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Iran Country Guide

Explore Iran in Asia

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Iran with the capital city Tehran is located in Asia (Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman). It covers some 1,648,001 square kilometres (slightly smaller than Alaska) with 65,875,000 citizens.

Map of the area of  in

The landscape offers rugged, mountainous rim with high, central basin with deserts, mountains and small, discontinuous plains along both coasts. The average density of population is approximately 40 per km². The notable climate conditions in Iran can be described as mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast. Potential threats by nature are periodic droughts, floods or dust storms, sandstorms or earthquakes.

To reach someone in Iran dial +98 prior to a number. There are 25,804,000 installed telephones. And there are 52,555,000 registered mobile phones. The cellular networks commonly support frequencies of 900 Mhz. Websites registered in this country end with the top level domain ".ir". If you want to bring electric equipment on your trip (e.g. laptop power supply), note the local power outlet of 230V - 50Hz.

About the flag and history of Iran

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.

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 led by Ayatollah Ruhollah KHOMEINI 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 - a popularly elected 86-member body of clerics. US-Iranian relations became strained when a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and held embassy personnel hostages until mid-January 1981. The US cut off diplomatic relations with Iran in April 1980. During the period 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. 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 a reformist Majles (legislature) in 2000, a campaign to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction was initiated. The movement floundered as conservative politicians, through 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. His controversial reelection in June 2009 sparked nationwide protests over allegations of electoral fraud. The UN Security Council has passed a number of resolutions calling for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and comply with its IAEA obligations and responsibilities. In mid-February 2011, opposition activists conducted the largest antiregime rallies since December 2009, spurred by the success of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Protester turnout probably was at most tens of thousands and security forces were deployed to disperse protesters. Additional protests in March 2011 failed to elicit significant participation largely because of the robust security response, although discontent still smolders. Deteriorating economic conditions due primarily to government mismanagement and international sanctions prompted at least two major economically based protests in July and October 2012.

Geography Quick-Facts

Summary Continent: Asia
Neighbours: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Armenia, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey
Capital: Tehran
Size 1,648,000 square kilometers (km² or sqkm) or 636,296 square miles (mi² or sqmi)
slightly smaller than Alaska
Population 65,875,000
Currency Name: Rial, Currency Code: IRR
Country Top Level Domain (cTLD) .ir
Telephone Country Prefix +98
Mobile Phone Connections 52,555,000
Landline Phone Connections 25,804,000

Country Position in World Rankings

Information about single country attributes and how these compare against the rest of the world. The information below is compiled with data from 2013. As such, it may differ a bit to the Information above in the text (which is from 2010).


Value name Value World Rank
Area 1,648,195 (sq km) 18

People and Society

Value name Value World Rank
Population 79,853,900 18
Population growth rate 1.24 (%) 94
Birth rate 18.40 (births/1,000 population) 105
Death rate 5.94 (deaths/1,000 population) 167
Net migration rate -0.10 (migrant(s)/1,000 population) 114
Maternal mortality rate 21.00 (deaths/100,000 live births) 135
Infant mortality rate 40.02 (deaths/1,000 live births) 56
Life expectancy at birth 70.62 (years) 149
Total fertility rate 1.86 (children born/woman) 146
Health expenditures 5.60 (% of GDP) 120
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate 0.20 (%) 100
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS 92,000 43
HIV/AIDS - deaths 6,400 33
Obesity - adult prevalence rate 19.40 (%) 99
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 4.60 (%) 91
Education expenditures 4.70 (% of GDP) 88
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 23.0 (%) 44


Value name Value World Rank
GDP (purchasing power parity) 1,016,000,000,000 18
GDP - real growth rate -1.90 (%) 208
GDP - per capita (PPP) 13,300 100
Labor force 27,050,000 24
Unemployment rate 15.50 (%) 149
Distribution of family income - Gini index 45 45
Investment (gross fixed) 31.20 (% of GDP) 20
Taxes and other revenues 23.9 (% of GDP) 130
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 7.00 (% of GDP) 8
Public debt 18.80 (% of GDP) 129
Inflation rate (consumer prices) 25.20 (%) 220
Commercial bank prime lending rate 12.50 (%) 65
Stock of narrow money 58,770,000,000 46
Stock of broad money 199,900,000,000 40
Stock of domestic credit 138,500,000,000 49
Market value of publicly traded shares 86,620,000,000 44
Industrial production growth rate -2.70 (%) 157
Current account balance -7,215,000,000 170
Exports 66,370,000,000 53
Imports 66,970,000,000 47
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 69,860,000,000 29
Debt - external 9,452,000,000 100
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home 24,760,000,000 64
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad 2,881,000,000 68


Value name Value World Rank
Electricity - production 213,700,000,000 (kWh) 20
Electricity - consumption 173,100,000,000 (kWh) 22
Electricity - exports 6,154,000,000 (kWh) 26
Electricity - imports 2,068,000,000 (kWh) 51
Electricity - installed generating capacity 56170000 (kW) 17
Electricity - from fossil fuels 86.1 (% of total installed capacity) 85
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 13.7 (% of total installed capacity) 107
Electricity - from other renewable sources 0.1 (% of total installed capacity) 94
Crude oil - production 4,231,000 (bbl/day) 5
Crude oil - exports 2,295,000 (bbl/day) 5
Crude oil - proved reserves 151200000000 (bbl) 5
Refined petroleum products - production 1,801,000 (bbl/day) 14
Refined petroleum products - consumption 1,694,000 (bbl/day) 15
Refined petroleum products - exports 246,500 (bbl/day) 26
Refined petroleum products - imports 187,200 (bbl/day) 27
Natural gas - production 146,100,000,000 (cu m) 6
Natural gas - consumption 144,600,000,000 (cu m) 6
Natural gas - exports 8,420,000,000 (cu m) 25
Natural gas - imports 6,850,000,000 (cu m) 31
Natural gas - proved reserves 33,070,000,000,000 (cu m) 3
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 560,300,000 (Mt) 9


Value name Value World Rank
Telephones - main lines in use 27,767,000 12
Telephones - mobile cellular 56,043,000 22
Internet hosts 197,804 72
Internet users 8,214,000 35


Value name Value World Rank
Airports 324 23
Railways 8,442 (km) 24
Roadways 172,927 (km) 28
Waterways 850 (km) 70
Merchant marine 76 60


Value name Value World Rank
Military expenditures 2.50 (% of GDP) 57

Data based on CIA facts book 2010 & 2013, wikipedia, national statistical offices and their census releases

List of current world heritage sites

Name Since
Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran
The Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran, in the north-west of the country, consists of three monastic ensembles of the Armenian Christian faith: St Thaddeus and St Stepanos and the Chapel of Dzordzor. These edifices - the oldest of which, St Thaddeu ...
Bam and its Cultural Landscape
Bam is situated in a desert environment on the southern edge of the Iranian high plateau. The origins of Bam can be traced back to the Achaemenid period (6th to 4th centuries BC). Its heyday was from the 7th to 11th centuries, being at the crossroads ...
Bisotun is located along the ancient trade route linking the Iranian high plateau with Mesopotamia and features remains from the prehistoric times to the Median, Achaemenid, Sassanian, and Ilkhanid periods. The principal monument of this archaeologic ...
Golestan Palace
The lavish Golestan Palace is a masterpiece of the Qajar era, embodying the successful integration of earlier Persian crafts and architecture with Western influences. The walled Palace, one of the oldest groups of buildings in Teheran, became the sea ...
Gonbad-e Qābus
The 53 m high tomb built in ad 1006 for Qābus Ibn Voshmgir, Ziyarid ruler and literati, near the ruins of the ancient city of Jorjan in north-east Iran, bears testimony to the cultural exchange between Central Asian nomads and the ancient civilizat ...
Masjed-e Jāmé of Isfahan
Located in the historic centre of Isfahan, the Masjed-e Jāmé (‘Friday mosque’) can be seen as a stunning illustration of the evolution of mosque architecture over twelve centuries, starting in ad 841. It is the oldest preserved edifice of its ...
Meidan Emam, Esfahan
Built by Shah Abbas I the Great at the beginning of the 17th century, and bordered on all sides by monumental buildings linked by a series of two-storeyed arcades, the site is known for the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, the magnificen ...
Pasargadae was the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenid Empire, founded by Cyrus II the Great, in Pars, homeland of the Persians, in the 6th century BC. Its palaces, gardens and the mausoleum of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the first phase o ...
Founded by Darius I in 518 B.C., Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was built on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where the king of kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. The ...
Shahr-i Sokhta
Shahr-i Sokhta, meaning ‘Burnt City’, is located at the junction of Bronze Age trade routes crossing the Iranian plateau. The remains of the mudbrick city represent the emergence of the first complex societies in eastern Iran. Founded around 3200 ...
Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh and Shrine Ensemble in Ardabil
Built between the beginning of the 16th century and the end of the 18th century, this place of spiritual retreat in the Sufi tradition uses Iranian traditional architectural forms to maximize use of available space to accommodate a variety of funct ...
Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System
Shushtar, Historical Hydraulic System, inscribed as a masterpiece of creative genius, can be traced back to Darius the Great in the 5th century B.C. It involved the creation of two main diversion canals on the river Kârun one of which, Gargar canal, ...
The mausoleum of Oljaytu was constructed in 1302–12 in the city of Soltaniyeh, the capital of the Ilkhanid dynasty, which was founded by the Mongols. Situated in the province of Zanjan, Soltaniyeh is one of the outstanding examples of the achieveme ...
Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex
Tabriz has been a place of cultural exchange since antiquity and its historic bazaar complex is one of the most important commercial centres on the Silk Road. Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex consists of a series of interconnected, covered, brick struc ...
Takht-e Soleyman
The archaeological site of Takht-e Soleyman, in north-western Iran, is situated in a valley set in a volcanic mountain region. The site includes the principal Zoroastrian sanctuary partly rebuilt in the Ilkhanid (Mongol) period (13th century) as well ...
Tchogha Zanbil
The ruins of the holy city of the Kingdom of Elam, surrounded by three huge concentric walls, are found at Tchogha Zanbil. Founded c. 1250 B.C., the city remained unfinished after it was invaded by Ashurbanipal, as shown by the thousands of unused br ...
The Persian Garden
The property includes nine gardens in as many provinces. They exemplify the diversity of Persian garden designs that evolved and adapted to different climate conditions while retaining principles that have their roots in the times of Cyrus the Great, ...