Turkmenistan vs. Iran


Present-day Turkmenistan covers territory that has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries. The area was ruled in antiquity by various Persian empires, and was conquered by Alexander the Great, Muslim armies, the Mongols, Turkic warriors, and eventually the Russians. In medieval times, Merv (located in present-day Mary province) was one of the great cities of the Islamic world and an important stop on the Silk Road. Annexed by Russia in the late 1800s, Turkmenistan later figured prominently in the anti-Bolshevik movement in Central Asia. In 1924, Turkmenistan became a Soviet republic; it achieved independence upon the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. President for Life Saparmyrat NYYAZOW died in December 2006, and Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW, a deputy chairman under NYYAZOW, emerged as the country's new president. BERDIMUHAMEDOW won Turkmenistan's first multi-candidate presidential election in February 2007, and again in 2012 and in 2017 with over 97% of the vote in both instances, in elections widely regarded as undemocratic.

Turkmenistan has sought new export markets for its extensive hydrocarbon/natural gas reserves, which have yet to be fully exploited. As of late 2019, Turkmenistan exported the majority of its gas to China and small levels of gas were also being sent to Russia. Turkmenistan's reliance on gas exports has made the economy vulnerable to fluctuations in the global energy market, and economic hardships since the drop in energy prices in 2014 have led many Turkmenistanis to emigrate, mostly to Turkey.

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 and was 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 until Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Implementation Day in 2016. The US began gradually re-imposing sanctions on Iran after the US withdrawal from JCPOA in May 2018.

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 AHMADI-NEJAD 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 AHMADI-NEJAD'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 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. ROHANI 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. Additional widespread economic protests broke out in November 2019 in response to the raised price of subsidized gasoline.


Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan
Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan
Geographic coordinates
40 00 N, 60 00 E
32 00 N, 53 00 E
Map references
Middle East
total: 488,100 sq km
land: 469,930 sq km
water: 18,170 sq km
total: 1,648,195 sq km
land: 1,531,595 sq km
water: 116,600 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly more than three times the size of Georgia; slightly larger than California
almost 2.5 times the size of Texas; slightly smaller than Alaska
Land boundaries
total: 4,158 km
border countries (4): Afghanistan 804 km, Iran 1148 km, Kazakhstan 413 km, Uzbekistan 1793 km
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
0 km (landlocked); note - Turkmenistan borders the Caspian Sea (1,768 km)
2,440 km - note: Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)
Maritime claims
none (landlocked)
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: natural prolongation
subtropical desert
mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast
flat-to-rolling sandy desert with dunes rising to mountains in the south; low mountains along border with Iran; borders Caspian Sea in west
rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts
Elevation extremes
mean elevation: 230 m
lowest point: Vpadina Akchanaya (Sarygamysh Koli is a lake in northern Turkmenistan with a water level that fluctuates above and below the elevation of Vpadina Akchanaya, the lake has dropped as low as -110 m) -81 m
highest point: Gora Ayribaba 3,139 m
mean elevation: 1,305 m
lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
highest point: Kuh-e Damavand 5,625 m
Natural resources
petroleum, natural gas, sulfur, salt
petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur
Land use
agricultural land: 72% (2011 est.)
arable land: 4.1% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 0.1% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 67.8% (2011 est.)
forest: 8.8% (2011 est.)
other: 19.2% (2011 est.)
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.)
Irrigated land
19,950 sq km (2012)
95,530 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards
earthquakes; mudslides; droughts; dust storms; floods
periodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes
Environment - current issues
contamination of soil and groundwater with agricultural chemicals, pesticides; salination, water logging of soil due to poor irrigation methods; Caspian Sea pollution; diversion of a large share of the flow of the Amu Darya into irrigation contributes to that river's inability to replenish the Aral Sea; soil erosion; desertification
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
Environment - international agreements
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected 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
Geography - note
landlocked; the western and central low-lying desolate portions of the country make up the great Garagum (Kara-Kum) desert, which occupies over 80% of the country; eastern part is plateau
strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport
Population distribution
the most densely populated areas are the southern, eastern, and northeastern oases; approximately 50% of the population lives in and around the capital of Ashgabat
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


5,528,627 (July 2020 est.)
some sources suggest Turkmenistan's population could be as much as 1 to 2 million people lower than available estimates because of large-scale emigration during the last 10 years
84,923,314 (July 2020 est.)
Age structure
0-14 years: 25.44% (male 713,441/female 693,042)
15-24 years: 16.48% (male 458,566/female 452,469)
25-54 years: 44.14% (male 1,214,581/female 1,226,027)
55-64 years: 8.56% (male 221,935/female 251,238)
65 years and over: 5.38% (male 129,332/female 167,996) (2020 est.)
0-14 years: 24.11% (male 10,472,844/female 10,000,028)
15-24 years: 13.36% (male 5,806,034/female 5,537,561)
25-54 years: 48.94% (male 21,235,038/female 20,327,384)
55-64 years: 7.72% (male 3,220,074/female 3,337,420)
65 years and over: 5.87% (male 2,316,677/female 2,670,254) (2020 est.)
Median age
total: 29.2 years
male: 28.7 years
female: 29.7 years (2020 est.)
total: 31.7 years
male: 31.5 years
female: 32 years (2020 est.)
Population growth rate
1.06% (2020 est.)
1.1% (2020 est.)
Birth rate
18.3 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
16.3 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Death rate
6.1 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
5.3 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Net migration rate
-1.7 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
-0.3 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.88 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female
total population: 98.1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
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: 0.96 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
total population: 102.8 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
Infant mortality rate
total: 30.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 37.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 24.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
total: 14.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 15.8 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 71.3 years
male: 68.2 years
female: 74.5 years (2020 est.)
total population: 74.5 years
male: 73.1 years
female: 76 years (2020 est.)
Total fertility rate
2.04 children born/woman (2020 est.)
1.94 children born/woman (2020 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
<.1% (2019 est.)
noun: Turkmenistani(s)
adjective: Turkmenistani
noun: Iranian(s)
adjective: Iranian
Ethnic groups
Turkmen 85%, Uzbek 5%, Russian 4%, other 6% (2003)
Persian, Azeri, Kurd, Lur, Baloch, Arab, Turkmen and Turkic tribes
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
59,000 (2019 est.)
Muslim 89%, Eastern Orthodox 9%, unknown 2%
Muslim (official) 99.4% (Shia 90-95%, Sunni 5-10%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian) 0.3%, unspecified 0.4% (2011 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths
2,500 (2019 est.)
Turkmen (official) 72%, Russian 12%, Uzbek 9%, other 7%
Persian Farsi (official), Azeri and other Turkic dialects, Kurdish, Gilaki and Mazandarani, Luri, Balochi, Arabic
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99.7%
male: 99.8%
female: 99.6% (2015)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 85.5%
male: 90.4%
female: 80.8% (2016)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
total: 13 years
male: 13 years
female: 13 years (2019)
total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 15 years (2017)
Education expenditures
3.1% of GDP (2012)
4% of GDP (2018)
urban population: 52.5% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 2.46% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
urban population: 75.9% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 1.71% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
Drinking water source
improved: urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved: urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2017 est.)
improved: urban: 98.6% of population
rural: 93.1% of population
total: 97.2% of population
unimproved: urban: 1.4% of population
rural: 6.9% of population
total: 2.8% of population (2017 est.)
Sanitation facility access
improved: urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
unimproved: urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2017 est.)
improved: urban: 98.9% of population
rural: 95.7% of population
total: 98.1% of population
unimproved: urban: 1.1% of population (2015 est.)
rural: 4.3% of population
total: 1.9% of population (2017 est.)
Major cities - population
846,000 ASHGABAT (capital) (2020)
9.135 million TEHRAN (capital), 3.152 million Mashhad, 2.086 million Esfahan, 1.628 million Shiraz, 1.581 million Karaj, 1.596 million Tabriz (2020)
Maternal mortality rate
7 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
16 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
3.2% (2015)
4.1% (2011)
Health expenditures
6.9% (2017)
8.7% (2017)
Physicians density
2.22 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
1.13 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
Hospital bed density
4 beds/1,000 population (2014)
1.6 beds/1,000 population (2017)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
18.6% (2016)
25.8% (2016)
Contraceptive prevalence rate
50.2% (2015/16)
77.4% (2010/11)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 55.2
youth dependency ratio: 47.8
elderly dependency ratio: 7.4
potential support ratio: 13.5 (2020 est.)
total dependency ratio: 45.6
youth dependency ratio: 36
elderly dependency ratio: 9.6
potential support ratio: 14.2 (2020 est.)


Country name
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Turkmenistan
local long form: none
local short form: Turkmenistan
former: Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic
etymology: the suffix "-stan" means "place of" or "country," so Turkmenistan literally means the "Land of the Turkmen [people]"
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]"
Government type
presidential republic; authoritarian
theocratic republic
name: Ashgabat (Ashkhabad)
geographic coordinates: 37 57 N, 58 23 E
time difference: UTC+5 (10 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
etymology: derived from the Persian words "eshq" meaning "love" and "abad" meaning "inhabited place" or "city," and so loosely translates as "the city of love" 
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
etymology: various explanations of the city's name have been proffered, but the most plausible states that it derives from the Persian words "tah" meaning "end or bottom" and "ran" meaning "[mountain] slope" to signify "bottom of the mountain slope"; Tehran lies at the bottom slope of the Elburz Mountains
Administrative divisions
5 provinces (welayatlar, singular - welayat) and 1 independent city*: Ahal Welayaty (Anew), Ashgabat*, Balkan Welayaty (Balkanabat), Dasoguz Welayaty, Lebap Welayaty (Turkmenabat), Mary Welayaty

note: administrative divisions have the same names as their administrative centers (exceptions have the administrative center name following in parentheses)

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
27 October 1991 (from the Soviet Union)
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)
National holiday
Independence Day, 27 October (1991)
Republic Day, 1 April (1979)
history: several previous; latest adopted 14 September 2016
amendments: proposed by the National Assembly; passage requires two-thirds majority vote of the total Assembly membership or absolute majority approval in a referendum; amended 2017
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
Legal system
18 years of age; universal
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 14 February 2007)
cabinet: Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the president
elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 7-year term (no term limits); election last held on 12 February 2017 (next to be held in February 2024)
election results: Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW reelected president in the first round; percent of vote - Gurbanguly BERDIMUHAMEDOW (DPT) 97.7%, other 2.3%
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

Legislative branch
description: unicameral National Assembly or Mejlis (125 seats; members directly elected from single-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote; members serve 5-year terms)
elections: last held on 25 March 2018, although interim elections are held on an ad hoc basis to fill vacant sets
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - DPT 55, APT 11, PIE 11, independent 48 (individuals nominated by citizen groups); composition - men 94, women 31, percent of women 24.8%
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 21 February 2020 and second round for 11 remaining seats held on 11 September 2020 (next full Majles election to be held in 2024)
election results: percent of vote by coalition (first round) - NA; seats by coalition (first round) - conservatives 219, reformists 20, independents 35, religious minorities 5; remaining 11 seats to be decided in April 2020
Judicial branch
highest courts: Supreme Court of Turkmenistan (consists of the court president and 21 associate judges and organized into civil, criminal, and military chambers)
judge selection and term of office: judges appointed by the president for 5-year terms
subordinate courts: High Commercial Court; appellate courts; provincial, district, and city courts; military courts
highest courts: Supreme Court (consists of the chief justice and organized into 42 two-bench branches, each with a justice and a judge)
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
Political parties and leaders
Agrarian Party of Turkmenistan or APT [Basim ANNAGURBANOW]
Democratic Party of Turkmenistan or DPT [Ata SERDAROW]
Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs or PIE [Saparmyrat OWGANOW]

note: all of these parties support President BERDIMUHAMEDOW; a law authorizing the registration of political parties went into effect in January 2012; unofficial, small opposition movements exist abroad

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
International organization participation
ADB, CIS (associate member, has not ratified the 1993 CIS charter although it participates in meetings and held the chairmanship of the CIS in 2012), EAPC, EBRD, ECO, FAO, G-77, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO
Diplomatic representation in the US
Ambassador Meret ORAZOW (since 14 February 2001)
chancery: 2207 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 588-1500
FAX: [1] (202) 588-0697
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
Diplomatic representation from the US
chief of mission: Ambassador Matthew S. KLIMOW (since 26 June 2019)
telephone: [993] (12) 94-00-45
embassy: No. 9 1984 Street (formerly Pushkin Street), Ashgabat 744000
mailing address: 7070 Ashgabat Place, Washington, DC 20521-7070
FAX: [993] (12) 94-26-14
embassy: none; the US Interests Section is located in the Embassy of Switzerland; Embassy of Switzerland, US Foreign Interests Section No. 39, Shahid Mousavi (Golestan 5th), Pasdaran Ave., Tehran, Iran
Flag description
green field with a vertical red stripe near the hoist side, containing five tribal guls (designs used in producing carpets) stacked above two crossed olive branches; five white, five-pointed stars and a white crescent moon appear in the upper corner of the field just to the fly side of the red stripe; the green color and crescent moon represent Islam; the five stars symbolize the regions or welayats of Turkmenistan; the guls reflect the national identity of Turkmenistan where carpet-making has long been a part of traditional nomadic life

note: the flag of Turkmenistan is the most intricate of all national flags

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
National anthem
name: "Garassyz, Bitarap Turkmenistanyn" (Independent, Neutral, Turkmenistan State Anthem)
lyrics/music: collective/Veli MUKHATOV

note: adopted 1997, lyrics revised in 2008, to eliminate references to deceased President Saparmurat NYYAZOW

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

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)
Akhal-Teke horse; national colors: green, white
lion; national colors: green, white, red
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Turkmenistan
dual citizenship recognized: yes
residency requirement for naturalization: 7 years
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


Economy - overview

Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and significant natural gas and oil resources. The two largest crops are cotton, most of which is produced for export, and wheat, which is domestically consumed. Although agriculture accounts for almost 8% of GDP, it continues to employ nearly half of the country's workforce. Hydrocarbon exports, the bulk of which is natural gas going to China, make up 25% of Turkmenistan’s GDP. Ashgabat has explored two initiatives to bring gas to new markets: a trans-Caspian pipeline that would carry gas to Europe and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline. Both face major financing, political, and security hurdles and are unlikely to be completed soon.

Turkmenistan’s autocratic governments under presidents NIYAZOW (1991-2006) and BERDIMUHAMEDOW (since 2007) have made little progress improving the business climate, privatizing state-owned industries, combatting corruption, and limiting economic development outside the energy sector. High energy prices in the mid-2000s allowed the government to undertake extensive development and social spending, including providing heavy utility subsidies.

Low energy prices since mid-2014 are hampering Turkmenistan’s economic growth and reducing government revenues. The government has cut subsidies in several areas, and wage arrears have increased. In January 2014, the Central Bank of Turkmenistan devalued the manat by 19%, and downward pressure on the currency continues. There is a widening spread between the official exchange rate (3.5 TMM per US dollar) and the black market exchange rate (approximately 14 TMM per US dollar). Currency depreciation and conversion restrictions, corruption, isolationist policies, and declining spending on public services have resulted in a stagnate economy that is nearing crisis. Turkmenistan claims substantial foreign currency reserves, but non-transparent data limit international institutions’ ability to verify this information.

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.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$103.7 billion (2017 est.)
$97.41 billion (2016 est.)
$91.72 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$1.64 trillion (2017 est.)
$1.581 trillion (2016 est.)
$1.405 trillion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - real growth rate
6.5% (2017 est.)
6.2% (2016 est.)
6.5% (2015 est.)
3.7% (2017 est.)
12.5% (2016 est.)
-1.6% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$18,200 (2017 est.)
$17,300 (2016 est.)
$16,500 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$20,100 (2017 est.)
$19,600 (2016 est.)
$17,700 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 7.5% (2017 est.)
industry: 44.9% (2017 est.)
services: 47.7% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 9.6% (2016 est.)
industry: 35.3% (2016 est.)
services: 55% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
0.2% (2012 est.)
18.7% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 31.7% (1998)
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 29.6% (2005)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
8% (2017 est.)
3.6% (2016 est.)
9.6% (2017 est.)
9.1% (2016 est.)

note: official Iranian estimate

Labor force
2.305 million (2013 est.)
30.5 million (2017 est.)

note: shortage of skilled labor

Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 48.2%
industry: 14%
services: 37.8% (2004 est.)
agriculture: 16.3%
industry: 35.1%
services: 48.6% (2013 est.)
Unemployment rate
11% (2014 est.)
10.6% (2013)
11.8% (2017 est.)
12.4% (2016 est.)

note: data are Iranian Government numbers

Distribution of family income - Gini index
40.8 (1998)
44.5 (2006)
revenues: 5.657 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 6.714 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 74.4 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 84.45 billion (2017 est.)
natural gas, oil, petroleum products, textiles, food processing
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
Industrial production growth rate
1% (2017 est.)
3% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products
cotton, grain, melons; livestock
wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, sugarcane, fruits, nuts, cotton; dairy products, wool; caviar
$7.458 billion (2017 est.)
$6.987 billion (2016 est.)
$101.4 billion (2017 est.)
$83.98 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
gas, crude oil, petrochemicals, textiles, cotton fiber
petroleum 60%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, carpets, cement, ore
Exports - partners
China 83.7%, Turkey 5.1% (2017)
China 27.5%, India 15.1%, South Korea 11.4%, Turkey 11.1%, Italy 5.7%, Japan 5.3% (2017)
$4.571 billion (2017 est.)
$5.215 billion (2016 est.)
$76.39 billion (2017 est.)
$63.14 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
machinery and equipment, chemicals, foodstuffs
industrial supplies, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services
Imports - partners
Turkey 24.2%, Algeria 14.4%, Germany 9.8%, China 8.9%, Russia 8%, US 6.6% (2017)
UAE 29.8%, China 12.7%, Turkey 4.4%, South Korea 4%, Germany 4% (2017)
Debt - external
$539.4 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$425.3 million (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.995 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$8.196 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
Turkmenistani manat (TMM) per US dollar -
4.125 (2017 est.)
3.5 (2016 est.)
3.5 (2015 est.)
3.5 (2014 est.)
2.85 (2013 est.)
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.)
Fiscal year
calendar year
21 March - 20 March
Public debt
28.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
24.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
39.5% of GDP (2017 est.)
47.5% of GDP (2016 est.)

note: includes publicly guaranteed debt

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$24.91 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$25.05 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$120.6 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$133.7 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$4.359 billion (2017 est.)
-$7.207 billion (2016 est.)
$9.491 billion (2017 est.)
$16.28 billion (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$37.93 billion (2017 est.)
$430.7 billion (2017 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$3.061 billion (2013 est.)
$3.117 billion (2012 est.)
$50.33 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$46.02 billion (31 December 2016 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.)
Central bank discount rate
5% (31 December 2014)
5% (31 December 2013)


Commercial bank prime lending rate
19% (31 December 2017 est.)
16% (31 December 2016 est.)
18% (31 December 2017 est.)
18% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$28.4 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$13.09 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$348.2 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$315.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$1.326 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.255 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$48.08 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$47.59 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$12.23 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$5.632 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$48.08 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$47.59 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
14.9% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
17.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-2.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
-2.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 50% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 10% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 28.2% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 26.2% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -14.3% (2017 est.)
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.)
Gross national saving
23.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
24.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
18.9% of GDP (2015 est.)
37.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
37.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
35.2% of GDP (2015 est.)


Electricity - production
21.18 billion kWh (2016 est.)
272.3 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption
15.09 billion kWh (2016 est.)
236.3 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports
3.201 billion kWh (2015 est.)
6.822 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - imports
0 kWh (2016 est.)
4.221 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Oil - production
244,000 bbl/day (2018 est.)
4.251 million bbl/day (2018 est.)
Oil - imports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - exports
67,790 bbl/day (2015 est.)
750,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - proved reserves
600 million bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
157.2 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves
7.504 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
33.72 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - production
77.45 billion cu m (2017 est.)
214.5 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption
39.31 billion cu m (2017 est.)
206.9 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports
38.14 billion cu m (2017 est.)
11.64 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports
0 cu m (2017 est.)
3.993 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity
4.001 million kW (2016 est.)
77.6 million kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels
100% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
84% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
15% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
1% 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
191,100 bbl/day (2015 est.)
1.764 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption
160,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
1.804 million bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports
53,780 bbl/day (2015 est.)
397,200 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
64,160 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy
100.5 million Mt (2017 est.)
638.3 million Mt (2017 est.)
Electricity access
electrification - total population: 100% (2020)
electrification - total population: 100% (2020)


Telephones - main lines in use
total subscriptions: 648,223
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 11.85 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 29,330,454
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 34.92 (2019 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular
total subscriptions: 8,908,821
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 162.86 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 119,598,034
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 142.39 (2019 est.)
Internet country code
Internet users
total: 1,149,840
percent of population: 21.25% (July 2018 est.)
total: 58,117,322
percent of population: 70% (July 2018 est.)
Telecommunication systems
general assessment: telecommunications network is gradually improving from the former Soviet republic; state control over most economic activities has not helped growth; in cooperation with foreign partners, the telecom sector has installed high-speed fiber-optic lines and has upgraded most of the country's telephone exchanges and switching centers with new digital technology; the mobile market will see slow growth; some rural areas are still without telephones; mobile broadband is in the early stages of development; in 2019 Russia-based operator said to be leaving the country and leaving only 1 public operator (2020)
domestic: fixed-line 12 per 100 and mobile-cellular teledensity is about 163 per 100 persons; first telecommunication satellite was launched in 2015 (2019)
international: country code - 993; linked by fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay to other CIS republics and to other countries by leased connections to the Moscow international gateway switch; an exchange in Ashgabat switches international traffic through Turkey via Intelsat; satellite earth stations - 1 Orbita and 1 Intelsat (2018)
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
general assessment: opportunities for telecoms growth, but disadvantaged by the 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 90% accessing 4G LTE coverage; Iranian-net, is currently expanding a fiber network to reach 8 million customers; govt. is proactively preparing regulations for 5G development (2020)
domestic: 35 per 100 for fixed-line and 142 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions; 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 (2019)
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; (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)
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
Broadband - fixed subscriptions
total: 4,000
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: less than 1 (2017 est.)
total: 9,806,123
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 12 (2018 est.)
Broadcast media
broadcast media is government controlled and censored; 7 state-owned TV and 4 state-owned radio networks; satellite dishes and programming provide an alternative to the state-run media; officials sometimes limit access to satellite TV by removing satellite dishes
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)


total: 5,113 km (2017)
broad gauge: 5,113 km 1.520-m gauge (2017)
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: 58,592 km (2002)
paved: 47,577 km (2002)
unpaved: 11,015 km (2002)
total: 223,485 km (2018)
paved: 195,485 km (2018)
unpaved: 28,000 km (2018)
1,300 km (Amu Darya River and Kara Kum Canal are important inland waterways) (2011)
850 km (on Karun River; some navigation on Lake Urmia) (2012)
7500 km gas, 1501 km oil (2013)
7 km condensate, 973 km condensate/gas, 20794 km gas, 570 km liquid petroleum gas, 8625 km oil, 7937 km refined products (2013)
Ports and terminals
major seaport(s): Caspian Sea - Turkmenbasy
major seaport(s): Bandar-e Asaluyeh, Bandar Abbas, Bandar Emam
container port(s) (TEUs): Bandar Abbas (2,607,000) (2017)
Merchant marine
total: 71
by type: general cargo 6, oil tanker 8, other 57 (2019)
total: 785
by type: bulk carrier 31, container ship 26, general cargo 361, oil tanker 17, other 350 (2019)
total: 26 (2013)
total: 319 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways
total: 21 (2013)
over 3,047 m: 1 (2013)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 9 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2013)
total: 140 (2019)
over 3,047 m: 42
2,438 to 3,047 m: 29
1,524 to 2,437 m: 26
914 to 1,523 m: 36
under 914 m: 7
Airports - with unpaved runways
total: 5 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
under 914 m: 4 (2013)
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)
1 (2013)
26 (2013)
National air transport system
number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 27
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 2,457,474 (2018)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 16.92 million mt-km (2018)
number of registered air carriers: 22 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 237
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 25,604,871 (2018)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 290.74 million mt-km (2018)
Civil aircraft registration country code prefix
EZ (2016)
EP (2016)


Military branches
Armed Forces of Turkmenistan: National Army, Navy, Air and Air Defense Forces; Federal Border Guard Service (2019)
Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (Artesh): Ground Forces, Navy (includes marines), Air Force, Air Defense Forces; 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)
Military service age and obligation
18-27 years of age for compulsory male military service; 2-year conscript service obligation; 20 years of age for voluntary service; males may enroll in military schools from age 15 (2013)
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)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

cotton monoculture in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan creates water-sharing difficulties for Amu Darya river states; field demarcation of the boundaries with Kazakhstan commenced in 2005; bilateral talks continue with Azerbaijan on dividing the seabed and contested oilfields in the middle of the Caspian

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

Illicit drugs
transit country for Afghan narcotics bound for Russian and Western European markets; transit point for heroin precursor chemicals bound for Afghanistan
despite substantial interdiction efforts and considerable control measures along the border with Afghanistan, Iran remains one of the primary transshipment routes for Southwest Asian heroin to Europe; suffers one of the highest opiate addiction rates in the world, and has an increasing problem with synthetic drugs; regularly enforces the death penalty for drug offences; lacks anti-money laundering laws; has reached out to neighboring countries to share counter-drug intelligence
Refugees and internally displaced persons
stateless persons: 3,688 (2019)
refugees (country of origin): 2.5-3.0 (1 million registered, 1.5-2.0 million undocumented) (Afghanistan) (2015); 28,268 (Iraq) (2019)
Trafficking in persons
current situation: Turkmenistan is a source country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Turkmenistanis who migrate abroad are forced to work in the textile, agriculture, construction, and domestic service industries, while women and girls may also be sex trafficked; in 2014, men surpassed women as victims; Turkey and Russia are primary trafficking destinations, followed by the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and other parts of Europe; Turkmenistanis also experience forced labor domestically in the informal construction industry; participation in the cotton harvest is still mandatory for some public sector employees
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List – Turkmenistan does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, Turkmenistan was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; the government made some progress in its law enforcement efforts in 2014, convicting more offenders than in 2013; authorities did not make adequate efforts to identify and protect victims and did not fund international organizations or NGOs that offered protective services; some victims were punished for crimes as a result of being trafficked (2015)
current situation: Iran is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; organized groups sex traffic Iranian women and children in Iran and to the UAE and Europe; the transport of girls from and through Iran en route to the Gulf for sexual exploitation or forced marriages is on the rise; Iranian children are also forced to work as beggars, street vendors, and in domestic workshops; Afghan boys forced to work in construction or agriculture are vulnerable to sexual abuse by their employers; Pakistani and Afghan migrants being smuggled to Europe often are subjected to forced labor, including debt bondage
tier rating: Tier 3 – Iran does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government does not share information on its anti-trafficking efforts, but publically available information from NGOs, the media, and international organizations indicates that Iran is not taking adequate measures to address its trafficking problems, particularly protecting victims; Iranian law does not prohibit all forms of human trafficking; female victims find it extremely difficult to get justice because Iranian courts accord women’s testimony half the weight of men's, and female victims of sexual abuse, including trafficking, are likely to be prosecuted for adultery; the government did not identify or provide protection services to any victims and continued to punish victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked; the government made some effort to cooperate with neighboring governments and an international organization to combat human trafficking and other crimes (2015)

Source: CIA Factbook