Careers, Jobs and Education Resources for: Iran

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Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and the shah was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar referred to commonly as the Supreme Leader who, according to the constitution, is accountable only to the Assembly of Experts. US-Iranian relations have been strained since a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran on 4 November 1979 and held it until 20 January 1981. During 1980-88, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq that eventually expanded into the Persian Gulf and led to clashes between US Navy and Iranian military forces between 1987 and 1988. Iran has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism for its activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world and remains subject to US and UN economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement in terrorism and conventional weapons proliferation. Following the election of reformer Hojjat ol-Eslam Mohammad KHATAMI as president in 1997 and similarly a reformer Majles (parliament) in 2000, a campaign to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction was initiated. The movement floundered as conservative politicians, through the control of unelected institutions, prevented reform measures from being enacted and increased repressive measures. Starting with nationwide municipal elections in 2003 and continuing through Majles elections in 2004, conservatives reestablished control over Iran's elected government institutions, which culminated with the August 2005 inauguration of hardliner Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD as president. In December 2006 and March 2007, the international community passed resolutions 1737 and 1747 respectively after Iran failed to comply with UN demands to halt the enrichment of uranium or to agree to full IAEA oversight of its nuclear program. In October 2007, Iranian entities were also subject to US sanctions under EO 13382 designations for proliferation activities and EO 13224 designations for providing material support to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. (from the CIA)


Economic Overview

Iran's economy is marked by an inefficient state sector, reliance on the oil sector (which provides 85% of government revenues), and statist policies that create major distortions throughout. most economic activity is controlled by the state. private sector activity is typically small-scale workshops, farming, and services. president mahmud ahmadi-nejad failed to make any notable progress in fulfilling the goals of the nation's latest five-year plan. a combination of price controls and subsidies, particularly on food and energy, continue to weigh down the economy, and administrative controls, widespread corruption, and other rigidities undermine the potential for private-sector-led growth. as a result of these inefficiencies, significant informal market activity flourishes and shortages are common. high oil prices in recent years have enabled iran to amass nearly $70 billion in foreign exchange reserves. yet this increased revenue has not eased economic hardships, which include double-digit unemployment and inflation - inflation climbed to 26% as of june 2008. the economy has seen only moderate growth. iran's educated population, economic inefficiency and insufficient investment - both foreign and domestic - have prompted an increasing number of iranians to seek employment overseas, resulting in significant "brain drain."

Environmental Issues

Air pollution, especially in urban areas, from vehicle emissions, refinery operations, and industrial effluents; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; oil pollution in the persian gulf; wetland losses from drought; soil degradation (salination); inadequate supplies of potable water; water pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste; urbanization

Government Type

Theocratic republic


65,875,224 (july 2008 est.)


Middle east, bordering the gulf of oman, the persian gulf, and the caspian sea, between iraq and pakistan


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

Slightly larger than alaska

Country Aliases

Conventional long form: islamic republic of iran conventional short form: iran local long form: jomhuri-ye eslami-ye iran local short form: iran former: persia


Name: tehran geographic coordinates: 35 40 n, 51 25 e time difference: utc+3.5 (8.5 hours ahead of washington, dc during standard time)

Military Service

19 years of age for compulsory military service; 16 years of age for volunteers; 17 years of age for law enforcement forces; 15 years of age for basij forces (popular mobilization army); conscript military service obligation - 18 months; women exempt from military service (2008)

International Disputes

Iran protests afghanistan's limiting flow of dammed tributaries to the helmand river in periods of drought; iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the shatt al arab in the persian gulf; iran and uae dispute tunb islands and abu musa island, which are occupied by iran; iran stands alone among littoral states in insisting upon a division of the caspian sea into five equal sectors

Sources: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

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