Iran (GPS: 32 00 N, 53 00 E) is located in Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan. The country’s area measurements are total: 1,648,195 sq km; land: 1,531,595 sq km, water: 116,600 sq km. This sovereign state is almost 2.5 times the size of Texas, slightly smaller than Alaska. The total irrigated land is 95,530 sq km (2012).
One of Iran’s essential features: Strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport.
It’s significant, and at the same time, the principal city, Tehran’s GPS coordinates are 35 42 N 51 25 E. Tehran’s local time is 8.5 hours ahead of Washington DC during Standard Time. The capital’s time difference: UTC+3.5, note; Daylight saving time: +1hr begins fourth Tuesday in March; ends fourth Thursday in September.
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 the 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 the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Implementation Day in 2016. The US began re-imposing sanctions gradually 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 widespread dissatisfaction was initiated. The movement floundered as conservative politicians, supported by the Supreme Leader, unelected authority institutions like the Council of Guardians. 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, culminating with the August 2005 inauguration of hardliner Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD as president. His controversial reelection in June 2009 sparked nationwide protests over electoral fraud allegations, 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 plan for the last year of his presidency and his political supporters’ alienation. In June 2013, Iranians elected a centrist cleric Dr. Hasan Fereidun ROHANI, to the presidency. He is a long-time senior member of the regime but has made promises of reforming society and Iran’s foreign policy. The UN Security Council has passed several resolutions calling for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and comply with its IAEA obligations and responsibilities. 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. Once again, economic concerns led to nationwide protests in December 2017 and January 2018, but Iran’s security services contained them. Additional widespread economic protests broke out in November 2019 in response to the raised price of subsidized gasoline.
Iran’s names conventional long form: the Islamic Republic of Iran, traditional 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].” The name derives from the Avestan term “aryanam,” meaning “Land of the Noble [Ones].”
Iran’s terrain is typically rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts. The country’s mean elevation: 1,305 m, elevation extremes; lowest point: the Caspian Sea -28 m, highest point: Kuh-e Damavand 5,671 m.
The general climate in the country; mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along the Caspian coast.
The total number of border countries is 7, Afghanistan 921 km, Armenia 44 km, Azerbaijan 689 km, Iraq 1,599 km, Pakistan 959 km, Turkey 534 km, Turkmenistan 1,148 km are the neighboring nations with the indicated border lengths. Iran’s coastline is 2,440 km; note – Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km), while its marital claims are: territorial sea: 12 nautical miles, contiguous zone: 24 nautical miles, exclusive economic zone: bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf continental shelf: natural prolongation. Waterways: 850 km (on Karun River; some navigation on Lake Urmia) (2012). Land use: agricultural land: 30.1%; arable land 10.8%; permanent crops 1.2%; permanent pasture 18.1%; forest: 6.8%; other: 63.1% (2011 estimate).
The population in Iran 83,024,745 (July 2018 estimate), urban population: 73.4% of total population (2015), major urban area’s population: TEHRAN (capital) 8.432 million; Mashhad 3.014 million; Esfahan 1.88 million; Karaj 1.807 million; Shiraz 1.661 million; Tabriz 1.572 million (2015), while Iran has a 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 the Dasht-e Lut, have a much smaller population density. Their spoken languages are Persian (official language), Azeri Turkic and Turkic dialects, Kurdish, Gilaki and Mazandarani, Luri, Balochi, Arabic, others. Main religions in Iran are Muslim (official) 99.4% (Shia 90-95%, Sunni 5-10%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian) 0.3%, unspecified 0.4% (2011 estimate). The nation uses religious legal system based on secular and Islamic law. It is a(n) theocratic republic, National holiday(s) Republic Day, 1 April (1979).
Economic overview for the country: 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 its 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 Iran’s oil production and revenue that drove rapid GDP growth. Still, 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 high unemployment levels, 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 Iran’s business climate to attract foreign investment and encourage the private sector’s growth. Sanctions that are not related to Iran’s nuclear program remain in effect. These plus fears over the possible re-imposition of nuclear-related sanctions will continue to deter foreign investors from engaging with Iran.
Natural resources of Iran: petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur.
Main export partners for Iran, Middle East are China 22.2%, India 9.9%, Turkey 8.4%, Japan 4.5% (2015) for petroleum 80%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, carpets, cement, ore, while the main import partners for the country are: UAE 39.6%, China 22.4%, South Korea 4.7%, Turkey 4.6% (2015) for industrial supplies, capital goods, foodstuffs, and other consumer goods, technical services.
When you visit this country in the Middle East, consider the natural hazards in Iran: Periodic droughts, floods, dust storms, sandstorms, earthquakes, while infectious diseases are a degree of risk: intermediate food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea vectorborne diseases: Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (2016). Also, note that Iran faces the following environmental 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.