Introduction :: 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 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 (AOE) – a popularly elected 88-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 and was subject to US, UN, and EU economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement in terrorism and concerns over possible military dimensions of its nuclear program until Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Implementation Day in 2016. The US began gradually re-imposing sanctions on Iran after the US withdrawal from JCPOA in May 2018.

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, supported by the Supreme Leader, unelected institutions of authority like the Council of Guardians, and the security services reversed and blocked reform measures while increasing security repression. 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, but the protests were quickly suppressed. Deteriorating economic conditions due primarily to government mismanagement and international sanctions prompted at least two major economically based protests in July and October 2012, but Iran’s internal security situation remained stable. President AHMADI-NEJAD’s independent streak angered regime establishment figures, including the Supreme Leader, leading to conservative opposition to his agenda for the last year of his presidency, and an alienation of his political supporters. In June 2013 Iranians elected a centrist cleric Dr. Hasan Fereidun ROHANI to the presidency. He is a longtime senior member in the regime, but has made promises of reforming society and Iran’s foreign policy. 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, and in July 2015 Iran and the five permanent members, plus Germany (P5+1) signed the JCPOA under which Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran held elections in 2016 for the AOE and Majles, resulting in a conservative-controlled AOE and a Majles that many Iranians perceive as more supportive of the ROHANI administration than the previous, conservative-dominated body. ROHANI was reelected president in May 2017. Economic concerns once again led to nationwide protests in December 2017 and January 2018 but they were contained by Iran’s security services. Additional widespread economic protests broke out in November 2019 in response to the raised price of subsidized gasoline.

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

land: 1,531,595 sq km

water: 116,600 sq km

Area – comparative

Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 5,894 km

border countries (7): Afghanistan 921 km, Armenia 44 km, Azerbaijan 689 km, Iraq 1599 km, Pakistan 959 km, Turkey 534 km, Turkmenistan 1148 km


2,440 km – note: Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf

contiguous zone: 24 nm

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


mean elevation: 1,305 m

lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m

highest point: Kuh-e Damavand 5,625 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur

Land use

agricultural land: 30.1% (2011 est.)

arable land: 10.8% (2011 est.) /** permanent crops:** 1.2% (2011 est.) /** permanent pasture:** 18.1% (2011 est.)

forest: 6.8% (2011 est.)

other: 63.1% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

95,530 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

population is concentrated in the north, northwest, and west, reflecting the position of the Zagros and Elburz Mountains; the vast dry areas in the center and eastern parts of the country, around the deserts of the Dasht-e Kavir and Dasht-e Lut, have a much lower population density

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 and Society :: Iran


84,923,314 (July 2020 est.)


noun: Iranian(s)

adjective: Iranian

Ethnic groups

Persian, Azeri, Kurd, Lur, Baloch, Arab, Turkmen and Turkic tribes


Persian Farsi (official), Azeri and other Turkic dialects, Kurdish, Gilaki and Mazandarani, Luri, Balochi, Arabic



Age structure

population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 45.6

youth dependency ratio: 36

elderly dependency ratio: 9.6

potential support ratio: 14.2 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 31.7 years

male: 31.5 years

female: 32 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

1.1% (2020 est.)

Birth rate

16.3 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Death rate

5.3 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Net migration rate

-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)

Population distribution

population is concentrated in the north, northwest, and west, reflecting the position of the Zagros and Elburz Mountains; the vast dry areas in the center and eastern parts of the country, around the deserts of the Dasht-e Kavir and Dasht-e Lut, have a much lower population density


urban population: 75.9% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 1.71% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas – population

9.135 million TEHRAN (capital), 3.152 million Mashhad, 2.086 million Esfahan, 1.628 million Shiraz, 1.581 million Karaj, 1.596 million Tabriz (2020)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female

total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

16 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 14.9 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 15.8 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 13.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.5 years

male: 73.1 years

female: 76 years (2020 est.)

Total fertility rate

1.94 children born/woman (2020 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

77.4% (2010/11)

Drinking water source

improved:** urban:** 98.6% of population

rural: 93.1% of population

total: 97.2% of population

unimproved:** urban:** 1.4% of population

rural: 6.9% of population

total: 2.8% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

8.7% (2017)

Physicians density

1.13 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

1.6 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved:** urban:** 98.9% of population

rural: 95.7% of population

total: 98.1% of population

unimproved:** urban:** 1.1% of population (2015 est.)

rural: 4.3% of population

total: 1.9% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate

0.1% (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS

61,000 (2018 est.)

HIV/AIDS – deaths

2,600 (2018 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever

note: a new coronavirus is causing sustained community spread of respiratory illness (COVID-19) in Iran; sustained community spread means that people have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known, and the spread is ongoing; illness with this virus has ranged from mild to severe with fatalities reported; as of 23 September 2020, Iran has reported 4,989 cumulative cases of COVID-19 per 1 million population with 287 cumulative deaths per 1 million population

Obesity – adult prevalence rate

25.8% (2016)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

4.1% (2011)

Education expenditures

4% of GDP (2018)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 85.5%

male: 90.4%

female: 80.8% (2016)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 15 years

female: 15 years (2015)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 27.6%

male: 24.3%

female: 39.9% (2018 est.)

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

etymology: name derives from the Avestan term “aryanam” meaning “Land of the Noble [Ones]”

Government type

theocratic republic


name: Tehran

geographic coordinates: 35 42 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 Wednesday in March; ends fourth Friday in September

etymology: various explanations of the city’s name have been proffered, but the most plausible states that it derives from the Persian words “tah” meaning “end or bottom” and “ran” meaning “[mountain] slope” to signify “bottom of the mountain slope”; Tehran lies at the bottom slope of the Elburz Mountains

Administrative divisions

31 provinces (ostanha, singular – ostan); Alborz, Ardabil, Azarbayjan-e Gharbi (West Azerbaijan), Azarbayjan-e Sharqi (East Azerbaijan), Bushehr, Chahar Mahal va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshah, Khorasan-e Jonubi (South Khorasan), Khorasan-e Razavi (Razavi Khorasan), Khorasan-e Shomali (North 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. 550 B.C. (Achaemenid (Persian) Empire established); A.D. 1501 (Iran reunified under the Safavid Dynasty); 1794 (beginning of Qajar Dynasty); 12 December 1925 (modern Iran established under the PAHLAVI Dynasty)

National holiday

Republic Day, 1 April (1979)


history: previous 1906; latest adopted 24 October 1979, effective 3 December 1979

amendments: proposed by the supreme leader after consultation with the Exigency Council and submitted as an edict to the “Council for Revision of the Constitution,” a body consisting of various executive, legislative, judicial, and academic leaders and members; passage requires absolute majority vote in a referendum and approval of the supreme leader; articles including Irans political system, its religious basis, and its form of government cannot be amended; amended 1989

Legal system

religious legal system based on secular and Islamic law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Iran

dual citizenship recognized: no

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 4 June 1989)

head of government: President Hasan Fereidun ROHANI (since 3 August 2013); First Vice President Eshagh JAHANGIRI (since 5 August 2013)

cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval; the supreme leader has some control over appointments to several ministries

elections/appointments: supreme leader appointed for life by Assembly of Experts; president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term and an additional nonconsecutive term); election last held on 19 May 2017 (next to be held in 2021)
election results: Hasan Fereidun ROHANI reelected president; percent of vote – Hasan Fereidun ROHANI (Moderation and Development Party) 58.8%, Ebrahim RAI’SI (Combat Clergy Association) 39.4% , Mostafa MIR-SALIM Islamic Coalition Party) 1.2%, Mostafa HASHEMITABA(Executives of Construction Party) 0.5%

note: 3 oversight bodies are also considered part of the executive branch of government

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majles-e Shura-ye Eslami or Majles (290 seats; 285 members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by 2-round vote, and 1 seat each for Zoroastrians, Jews, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, Armenians in the north of the country and Armenians in the south; members serve 4-year terms); note – all candidates to the Majles must be approved by the Council of Guardians, a 12-member group of which 6 are appointed by the supreme leader and 6 are jurists nominated by the judiciary and elected by the Majles

elections: first round held on 21 February 2020 and second round for 11 remaining seats held on 11 September 2020 (next full Majles election to be held in 2024)

election results: percent of vote by coalition (first round) – NA; seats by coalition (first round) – conservatives 219, reformists 20, independents 35, religious minorities 5; remaining 11 seats to be decided in April 2020

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and organized into 42 two-bench branches, each with a justice and a judge)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court president appointed by the head of the High Judicial Council (HJC), a 5-member body to include the Supreme Court chief justice, the prosecutor general, and 3 clergy, in consultation with judges of the Supreme Court; president appointed for a single, renewable 5-year term; other judges appointed by the HJC; judge tenure NA

subordinate courts: Penal Courts I and II; Islamic Revolutionary Courts; Courts of Peace; Special Clerical Court (functions outside the judicial system and handles cases involving clerics); military courts

Political parties and leaders

Combatant Clergy Association
Council for Coordinating the Reforms Front
Executives of Construction Party
Followers of the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent [Ali LARIJANI]
Front of Islamic Revolutionary Stability [Morteza AGHA-TEHRANI, general secretary]
Islamic Coalition Party
Islamic Iran Participation Front [associated with former President Mohammed KHATAMI]
Militant Clerics Society
Moderation and Development Party
National Trust Party
National Unity Party
Pervasive Coalition of Reformists [Ali SUFI, chairman] (includes Council for Coordinating the Reforms Front, National Trust Party, Union of Islamic Iran People Party, Moderation and Development Party)
Principlists Grand Coalition [Ali Reza ZAKANI] (includes Combatant Clergy Association and Islamic Coalition Party, Society of Devotees and Pathseekers of the Islamic Revolution, Front of Islamic Revolution Stability)
Progress, Welfare, and Justice Front
Progress and Justice Population of Islamic Iran or PJP [Hosein GHORBANZADEH, general secretary]
Resistance Front of Islamic Iran [Yadollah HABIBI, general secretary]
Steadfastness Front
Union of Islamic Iran People’s Party
Wayfarers of the Islamic Revolution

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

none; Iran has an Interests Section in the Pakistani Embassy; address: Iranian Interests Section, Pakistani Embassy, 2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007; telephone: 1 965-4990; FAX 1 965-1073

Diplomatic representation from the US

none; 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 symbol(s)

lion; national colors: green, white, red

National anthem

name: “Soroud-e Melli-ye Jomhouri-ye Eslami-ye Iran” (National Anthem of the Islamic Republic of Iran)

lyrics/music: multiple authors/Hassan RIAHI
note 1: adopted 1990; Iran has had six national anthems; the first, entitled Salam-e Shah (Royal Salute) was in use from 1873-1909; next came Salamati-ye Dowlat-e Elliye-ye Iran (Salute of the Sublime State of Persia, 1909-1933); it was followed by Sorud-e melli (The Imperial Anthem of Iran; 1933-1979), which chronicled the exploits of the Pahlavi Dynasty; Ey Iran (Oh Iran) functioned unofficially as the national anthem for a brief period between the ouster of the Shah in 1979 and the early days of the Islamic Republic in 1980; Payandeh Bada Iran (Long Live Iran) was used between 1980 and 1990 during the time of Ayatollah KHOMEINI

note 2: a recording of the current Iranian national anthem is unavailable since the US Navy Band does not record anthems for countries from which the US does not anticipate official visits; the US does not have diplomatic relations with Iran

Economy :: Iran

Economy – overview

Iran’s economy is marked by statist policies, inefficiencies, and reliance on oil and gas exports, but Iran also possesses significant agricultural, industrial, and service sectors. The Iranian government directly owns and operates hundreds of state-owned enterprises and indirectly controls many companies affiliated with the country’s security forces. Distortions – including corruption, price controls, subsidies, and a banking system holding billions of dollars of non-performing loans – weigh down the economy, undermining the potential for private-sector-led growth.

Private sector activity includes small-scale workshops, farming, some manufacturing, and services, in addition to medium-scale construction, cement production, mining, and metalworking. Significant informal market activity flourishes and corruption is widespread.

The lifting of most nuclear-related sanctions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in January 2016 sparked a restoration of Irans oil production and revenue that drove rapid GDP growth, but economic growth declined in 2017 as oil production plateaued. The economy continues to suffer from low levels of investment and declines in productivity since before the JCPOA, and from high levels of unemployment, especially among women and college-educated Iranian youth.

In May 2017, the re-election of President Hasan RUHANI generated widespread public expectations that the economic benefits of the JCPOA would expand and reach all levels of society. RUHANI will need to implement structural reforms that strengthen the banking sector and improve Irans business climate to attract foreign investment and encourage the growth of the private sector. Sanctions that are not related to Irans nuclear program remain in effect, and theseplus fears over the possible re-imposition of nuclear-related sanctionswill continue to deter foreign investors from engaging with Iran.

GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.64 trillion (2017 est.)
$1.581 trillion (2016 est.)
$1.405 trillion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$430.7 billion (2017 est.)

GDP – real growth rate

3.7% (2017 est.)
12.5% (2016 est.)
-1.6% (2015 est.)

GDP – per capita (PPP)

$20,100 (2017 est.)
$19,600 (2016 est.)
$17,700 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving

37.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
37.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
35.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

GDP – composition, by end use

household consumption: 49.7% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 14% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 20.6% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 14.5% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 26% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -24.9% (2017 est.)

GDP – composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 9.6% (2016 est.)

industry: 35.3% (2016 est.)

services: 55% (2017 est.)

Agriculture – products

wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, sugarcane, fruits, nuts, cotton; dairy products, wool; caviar


petroleum, petrochemicals, gas, fertilizer, caustic soda, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), ferrous and nonferrous metal fabrication, armaments

Industrial production growth rate

3% (2017 est.)

Labor force

30.5 million (2017 est.)

note: shortage of skilled labor

Labor force – by occupation

agriculture: 16.3%

industry: 35.1%

services: 48.6% (2013 est.)

Unemployment rate

11.8% (2017 est.)
12.4% (2016 est.)

note: data are Iranian Government numbers

Population below poverty line

18.7% (2007 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 29.6% (2005)


revenues: 74.4 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 84.45 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

17.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-2.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

39.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
47.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: includes publicly guaranteed debt

Fiscal year

21 March – 20 March

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

9.6% (2017 est.)
9.1% (2016 est.)

note: official Iranian estimate

Current account balance

$9.491 billion (2017 est.)
$16.28 billion (2016 est.)


$101.4 billion (2017 est.)
$83.98 billion (2016 est.)

Exports – partners

China 27.5%, India 15.1%, South Korea 11.4%, Turkey 11.1%, Italy 5.7%, Japan 5.3% (2017)

Exports – commodities

petroleum 60%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, carpets, cement, ore


$76.39 billion (2017 est.)
$63.14 billion (2016 est.)

Imports – commodities

industrial supplies, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services

Imports – partners

UAE 29.8%, China 12.7%, Turkey 4.4%, South Korea 4%, Germany 4% (2017)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$120.6 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$133.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Debt – external

$7.995 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$8.196 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

Exchange rates

Iranian rials (IRR) per US dollar –
32,769.7 (2017 est.)
30,914.9 (2016 est.)
30,914.9 (2015 est.)
29,011.5 (2014 est.)
25,912 (2013 est.)

Energy :: Iran

Electricity access

electrification – total population: 100% (2016)

Electricity – production

272.3 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – consumption

236.3 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – exports

6.822 billion kWh (2015 est.)

Electricity – imports

4.221 billion kWh (2016 est.)

Electricity – installed generating capacity

77.6 million kW (2016 est.)

Electricity – from fossil fuels

84% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)

Electricity – from nuclear fuels

1% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from hydroelectric plants

15% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Electricity – from other renewable sources

0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)

Crude oil – production

4.251 million bbl/day (2018 est.)

Crude oil – exports

750,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil – imports

0 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Crude oil – proved reserves

157.2 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)

Refined petroleum products – production

1.764 million bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – consumption

1.804 million bbl/day (2016 est.)

Refined petroleum products – exports

397,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products – imports

64,160 bbl/day (2015 est.)

Natural gas – production

214.5 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – consumption

206.9 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – exports

11.64 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – imports

3.993 billion cu m (2017 est.)

Natural gas – proved reserves

33.72 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy

638.3 million Mt (2017 est.)

Communications :: Iran

Telephones – fixed lines

total subscriptions: 30,481,734

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 37 (2018 est.)

Telephones – mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 88,722,442

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 107 (2018 est.)

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: opportunities for telecoms growth, but disadvantaged by the lack of significant investment; one of the largest populations in the Middle East with a huge demand for services; mobile penetration is high with over 90% accessing 4G LTE coverage; Iranian-net, is currently expanding a fiber network to reach 8 million customers; govt. is proactively preparing regulations for 5G development (2020)

domestic: 37 per 100 for fixed-line and 107 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions; investment by Iran’s state-owned telecom company has greatly improved and expanded both the fixed-line and mobile cellular networks; a huge percentage of the cell phones in the market have been smuggled into the country (2019)

international: country code – 98; landing points for Kuwait-Iran, GBICS & MENA, FALCON, OMRAN/3PEG Cable System, POI and UAE-Iran submarine fiber-optic cable to the Middle East, Africa and India; (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) (2019)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic’s effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry – mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite – has moderated

Broadcast media

state-run broadcast media with no private, independent broadcasters; Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the state-run TV broadcaster, operates 19 nationwide channels including a news channel, about 34 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 is subjectively tolerated, authorities confiscate satellite dishes from time to time; IRIB operates 16 nationwide radio networks, a number of provincial stations, and an external service; most major international broadcasters transmit to Iran (2019)

Internet country code


Internet users

total: 58,117,322

percent of population: 70% (July 2018 est.)

Broadband – fixed subscriptions

total: 9,806,123

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2018 est.)

Military and Security :: Iran

Military and security forces

Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (Artesh): Ground Forces, Navy (includes marines), Air Force, Air Defense Forces; Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Sepah, IRGC): Ground Forces, Navy (includes marines), Aerospace Force (controls strategic missile force), Qods Force (special operations), Cyber Command, Basij Paramilitary Forces (Popular Mobilization Army); Law Enforcement Forces (border and security troops, assigned to the armed forces in wartime) (2019)

Military expenditures

3.8% of GDP (2019 est.)
6.1% of GDP (2018)
5.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
4.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
4.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

assessments of the size of the armed forces of Iran vary; approximately 600,000 total active personnel including 410,000 Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (350,000 Ground Forces; 18,000 Navy; 45,000 Air Force/Air Defense Forces) and 190,000 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (150,000 Ground Forces; 20,000 Navy; 15,000 Aerospace Force; 5,000 Qods Force); est. 90,000 active Basij Paramilitary Forces; est. 50,000 Law Enforcement Forces
(2019 est.)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Iranian military’s inventory includes a mix of domestically-produced and mostly older foreign equipment largely of Chinese, Russian, Soviet, and US origin (US equipment acquired prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979); weapons imports from Western countries are restricted by international sanctions; since 2010, Iran has received equipment from Belarus, China, and Russia; Iran has a defense industry with the capacity to develop, produce, support, and sustain air, land, missile, and naval weapons programs (2019 est.)

Military deployments

est. 2,000-3000 Syria (2019 est.)

Military service age and obligation

18 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 is 18-24 months; women exempt from military service (2019)

Maritime threats

the Maritime Administration of the US Department of Transportation has issued a Maritime Advisory (2019-012-Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea-Threats to US and International Shipping from Iran) effective 7 August 2019, which states in part that “heightened military activities and increased political tensions in this region continue to present risk to commercial shipping…there is a continued possibility that Iran and/or its regional proxies could take actions against US and partner interests in the region;” at present, Iran has seized two foreign-flagged tankers in the Persian Gulf; the US and UK navies have established Operation Sentinel to provide escorts for commercial shipping transiting the Persian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz, and Gulf of Oman

Transportation :: Iran

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 22 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 237

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 25,604,871 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 290.74 million mt-km (2018)

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

EP (2016)


319 (2013)

Airports – with paved runways

total: 140 (2019)

over 3,047 m: 42

2,438 to 3,047 m: 29

1,524 to 2,437 m: 26

914 to 1,523 m: 36

under 914 m: 7

Airports – with unpaved runways

total: 179 (2013)

over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)

2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 9 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 135 (2013)

under 914 m: 32 (2013)


26 (2013)


7 km condensate, 973 km condensate/gas, 20794 km gas, 570 km liquid petroleum gas, 8625 km oil, 7937 km refined products (2013)


total: 8,484 km (2014)

standard gauge: 8,389.5 km 1.435-m gauge (189.5 km electrified) (2014)

broad gauge: 94 km 1.676-m gauge (2014)


total: 223,485 km (2018)

paved: 195,485 km (2018)

unpaved: 28,000 km (2018)


850 km (on Karun River; some navigation on Lake Urmia) (2012)

Merchant marine

total: 785

by type: bulk carrier 31, container ship 26, general cargo 361, oil tanker 17, other 350 (2019)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Bandar-e Asaluyeh, Bandar Abbas, Bandar Emam

container port(s) (TEUs): Bandar Abbas (2,607,000) (2017)

Terrorism :: Iran

Terrorist groups – home based

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC): aim(s): protect Irans Islamic Revolution; spread Shia influence; internal security, including border control, law enforcement, and suppressing domestic opposition; controls countrys missiles and rockets; influence Irans politics and economy

area of operation(s): headquartered in Tehran, throughout Iran
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force (IRGC-QF): aim(s): protect Irans Islamic Revolution; spread Shia influence; conduct clandestine overseas operations, often supporting other terrorist organizations (including Sunni groups like the Taliban when their goals align) with significant funding, logistics, training, or weaponry to commit terror attacks, either directly or through proxies; recruit, train, and equip foreign Islamic revolutionary groups throughout the Middle East

area(s) of operations: headquartered in Tehran
Jaysh al Adl: note(s): formerly known as Jundallah

Terrorist groups – foreign based

al-Qa’ida (AQ): aim(s): unite the worldwide Muslim community, overthrow governments perceived as un-Islamic, and, ultimately, establish a pan-Islamic caliphate under a strict Salafi Muslim interpretation of sharia (2018)
Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK): aim(s): advance Kurdish autonomy, political, and cultural rights in Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria

area(s) of operation: operational in the northwest; majority of members inside Iran are Iranian Kurds, along with Kurds from Iraq, Syria, and Turkey (2018)

Transnational Issues :: Iran

Disputes – international

Iran protests Afghanistan’s limiting flow of dammed Helmand River tributaries during 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; Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia ratified Caspian seabed delimitation treaties based on equidistance, while Iran continues to insist on a one-fifth slice of the sea; Afghan and Iranian commissioners have discussed boundary monument densification and resurvey

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 2.5-3.0 (1 million registered, 1.5-2.0 million undocumented) (Afghanistan) (2015); 28,268 (Iraq) (2018)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Iran is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; organized groups sex traffic Iranian women and children in Iran and to the UAE and Europe; the transport of girls from and through Iran en route to the Gulf for sexual exploitation or forced marriages is on the rise; Iranian children are also forced to work as beggars, street vendors, and in domestic workshops; Afghan boys forced to work in construction or agriculture are vulnerable to sexual abuse by their employers; Pakistani and Afghan migrants being smuggled to Europe often are subjected to forced labor, including debt bondage

tier rating: Tier 3 Iran does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government does not share information on its anti-trafficking efforts, but publically available information from NGOs, the media, and international organizations indicates that Iran is not taking adequate measures to address its trafficking problems, particularly protecting victims; Iranian law does not prohibit all forms of human trafficking; female victims find it extremely difficult to get justice because Iranian courts accord womens testimony half the weight of men’s, and female victims of sexual abuse, including trafficking, are likely to be prosecuted for adultery; the government did not identify or provide protection services to any victims and continued to punish victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; the government made some effort to cooperate with neighboring governments and an international organization to combat human trafficking and other crimes (2015)

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; regularly enforces the death penalty for drug offences; lacks anti-money laundering laws; has reached out to neighboring countries to share counter-drug intelligence


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