Iran vs. Iraq



Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza PAHLAVI was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces led by Ayatollah Ruhollah KHOMEINI 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 (AOE) - a popularly elected 88-member body of clerics. US-Iranian relations became strained when a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and held embassy personnel hostages until mid-January 1981. The US cut off diplomatic relations with Iran in April 1980. During the period 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. Iran has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism for its activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world and remains subject to US, UN, and EU economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement in terrorism and concerns over possible military dimensions of its nuclear program. Following the election of reformer Hojjat ol-Eslam Mohammad KHATAMI as president in 1997 and a reformist Majles (legislature) in 2000, a campaign to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction was initiated. The movement floundered as conservative politicians, supported by the Supreme Leader, unelected institutions of authority like the Council of Guardians, and the security services reversed and blocked reform measures while increasing security repression.

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 AHMADINEZHAD as president. His controversial reelection in June 2009 sparked nationwide protests over allegations of electoral fraud, but the protests were quickly suppressed. Deteriorating economic conditions due primarily to government mismanagement and international sanctions prompted at least two major economically based protests in July and October 2012, but Iran's internal security situation remained stable. President AHMADINEZHAD's independent streak angered regime establishment figures, including the Supreme Leader, leading to conservative opposition to his agenda for the last year of his presidency, and an alienation of his political supporters. In June 2013 Iranians elected a centrist cleric Dr. Hasan Fereidun ROHANI to the presidency. He is a longtime senior member in the regime, but has made promises of reforming society and Iran's foreign policy. The UN Security Council has passed a number of resolutions calling for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and comply with its IAEA obligations and responsibilities, and in July 2015 Iran and the five permanent members, plus Germany (P5+1) signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under which Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Iran held elections in 2016 for the AOE and Majles, resulting in a conservative-controlled AOE and a Majles that many Iranians perceive as more supportive of the ROHANI administration than the previous, conservative-dominated body. RUHANI was reelected president in May 2017. Economic concerns once again led to nationwide protests in December 2017 and January 2018 but they were contained by Iran's security services. In May 2018, the US withdrew from the JCPOA and reinstituted economic sanctions on Iran in November.

Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by the United Kingdom during World War I and was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration in 1920. Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. It was proclaimed a "republic" in 1958 after a coup overthrew the monarchy, but in actuality, a series of strongmen ruled the country until 2003. The last was SADDAM Husayn from 1979 to 2003. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. After Iraq's expulsion, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions led to the Second Gulf War in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led forces.

In October 2005, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum and, pursuant to this document, elected a 275-member Council of Representatives (COR) in December 2005. The COR approved most cabinet ministers in May 2006, marking the transition to Iraq's first constitutional government in nearly a half century. Iraq held elections for provincial councils in all governorates in January 2009 and April 2013 and postponed the next provincial elections, originally planned for April 2017, until 2019. Iraq has held three national legislative elections since 2005, most recently in May 2018 when 329 legislators were elected to the COR. Adil ABD AL-MAHDI assumed the premiership in October 2018 as a consensus and independent candidate - the first prime minister who is not an active member of a major political bloc. His cabinet has been hailed as one of the most technocratic since 2005.

Between 2014 and 2017, Iraq was engaged in a military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) to recapture territory lost in the western and northern portion of the country. Iraqi and allied forces recaptured Mosul, the country's second-largest city, in 2017 and drove ISIS out of its other urban strongholds. In December 2017, then-Prime Minister Haydar al-ABADI publicly declared victory against ISIS while continuing operations against the group's residual presence in rural areas. Also in late 2017, ABADI responded to an independence referendum held by the Kurdish Regional Government by ordering Iraqi forces to take control of disputed territories across central and northern Iraq that were previously occupied and governed by Kurdish forces.


Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan
Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
Geographic coordinates
32 00 N, 53 00 E
33 00 N, 44 00 E
Map references
Middle East
Middle East
total: 1,648,195 sq km
land: 1,531,595 sq km
water: 116,600 sq km
total: 438,317 sq km
land: 437,367 sq km
water: 950 sq km
Area - comparative
almost 2.5 times the size of Texas; slightly smaller than Alaska
slightly more than three times the size of New York state
Land boundaries
total: 5,894 km
border countries (7): Afghanistan 921 km, Armenia 44 km, Azerbaijan 689 km, Iraq 1599 km, Pakistan 959 km, Turkey 534 km, Turkmenistan 1148 km
total: 3,809 km
border countries (6): Iran 1599 km, Jordan 179 km, Kuwait 254 km, Saudi Arabia 811 km, Syria 599 km, Turkey 367 km
2,440 km - note: Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)
58 km
Maritime claims
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: natural prolongation
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: not specified
mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast
mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq
rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts
mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey
Elevation extremes
mean elevation: 1,305 m
lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
highest point: Kuh-e Damavand 5,625 m
mean elevation: 312 m
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Cheekha Dar (Kurdish for "Black Tent") 3,611 m
Natural resources
petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur
petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
Land use
agricultural land: 30.1% (2011 est.)
arable land: 10.8% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 1.2% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 18.1% (2011 est.)
forest: 6.8% (2011 est.)
other: 63.1% (2011 est.)
agricultural land: 18.1% (2011 est.)
arable land: 8.4% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0.5% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 9.2% (2011 est.)
forest: 1.9% (2011 est.)
other: 80% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land
95,530 sq km (2012)
35,250 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards
periodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes
dust storms; sandstorms; floods
Environment - current 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 water control projects drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Marsh Arabs, who inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area's wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation (salination) and erosion; desertification; military and industrial infrastructure has released heavy metals and other hazardous substances into the air, soil, and groundwater; major sources of environmental damage are effluents from oil refineries, factory and sewage discharges into rivers, fertilizer and chemical contamination of the soil, and industrial air pollution in urban areas
Environment - international agreements
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation
party to: Biodiversity, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note
strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport
strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf
Population distribution
population is concentrated in the north, northwest, and west, reflecting the position of the Zagros and Elburz Mountains; the vast dry areas in the center and eastern parts of the country, around the deserts of the Dasht-e Kavir and Dasht-e Lut, have a much lower population density
population is concentrated in the north, center, and eastern parts of the country, with many of the larger urban agglomerations found along extensive parts of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers; much of the western and southern areas are either lightly populated or uninhabited


83,024,745 (July 2018 est.)
40,194,216 (July 2018 est.)
Age structure
0-14 years: 24.23% (male 10,291,493 /female 9,823,838)
15-24 years: 14.05% (male 5,973,320 /female 5,689,501)
25-54 years: 48.86% (male 20,698,748 /female 19,863,223)
55-64 years: 7.39% (male 3,022,134 /female 3,113,443)
65 years and over: 5.48% (male 2,111,390 /female 2,437,655) (2018 est.)
0-14 years: 39.01% (male 8,005,327 /female 7,674,802)
15-24 years: 19.42% (male 3,976,085 /female 3,829,086)
25-54 years: 33.97% (male 6,900,984 /female 6,752,797)
55-64 years: 4.05% (male 788,602 /female 839,291)
65 years and over: 3.55% (male 632,753 /female 794,489) (2018 est.)
Median age
total: 30.8 years (2018 est.)
male: 30.5 years
female: 31 years
total: 20.2 years (2018 est.)
male: 20 years
female: 20.5 years
Population growth rate
1.19% (2018 est.)
2.5% (2018 est.)
Birth rate
17.4 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
30 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Death rate
5.3 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
3.8 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Net migration rate
-0.2 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
-1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2018 est.)
Infant mortality rate
total: 15.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
male: 16.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.4 deaths/1,000 live births
total: 37.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
male: 40.6 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 34.2 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 74.2 years (2018 est.)
male: 72.8 years
female: 75.6 years
total population: 74.9 years (2018 est.)
male: 72.6 years
female: 77.2 years
Total fertility rate
1.96 children born/woman (2018 est.)
3.94 children born/woman (2018 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
0.1% (2018 est.)
noun: Iranian(s)
adjective: Iranian
noun: Iraqi(s)
adjective: Iraqi
Ethnic groups
Persian, Azeri, Kurd, Lur, Baloch, Arab, Turkmen and Turkic tribes
Arab 75-80%, Kurdish 15-20%, other 5% (includes Turkmen, Yezidi, Shabak, Kaka'i, Bedouin, Romani, Assyrian, Circassian, Sabaean-Mandaean, Persian)

note: data is a 1987 government estimate; no more recent reliable numbers are available

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
61,000 (2018 est.)
Muslim (official) 99.4% (Shia 90-95%, Sunni 5-10%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian) 0.3%, unspecified 0.4% (2011 est.)
Muslim (official) 95-98% (Shia 64-69%, Sunni 29-34%), Christian 1% (includes Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Assyrian Church of the East), other 1-4% (2015 est.)

note: while there has been voluntary relocation of many Christian families to northern Iraq, the overall Christian population has decreased at least 50% and perhaps as high as 90% since the fall of the SADDAM Husayn regime in 2003, according to US Embassy estimates, with many fleeing to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon

HIV/AIDS - deaths
2,600 (2018 est.)
Persian (official), Azeri Turkic and Turkic dialects, Kurdish, Gilaki and Mazandarani, Luri, Balochi, Arabic
Arabic (official), Kurdish (official), Turkmen (a Turkish dialect), Syriac (Neo-Aramaic), and Armenian are official in areas where native speakers of these languages constitute a majority of the population
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.5%
male: 90.4%
female: 80.8% (2016 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.7%
male: 85.7%
female: 73.7% (2015 est.)
Major infectious diseases
degree of risk: intermediate (2016)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea (2016)
vectorborne diseases: Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (2016)
degree of risk: intermediate (2016)
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever (2016)
Education expenditures
3.8% of GDP (2017)
urban population: 75.4% of total population (2019)
rate of urbanization: 1.71% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
urban population: 70.7% of total population (2019)
rate of urbanization: 3.06% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Drinking water source
improved: urban: 97.7% of population
rural: 92.1% of population
total: 96.2% of population
unimproved: urban: 2.3% of population
rural: 7.9% of population
total: 3.8% of population (2015 est.)
improved: urban: 93.8% of population
rural: 70.1% of population
total: 86.6% of population
unimproved: urban: 6.2% of population
rural: 29.9% of population
total: 13.4% of population (2015 est.)
Sanitation facility access
improved: urban: 92.8% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 82.3% of population (2015 est.)
total: 90% of population (2015 est.)
unimproved: urban: 7.2% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 17.7% of population (2015 est.)
total: 10% of population (2015 est.)
improved: urban: 86.4% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 83.8% of population (2015 est.)
total: 85.6% of population (2015 est.)
unimproved: urban: 13.6% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 16.2% of population (2015 est.)
total: 14.4% of population (2015 est.)
Major cities - population
9.014 million TEHRAN (capital), 3.152 million Mashhad, 2.086 million Esfahan, 1.628 million Shiraz, 1.581 million Karaj, 1.596 million Tabriz (2019)
6.974 million BAGHDAD (capital), 1.578 million Mosul, 1.325 million Basra, 996,000 Kirkuk, 833,000 Erbil, 847,000 Najaf (2019)
Maternal mortality rate
16 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
79 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
4.1% (2011)
7.2% (2011)
Health expenditures
7.6% (2015)
Physicians density
1.14 physicians/1,000 population (2015)
0.82 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
Hospital bed density
0.2 beds/1,000 population (2014)
1.4 beds/1,000 population (2014)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
25.8% (2016)
30.4% (2016)
Contraceptive prevalence rate
77.4% (2010/11)
52.8% (2018)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 40.2 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 33.1 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 7.1 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 14.2 (2015 est.)
total dependency ratio: 77.7 (2015 est.)
youth dependency ratio: 72.3 (2015 est.)
elderly dependency ratio: 5.5 (2015 est.)
potential support ratio: 18.3 (2015 est.)


Country name
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
etymology: name derives from the Avestan term "aryanam" meaning "Land of the Noble [Ones]"
conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
conventional short form: Iraq
local long form: Jumhuriyat al-Iraq/Komar-i Eraq
local short form: Al Iraq/Eraq
former: Mesopotamia, Mandatory Iraq, Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq
etymology: the name probably derives from "Uruk" (Biblical "Erech"), the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian city on the Euphrates River
Government type
theocratic republic
federal parliamentary republic
name: Tehran
geographic coordinates: 35 42 N, 51 25 E
time difference: UTC+3.5 (8.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins fourth Wednesday in March; ends fourth Friday in September
name: Baghdad
geographic coordinates: 33 20 N, 44 24 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
although the origin of the name is disputed, it likely has compound Persian roots with "bagh" and "dad" meaning "god" and "given" respectively to create the meaning of "bestowed by God"
Administrative divisions
31 provinces (ostanha, singular - ostan); Alborz, Ardabil, Azarbayjan-e Gharbi (West Azerbaijan), Azarbayjan-e Sharqi (East Azerbaijan), Bushehr, Chahar Mahal va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshah, Khorasan-e Jonubi (South Khorasan), Khorasan-e Razavi (Razavi Khorasan), Khorasan-e Shomali (North Khorasan), Khuzestan, Kohgiluyeh va Bowyer Ahmad, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan
18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah (Arabic); parezgakan, singular - parezga (Kurdish)) and 1 region*; Al Anbar; Al Basrah; Al Muthanna; Al Qadisiyah (Ad Diwaniyah); An Najaf; Arbil (Erbil) (Arabic), Hewler (Kurdish); As Sulaymaniyah (Arabic), Slemani (Kurdish); Babil; Baghdad; Dahuk (Arabic), Dihok (Kurdish); Dhi Qar; Diyala; Karbala'; Kirkuk; Kurdistan Regional Government*; Maysan; Ninawa; Salah ad Din; Wasit
1 April 1979 (Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed); notable earlier dates: ca. 550 B.C. (Achaemenid (Persian) Empire established); A.D. 1501 (Iran reunified under the Safavid Dynasty); 1794 (beginning of Qajar Dynasty); 12 December 1925 (modern Iran established under the PAHLAVI Dynasty)
3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration); note - on 28 June 2004 the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government
National holiday
Republic Day, 1 April (1979)
Independence Day, 3 October (1932); Republic Day, 14 July (1958)
history: previous 1906; latest adopted 24 October 1979, effective 3 December 1979
amendments: proposed by the supreme leader – after consultation with the Exigency Council – and submitted as an edict to the "Council for Revision of the Constitution," a body consisting of various executive, legislative, judicial, and academic leaders and members; passage requires absolute majority vote in a referendum and approval of the supreme leader; articles including Iran’s political system, its religious basis, and its form of government cannot be amended; amended 1989 (2016)
history: several previous; latest adopted by referendum 15 October 2005
amendments: proposed by the president of the republic and the Council of Minsters collectively, or by one fifth of the Council of Representatives members; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote by the Council of Representatives, approval by referendum, and ratification by the president; passage of amendments to articles on citizen rights and liberties requires two-thirds majority vote of Council of Representatives members after two successive electoral terms, approval in a referendum, and ratification by the president (2016)
Legal system
18 years of age; universal
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state: Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 4 June 1989)
head of government: President Hasan Fereidun ROHANI (since 3 August 2013); First Vice President Eshagh JAHANGIRI (since 5 August 2013)
cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval; the supreme leader has some control over appointments to several ministries
elections/appointments: supreme leader appointed for life by Assembly of Experts; president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 4-year term (eligible for a second term and an additional nonconsecutive term); election last held on 19 May 2017 (next to be held in 2021)
election results: Hasan Fereidun ROHANI reelected president; percent of vote - Hasan Fereidun ROHANI (Moderation and Development Party) 58.8%, Ebrahim RAI'SI (Combat Clergy Association) 39.4% , Mostafa MIR-SALIM Islamic Coalition Party) 1.2%, Mostafa HASHEMITABA(Executives of Construction Party) 0.5%

note: 3 oversight bodies are also considered part of the executive branch of government

chief of state: President Barham SALIH (since 2 October 2018); vice presidents (vacant)
head of government: Prime Minister Adil ABD AL-MAHDI (since 24 October 2018)
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, approved by Council of Representatives
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by Council of Representatives (COR) to serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); COR election last held on 12 May 2018 (next to be held in 2022); prime minister nominated by the largest COR bloc or by consensus and submission of COR minister nominees for majority COR approval; disapproval requires designation of a new prime minister candidate
election results:

COR vote in first round - Barham SALIH (PUK) 165, Fuad HUSAYN (KDP) 90; Barham SALIH elected president in second round - Barham SALIH 219, Fuad HUSAYN 22; note - the COR vote on 1 October 2018 failed due to a lack of quorum, and a new session was held on 2 October

Legislative branch
description: unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majles-e Shura-ye Eslami or Majles (290 seats; 285 members directly elected in single- and multi-seat constituencies by 2-round vote, and 1 seat each for Zoroastrians, Jews, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, Armenians in the north of the country and Armenians in the south; members serve 4-year terms); note - all candidates to the Majles must be approved by the Council of Guardians, a 12-member group of which 6 are appointed by the supreme leader and 6 are jurists nominated by the judiciary and elected by the Majles
elections: first round held on 26 February 2016 and second round for 68 remaining seats held on 29 April 2016; (next full Majles election to be held in 2020)
election results: percent of vote by coalition - List of Hope 37.2%, Principlists Grand Coalition 25.9%, People's Voice Coalition 4.5%, joint Hope/People's Voice 4.1%, joint People's Voice/Principlist 0.3%, religious minorities 1.7%, independent 26.4%; seats by coalition - List of Hope 108, Principlists Grand Coalition 75, People's Voice Coalition 13, joint Hope/People's Voice 12, joint People's Voice/Principlist 1, religious minorities 5, independent 76; composition - men 273, women 17, percent of women 5.9%
description: unicameral Council of Representatives or Majlis an-Nuwwab al-Iraqiyy (329 seats; 320 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by open-list proportional representation vote and 9 seats at the national level reserved for minorities - 5 for Christians, 1 each for Sabaean-Mandaeans, Yazidis, Shabaks, Fayli Kurds; 25% of seats allocated to women; members serve 4-year terms); note - Iraq's constitution calls for the establishment of an upper house, the Federation Council, but it has not been instituted
elections: last held on 12 May 2018 (next to be held in 2022)
election results: percent of vote by party/coalition - NA; seats by party/coalition - Al Sa'irun Alliance 54, Al Fatah Alliance 48, Al Nasir Alliance 42, KDP 25, State of Law Coalition 25, Wataniyah 21, National Wisdom Trend 19, PUK 18, Iraqi Decision Alliance 14, Anbar Our Identity 6, Goran Movement 5, New Generation 4, other 48; composition - men 245, women 84, percent of women 25.5%
Judicial branch
highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the president and NA judges)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court president appointed by the head of the High Judicial Council (HJC), a 5-member body to include the Supreme Court chief justice, the prosecutor general, and 3 clergy, in consultation with judges of the Supreme Court; president appointed for a single, renewable 5-year term; other judges appointed by the HJC; judge tenure NA
subordinate courts: Penal Courts I and II; Islamic Revolutionary Courts; Courts of Peace; Special Clerical Court (functions outside the judicial system and handles cases involving clerics); military courts
highest courts: Federal Supreme Court or FSC (consists of 9 judges); note - court jurisdiction limited to constitutional issues and disputes between regions or governorates and the central government; Court of Cassation (consists of a court president, 5 vice presidents, and at least 24 judges)
judge selection and term of office: Federal Supreme Court and Court of Cassation judges selected by the president of the republic from nominees selected by the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), a 25-member committee of judicial officials that manages the judiciary and prosecutors; FSC members appointed for life; Court of Cassation judges appointed by the SJC and confirmed by the Council of Representatives to serve until retirement nominally at age 63
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal (governorate level); civil courts, including first instance, personal status, labor, and customs; criminal courts including felony, misdemeanor, investigative, major crimes, juvenile, and traffic; religious courts
Political parties and leaders
Combatant Clergy Association
Council for Coordinating the Reforms Front
Executives of Construction Party
Followers of the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent [Ali LARIJANI]
Front of Islamic Revolutionary Stability [Morteza AGHA-TEHRANI, general secretary]
Islamic Coalition Party
Islamic Iran Participation Front [associated with former President Mohammed KHATAMI]
Militant Clerics Society
Moderation and Development Party
National Trust Party
National Unity Party
Pervasive Coalition of Reformists [Ali SUFI, chairman] (includes Council for Coordinating the Reforms Front, National Trust Party, Union of Islamic Iran People Party, Moderation and Development Party)
Principlists Grand Coalition [Ali Reza ZAKANI] (includes Combatant Clergy Association and Islamic Coalition Party, Society of Devotees and Pathseekers of the Islamic Revolution, Front of Islamic Revolution Stability)
Progress, Welfare, and Justice Front
Progress and Justice Population of Islamic Iran or PJP [Hosein GHORBANZADEH, general secretary]
Resistance Front of Islamic Iran [Yadollah HABIBI, general secretary]
Steadfastness Front
Union of Islamic Iran People's Party
Wayfarers of the Islamic Revolution

Al Fatah Alliance [Hadi al-AMIRI]
Al Nasr Alliance [Haydar al-ABADI]
Al Sadiqun Bloc [Adnan al-DULAYMI]
Al Sa'irun Alliance [Muqtda al-SADR]
Badr Organization [Hadi al-AMIRI]
Da`wa Party [Nuri al-MALIKI]
Fadilah Party [Muhammad al-YAQUBI]
Goran Movement [Omar SAYYID ALI]
Iraqi Communist Party [Hamid Majid MUSA]
Iraq Decision Alliance [Khamis al-KHANJAR, Usama al-NUJAYFI]
Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or ISCI [Humam HAMMUDI]
Kurdistan Democratic Party or KDP [Masoud BARZANI]
National Wisdom Trend [Ammar al-HAKIM]
New Generation Movement [SHASWAR Abd al-Wahid Qadir]
Our Identity [Muhammad al-HALBUSI]
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK [KOSRAT Rasul Ali, acting]
State of Law Coalition [Nuri al MALIKI
Wataniyah coalition [Ayad ALLAWI]
numerous smaller religious, local, tribal, and minority parties
International organization participation
Diplomatic representation in the US
none; Iran has an Interests Section in the Pakistani Embassy; address: Iranian Interests Section, Pakistani Embassy, 2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007; telephone: [1] (202) 965-4990; FAX [1] (202) 965-1073
Ambassador Farid YASIN (since 18 January 2017)
chancery: 3421 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 742-1600
FAX: [1] (202) 333-1129
consulate(s) general: Detroit, Los Angeles
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission: none; the US Interests Section is located in the Embassy of Switzerland, No. 39 Shahid Mousavi (Golestan 5th), Pasdaran Ave., Tehran, Iran; telephone [98] 21 2254 2178/2256 5273; FAX [98] 21 2258 0432
chief of mission: Ambassador Matthew TUELLER (since 9 June 2019)
telephone: 0760-030-3000
embassy: Al-Kindi Street, International Zone, Baghdad; note - consulate in Al Basrah closed as of 28 September 2018
mailing address: APO AE 09316
Flag description
three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red; the national emblem (a stylized representation of the word Allah in the shape of a tulip, a symbol of martyrdom) in red is centered in the white band; ALLAH AKBAR (God is Great) in white Arabic script is repeated 11 times along the bottom edge of the green band and 11 times along the top edge of the red band; green is the color of Islam and also represents growth, white symbolizes honesty and peace, red stands for bravery and martyrdom
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great") in green Arabic script is centered in the white band; the band colors derive from the Arab Liberation flag and represent oppression (black), overcome through bloody struggle (red), to be replaced by a bright future (white); the Council of Representatives approved this flag in 2008 as a compromise replacement for the Ba'thist SADDAM-era flag

note: similar to the flag of Syria, which has two stars but no script; Yemen, which has a plain white band; and that of Egypt, which has a golden Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band

National anthem
name: "Soroud-e Melli-ye Jomhouri-ye Eslami-ye Iran" (National Anthem of the Islamic Republic of Iran)
lyrics/music: multiple authors/Hassan RIAHI

note 1: adopted 1990; Iran has had six national anthems; the first, entitled Salam-e Shah (Royal Salute) was in use from 1873-1909; next came Salamati-ye Dowlat-e Elliye-ye Iran (Salute of the Sublime State of Persia, 1909-1933); it was followed by Sorud-e melli (The Imperial Anthem of Iran; 1933-1979), which chronicled the exploits of the Pahlavi Dynasty; Ey Iran (Oh Iran) functioned unofficially as the national anthem for a brief period between the ouster of the Shah in 1979 and the early days of the Islamic Republic in 1980; Payandeh Bada Iran (Long Live Iran) was used between 1980 and 1990 during the time of Ayatollah KHOMEINI

note 2: a recording of the current Iranian national anthem is unavailable since the US Navy Band does not record anthems for countries from which the US does not anticipate official visits; the US does not have diplomatic relations with Iran

name: "Mawtini" (My Homeland)
lyrics/music: Ibrahim TOUQAN/Mohammad FLAYFEL

note: adopted 2004; following the ouster of SADDAM Husayn, Iraq adopted "Mawtini," a popular folk song throughout the Arab world; also serves as an unofficial anthem of the Palestinian people

International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
National symbol(s)
lion; national colors: green, white, red
golden eagle; national colors: red, white, black
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Iran
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Iraq
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


Economy - overview

Iran's economy is marked by statist policies, inefficiencies, and reliance on oil and gas exports, but Iran also possesses significant agricultural, industrial, and service sectors. The Iranian government directly owns and operates hundreds of state-owned enterprises and indirectly controls many companies affiliated with the country's security forces. Distortions - including corruption, price controls, subsidies, and a banking system holding billions of dollars of non-performing loans - weigh down the economy, undermining the potential for private-sector-led growth.

Private sector activity includes small-scale workshops, farming, some manufacturing, and services, in addition to medium-scale construction, cement production, mining, and metalworking. Significant informal market activity flourishes and corruption is widespread.

The lifting of most nuclear-related sanctions under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in January 2016 sparked a restoration of Iran’s oil production and revenue that drove rapid GDP growth, but economic growth declined in 2017 as oil production plateaued. The economy continues to suffer from low levels of investment and declines in productivity since before the JCPOA, and from high levels of unemployment, especially among women and college-educated Iranian youth.

In May 2017, the re-election of President Hasan RUHANI generated widespread public expectations that the economic benefits of the JCPOA would expand and reach all levels of society. RUHANI will need to implement structural reforms that strengthen the banking sector and improve Iran’s business climate to attract foreign investment and encourage the growth of the private sector. Sanctions that are not related to Iran’s nuclear program remain in effect, and these—plus fears over the possible re-imposition of nuclear-related sanctions—will continue to deter foreign investors from engaging with Iran.

Iraq's GDP growth slowed to 1.1% in 2017, a marked decline compared to the previous two years as domestic consumption and investment fell because of civil violence and a sluggish oil market. The Iraqi Government received its third tranche of funding from its 2016 Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF in August 2017, which is intended to stabilize its finances by encouraging improved fiscal management, needed economic reform, and expenditure reduction. Additionally, in late 2017 Iraq received more than $1.4 billion in financing from international lenders, part of which was generated by issuing a $1 billion bond for reconstruction and rehabilitation in areas liberated from ISIL. Investment and key sector diversification are crucial components to Iraq’s long-term economic development and require a strengthened business climate with enhanced legal and regulatory oversight to bolster private-sector engagement. The overall standard of living depends on global oil prices, the central government passage of major policy reforms, a stable security environment post-ISIS, and the resolution of civil discord with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

Iraq's largely state-run economy is dominated by the oil sector, which provides roughly 85% of government revenue and 80% of foreign exchange earnings, and is a major determinant of the economy's fortunes. Iraq's contracts with major oil companies have the potential to further expand oil exports and revenues, but Iraq will need to make significant upgrades to its oil processing, pipeline, and export infrastructure to enable these deals to reach their economic potential.

In 2017, Iraqi oil exports from northern fields were disrupted following a KRG referendum that resulted in the Iraqi Government reasserting federal control over disputed oil fields and energy infrastructure in Kirkuk. The Iraqi government and the KRG dispute the role of federal and regional authorities in the development and export of natural resources. In 2007, the KRG passed an oil law to develop IKR oil and gas reserves independent of the federal government. The KRG has signed about 50 contracts with foreign energy companies to develop its reserves, some of which lie in territories taken by Baghdad in October 2017. The KRG is able to unilaterally export oil from the fields it retains control of through its own pipeline to Turkey, which Baghdad claims is illegal. In the absence of a national hydrocarbons law, the two sides have entered into five provisional oil- and revenue-sharing deals since 2009, all of which collapsed.

Iraq is making slow progress enacting laws and developing the institutions needed to implement economic policy, and political reforms are still needed to assuage investors' concerns regarding the uncertain business climate. The Government of Iraq is eager to attract additional foreign direct investment, but it faces a number of obstacles, including a tenuous political system and concerns about security and societal stability. Rampant corruption, outdated infrastructure, insufficient essential services, skilled labor shortages, and antiquated commercial laws stifle investment and continue to constrain growth of private, nonoil sectors. Under the Iraqi constitution, some competencies relevant to the overall investment climate are either shared by the federal government and the regions or are devolved entirely to local governments. Investment in the IKR operates within the framework of the Kurdistan Region Investment Law (Law 4 of 2006) and the Kurdistan Board of Investment, which is designed to provide incentives to help economic development in areas under the authority of the KRG.

Inflation has remained under control since 2006. However, Iraqi leaders remain hard-pressed to translate macroeconomic gains into an improved standard of living for the Iraqi populace. Unemployment remains a problem throughout the country despite a bloated public sector. Overregulation has made it difficult for Iraqi citizens and foreign investors to start new businesses. Corruption and lack of economic reforms - such as restructuring banks and developing the private sector – have inhibited the growth of the private sector.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$1.64 trillion (2017 est.)
$1.581 trillion (2016 est.)
$1.405 trillion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$649.3 billion (2017 est.)
$662.9 billion (2016 est.)
$586.3 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - real growth rate
3.7% (2017 est.)
12.5% (2016 est.)
-1.6% (2015 est.)
-2.1% (2017 est.)
13.1% (2016 est.)
2.5% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$20,100 (2017 est.)
$19,600 (2016 est.)
$17,700 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$16,700 (2017 est.)
$17,500 (2016 est.)
$15,900 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 9.6% (2016 est.)
industry: 35.3% (2016 est.)
services: 55% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 3.3% (2017 est.)
industry: 51% (2017 est.)
services: 45.8% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
18.7% (2007 est.)
23% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 29.6% (2005)
lowest 10%: 3.6%
highest 10%: 25.7% (2007 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
9.6% (2017 est.)
9.1% (2016 est.)

note: official Iranian estimate

0.1% (2017 est.)
0.5% (2016 est.)
Labor force
30.5 million (2017 est.)

note: shortage of skilled labor

8.9 million (2010 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 16.3%
industry: 35.1%
services: 48.6% (2013 est.)
agriculture: 21.6%
industry: 18.7%
services: 59.8% (2008 est.)
Unemployment rate
11.8% (2017 est.)
12.4% (2016 est.)

note: data are Iranian Government numbers

16% (2012 est.)
15% (2010 est.)
revenues: 74.4 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 84.45 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 68.71 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 76.82 billion (2017 est.)
petroleum, petrochemicals, gas, fertilizer, caustic soda, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), ferrous and nonferrous metal fabrication, armaments
petroleum, chemicals, textiles, leather, construction materials, food processing, fertilizer, metal fabrication/processing
Industrial production growth rate
3% (2017 est.)
0.7% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products
wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, sugarcane, fruits, nuts, cotton; dairy products, wool; caviar
wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton; cattle, sheep, poultry
$101.4 billion (2017 est.)
$83.98 billion (2016 est.)
$61.4 billion (2017 est.)
$41.72 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
petroleum 60%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, carpets, cement, ore
crude oil 99%, crude materials excluding fuels, food, live animals
Exports - partners
China 27.5%, India 15.1%, South Korea 11.4%, Turkey 11.1%, Italy 5.7%, Japan 5.3% (2017)
India 21.2%, China 20.2%, US 15.8%, South Korea 9.4%, Greece 5.3%, Netherlands 4.8%, Italy 4.7% (2017)
$76.39 billion (2017 est.)
$63.14 billion (2016 est.)
$39.47 billion (2017 est.)
$19.57 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
industrial supplies, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services
food, medicine, manufactures
Imports - partners
UAE 29.8%, China 12.7%, Turkey 4.4%, South Korea 4%, Germany 4% (2017)
Turkey 27.8%, China 25.7%, South Korea 4.7%, Russia 4.3% (2017)
Debt - external
$7.995 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$8.196 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$73.02 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$64.16 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
Iranian rials (IRR) per US dollar -
32,769.7 (2017 est.)
30,914.9 (2016 est.)
30,914.9 (2015 est.)
29,011.5 (2014 est.)
25,912 (2013 est.)
Iraqi dinars (IQD) per US dollar -
1,184 (2017 est.)
1,182 (2016 est.)
1,182 (2015 est.)
1,167.63 (2014 est.)
1,213.72 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
21 March - 20 March
calendar year
Public debt
39.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
47.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: includes publicly guaranteed debt

59.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
66% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$120.6 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$133.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$48.88 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$45.36 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
$9.491 billion (2017 est.)
$16.28 billion (2016 est.)
$4.344 billion (2017 est.)
-$13.38 billion (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$430.7 billion (2017 est.)
$192.4 billion (2017 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$50.33 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$46.02 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$26.63 billion (2015 est.)
$23.16 billion (2014 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad
$5.226 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$4.656 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$2.109 billion (2015 est.)
$1.956 billion (2014 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares
$89.43 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$116.6 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$345.8 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$4 billion (9 December 2011)
$2.6 billion (31 July 2010)
$2 billion (31 July 2009 est.)
Central bank discount rate


6% (2016)
6% (2015)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
18% (31 December 2017 est.)
18% (31 December 2016 est.)
12.7% (31 December 2017 est.)
12.7% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$348.2 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$315.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$34.61 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$31.93 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$48.08 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$47.59 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$60.1 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$59.84 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$48.08 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$47.59 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$60.1 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$59.84 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
17.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
35.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-2.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
-4.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 28.4%
male: 24.2%
female: 43.7% (2017 est.)
total: 25.6%
male: 22%
female: 63.3% (2017)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 49.7% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 14% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 20.6% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 14.5% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 26% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -24.9% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 50.4% (2013 est.)
government consumption: 22.9% (2016 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 20.6% (2016 est.)
investment in inventories: 0% (2016 est.)
exports of goods and services: 32.5% (2016 est.)
imports of goods and services: -40.9% (2016 est.)
Gross national saving
37.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
37.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
35.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
19% of GDP (2017 est.)
13.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
18.4% of GDP (2015 est.)


Electricity - production
272.3 billion kWh (2016 est.)
75.45 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption
236.3 billion kWh (2016 est.)
38.46 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports
6.822 billion kWh (2015 est.)
0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports
4.221 billion kWh (2016 est.)
11.97 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Oil - production
4.251 million bbl/day (2018 est.)
4.613 million bbl/day (2018 est.)
Oil - imports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - exports
750,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)
3.092 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - proved reserves
157.2 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
148.8 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves
33.72 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
3.82 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - production
214.5 billion cu m (2017 est.)
1.274 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption
206.9 billion cu m (2017 est.)
2.633 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports
11.64 billion cu m (2017 est.)
0 cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports
3.993 billion cu m (2017 est.)
1.359 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity
77.6 million kW (2016 est.)
27.09 million kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels
84% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
91% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants
15% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
9% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels
1% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production
1.764 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
398,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption
1.804 million bbl/day (2016 est.)
826,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports
397,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)
8,284 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports
64,160 bbl/day (2015 est.)
255,100 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy
638.3 million Mt (2017 est.)
117.9 million Mt (2017 est.)
Electricity access
electrification - total population: 100% (2016)
electrification - total population: 100% (2016)


Telephones - main lines in use
total subscriptions: 31,182,812
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 38 (2017 est.)
total subscriptions: 2,918,396
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7 (2017 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular
total subscriptions: 87,106,508
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 106 (2017 est.)
total subscriptions: 33,335,316
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 85 (2017 est.)
Telephone system
general assessment: opportunities for telecoms growth, but the disadvantage of lack of significant investment; one of the largest populations in the Middle East with a huge demand for services; mobile penetration is high with over 125% accessing 2G & 3G; 4G LTE becoming available; Iranian-net, is currently expanding a fiber network to have 8 million customers by 2020 (2018)
domestic: 38 per 100 for fixed-line and 106 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions; heavy investment by Iran's state-owned telecom company has greatly improved and expanded both the fixed-line and mobile cellular networks; a huge percentage of the cell phones in the market have been smuggled into the country (2018)
international: country code - 98; landing points for Kuwait-Iran, GBICS & MENA, FALCON, OMRAN/3PEG Cable System, POI and UAE-Iran submarine fiber-optic cable to the Middle East, Africa and India; Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic line runs from Azerbaijan through the northern portion of Iran to Turkmenistan with expansion to Georgia and Azerbaijan; HF radio and microwave radio relay to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Kuwait, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; satellite earth stations - 13 (9 Intelsat and 4 Inmarsat) (2019)
general assessment: the 2003 liberation of Iraq severely disrupted telecommunications throughout Iraq; widespread government efforts to rebuild domestic and international communications have slowed due to political unrest; 2018 showed signs of stability and installations of new fibre-optic cables and growth in mobile broadband subscribers; the most popular plans are pre-paid (2018)
domestic: the mobile cellular market continues to expand; 3G services offered by three major mobile operators; 4G offered by one operator in Iraqi Kurdistan Region; conflict has destroyed infrastructure in areas; 7 per 100 for fixed-line and 85 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions (2018)
international: country code - 964; landing points for FALCON, and GBICS/MENA submarine cables providing connections to the Middle East, Africa and India; satellite earth stations - 4 (2 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean, 1 Intersputnik - Atlantic Ocean region, and 1 Arabsat (inoperative)); local microwave radio relay connects border regions to Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey (2019)
Internet country code
Internet users
total: 36.07 million
percent of population: 44.1% (July 2016 est.)
total: 8,098,401
percent of population: 21.2% (July 2016 est.)
Broadcast media
state-run broadcast media with no private, independent broadcasters; Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the state-run TV broadcaster, operates 19 nationwide channels including a news channel, about 34 provincial channels, and several international channels; about 20 foreign Persian-language TV stations broadcasting on satellite TV are capable of being seen in Iran; satellite dishes are illegal and, while their use is subjectively tolerated, authorities confiscate satellite dishes from time to time; IRIB operates 16 nationwide radio networks, a number of provincial stations, and an external service; most major international broadcasters transmit to Iran (2019)
the number of private radio and TV stations has increased rapidly since 2003; government-owned TV and radio stations are operated by the publicly funded Iraqi Media Network; private broadcast media are mostly linked to political, ethnic, or religious groups; satellite TV is available to an estimated 70% of viewers and many of the broadcasters are based abroad; transmissions of multiple international radio broadcasters are accessible (2019)


total: 8,484 km (2014)
standard gauge: 8,389.5 km 1.435-m gauge (189.5 km electrified) (2014)
broad gauge: 94 km 1.676-m gauge (2014)
total: 2,272 km (2014)
standard gauge: 2,272 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)
total: 223,485 km (2018)
paved: 195,485 km (2018)
unpaved: 28,000 km (2018)
total: 59,623 km (2012)
paved: 59,623 km (includes Kurdistan region) (2012)
850 km (on Karun River; some navigation on Lake Urmia) (2012)
5,279 km (the Euphrates River (2,815 km), Tigris River (1,899 km), and Third River (565 km) are the principal waterways) (2012)
7 km condensate, 973 km condensate/gas, 20794 km gas, 570 km liquid petroleum gas, 8625 km oil, 7937 km refined products (2013)
2455 km gas, 913 km liquid petroleum gas, 5432 km oil, 1637 km refined products (2013)
Ports and terminals
major seaport(s): Bandar-e Asaluyeh, Bandar Abbas, Bandar Emam
container port(s) (TEUs): Bandar Abbas (2,607,000) (2017)
river port(s): Al Basrah (Shatt al Arab); Khawr az Zubayr, Umm Qasr (Khawr az Zubayr waterway)
Merchant marine
total: 720
by type: bulk carrier 31, container ship 25, general cargo 336, oil tanker 17, other 311 (2018)
total: 80
by type: general cargo 1, oil tanker 6, other 73 (2018)
total: 319 (2013)
total: 102 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways
total: 140 (2017)
over 3,047 m: 42 (2017)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 29 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 26 (2017)
914 to 1,523 m: 36 (2017)
under 914 m: 7 (2017)
total: 72 (2017)
over 3,047 m: 20 (2017)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 34 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4 (2017)
914 to 1,523 m: 7 (2017)
under 914 m: 7 (2017)
Airports - with unpaved runways
total: 179 (2013)
over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 135 (2013)
under 914 m: 32 (2013)
total: 30 (2013)
over 3,047 m: 3 (2013)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 13 (2013)
under 914 m: 6 (2013)
26 (2013)
16 (2013)
National air transport system
number of registered air carriers: 15 (2015)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 228 (2015)
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 15,003,958 (2015)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 107,184,869 mt-km (2015)
number of registered air carriers: 4 (2015)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 39 (2015)
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 484,803 (2015)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 10,758,230 mt-km (2015)
Civil aircraft registration country code prefix
EP (2016)
YI (2016)


Military branches
Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (Artesh): Ground Forces, Navy (includes marines), Air Force, Air Defense Command; Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Sepah, IRGC): Ground Forces, Navy (includes marines), Aerospace Force (controls strategic missile force), Qods Force (special operations), Cyber Command, Basij Paramilitary Forces (Popular Mobilization Army); Law Enforcement Forces (border and security troops, assigned to the armed forces in wartime) (2019)
Ministry of Defense: Iraqi Army (includes Army Aviation Command), Iraqi Navy, Iraqi Air Force; National-Level Security Forces: Iraqi Counterterrorism Service, Prime Minister's Special Forces Division, Presidential Brigades; Ministry of Interior:  Federal Police Forces Command, Border Guard Forces Command, Federal Intelligence and Investigations Agency, Emergency Response Division, Facilities Protection Directorate, and Energy Police Directorate; Popular Mobilization Commission and Affiliated Forces; Peshmerga Ministry (Kurdistan Regional Government) (2019)
Military service age and obligation
18 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 is 18-24 months; women exempt from military service (2019)
18-40 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (2017)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP
2.67% of GDP (2018)
3.11% of GDP (2017)
2.97% of GDP (2016)
2.76% of GDP (2015)
2.28% of GDP (2014)
2.73% of GDP (2018)
3.84% of GDP (2017)
3.63% of GDP (2016)
5.35% of GDP (2015)
2.95% of GDP (2014)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Iran protests Afghanistan's limiting flow of dammed Helmand River tributaries during 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; Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia ratified Caspian seabed delimitation treaties based on equidistance, while Iran continues to insist on a one-fifth slice of the sea; Afghan and Iranian commissioners have discussed boundary monument densification and resurvey

Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Turkey has expressed concern over the autonomous status of Kurds in Iraq

Refugees and internally displaced persons
refugees (country of origin): 2.5-3.0 (1 million registered, 1.5-2.0 million undocumented) (Afghanistan) (2017); 28,268 (Iraq) (2018)
refugees (country of origin): 15,405 (Turkey), 7,944 (West Bank and Gaza Strip), 7,026 (Iran) (2018); 231,006 (Syria) (2019)
IDPs: 2,507,042 (includes displacement between 2006 and 2008 due to ethno-sectarian violence and displacement in central and northern Iraq since January 2014) (2019)
stateless persons: 47,515 (2018); note - in the 1970s and 1980s under SADDAM Husayn's regime, thousands of Iraq's Faili Kurds, followers of Shia Islam, were stripped of their Iraqi citizenship, had their property seized by the government, and many were deported; some Faili Kurds had their citizenship reinstated under the 2,006 Iraqi Nationality Law, but others lack the documentation to prove their Iraqi origins; some Palestinian refugees persecuted by the SADDAM regime remain stateless

note: estimate revised to reflect the reduction of statelessness in line with Law 26 of 2006, which allows stateless persons to apply for nationality in certain circumstances; more accurate studies of statelessness in Iraq are pending (2015)

Source: CIA Factbook