Iran (slightly larger than Alaska) encompasses 1.6 million sq.km.; it borders the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan. Iran has an estimated population of 76,923,300 million; the majority of Iranians are Shi'a Muslim (89%) with Sunni Muslim (9%) and others (2%). The capital city is Tehran; other major cities are: Isfahan, Tabriz, Mashhad, Shiraz, Yazd, and Qom.
Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar referred to commonly as the Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader is accountable only to the Assembly of Experts - a popularly elected 86-member body of clerics. During 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 between 1987 and 1988. 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. In mid-February 2011, opposition activists conducted the largest antiregime rallies since December 2009, spurred by the success of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. Protester turnout probably was at most tens of thousands and security forces were deployed to disperse protesters. Additional protests in March 2011 failed to elicit significant participation.
The UN Security Council has passed a number of resolutions (1696 in July 2006, 1737 in December 2006, 1747 in March 2007, 1803 in March 2008, and 1835 in September 2008 and 1929 in June 2010) calling for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and comply with its International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) obligations and responsibilities. Resolutions 1737, 1477, 1803 and 1929 subject a number of Iranian individuals and entities involved in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs to sanctions. Additionally, several Iranian entities are subject to US sanctions under Executive Order 13382 designations for proliferation activities and EO 13224 designations for support of terrorism.
Iran's climate is mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast; its terrain rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts. The natural resources of Iran include: petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, and sulfur. Natural hazards facing Iran include: periodic droughts, floods, dust storms, sandstorms, and earthquakes.
U.S. State Department Background Notes; CIA World Factbook, 2/2011; 5/2011
This map has also been used:
- Iran, December 2010