Country Listing

Iran Table of Contents



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.

Data as of December 1987