Iran Overview

By | October 29, 2020

Iran is an Islamic republic in the Middle East bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, Armenia, Azerbaijan (including the Nakhviyevsk Peninsula) and Turkmenistan. The country has a coast towards the Caspian Sea in the north and towards the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean in the south.

Iran flagIran 2

Capital: Tehran
Biggest city: Tehran
State: Islamic Republic
Language: Persian
Religion: Islam
Surface: 1 648 000 km²
Population: 76.5 million (2013)
Population density: 40 residents per km²
Life expectancy: 71 years
Illiteracy: 23%
Currency: Iranian Rial (IRR)
GDP per capita: $ 11,400 (2010)
Time difference: +2.5 hours
Electricity: 220 V AC, 50Hz
National Day: April 1
Country area code: 98
2-Letter country abbreviation: IR (See more abbreviations on Abbreviationfinder)
Business: service sector 46%, agriculture 33%, industry 21%
Climate: predominantly dry, in the north temperate; cold winters and hot summers

Until 1935, the country was also known as Persia. The name Persia comes from the Greek name for Persis, the fertile plateau where the Indo-Iranians settled.

According to the new constitution, adopted after the 1979 revolution, Iran is an Islamic republic. This term is preferred over theocratic republic because the country’s legislation is based on religion, in this case sharia, with high penalties for certain acts, such as the death penalty for homosexuality, infidelity and forcing women to cover their hair when they go outdoors (hijab). According to the constitution, the Islamist Guardian Council must review all adopted laws so that they do not deviate from the constitution or sharia.

Iran’s power structure is a mixture of democracy and theocracy, where high-ranking priests (in this case imams) have power. The people elect both parliament and president, and these have the legislative and executive powers. The elected president is, as in the United States, head of government and appoints the various ministerial posts in the government. However, a religious council with high-ranking Shia Muslim priests – the Guardian Council – has the power to scrutinize both parliament and government and to decide which people are allowed to run in the parliamentary and presidential elections. The people also elect the expert assembly – a form of consultative body that is only an advisory body.

The country’s economy is based on the rich oil resources, which, after being nationalized in 1951, account for 90 percent of export earnings. Iran is OPEC’s second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia and the second largest natural gas producer in the world after Russia.

The production of handicrafts, especially carpets, is also an important industry. Iran is also a world leader in saffron manufacturing; 95 percent of the world’s saffron comes from Iran.

Literature has a high position in Iranian culture and the country is famous above all for its classic poetry.


The following objects in Iran are listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The year in which the item was added to the list is indicated in parentheses.

  • Mosque and palace complex at Meidam-i Shah Square, Esfahan (1979)
  • Ruins of Persepolis (1979)
  • Ruins of Tchogha-Zambil (1979)
  • The Great Sanctuary of Takht-e Soleyman (2003)
  • The city of Bam and its cultural landscape (2004)
  • The ancient Persian city of Pasargadae (2004)
  • Uljaitus Mausoleum in Soltaniyeh (2005)
  • The ancient remains in Bisotun (2006)
  • Armenian monastery in Iran (2008)
  • Shushtar, Comprehensive Historical Water Supply System (2009)
  • Mausoleum of Sheikh Safi al-din Khānegāh, Ardabil (2010)
  • Historic Bazaar Area in Tabriz (2010)
  • Persian Gardens, located in nine of the country’s provinces (2011)
  • Gonbad-e Qābus, 53 meter high tomb tower from 1006 (2012)
  • The Friday Mosque, Masjed-e Jāmé, in Esfahan (2012)
  • Golestan Palace, Tehran (2013)
  • Shahr-I Sokhta (2014)


Electricity and electrical outlets in Iran

Voltage: 230 V

Frequency: 50 Hz

Type of plug: C

Need an adapter: No, you do not need an adapter.


Weather in Tehran

Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Christmas Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average temperature °C 2 5 10 16 21 27 29 29 25 18 11 5
Rain (mm) 37 37 40 31 15 3 1 2 1 9 23 32


Esfahan is Iran’s third largest city, with a population of 1.6 million (2006). The city is one of the world’s most architecturally significant historic cities, with magnificent palaces, mosques and squares as well as the city’s huge bazaars. Most were built during Esfahan’s heyday as capital in the 18th century.


Hamadan is located in western Iran and has 479,640 residents (2006). It is one of Iran’s oldest cities, mentioned in Assyrian annals around 1,100 BC. The city often served as the capital of Iran. However, its older building history is not known, as more extensive excavations could not be carried out.


Kish is the largest town on the island of the same name. Kish is a holiday island in the Persian Gulf in southern Iran. The island belongs to the province of Hormozgan and forms a free trade zone. This makes the island a major business center, with many shopping malls, tourist attractions and holiday hotels. The island has about 20,000 residents, and receives about 1.5 million tourists annually. The island’s area is 91.5 km².

In 2010, the island of Kish was ranked as one of the world’s 10 most beautiful islands by the New York Times. The island of Kish is said to be the 3rd most visited place by tourists in the Middle East after Sharm el-Sheikh and Dubai.


Mashhad is Iran’s holiest city, with a population of 2.4 million (2006). It is Iran’s second largest city. In the ninth century, the eighth Shiite Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Rida, also known as Imam Reza, was poisoned and died a martyr’s death in the city. His tomb has made the city Iran’s foremost Shiite pilgrimage site and center for theological schools.


Qom is a city in Iran with just over 1 million residents (2010). The city is one of the holiest of Shia Muslims and is Iran’s theological center where all believers are educated. The two most famous mosques are the Fatima al-Masumah Mosque and the Jamkaran Mosque.


According to Countryaah, Tehran is the capital of Iran and has 7.7 million residents (2006). The metropolitan area has 13.4 million residents and includes, among others, the million-strong city of Karaj.

Tehran is located in the northern part of the country at 1,200 meters above sea level. The rivers Jajrud and Karaj flow along each side of the city. More than half of the country’s industries are located in the city or its vicinity. The city has two international airports as well as several military airports. The symbol of Tehran is the 50 meter high tower Azadi. Tehran has become more and more an economic and cultural center, which means that people from other parts of Iran are drawn to the city on a large scale.

Tehran’s main attractions include the Royal Palaces, mainly the Golestan Palace and the Niyavaran Palace, as well as a variety of museums, such as the Museum of Archeology (Muze-ye Iran-e sauna), the Museum of Miniature Painting (Muze-ye Reza Abbasi) and the Museum of Ceramics (Muze-ye abgine). The Archaeological Museum has a rich collection of objects from the time both from before and after Islam. There are also several large parks in Tehran, of which those in northern Tehran, such as the National Park (Park-e mellat) are the most popular. Most hotels are located in the central parts of the city.


Yazd is a city in central Iran. It is the administrative capital of Yazd Province and has 432,194 residents (2006). The city is the central site of Zoroastrianism and the fire temple Ateshkadeh has a burning fire inside the temple which, according to legend, is said to have burned there since the 400s.