Country Listing

Iran Table of Contents



Since the Revolution, there has been a small but steady emigration of educated Iranians. Estimates of the number vary from 750,000 to 1.5 million. Most such emigrants have preferred to settle in Western Europe or the United States, although there are also sizable communities of Iranians in Turkey. Newspapers in Istanbul claimed during 1986 that as many as 600,000 Iranians were living in Turkey, although the Turkish Ministry of Interior has reported that there are only about 30,000 Iranians in the country. The United States census for 1980 found 122,000 Iranians living in the United States. By 1987 it was estimated this number exceeded 200,000, with the largest concentration found in southern California.

Iranian emigrants tended to be highly educated, many holding degrees from American and West European universities. A sizable proportion were members of the prerevolutionary political elite. They had been wealthy before the Revolution, and many succeeded in transferring much of their wealth out of Iran during and after the Revolution.

Other Iranians who have emigrated include members of religious minorities, especially Bahais and Jews; intellectuals who had opposed the old regime, which they accused of suppressing free thought and who have the same attitude toward the Islamic Republic; members of ethnic minorities; political opponents of the government in Tehran; and some young men who deserted from the military or sought to avoid conscription. There were virtually no economic emigrants from Iran, although a few thousand Iranians have continued to work in Kuwait, Qatar, and other Persian Gulf states, as before the Revolution.

Data as of December 1987