over Iran's occupation of Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island; Iran insists on division of the Caspian Sea into five equal sectors, while other littoral states have generally agreed to equidistant seabed boundaries - Iran has threatened Azerbaijanian hydrocarbon exploration in disputed waters
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
despite substantial interdiction efforts, Iran remains a key transshipment point for Southwest Asian heroin to Europe; domestic narcotics consumption remains a persistent problem and Iranian press reports estimate at least 2 million drug users in the country

This page was last updated on 18 December, 2003

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