Formal Name: Islamic Republic of Iran.

Short Form: Iran.

Term for Citizens: Iranian.

Capital: Tehran.


Size: Land area of about 1,648,000 square kilometers; sovereignty claimed over territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles.

Topography: Large Central Plateau surrounded on three sides by rugged mountain ranges. Highest peak Mount Damavand, approximately 5,600 meters; Caspian Sea about 27 meters below sea level.


Population: Preliminary results of October 1986 census listed total population as 48,181,463, including approximately 2.6 million refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq. Population grew at rate of 3.6 percent per annum between 1976 and 1986. Government figures showed 50 percent of population under fifteen years of age in 1986.

Education: School system consists of five years of primary (begun at seven years of age), three years of middle school, and four years of high school education. High school has three cycles: academic, science and mathematics, and vocational technical. Government announced 11.5 million students in above school system in academic year 1986-87; percentage of school age population in school not published. Postrevolution decrease in university enrollments, particularly percentage of women students, which declined from 40 percent in prerevolutionary period to 10 percent in 1984. Number of students abroad also declined.

Health: Iranian Medical Association reported 12,300 doctors in 1986; 38,000 additional doctors needed to provide population with minimally adequate health care. Most medical personnel located in large cities. High infant mortality rate. Gastrointestinal, parasitic, and respiratory diseases other chief causes of mortality.

Languages: Persian official language and native tongue of over half the population. Spoken as a second language by majority of the remainder. Other Indo-European languages, such as Kirmanji (the collective term in Iran for the dialects spoken by Kurds), as well as Turkic languages and Arabic also important.

Religion: Shia Islam official religion with at least 90 percent adherence. Also approximately 8 percent Sunni Muslims and smaller numbers of Bahais, Armenian and Assyrian Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians.


Gross Domestic Product: About US$168 billion in 1985, US$165 billion in 1986, and US$176 billion (estimated) in 1987 (figure given at official rate; unofficial rate as much as 10 times higher for United States dollar value of rial). Percentage of GDP growth 1.5 percent (real) in 1985 and 10 percent (estimated) in 1986. Inflation rate estimated at 20 percent in 1985, 30 percent in 1986, and 35 percent in 1987. Figures must be regarded with caution as official sources seriously underestimate rate of inflation and currency depreciation.

Gross National Product: 1986 estimate US$82.4 billion.

Industry: Oil major industry. In 1986 oil production averaged 1.9 million barrels per day; in January 1987 crude oil production averaged 2.2 million barrels per day, of which exports averaged between 1.5 million and 1.7 million barrels per day. Reported reserves of 48.5 billion barrels in 1986 ranked Iran fourth behind Saudi Arabia, Soviet Union, and Kuwait. Damage to Iranian oil installations during 1986-87 reduced oil production and exports substantially. Natural gas reserves claimed by government to be 13.8 trillion cubic meters in 1987. Oil and gas produced estimated 8 percent of GDP in FY 1986-87. Non-oil industry mainly agricultural products, carpets, textiles, and war-related manufacturing such as munitions. Industry employed approximately 31 percent of work force in 1987. Manufacturing and mining produced estimated 23 percent of GDP in FY 1986-87. Services produced estimated 48 percent of GDP in FY 1986-87.

Agriculture: Accounted for estimated 21 percent of GDP in FY 1986- 87 and employed approximately 38 percent of work force. Despite regime efforts to promote self-sufficiency, Iran more dependent on agricultural imports in 1987 than in 1970s. Lack of progress resulted from unresolved land reform issues, poor cultivation practices, lack of farm labor because of military service, and migration to cities.

Imports: In 1983-84 about US$18.1 billion. Principal imports: road vehicles and machines (35 percent), manufactures and iron and steel (29 percent), and food and live animals (13 percent).

Exports: In 1985 about US$13.4 billion, of which all but about US$270 million from oil and gas. Oil exports in FY 1986-87 estimated between US$10.5 billion and US$11.5 billion; about US$900 million non-oil exports.

Major Trade Areas: In 1985 about 16 percent of imports from Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), 13 percent from Japan, 7 percent from Britain, and 6 percent each from Italy and Turkey. In 1985 about 16 percent of exports to Japan and 9 percent each to Italy and Turkey.


Roads: In 1984 a total of 136,381 kilometers of roads, of which 41 percent paved; of paved roads 16,551 kilometers of main roads and 34,838 kilometers of secondary roads.

Railroads: About 4,700 kilometers of railroads in 1987, including newly electrified track in north between Tabriz and Jolfa for Soviet imports; also rail connection with Turkey.

Pipelines: About 5,900 kilometers for crude oil; 3,900 kilometers for refined products; 3,300 kilometers for natural gas in 1987; some possibly inoperable as result of war damage.

Airports: In 1987 three international airports: Tehran, Abadan, and Esfahan. Other airports being expanded and construction for new ones planned.

Communications: In 1986 about 1.5 million telephones; 3,000 out of 70,000 rural communities had telephones in 1987 compared with 300 in 1979. Further telephone expansion planned. Additional microwave links opened between Tehran, Ankara, and Karachi in early 1980s.


Government: Islamic Republic under Constitution of 1979, with Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini as faqih (see Glossary) for life and ultimate decision maker. Executive branch included elected president, responsible for selecting prime minister and cabinet, which must be approved by parliament, or Majlis (see Glossary), elected legislative assembly. Judiciary independent of both executive and Majlis. Council of Guardians, consisting of six religious scholars appointed by faqih and six Muslim lawyers approved by Majlis, ensured conformity of legislation with Islamic law.

Politics: Islamic Republican Party, created in 1979, dissolved in 1987 because its factions made it unmanageable. Iran Freedom Movement, a nonreligious political party, existed in 1987 but had been intimidated into silence. Opposition political parties existed in exile abroad: monarchists, democrats, Kurds, Islamic groups, and Marxists. Regime stressed mass political participation through religious institutions, such as mosques, rather than political parties. Factories, schools, and offices had Islamic associations similar to mosque voluntary associations. Fervent religious zeal and support for the Revolution promoted by the Pasdaran (Pasdaran- e Enghelab-e Islami, or Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Revolutionary Guards).

Administrative Divisions: Country divided into twenty-four provinces (ostans), each under a governor general (ostandar); provinces subdivided into counties (shahrestans), each under a governor (farmandar). Most administrative officials appointive and answerable to central Ministry of Interior. In addition, each county had clerical imam jomeh chosen from among county senior clergy. Imam jomeh served as representative of faqih.

Foreign Affairs: Policy of Islamic revolutionary government based on export of Islamic revolution and liberation of Islamic and Third World countries generally. Other major policy was independence from both West and East, especially United States, the "Great Satan," and Soviet Union, the "Lesser Satan." War with Iraq, which began in 1980, had been very costly in men and matériel. War ended with Iran's acceptance of a cease- fire in July 1988.


Armed Forces: In 1986 army, 305,000; navy, 14,500; air force, 35,000. Two-thirds of army conscripted; majority of navy and air force volunteers. Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards)--approximately 350,000.

Combat Units and Major Equipment: (Note: because of wartime losses, equipment estimates were highly tentative.) Army had three mechanized divisions, each with three brigades--each of which in turn had three armored and six mechanized battalions, seven infantry divisions, one airborne brigade, one Special Forces division composed of four brigades, one Air Support Command, some independent armored brigades including infantry and "coastal force," twelve surface-to-air missile (SAM) battalions with improved Hawk missiles, reserve Qods battalion of ex- servicemen, about 1,000 tanks, and about 320 combat helicopters. Navy had fifteen combat vessels and thirty naval aircraft in 1986; by late 1987 only some small patrol craft and a few Hovercraft believed operable; three marine battalions; naval air had about thirty aircraft, mainly helicopters. Air force consisted of eight fighter and fighter-bomber squadrons, one reconnaissance squadron, two joint tanker-transport squadrons, five light transport squadrons, and five SAM squadrons; about ninety operational aircraft in 1986. Pasdaran had possibly eight divisions loosely organized in eleven regional commands and numerous independent brigades.

Paramilitary: Basij "Popular Mobilization Army" volunteers--strength varied; in 1986 said to be 3 million.

Military Budget: (figures varied and unreliable) In 1985-86 military budget estimated at US$14.1 billion; total war-related expenses by 1987 estimated at US$100 billion.

Police and Internal Security Agencies: In 1986 Gendarmerie about 70,000, including border guard; National Police, approximately 200,000; SAVAMA secret police, number unknown.