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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: 1,648,195 sq km
country comparison to the world: 18
land: 1,531,595 sq km
water: 116,600 sq km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller 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

Current Weather
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

76,923,300 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 18

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) (2010 est.)

Median age:
total: 26.3 years
male: 26 years
female: 26.5 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:
1.253% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 99

Birth rate:
18.52 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105

Death rate:
5.94 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 168

Net migration rate:
-0.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 122

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: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 43.45 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 62
male: 43.93 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 42.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.77 years
country comparison to the world: 147
male: 68.32 years
female: 71.29 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:
1.89 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 102

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
86,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
4,300 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 47

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: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 15 years (2008)

Education expenditures:
4.8% of GDP (2008)
country comparison to the world: 80

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)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins fourth Monday in March; ends fourth Wednesday in September

Administrative divisions:
31 provinces (ostanha, singular - ostan); Alborz, Ardabil, Azarbayjan-e Gharbi, Azarbayjan-e Sharqi, Bushehr, Chahar Mahal va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshah, Khorasan-e Jonubi (North Khorasan), Khorasan-e Razavi (Razavi Khorasan), Khorasan-e Shomali (South Khorasan), Khuzestan, Kohgiluyeh va Bowyer Ahmad, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan

1 April 1979 (Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed); notable earlier dates: ca. 625 B.C. (unification of Iran under the Medes); ca. A.D. 1501 (Iran reunified under the Safavids); 12 December 1925 (modern Iran established under the Pahlavis)

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 Mohammad Reza RAHIMI (since 13 September 2009)
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval; the Supreme Leader has some control over appointments to the more sensitive ministries
(For more information visit the World Leaders website )
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-Tashkhis-e-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 Negban-e Qanon-e Asassi) determines whether proposed legislation is both constitutional and faithful to Islamic law, vets candidates in popular elections for suitability, and supervises national elections
elections: Supreme Leader appointed for life by the Assembly of Experts; president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term and third nonconsecutive term); election last held on 12 June 2009;(next presidential election slated for June 2013)
election results: Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD reelected president; percent of vote - Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD 62.6%, Mir-Hosein MUSAVI-Khamenei 33.8%, other 3.6%; voter turnout 85% (according to official figures published by the government)

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 on 14 March 2008 with a runoff held on 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 Mujahadin of 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; Green Path movement [Mehdi KARUBI, Mir-Hosein MUSAVI]; 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; green is the color of Islam and also represents growth, white symbolizes honesty and peace, red stands for bravery and martyrdom

National anthem:
name: "Soroud-e Melli-e Jomhouri-e Eslami-e Iran" (National Anthem of the Islamic Republic of Iran)
lyrics/music: multiple authors/Hassan RIAHI
note: adopted 1990

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. The legislature recently passed President Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD's bill to reduce subsidies, particularly on food and energy. The bill would phase out subsidies - which benefit Iran's upper and middle classes the most - over three to five years and replace them with cash payments to Iran's lower classes. This is the most extensive economic reform since the government elevated gasoline rationing in 2007. However, previous government-led efforts to reform subsidies - such as in the 1990s under former president Hashemi RAFSANJANI - were met with stiff resistance and violent protests. High oil prices in recent years allowed Iran to greatly increase its export earnings and amass nearly $100 billion in foreign exchange reserves. But with Iran's oil export price from March to December 2009 averaging just $55 per barrel and with a slight decline in oil production over the past four years, the Iranian government is facing budget constraints, and Iran's foreign exchange reserves dipped to $81 billion at the end of 2009. Tehran formulated its 2009 budget to anticipate lower oil prices and has reduced some spending. Although inflation has fallen substantially because of lower oil prices, Iran continues to suffer from double-digit unemployment and underemployment. Underemployment among Iran's educated youth has convinced many to seek jobs overseas, resulting in a significant "brain drain."

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$825.9 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 19
$813.7 billion (2008 est.)
$793.9 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):
$325.9 billion (2009 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:
1.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 94
2.5% (2008 est.)
7.8% (2007 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$10,900 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 100
$10,800 (2008 est.)
$10,700 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 10.7%
industry: 44.4%
services: 44.9% (2009 est.)

Labor force:
25.02 million
country comparison to the world: 22
note: shortage of skilled labor (2009 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 25%
industry: 31%
services: 45% (June 2007)

Unemployment rate:
11.8% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 132
10.3% (2008 est.)
note: data are according to the Iranian Government

Population below poverty line:
18% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 29.6% (2005)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:
44.5 (2006)
country comparison to the world: 45

Investment (gross fixed):
27.3% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32

revenues: $93.61 billion
expenditures: $93.04 billion (2009 est.)

Public debt:
16.8% of GDP (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 112
18.2% of GDP (2008 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
13.5% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 213
25.6% (2008 est.)
note: official Iranian estimate

Central bank discount rate:
NA% (31 December 2009)
NA% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:
12% (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 76
12% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:
$48.16 billion (31 December 2009)
$44.79 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of broad money:
$147.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
$117.1 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of domestic credit:
$120.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
$112.2 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:
$NA (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 52
$49.04 billion (31 December 2008)
$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% excluding oil (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 31

Electricity - production:
192.6 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 20

Electricity - consumption:
153.8 billion kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21

Electricity - exports:
2.52 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Electricity - imports:
1.842 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Oil - production:
4.172 million bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4

Oil - consumption:
1.809 million bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14

Oil - exports:
2.21 million bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 6

Oil - imports:
162,500 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54

Oil - proved reserves:
137.6 billion bbl based on Iranian claims
country comparison to the world: 3
note: Iran has about 10% of world reserves (1 January 2010 est.)

Natural gas - production:
116.3 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 5

Natural gas - consumption:
119 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4

Natural gas - exports:
4.246 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28

Natural gas - imports:
7.048 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28

Natural gas - proved reserves:
29.61 trillion cu m (1 January 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

Current account balance:
$1.913 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
$22.9 billion (2008 est.)

$69.04 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 37
$101.3 billion (2008 est.)

Exports - commodities:
petroleum 80%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, carpets

Exports - partners:
China 16.58%, Japan 11.9%, India 10.54%, South Korea 7.54%, Turkey 4.36% (2009)

$58.97 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 41
$70.2 billion (2008 est.)

Imports - commodities:
industrial raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services

Imports - partners:
UAE 15.14%, China 13.48%, Germany 9.66%, South Korea 7.16%, Italy 5.27%, Russia 4.81%, India 4.12% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$81.31 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 21
$96.56 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Debt - external:
$12.63 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 78
$13.94 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:
$15.13 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 72
$12.11 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:
$1.825 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 67
$1.469 billion (31 December 2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
Iranian rials (IRR) per US dollar - 9,900 (2009), 9,142.8 (2008), 9,407.5 (2007), 9,227.1 (2006), 8,964 (2005)
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:
25.804 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 12

Telephones - mobile cellular:
52.555 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 21

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 fixed-line network greatly; fixed-line availability has more than doubled to nearly 26 million lines since 2000; additionally, mobile-cellular service has increased dramatically serving more than 50 million subscribers in 2009; combined fixed and mobile-cellular subscribership now exceeds 100 per 100 persons
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) (2009)

Broadcast media:
state-run broadcast media with no private, independent broadcasters; Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the state-run TV broadcaster, operates 5 nationwide channels, a news channel, about 30 provincial channels, and several international channels; about 20 foreign Persian-language TV stations broadcasting on satellite TV are capable of being seen in Iran; satellite dishes are illegal and, while their use had been tolerated, authorities began confiscating satellite dishes following the unrest stemming from the 2009 presidential election; IRIB operates 8 nationwide networks, a number of provincial stations, and an external service; most major international broadcasters transmit to Iran (2009)

Internet country code:

Internet hosts:
119,947 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 75

Internet users:
23 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 17

Transportation ::Iran

319 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 24

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 133
over 3,047 m: 42
2,438 to 3,047 m: 27
1,524 to 2,437 m: 24
914 to 1,523 m: 34
under 914 m: 6 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 186
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 142
under 914 m: 33 (2010)

19 (2010)

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 (2009)

total: 8,442 km
country comparison to the world: 26
broad gauge: 94 km 1.676-m gauge
standard gauge: 8,348 km 1.435-m gauge (148 km electrified) (2008)

total: 172,927 km
country comparison to the world: 28
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)
country comparison to the world: 70

Merchant marine:
total: 74
country comparison to the world: 58
by type: bulk carrier 11, cargo 40, chemical tanker 5, container 9, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 1, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 2
foreign-owned: 1 (UAE 1)
registered in other countries: 78 (Barbados 4, Bolivia 1, Cyprus 10, Hong Kong 1, Malta 56, Panama 5, Ukraine 1) (2010)

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 (IRIAF), Khatemolanbia Air Defense; Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enqelab-e Eslami, IRGC): Ground Resistance Forces, Navy, Aerospace Force, Qods Force (special operations); Law Enforcement Forces (2010)

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: 20,763,890
females age 16-49: 20,157,570 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 17,844,536
females age 16-49: 17,312,808 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 636,558
female: 604,658 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:
2.5% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 60

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)

Credit:CIA Fact Book ,President of Iran Website