The World Factbook (1990)/Iran

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World Factbook (1990) Iran.jpg

 See regional map VI


Total area: 1,648,000 km²; land area: 1,636,000km²

Comparative area: slightly larger than Alaska

Land boundaries: 5,492 km total; Afghanistan 936 km, Iraq 1,458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, USSR 1,690 km

Coastline: 3,180 km

Maritime claims:

Continental shelf: not specific
Exclusive fishing zone: 50 nm in the Sea of Oman; median-line boundaries in the Persian Gulf
Territorial sea: 12 nm

Disputes: Iran began formal UN peace negotiations with Iraq in August 1988 to end the war that began on 22 September 1980—troop withdrawal, freedom of navigation, sovereignty over the Shatt al Arab waterway and prisoner-of-war exchange are the major issues for negotiation; Kurdish question among Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and the USSR; occupies three islands in the Persian Gulf claimed by UAE (Jazīreh-ye Abū Mūsá or Abū Mūsá, Jazīreh-ye Tonb-e Bozorg or Greater Tunb, and Jazīreh-ye Tonb-e Kūchek or Lesser Tunb); periodic disputes with Afghanistan over Helmand water rights; Boluch question with Afghanistan and Pakistan

Climate: mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast

Terrain: rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts

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

Land use: 8% arable land; NEGL% permanent crops; 27% meadows and pastures; 11% forest and woodland; 54% other; includes 2% irrigated

Environment: deforestation; overgrazing; desertification


Population: 55,647,001 (July 1990), growth rate 3.1% (1990)

Birth rate: 45 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 10 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: -5 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 91 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 62 years male, 63 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 6.3 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Iranian(s); adjective—Iranian

Ethnic divisions: 51% Persian, 25% Azerbaijani, 9% Kurd, 8% Gilaki and Mazandarani, 2% Lur, 1% Baloch, 1% Arab, 3% other

Religion: 95% Shi'a Muslim, 4% Sunni Muslim, 2% Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i

Language: 58% Persian and Persian dialects, 26% Turkic and Turkic dialects, 9% Kurdish, 2% Luri, 1% Baloch, 1% Arabic, 1% Turkish, 2% other

Literacy: 48% (est.)

Labor force: 15,400,000; 33% agriculture, 21% manufacturing; shortage of skilled labor (1988 est.)

Organized labor: none


Long-form name: Islamic Republic of Iran

Type: theocratic republic

Capital: Tehrān

Administrative divisions: 24 provinces (ostānha, singular—ostān); Āz̄arbāyjān-e Bākhtarī, Āz̄arbāyjān-e Khāvarī, Bākhtarān, Bushēhr, Chahār Maḥāll va Bakhtīārī, Eṣfahān, Fārs, Gīlān, Hamadān, Hormozgān, Īlām, Kermān, Khorāsān, Khūzestān, Kohkīlūyeh va Būyer Aḥmadī, Kordestān, Lorestān, Markazī, Mazandarān, Semnān, Sīstān va Balūchestān, Tehrān, Yazd, Zanjān

Independence: 1 April 1979, Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed

Constitution: 2-3 December 1979; revised 1989 to expand powers of the presidency

Legal system: the new Constitution codifies Islamic principles of government

National holiday: Islamic Republic Day, 1 April (1979)

Executive branch: cleric (faqih), president, Council of Cabinet Ministers

Legislative branch: unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis-e-Shura-e-Islami)

Judicial branch: Supreme Court

Leaders: Cleric and functional Chief of State—Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 3 June 1989);

Head of Government—President Ali Akbar RAFSANJANI (since 3 August 1989);

Political parties and leaders: there are at least seven licensed parties; the two most important are Militant Clerics Association, Mehdi Mahdavi-Karubi and Mohammad Asqar Musavi-Khoinima; Fedaiyin Islam Organization, Sadeq Khalkhali

Suffrage: universal at age 15

Elections: President—last held NA July 1989 (next to be held April 1993); results—Ali Akbar Rafsanjani was elected with only token opposition;

Islamic Consultative Assembly—last held 8 April and 13 May 1988 (next to be held April 1992); results—percent of vote by party NA; seats—(270 seats total) number of seats by party NA

Communists: 1,000 to 2,000 est. hardcore; 15,000 to 20,000 est. sympathizers; crackdown in 1983 crippled the party; trials of captured leaders began in late 1983 and remain incomplete

Other political or pressure groups: groups that generally support the Islamic Republic include Hizballah, Hojjatiyeh Society, Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution, Muslim Students Following the Line of the Imam, and Tehran Militant Clergy Association; Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), People's Fedayeen, and Kurdish Democratic Party are armed political groups that have been almost completely repressed by the government


Diplomatic representation: none; protecting power in the US is Algeria—Iranian Interests Section, 2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington DC 20007; telephone (202) 965-4990; US—protecting power in Iran is Switzerland

Flag: three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red; the national emblem (a stylized representation of the word Allah) 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


Overview: Since the 1979 revolution, the banks, petroleum industry, transportation, utilities, and mining have been nationalized, but the new five-year plan—the first since the revolution—passed in January 1990, calls for the transfer of many government-controlled enterprises to the private sector. War-related disruptions, massive corruption, mismanagement, demographic pressures, and ideological rigidities have kept economic growth at depressed levels. Oil accounts for 90% of export revenues. A combination of war damage and low oil prices brought a 2% drop in GNP in 1988. GNP probably rose slightly in 1989, considerably short of the 3.4% population growth rate in 1989. Heating oil and gasoline are rationed. Agriculture has suffered from the war, land reform, and shortages of equipment and materials. The five-year plan seeks to reinvigorate the economy by increasing the role of the private sector, boosting nonoil income, and securing foreign loans. The plan is overly ambitious but probably will generate some short-term relief.

GNP: $97.6 billion, per capita $1,800; real growth rate 0.1% (1989)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 50-80% (1989)

Unemployment rate: 30% (1989)

Budget: revenues $NA; expenditures $55.1 billion, including capital expenditures of $1 1.5 billion (FY88 est.)

Exports: $12.3 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—petroleum 90%, carpets, fruits, nuts, hides; partners—Japan, Turkey, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, France, FRG

Imports: $12.0 billion (c.i.f., 1988); commodities—machinery, military supplies, metal works, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, technical services, refined oil products; partners—FRG, Japan, Turkey, UK, Italy

External debt: $4-5 billion (1989)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 14,579,000 kW capacity; 40,000 million kWh produced, 740 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and other building materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabricating (steel and copper)

Agriculture: principal products—rice, other grains, sugar beets, fruits, nuts, cotton, dairy products, wool, caviar; not self-sufficient in food

Illicit drugs: illicit producer of opium poppy for the domestic and international drug trade

Aid: US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-80), $1.0 billion; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $1.5 billion; Communist countries (1970-88), $976 million; note—aid fell sharply following the 1979 revolution

Currency: Iranian rial (plural—rials); 1 Iranian rial (IR) = 100 dinars; note—domestic figures are generally referred to in terms of the toman (plural—tomans), which equals 10 rials

Exchange rates: Iranian rials (IR) per US$1—70.019 (January 1990), 72.015 (1989), 68.683 (1988), 71.460 (1987), 78.760 (1986), 91.052 (1985)

Fiscal year: 21 March-20 March


Railroads: 4,601 km total; 4,509 km 1.432-meter gauge, 92 km 1.676-meter gauge; 730 km under construction from Bafq to Bandar Abbas

Highways: 140,072 km total; 46,866 km gravel and crushed stone; 49,440 km improved earth; 42,566 km bituminous and bituminous-treated surfaces; 1,200 km (est.) of rural road network

Inland waterways: 904 km; the Shatt al Arab is usually navigable by maritime traffic for about 130 km, but closed since September 1980 because of Iran-Iraq war

Pipelines: crude oil, 5,900 km; refined products, 3,900 km; natural gas, 3,300 km

Ports: Abadan (largely destroyed in fighting during 1980-88 war), Bandar Beheshtī, Bandar-e Abbas, Bandar-e Būshehr, Bandar-e Khomeyni, Bandar-e Shahīd Rāja'ī, Khorramshahr (largely destroyed in fighting during 1980-88 war)

Merchant marine: 133 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 4,631,836 GRT/8,662,454 DWT; includes 36 cargo, 6 roll-on/roll-off cargo, 33 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 4 chemical tanker, 3 refrigerated cargo, 49 bulk, 2 combination bulk

Civil air: 42 major transport aircraft

Airports: 201 total, 175 usable; 82 with permanent-surface runways; 17 with runways over 3,659 m; 17 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 68 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: radio relay extends throughout country; system centered in Tehrān; 2,143,000 telephones; stations—62 AM, 30 FM, 250 TV; satellite earth stations—2 Atlantic Ocean INTELSAT and 1 Indian Ocean INTELSAT; HF and microwave to Turkey, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait, and USSR

Defense Forces

Branches: Islamic Republic of Iran Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, and Revolutionary Guard Corps (includes Basij militia and own ground, air, and naval forces), Gendarmerie

Military manpower: males 15-49, 12,302,967; 7,332,614 fit for military service; 569,647 reach military age (21) annually

Defense expenditures: 8% of GNP, or $7.8 billion (1989 est.)