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total: 1.648 million sq km
land: 1.636 million sq km
water: 12,000 sq km

Area—comparative: slightly larger than Alaska

Climate: mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast

Terrain: rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur

Population: 68,959,931 (July 1998 est.)
note: includes 607,252 non-nationals (July 1998 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 43% (male 15,371,060; female 14,513,782)
15-64 years: 53% (male 18,469,620; female 17,810,596)
65 years and over: 4% (male 1,428,471; female 1,366,402) (July 1998 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.04% (1998 est.)

Birth rate: 31.37 births/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Death rate: 6.19 deaths/1,000 population (1998 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 48.95 deaths/1,000 live births (1998 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.25 years
male: 66.83 years
female: 69.74 years (1998 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.31 children born/woman (1998 est.)

Ethnic groups: Persian 51%, Azerbaijani 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurd 7%, Arab 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%

Religions: Shi'a Muslim 89%, Sunni Muslim 10%, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Baha'i 1%

Languages: Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 72.1%
male: 78.4%
female: 65.8% (1994 est.)

National capitol:  Tehran

Independence: 1 April 1979 (Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed)

Constitution: 2-3 December 1979; revised 1989 to expand powers of the presidency and eliminate the prime ministership

Suffrage: 15 years of age; universal

Political parties and leaders: Iran has no political parties; the most important political "groupings" are—Tehran Militant Clergy Association, Secretary General Ayatollah Mohammad EMAMI-KASHANI; Militant Clerics Association, Mehdi MAHDAVI-KARUBI and Mohammad Asqar MUSAVI-KHOINIHA; Servants of Reconstruction (G-6), Mohammad HASHEMI-RAFSANJANI, Hosein MARASHI

Economy—overview: Iran's economy is a mixture of central planning, state ownership of oil and other large enterprises, village agriculture, and small-scale private trading and service ventures. Newly elected President KHATAMI has continued to follow the market reform plans of former President RAFSANJANI and has indicated that he will pursue diversification of Iran's oil-reliant economy. In the early 1990s, Iran experienced a financial crisis and was forced to reschedule $15 billion in debt. The strong oil market in 1996 helped ease financial pressures on Iran and allowed for Tehran's timely debt service payments. Iran's financial situation tightened in 1997 and early 1998 because of lower oil prices. Iran may be forced to decrease imports and slow debt repayments if the oil market worsens further.

Industries: petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabricating, armaments

Agriculture—products: wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, fruits, nuts, cotton; dairy products, wool; caviar

total value: $19 billion (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
commodities: petroleum 80%, carpets, fruits, nuts, hides, iron, steel
partners: Japan, US, UK, Germany, South Korea, UAE

total value: $15.6 billion (f.o.b., 1997 est.)
commodities: machinery, military supplies, metal works, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, technical services, refined oil products
partners: Germany, Italy, Japan, UAE, UK, Belgium

Debt—external: $21.9 billion (1996 est.)

Military manpower—availability:  males age 15-49: 16,270,295 (1998 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:  males: 9,672,021 (1998 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: according to official Iranian data, Iran budgeted 8,283.9 billion rials for defense in 1997; note—conversion of defense expenditures into US dollars using current exchange rates could produce misleading results

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