Iran Geography and Population

Iran (Geography)

Iran (Geography), Natural Geography

The Iranian landscape is characterized by mountain ranges from the alpine folding. Tectonic movements are still going on, and devastating earthquakes occur periodically, such as in 1978, when 20,000 people died in northeastern Khorasan, in 1990, when 40,000 died in the provinces of Gilan and Zanjan to the NW, and in 2003, when 41,000 died at Bam in SV. A number of mountain ranges surround the country’s large, central plateau. To the west, the Zagros Mountains stretch from Armenia and Turkey in the north to the Persian Gulf and Baluchestanto the south and east. Especially on the western slope of the mountains and on the river plain in front, the folded layers contain some of the world’s largest oil deposits. South of the Caspian Sea is the narrower and higher Elburz chain with Damavand (5670 m), an extinct volcano and Iran’s highest mountain. To the east are several smaller mountain ranges, which form barriers to Pakistan and Afghanistan. West of these border mountains lies the “empty heart of Persia”, a vast and barren plateau with desert and drainless salt marshes, Dasht-i Lut and Dasht-i Kavir. The plateau receives only very little precipitation, and due to the surrounding mountains it does not drain to the sea, but receives several river courses. The water evaporates in the strong heat and forms hard salt crusts over an underlying layer of mud streams. The salt marshes are largely vegetation-free and very dangerous to navigate; large parts are completely unexplored. Other areas are the stone desert with very sparse vegetation and a scattered nomadic population.

The plateau has an extremely mainland climate with very high summer temperatures and cold winters. Even warmer is the lowlands to the south, where some of the world’s highest temperatures are measured (50-55 °C). In winter, it is coldest in the northwestern Zagros Mountains, but also in the highlands, the temperature can drop to −20 °C. In the eastern parts of the country, the so-called 120-day wind occurs, which in the summer can blow with hurricane strength and cause large amounts of sand. Precipitation is sparse almost everywhere; however, certain mountain slopes receive large quantities. This is especially true of the north side of Elburz, where over 2000 mm falls per year. On the drainless plains there are several salt lakes with very varying water levels. In the northern Zagros Mountains lies the largest lake, Urmia, which is also salty.


The country’s large extent, large impassable areas and the very scattered population have posed major problems for the construction of a functioning infrastructure. The impenetrable “empty heart” has made it impossible to gather around a central capital, and the capital has shifted through the country’s long history; first in the 1700’s. it became Tehran. The construction of roads and railways is associated with great difficulties; Among other things, the young mountain ranges have fewer pass crossings than the Alps, with which they otherwise have certain similarities. Expansion of the railway and road network has long been a high priority. The main railway line is the Trans-Iranian Railway in the western part of the country from the port city of Bandar Khomeinisouth across Tehran to the Caspian Sea. The 1380 km long track was built in 1927-38, from 1933 under the leadership of the Danish company Kampsax. It includes 80 km of tunnels and 250 bridges and was praised by contemporaries as a significant engineering achievement.

Population and occupation

Official Iranian estimates indicate the population at approximately 70 million, incl. Kurdish refugees from Iraq and Afghan refugees. The population is very young and growing by approximately 3% per year. Under the Khomeini regime (1979-89), large-scale population growth was officially considered politically desirable, but subsequent governments saw it as a developmental problem and launched family planning programs.

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Ethnically, the population is very composed; approximately half are Farsi-speaking Iranians; among the larger minorities, they are approximately azeris in the province of Azerbaijan towards the NW; against the border with Turkey and Iraq live another 7 million. Kurds. In the border areas to the east live approximately 2 mio. Turkmens and approximately 2 mio. balucher and at the southern border with Iraq approximately 4 mio. arabere. In addition, there are a large number of small minorities, some of them with Christian culture in the otherwise completely Islamic country. This includes approximately 500,000 Armenians, living mainly in the largest cities.

During and after the Islamic Revolution, many Iranians fled abroad, and it is estimated that half a million. living in exile, including approximately 15,000 in Denmark. It was especially the highly educated who fled, and the Islamic Republic is having trouble finding skilled labor in many industries. Both illiteracy and unemployment pose major problems, which are exacerbated by a large migration from country to city.

Agriculture. Due to the country’s natural geography, only 9% of the area is arable, while approximately three times as much are extensively utilized pastures for especially sheep and goats. With 4 million. ha is intensively cultivated, most often the artificial water, arable land. The largest contiguous agricultural areas are located on the coastal plain of the Caspian Sea. Several valleys in the mountains (especially towards the NW) have from ancient times had production of high quality fruit, apricots and pistachios, of which Iran is the world’s largest producer. The rural population makes up approximately 1/3of the total population. Most have no education and many live in isolated mountain villages. The farms are often very small, and production is hampered by outdated forms of operation, water shortages and generally insufficient investments, including in the development of infrastructure. Development is further hampered by the lack of a long-term agricultural policy, with state priorities favoring Iran’s industrialization. Despite several attempts, land reform has failed to materialize, and since the Islamic Revolution, there have been doubts about ownership of up to 25% of the best agricultural land, further hampering investment. Agriculture remains Iran’s Achilles’ heel, and the country is among the world’s major food importers.

Oil and natural gas.Iran has 9% of the world’s oil reserves and 15% of its natural gas reserves (2005), and the energy sector is crucial to the Iranian economy. Throughout the 1990’s, oil production was fairly constant, while gas production almost tripled. Production takes place mainly offshore in the Persian Gulf and in the southern Zagros Mountains near the border with Iraq. A number of oil pipelines connect the fields with refineries in the big cities. A very large part of the oil production is exported, especially to Japan. In relation to the huge reserves, gas production is quite small, as the domestic market is limited. Gas pipelines to Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have long been planned, but the projects are being slowed down by the uncertain political conditions in the countries involved. The oil sector is also hampered by Iran’s political isolation,

Industry.The Shah regime until 1979 was very ambitious in terms of industrial development, and it aimed to make Iran the world’s fifth largest industrial nation by the year 2000. The Islamic Revolution put an end to these plans, and the clerical regime has not succeeded in formulating a clear industrial policy. Since 1979, many industries have been at a standstill or running at reduced power. Initially, they focused on small and medium-sized businesses affiliated with the bazaars. Since the end of the 1980’s, a privatization program has been sought to be implemented, and shares in the predominantly state-owned heavy industry were put up for sale. However, sales have been slow, and it has not been possible to attract foreign capital to a greater extent. However, industrial development remains a high priority, and in 1990 ‘Bushehr, which with German assistance was commenced during the Shah. The project receives equipment and know-how from Russia, Pakistan and China and have been met with international protests against the background of fears of developing Iranian nuclear weapons.

Tourism. With a very varied and mountainous landscape and rich historical sights (including Persepolis, Pasargadae and Isfahan), Iran was the destination of many wealthy western tourists during the Shah. The revolution, the war with Iraq and the political profile of the new regime put an end to the visits. From an absolute zero point in the 1980’s, tourism has grown significantly, so that in the new millennium the country is visited annually by over 1 million people. tourists, but this remains far from the great potentials that the country holds.

Iran – language

The dominant language, official, administrative and literary, is Farsi or Persian, spoken by approximately half of the population. Other Iranian languages ​​speak Kurdish in northwestern Iran and Baluchi in southeastern Iran. In addition, various Turkish languages, including Azerbaijani and Turkmen; in the oil region of Khuzistan Arabic is spoken. The Christian minorities speak Armenian, New Syrian and Georgian. Certain dialects around the Caspian Sea, such as gilaki, are related to the Middle Iranian language Parthian. For culture and traditions of Iran, please check animalerts.

Iran (Religion)

About 98% of Iran’s population are Muslims, while a very small proportion are Christians, Jews, Zarathustrians or Baha’is. The Muslim population is completely dominated by Shia Muslims who belong to the 12-Imam line (see Imam); some ethnic minorities are Sunni Muslims. Iran’s Shiite jurists have played a major role in the country’s political development since the Safavid takeover in 1501. Under the Pahlavians (1925-79), the Shah tried to limit their political and economic power, but without success. Following a referendum in 1979, Iran was transformed into an Islamic republic.