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Fast Facts About PERSIA (IRAN)

Formal NameThe Islamic Republic of Iran
Official LanguageFarsi or Persian
Geographic Coordinates32 00 N, 53 00 E
LocationMiddle East, bordering the Sea of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan
Area1,648,195 km2 (18th)
TimeGMT +3:30 September 22 to March 21
GMT +4:30 March 22 to September 21
Bordering CountriesAfghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan-proper 432 km, Azerbaijan Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1,458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, Turkmenistan 992 km, total 5,440 km
Coastline2,440 km along the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf; Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)
Climate Mostly arid or semi-arid, subtropical along the Caspian Coast
Best Time to VisitAll the year
TerrainRugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts
Elevation ExtremesCaspian Sea -28 m, Mount Damavand 5,671 m
Natural ResourcesPetroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur
Land UseArable land 10%, permanent crops 1%, permanent pastures 27%, forests and woodland 7%, other 55%
Administrative Divisions28 Provinces
Major CitiesTehran, Mashad, Isfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz
Population65,000,000 (July 1999 est.)
Ethnic GroupsPersian 51%, Azerbaijani 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baluch 2%, Turkic 1%, other 2%
ReligionsMuslim 99%; Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians 1%
EconomyA mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures
IndustriesPetroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, construction materials, food processing, metal fabricating, automobile manufactoring
Agricultural ProductsWheat, rice, sugar beets, fruits, pistachios, cotton, dairy products, wool; caviar
ExportsPetroleum, carpets, fruits, nuts, hides, steel
Exchange RateApproximately 9000 Rials to one US Dollar
Calling code98
TransportationImam Khomeini International Airport, is30 km south of Tehran.Taxis from the airport (and elsewhere) don't use meters, so be sure to agree on the fare before getting in the cab. There is a reliable prepaid taxi service outside the international arrivals hall. There's rail service, both within the country and to Europe and surrounding countries. There is excellent bus service between Istanbul and Tehran. Land borders with Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan are open.

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