Photos of Iran

In southwestern Iran, roughly 650 km (400 mi) south of the capital city of Tehran, and some 70 km (40 mi) northeast of Shiraz, a cultivated plain gives way to the Zagros Mountains. At the transition between flat land and rugged mountain, at the base of Kuh-i-Rahmat, or "Mountain of Mercy," lies Persepolis. Founded around 518 B.C. by Darius the Great, the site served as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid (or Persian) Empire. Image courtesy of NASA.



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 religious scholar known as the Supreme Leader, who is accountable only to the Assembly of Experts -- an elected 88-member body of clerics. US-Iran relations became strained when Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and held embassy personnel hostage until mid-January 1981. The US cut off diplomatic relations with Iran in April 1980. From 1980 to 1988, 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 since 1984.

After the election of reformer Hojjat ol-Eslam Mohammad KHATAMI as president in 1997 and a reformist Majles (legislature) in 2000, a political reform campaign in response to popular dissatisfaction was initiated, but conservative politicians blocked reform measures while increasing repression. Municipal and legislative elections in 2003 and 2004 saw conservatives reestablish control over Iran's elected government institutions, culminating in the 2005 inauguration of hardliner Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD as president. His reelection in 2009 sparked nationwide protests over allegations of electoral fraud, and the protests persisted until 2011. In 2013, Iranians elected to the presidency centrist cleric Dr. Hasan Fereidun RUHANI, a longtime senior regime member who promised to reform society and foreign policy. In 2019, Tehran's sudden decision to increase the gasoline price sparked nationwide protests, which the regime violently suppressed. Conservatives won the majority in Majles elections in 2020, and hardline cleric Ebrahim RAISI was elected president in 2021, resulting in a conservative monopoly across the regime's elected and unelected institutions.

Iran continues to be subject to a range of international sanctions and export controls because of its involvement in terrorism, weapons proliferation, human rights abuses, and concerns over the nature of its nuclear program. Iran received nuclear-related sanctions relief in exchange for nuclear concessions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action's (JCPOA) Implementation Day beginning in 2016. However, the US reimposed nuclear-related sanctions on Iran after it unilaterally terminated its JCPOA participation in 2018. In October 2023, the EU and the UK also decided to maintain nuclear-proliferation-related measures on Iran, as well as arms and missile embargoes, in response to Iran's non-compliance with its JCPOA commitments.

As president, RAISI has concentrated on deepening Iran's foreign relations with anti-US states -- particularly China and Russia -- to weather US sanctions and diplomatic pressure, while supporting negotiations to restore a nuclear deal that began in 2021. RAISI contended with nationwide protests that began in September 2022 and persisted for over three months after the death of a Kurdish Iranian woman, Mahsa AMINI, in morality police custody. Young people and women led the protests, and demands focused on regime change.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.



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

comparison ranking: total 19

Area - comparative

almost 2.5 times the size of Texas; slightly smaller than Alaska

Area comparison map:
Area comparison map

Land boundaries

total: 5,894 km

border countries (7): Afghanistan 921 km; Armenia 44 km; Azerbaijan 689 km; Iraq 1,599 km; Pakistan 959 km; Turkey 534 km; Turkmenistan 1,148 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


mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast


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


highest point: Kuh-e Damavand 5,625 m

lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m

mean elevation: 1,305 m

Natural resources

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

Land use

agricultural land: 30.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 10.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 1.2% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 18.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 6.8% (2018 est.)

other: 63.1% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

79,721 sq km (2020)

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Caspian Sea (shared with Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan) - 374,000 sq km; Lake Urmia - 5,200 sq km; Lake Namak - 750 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Euphrates (shared with Turkey [s], Syria, and Iraq [m]) - 3,596 km; Tigris (shared with Turkey, Syria, and Iraq [m]) - 1,950 km; Helmand (shared with Afghanistan [s]) - 1,130 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Persian Gulf) Tigris and Euphrates (918,044 sq km)

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

Geography - note

strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport

People and Society


total: 88,386,937

male: 44,795,539

female: 43,591,398 (2024 est.)

comparison rankings: female 17; male 17; total 17


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

major-language sample(s):
چکیده نامه جهان، منبعی ضروری برای کسب اطلاعات کلی جهان (Persian)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Persian audio sample:


Muslim (official) 98.5%, Christian 0.7%, Baha'i 0.3%, agnostic 0.3%, other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, Hindu) 0.2% (2020 est.)

MENA religious affiliation

Age structure

0-14 years: 23.3% (male 10,512,797/female 10,040,282)

15-64 years: 69.8% (male 31,413,125/female 30,267,241)

65 years and over: 7% (2024 est.) (male 2,869,617/female 3,283,875)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 45.3

youth dependency ratio: 34.6

elderly dependency ratio: 10.7

potential support ratio: 9.3 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 33.8 years (2024 est.)

male: 33.6 years

female: 34.1 years

comparison ranking: total 110

Population growth rate

0.88% (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 104

Birth rate

14.3 births/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 119

Death rate

5.3 deaths/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 187

Net migration rate

-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 113

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: 77.3% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.32% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

9.500 million TEHRAN (capital), 3.368 million Mashhad, 2.258 million Esfahan, 1.721 million Shiraz, 1.661 million Tabriz, 1.594 million Karaj (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female

total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2024 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

22 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 119

Infant mortality rate

total: 14.3 deaths/1,000 live births (2024 est.)

male: 15.4 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 13.2 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 97

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 75.6 years (2024 est.)

male: 74.3 years

female: 77.1 years

comparison ranking: total population 125

Total fertility rate

1.91 children born/woman (2024 est.)

comparison ranking: 117

Gross reproduction rate

0.93 (2024 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 99.8% of population

rural: 98.1% of population

total: 99.4% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.2% of population

rural: 1.9% of population

total: 0.6% of population (2020 est.)

Current health expenditure

5.3% of GDP (2020)

Physician density

1.58 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

1.6 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population (2015 est.)

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2023)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea

vectorborne diseases: Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

25.8% (2016)

comparison ranking: 47

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 181

Tobacco use

total: 13.6% (2020 est.)

male: 24.1% (2020 est.)

female: 3.1% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 113

Education expenditures

3.6% of GDP (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 137


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 88.7%

male: 92.4%

female: 88.7% (2021)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 15 years

male: 15 years

female: 15 years (2020)


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-London Convention, Marine Dumping-London Protocol, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation


mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast

Land use

agricultural land: 30.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 10.8% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 1.2% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 18.1% (2018 est.)

forest: 6.8% (2018 est.)

other: 63.1% (2018 est.)


urban population: 77.3% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 1.32% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Revenue from forest resources

0.01% of GDP (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 152

Revenue from coal

0.01% of GDP (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 47

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 31.62 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 661.71 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 158.71 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 17.885 million tons (2017 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 894,250 tons (2017 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 5% (2017 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

salt water lake(s): Caspian Sea (shared with Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan) - 374,000 sq km; Lake Urmia - 5,200 sq km; Lake Namak - 750 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Euphrates (shared with Turkey [s], Syria, and Iraq [m]) - 3,596 km; Tigris (shared with Turkey, Syria, and Iraq [m]) - 1,950 km; Helmand (shared with Afghanistan [s]) - 1,130 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Persian Gulf) Tigris and Euphrates (918,044 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 6.2 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 1.1 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 86 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

137.05 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)


total global geoparks and regional networks: 3

global geoparks and regional networks: Aras; Qeshm Island; Tabas (2023)


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)

daylight saving time: does not observe daylight savings time

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 Iran’s 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-elect Masoud PEZESHKIAN (assumes office on 30 July 2024)

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 28 June 2024 first round (runoff to be held on 5 July 2024)

election results: 2024: first round results - Masoud PEZESHKIAN (independent) 44.4%, Saeed JALILI (Front of Islamic Revolution Stability) 40.4%, Mohammad Baqer QAKIBAF (Progress and Justice Population of Islamic Iran) 14.3%, other 0.9%; second round results - Masoud PEZESHKIAN elected; Masoud PEZESHKIAN 54.8%, Saeed JALILI 45.2$

Ebrahim RAISI elected president; percent of vote - Ebrahim RAISI (independent) 72.4%, Mohsen REZAI (RFII) 13.8%, Abbdolnaser HEMATI (ECP) 9.8%, Amir-Hosein Qazizadeh-HASHEMI (Islamic Law Party) 4%

Note: presidential election held early due to the death of President Ebrahim RAISI in a helicopter accident in May 2024

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 multiple non-transferable vote in 2 rounds, 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 1 March 2024 for 245 seats; second round for 45 remaining seats to be held on 10 May 2024 (next full Majles election to be held in 2028)

election results: percent of vote by coalition in first round - NA; seats by coalition in first round - conservatives and hardliners 200, other 45; composition - NA

Judicial branch

highest court(s): 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 [Mostafa PURMOHAMMADI] (an active political group)
Executives of Construction Party [Hossein MARASHI]
Front of Islamic Revolutionary Stability [Sadegh MAHSULI, secretary general]
Islamic Coalition Party [Asadollah BADAMCHIAN]
Progress and Justice Population of Islamic Iran [Mohammad Saeed AHDIAN]
Militant Clerics Society (Majma-e Ruhaniyoun-e Mobarez) or MRM [Mohammad Mousavi KHOEINIHA]
Moderation and Development Party [Hassan RUHANI]
National Trust Party (Hezb-e E'temad-eMelli) or HEM [Elias HAZRATI]
Progress and Justice Society [Mohammad Saeed AHADIAN]
Union of Islamic Iran People's Party (Hezb-e Ettehad-e Iran-e Eslami) [Azar MANSURI]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: none; Iran has an Interests Section in the Pakistani Embassy; address: Iranian Interests Section, Embassy of Pakistan, 1250 23rd Street NW, Washington, DC 20037; telephone: [1] (202) 965-4990; FAX [1] (202) 965-1073; email:;; website:

Diplomatic representation from the US

embassy: none; the US Interests Section is located in the Embassy of Switzerland; US Foreign Interests Section, Embassy of Switzerland, Pasdaran, Shahid Mousavi Street (Golestan 5th), Corner of Paydarfard Street, No. 55, Tehran

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

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 27 (25 cultural, 2 natural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Persepolis (c); Tchogha Zanbil (c); Bam and its Cultural Landscape (c); Golestan Palace (c); Shushtar Historical Hydraulic System (c); Pasargadae (c); Hyrcanian Forests (n); Tabriz Historic Bazaar Complex (c); Meidan Emam, Esfahan (c); Bisotun (c)


Economic overview

traditionally state-controlled economy but reforming state-owned financial entities; strong oil/gas, agricultural, and service sectors; recent massive inflation due to exchange rate depreciation, international sanctions, and investor uncertainty; increasing poverty

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$1.369 trillion (2022 est.)
$1.319 trillion (2021 est.)
$1.26 trillion (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 20

Real GDP growth rate

3.78% (2022 est.)
4.72% (2021 est.)
3.33% (2020 est.)

note: annual GDP % growth based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 114

Real GDP per capita

$15,500 (2022 est.)
$15,000 (2021 est.)
$14,400 (2020 est.)

note: data in 2017 dollars

comparison ranking: 106

GDP (official exchange rate)

$413.493 billion (2022 est.)

note: data in current dollars at official exchange rate

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

43.49% (2022 est.)
43.39% (2021 est.)
30.59% (2020 est.)

note: annual % change based on consumer prices

comparison ranking: 214

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 9.6% (2016 est.)

industry: 35.3% (2016 est.)

services: 55% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 154; industry 45; agriculture 92

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.)

Agricultural products

wheat, sugarcane, milk, sugar beets, tomatoes, barley, potatoes, vegetables, oranges, chicken (2022)

note: top ten agricultural products based on tonnage


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

7.4% (2022 est.)

note: annual % change in industrial value added based on constant local currency

comparison ranking: 34

Labor force

28.641 million (2022 est.)

note: number of people ages 15 or older who are employed or seeking work

comparison ranking: 24

Unemployment rate

8.82% (2022 est.)
9.28% (2021 est.)
9.69% (2020 est.)

note: % of labor force seeking employment

comparison ranking: 158

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 27.2% (2021 est.)

male: 24%

female: 41.7%

comparison ranking: total 51

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

40.9 (2019 est.)

note: index (0-100) of income distribution; higher values represent greater inequality

comparison ranking: 46

Average household expenditures

on food: 28.7% of household expenditures (2021 est.)

on alcohol and tobacco: 0.5% of household expenditures (2021 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 2.3%

highest 10%: 31.7% (2019 est.)

note: % share of income accruing to lowest and highest 10% of population


0.55% of GDP (2020 est.)
0.47% of GDP (2019 est.)
0.4% of GDP (2018 est.)


revenues: $60.714 billion (2019 est.)

expenditures: $90.238 billion (2019 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

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

comparison ranking: 109

Public debt

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

note: includes publicly guaranteed debt

comparison ranking: 136

Taxes and other revenues

17.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 110

Current account balance

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

comparison ranking: 27


$110.882 billion (2022 est.)
$82.015 billion (2021 est.)
$46.568 billion (2020 est.)

note: GDP expenditure basis - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 47

Exports - partners

China 36%, Turkey 20%, Kuwait 6%, Pakistan 5%, India 4% (2022)

note: top five export partners based on percentage share of exports

Exports - commodities

ethylene polymers, refined copper, acyclic alcohols, aluminum, natural gas (2022)

note: top five export commodities based on value in dollars


$102.47 billion (2022 est.)
$77.33 billion (2021 est.)
$58.461 billion (2020 est.)

note: GDP expenditure basis - exports of goods and services in current dollars

comparison ranking: 47

Imports - partners

China 28%, UAE 19%, Brazil 13%, Turkey 9%, India 6% (2022)

note: top five import partners based on percentage share of imports

Imports - commodities

broadcasting equipment, corn, soybeans, vehicle parts/accessories, rice (2022)

note: top five import commodities based on value in dollars

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

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

comparison ranking: 23

Debt - external

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

comparison ranking: 121

Exchange rates

Iranian rials (IRR) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
42,000 (2021 est.)
42,000 (2020 est.)
42,000 (2019 est.)
40,864.329 (2018 est.)
33,226.298 (2017 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2022 est.)


installed generating capacity: 80.74 million kW (2022 est.)

consumption: 315.843 billion kWh (2022 est.)

exports: 9.47 billion kWh (2022 est.)

imports: 2.273 billion kWh (2022 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 37.65 billion kWh (2022 est.)

comparison rankings: transmission/distribution losses 202; imports 58; exports 25; consumption 12; installed generating capacity 18

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 93.5% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

nuclear: 1.7% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

solar: 0.2% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

wind: 0.2% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

hydroelectricity: 4.4% of total installed capacity (2022 est.)

Nuclear energy

Number of operational nuclear reactors: 1 (2023)

Number of nuclear reactors under construction: 1 (2023)

Net capacity of operational nuclear reactors: 0.92GW (2023 est.)

Percent of total electricity production: 1.7% (2023 est.)


production: 2.791 million metric tons (2022 est.)

consumption: 3.531 million metric tons (2022 est.)

exports: 261,000 metric tons (2022 est.)

imports: 852,000 metric tons (2022 est.)

proven reserves: 1.203 billion metric tons (2022 est.)


total petroleum production: 3.985 million bbl/day (2023 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 2.136 million bbl/day (2022 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 208.6 billion barrels (2021 est.)

Natural gas

production: 263.28 billion cubic meters (2022 est.)

consumption: 244.89 billion cubic meters (2022 est.)

exports: 19.251 billion cubic meters (2022 est.)

imports: 2.788 billion cubic meters (2022 est.)

proven reserves: 33.987 trillion cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

750.453 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 6.714 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 259.198 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 484.541 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 6

Energy consumption per capita

152.479 million Btu/person (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: 25


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 29.342 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 33 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 7

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 145.668 million (2022 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 165 (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 12

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: Iran’s telecom infrastructure has suffered from sanctions in recent years, which prevented the import of equipment and devices and encouraged widespread smuggling, with a consequent loss of tax revenue; to address this, the government introduced a device registration scheme, and bolstered the capacity for domestically manufactured mobile phones; companies have invested in broadening the reach of their LTE networks, which has increased network capacity and improved the quality of mobile broadband services; the country is also looking to 5G; the sector is still limited by low frequency bands; the government is addressing this with plans to reallocate the 3.5GHz band for 5G use; Iran is keen to grow its digital economy; Iran offers significant opportunities for growth in the telecoms sector; the country has one of the largest populations in the Middle East, and there is a high proportion of youthful, tech savvy users having considerable demand for both fixed and mobile telecom services; companies are offering national roaming to improve services in rural areas (2022)

domestic: approximately 33 per 100 for fixed-line and 155 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions (2021)

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)

Broadcast media

state-run broadcast media with no private, independent broadcasters; Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the state-run TV broadcaster, operates more than 60 television channels, more than 50 radio stations, and dozens of newspapers and websites; 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; most major international broadcasters transmit to Iran (2023)

Internet users

total: 69.52 million (2021 est.)

percent of population: 79% (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total 13

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 9,564,195 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 21


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 (2018) mt-km


173 (2024)

comparison ranking: 33


89 (2024)


7 km condensate, 973 km condensate/gas, 20,794 km gas, 570 km liquid petroleum gas, 8,625 km oil, 7,937 km refined products (2013)


total: 8,483.5 km (2014)

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

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

comparison ranking: total 25


total: 223,485 km

paved: 195,618 km

unpaved: 27,867 km (2016)

comparison ranking: total 21


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

comparison ranking: 76

Merchant marine

total: 965 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 32, container ship 28, general cargo 398, oil tanker 86, other 421

comparison ranking: total 24


total ports: 18 (2024)

large: 0

medium: 4

small: 6

very small: 8

ports with oil terminals: 13

key ports: Abadan, Bandar Abbas, Bushehr, Khorramshahr

Military and Security

Military and security forces

the military forces of Iran are divided between the Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (Artesh) and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Sepah):

Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces or Islamic Republic of Iran Army (Artesh): Ground Forces, Navy (includes marines), Air Force, Air Defense Forces

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC or Sepah): Ground Forces, Navy (includes marines), Aerospace Force (controls strategic missile force), Qods Force (aka Quds Force; special operations), Cyber Electronic Command, Basij Paramilitary Forces

Ministry of Interior: Law Enforcement Command

Ministry of Intelligence and Security (2024)

note 1: the Artesh Navy operates Iran’s larger warships and operates in the Gulf of Oman, the Caspian Sea, and deep waters in the region and beyond; the IRGC Navy has responsibility for the closer-in waters of the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz

note 2: the Basij is a volunteer paramilitary group under the IRGC with local organizations across the country, which sometimes acts as an auxiliary law enforcement unit for the IRGC; it is formally known as the Organization for the Mobilization of the Oppressed and also known as the Popular Mobilization Army

note 3: the Ministry of Intelligence and Security and law enforcement forces under the Interior Ministry, which report to the president, and the IRGC, which reports to the supreme leader, share responsibility for law enforcement and maintaining order

note 4: the Law Enforcement Command (FARAJA) is the uniformed police of Iran and includes branches for public security, traffic control, anti-narcotics, special forces (riot control, counterterrorism, hostage rescue, etc), intelligence, and criminal investigations; it has responsibility for border security (Border Guard Command)

Military expenditures

2.5% of GDP (2022 est.)
2.3% of GDP (2021 est.)
2.1% of GDP (2020 est.)
2.5% of GDP (2019 est.)
3.4% of GDP (2018 est.)

comparison ranking: 44

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; up to 600,000 active armed forces personnel; approximately 400,000 Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (350,000 Ground Forces; 18,000 Navy; 40,000 Air Force/Air Defense Forces); approximately 150-190,000 Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (100-150,000 Ground Forces; 20,000 Navy; 15,000 Aerospace Force; 5-15,000 Qods Force); estimated 90,000 active Basij Paramilitary Forces (2023)

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); it also has some military equipment from North Korea, including midget submarines and ballistic missiles; in recent years, Iran has received some newer equipment from Russia; Iran has a defense industry with the capacity to develop, produce, support, and sustain air, land, missile, and naval weapons programs (2023)

Military service age and obligation

military service is compulsory for all Iranian men 18/19 to approximately age 40; 16 for voluntary military service (may be as low as 15 for the Basij); conscript military service obligation is up to 24 months, depending on the location of service (soldiers serving in places of high security risk and deprived areas serve shorter terms); women exempted from military service (2023)

note: conscripts serve in the Artesh, IRGC, and Law Enforcement; approximately 80% of Artesh ground forces personnel are conscripts, while Navy and Air/Air Defense Force personnel are primarily volunteers; conscripts reportedly comprise a significant portion of the IRGC

Military deployments

continues to maintain a military presence in Syria reportedly of a few thousand personnel, mostly of special operations and IRGC forces (2024)

note: Iran has recruited, trained, and funded thousands of Syrian and foreign fighters to support the ASAD regime during the Syrian civil war

Military - note

the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was formed in May 1979 in the immediate aftermath of Shah Mohammad Reza PAHLAVI’s fall, as leftists, nationalists, and Islamists jockeyed for power; while the interim prime minister controlled the government and state institutions, such as the Army, followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah KHOMEINI organized counterweights, including the IRGC, to protect the Islamic revolution; the IRGC’s command structure bypassed the elected president and went directly to KHOMEINI; the IRGC played a critical role in helping KHOMEINI consolidate power in the aftermath of the 1979 revolution, and it ensured that KHOMEINI's Islamic revolutionary vision prevailed against domestic challenges from nationalists and leftist factions in the scramble for control after the Shah's departure

the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88) transformed the IRGC into more of a conventional fighting force with its own ground, air, naval, and special forces, plus control over Iran’s strategic missile and rocket forces; today, the IRGC is a highly institutionalized and parallel military force to Iran’s regular armed forces (Artesh); it is heavily involved in internal security and has significant influence in the political and economic spheres of Iranian society, as well as Iran’s foreign policy; on the economic front, it owns factories and corporations and subsidiaries in banking, infrastructure, housing, airlines, tourism and other sectors; its special operations forces, known as the Qods/Quds Force, specialize in foreign missions and have provided advice, funding, guidance, material support, training, and weapons to militants in countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, as well as extremist groups, including HAMAS, Hizballah, Kata’ib Hizballah, and Palestine Islamic Jihad (see Appendix T for additional details on the IRGC and Qods Force); the Qods Force also conducts intelligence and reconnaissance operations 

the Supreme Council for National Security (SCNS) is the senior-most body for formulating Iran’s foreign and security policy; it is formally chaired by the president, who also appoints the SCNS secretary; its members include the speaker of the Majles, the head of the judiciary, the chief of the Armed Forces General Staff (chief of defense or CHOD), the commanders of the Artesh (regular forces) and IRGC, and the ministers of defense, foreign affairs, interior, and intelligence; the SCNS reports to the supreme leader; the supreme leader is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces

the Iranian Armed Forces are divided between the regular forces (Artesh) and the IRGC; the Artesh primarily focuses on defending Iran’s borders and territorial waters from external threats, while the IRGC has a broader mission to defend the Iranian revolution from any foreign or domestic threat; in 1989, Iran established the Armed Forces General Staff to coordinate military action across both the Artesh and the IRGC; Iran also has a joint military headquarters, the Khatam ol-Anbia Central Headquarters, to command the Artesh and IRGC in wartime (2023)


Space agency/agencies

Iranian Space Agency (ISA; created in 2003 from merging the activities of the Iranian Remote Sensing Center and some of the activities of the Telecommunications Company of Iran); Iran Space Research Center (established, 2000); Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics; Aerospace Industries Organization (AIO; under the Ministry of Defense); Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Space Command (formed in 2020) (2024)

Space launch site(s)

Imam Khomeini Space Center (aka Semnan Space Center; Semnan province); Shahroud Space Center (IGRC military base; Semnan Province); Qom Space Center (Qom Province); inaugurated its first space monitoring center located near Delijan (Markazi Province) in 2013 (2024)

Space program overview

has an ambitious civil and military space program focused on acquiring and operating satellites and developing indigenous satellite/space launch vehicles (SLV); designs, builds, and operates satellites, including communications, remote sensing (RS), and scientific; manufactures and operates SLVs; researching and developing other space-related capabilities and technologies in such areas as telecommunications, RS, navigation, and space situational awareness; UN Security Council and other international sanctions against Iran’s weapons of mass destruction program have severely limited Iran’s cooperation with foreign space agencies and commercial space industries; in recent years, however, it has cooperated with North Korea and Russia on space issues; Iran has also had relations with regional and international space organizations, such as the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization and the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization; it was a founding member of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) established in 1958 (2024)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S


Terrorist group(s)

Terrorist group(s): Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)/Qods Force; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS); Jaysh al Adl (Jundallah); Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK); al-Qa’ida

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 500,000 undocumented Afghans, 750,000 Afghan refugee card holders, 12,000 Iraqi refugee card holders (2022)

stateless persons: 34 (mid-year 2021)

Trafficking in persons

tier rating:

Tier 3 — Iran does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, therefore, Iran remained on Tier 3; the government took some steps that may prevent trafficking of some vulnerable populations, including providing access to schools, basic services, and temporary immigration relief for some Afghan children and adult refugees or migrants who registered for the government’s headcount initiative; however, the government continued a policy or pattern of employing or recruiting child soldiers and facilitating human trafficking; officials continued to perpetrate and condone trafficking crimes with impunity, both in Iran and overseas; the government did not report law enforcement efforts to address trafficking, and it brought spurious charges against LGBTQI+ activists; officials did not report investigating, prosecuting, or convicting officials complicit in the recruiting and use of child soldiers coerced to fight for Iranian-led militias in Syria; the government forced or coerced children to join Iranian security and anti-riot forces to suppress ongoing political protests, and coerced former Afghan Special Forces members to fight for Iranian-backed militia in Yemen; authorities failed to identify and protect trafficking victims among vulnerable populations and continued to deport or detain Afghan adults and children without screening for trafficking indicators (2023)

Illicit drugs

significant transit and destination country for opiates and cannabis products mainly from Afghanistan and Pakistan; produces and consumes methamphetamine and traffics it to  international markets; one of the primary transshipment routes for Southwest Asian heroin to Europe; opium and cannabis most widely used drugs domestically along with increase in crystal methamphetamine