+98 is the dialing code for Iran.
Iran is an Islamic republic, in effect a religious dictatorship. There is a people-elected parliament and a president-elect, but the religious scholars have the utmost power, especially the most conservative circles. The opposition is brutally silenced with imprisonment, torture, impunity or execution. A long-standing conflict with the outside world was settled since the country’s suspected attempt to construct nuclear weapons was interrupted, but conflicts with the United States have come to life again after President Trump decided to leave the agreement.
- Abbreviationfinder: Brief profiles of Iran, including geography, history, politics, economics as well as common acronyms about this country.
Geography and climate
Iran is about three and a half times the size of Sweden. High mountains and large desert areas make parts of the country difficult to access. Central Iran consists of a high plateau and there are large salt marshes and stone deserts. The plateau is surrounded by mountain ranges. Earthquakes often occur.
To the north dominates a vast salt desert, Dasht-e Kavir, and in the south the rock and sand desert Dahst-e Lut , which is one of the world’s driest and hottest places.
The high plateau in central Iran is surrounded by mountain ranges. The largest is Zagros, which extends from the country’s northwest corner to the southeast along the entire coast towards the Persian Gulf. Zagros has peaks over 4,000 meters. The narrower but equally high Elburz chain begins in the same corner but follows the Caspian Sea coast to turn northeast into the Kopet Dag Mountains, which form a border with Turkmenistan. The country’s highest mountain, the dormant volcano Damavand (Demavend) northeast of Tehran, reaches over 5,600 meters.
Earthquakes often occur, including earthquakes of great magnitude. At an earthquake in the northwest in 1990, about 40,000 people were killed and half a million became homeless. Over 26,000 died when a powerful earthquake in 2003 devastated the city of Bam in southeastern Iran.
|Cultivated land||30.1 %|
|Land area||1648195 km 2|
Population and health
|Population development||1.2 ‰|
|Urban population (Urbanization)||73.4 %|
|Death rate||5.94 per 1000 residents|
|Life expectancy: Women||72.82 years|
|Life expectancy: Men||69.56 years|
|Birth rate||17.99 births per 1000 residents|
|Infant mortality||38.04 deaths / 1000 births|
Population Graph Source: Countryaah.com
|Electricity, production||239200 million kWh|
|Energy consumption per inhabitant||2883.4 kg. oil per resident|
|Natural gas, production||172600 million cubic meters|
|Crude oil, production||183 million tons|
|Internet users||28.3 per 100 residents|
|Mobile subscriptions||85 per 100 residents|
|Passenger cars||200 per 1000 residents|
Business and economics
|Unemployment||10.5% of the workforce|
|GDP||17300 per resident|
|Primary occupations||25 %|
|Secondary profession||30 %|
|Tertiary professions||45 %|
Iran has several saline lakes that lack outflows. Largest is Lake Urmia at the top of the northwest. The Caspian Sea is also such a lake.
On the island of Qeshm in the south, in the Strait of Hormuz, there is an impressive salt cave with strange formations. The Namakdan Cave is believed to be one of the deepest salt caves in the world.
The climate varies between extreme heat and extreme cold. In the summers it can get up to 50 degrees inland. In the winters there will be down to 20 minus degrees in the mountain regions.
Dry climates prevail in most of the country, with less than 250 millimeters of rain and snow a year. The rainfall comes mainly during the winter season. Just along the north-western border areas and at the Caspian Sea, rainfall is more abundant – up to 2,000 mm per year.
Strong winds are common. Eastern Iran, in particular, is plagued by the “120-day wind” summers, which can reach speeds of 45 meters per second.
1 648 000 km2 (2018)
Swedish + 2.5 hours
Adjacent country (s)
Iraq, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan
Capital with number of residents
Tehran 8,700,000 (Sources: Allcitypopulation.com)
Other major cities
Mashad 3 000 000, Isfahan 2 100 000, karaj 1 900 000, Shiraz 1 700 000, Tabriz 1 600 000, Qom 1 200 000, Ahwaz 1 200 000 (Census 2016)
Damavand (5671 m asl)
Karun, Arvand Rud (Shatt-al-Arab)
Mass protests are growing in strength
When the mass demonstrations have been going on for three days, the regime is blocking access to the Internet and social media in Iran. The protesters communicate via these channels. President Rouhani is speaking for the first time about the demonstrations. He acknowledges people’s financial hardship and says there will be “more room for criticism”. Rouhani urges to calm down and abstain from violence. The demonstrations are now described as the largest since the 2009 presidential election, when at least 30 people were killed when protests against the election results were fought down with violence. An estimated few hundred or a few thousand people participate in the protests. Police respond with tear gas and water cannons. Hundreds of people have been arrested and several have been killed in the violence.
Protests in Mashhad are spreading
Street protests erupt in the city of Mashhad against economic everyday problems such as high prices of fuel and food, as well as high unemployment and corruption. The protests will soon spread through the internet and social media to other parts of the country and gradually gain more regime-critical elements. Deaths are reported as well as many arrests.
KI researchers in TV
Iranian TV broadcasts what is described as a confession by Ahmadreza Djalali, a researcher at the Karolinska Institute and sentenced to charges of espionage on behalf of Israel. This kind of confession has appeared before in Iranian television. According to relatives, he has been pressured into a false confession. Iran’s Supreme Court has confirmed the death sentence.
Iran is designated for robots
US ambassador to the United States Nikki Haley presents robotic remains as evidence that Iran has delivered weapons to Yemeni rebels, not least a robot fired against Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on November 4. UN expertise has previously estimated that the robots may be of Iranian origin. Tehran rejects the allegations.
Prosecutors get jail
Former Tehran chief prosecutor Said Mortazavi is sentenced to two years in prison (not five years as in lower court) for an incident when an activist lost his life in detention following protests against the re-election of former president Ahmadinejad. Two guardians have avoided the death penalty following consultations with the victim’s relatives, who have shown greater interest in demanding higher-level responsibility. Mortazavi was shunned by the reform-minded, among other things, because he had arrested activists and stopped publishing newspapers. Several activists lost their lives when he was head of the judiciary.
Promises for measures against construction fraud
Land grief prevails and President Rohani has visited the disaster area. The quake is believed to have claimed about 500 lives and up to 8,000 injured have been reported. Iran has a well-equipped earthquake rescue device, but foreign media are not allowed to follow the work closely. It circulates pictures where some houses collapse while neighboring houses are intact. A representative of the Revolutionary Guard says that modern buildings have done the best, but speculation about building cheats is directed at the Mehr project, a million-dollar program for housing for the less-favored, implemented during President Ahmadinejad’s time. President Rohani promises action against those responsible.
Severe earthquake in the northwest
An earthquake in the border regions against Iraq is measured at magnitude 7.3. Already during the night after the quake, hundreds of deaths have been counted, most in Iran. Damaged buildings and the risk of aftershocks cause people to sleep outdoors.
IAEA: Iran complies with agreement
Iran fulfills its commitments under the Nuclear Energy Agreement of 2015, declares the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in talks with the US ambassador. (See October 13.)
Dispute between great powers
Rebels in Yemen send a robot to Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh. It triggers fierce exchange of words between the region’s great powers Iran and Saudi Arabia and creates concern for extended war. Both countries have interests in the Yemen conflict. Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of providing Yemenites with weapons and considers itself hit by a war operation for which Iran is responsible. The Iranian government criticizes the Saudis for bombing Yemen’s civilians.
Putin on a visit
Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Tehran for a state visit, most recently in 2015. With President Hassan Rohani, he is discussing Syria, where both countries support Bashar al-Assad’s regime and, in parallel with UN efforts, are trying to implement its own peace initiative. They also discuss Iran’s disputed nuclear program and bilateral issues.
“Israeli spy” sentenced to death
Researcher Ahmadreza Djalali, who has a permanent residence permit in Sweden, is sentenced to death for handing over information to Israel that allowed Israeli agents to murder at least four Iranian nuclear technologies between 2010 and 2012. According to Iranian prosecutors, Djalali should have received money and help with to obtain a residence permit in Sweden for helping the Israeli security service Mossad. Djalali has done research at the Karolinska Institutet where he earned his doctorate in emergency medicine in 2012.
The EU appeals to the US not to revoke the Iran agreement
EU Foreign Ministers reiterate their support for the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear program and warn the US to create a situation that could lead to a military confrontation with Iran. Foreign Minister Mogherini will travel to Washington to discuss the matter with the US government.
US on the way out of the nuclear agreement
Iran’s agreement with the world’s major powers over its nuclear program is cracking down when US President Trump refuses to “certify” it, that is, to confirm to the US Congress that Iran is following the agreement’s provisions. Trump believes that Iran does not live up to the “spirit of the agreement” and suggests, without providing any evidence, that Iran may have a secret nuclear cooperation with North Korea. He leaves it to Congress to decide within 60 days whether the United States will reintroduce sanctions against Iran that were suspended when the agreement was signed. If that happens, the US will break the agreement, which means that it will in effect cease to exist and that Iran considers itself entitled to resume attempts to manufacture nuclear weapons. All other parties behind the agreement – Russia, China, EU, UK, France and Germany and the IAEA – consider that Iran is following the rules. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif claims that Trump’s speech in itself constitutes a breach of the agreement, and President Rohani says that Iran reserves the right to leave the agreement if it can no longer be considered to promote the country’s interests. According to Rohani, Trump’s speech is filled with “insults and false accusations”.
Disagreement between the IAEA and Trump over Iran
While Yukiya Amano, the head of the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), once again reaffirms that Iran respects its commitments under the 2015 international agreement on the country’s nuclear research program, US President Donald Trump is adamant that Iran does not live up to the “spirit” of the agreement. Trump is expected to one day announce that he is “decertifying” the agreement, which could be interpreted as he no longer believes it is in the US interest to respect it. This, in turn, could mean that the United States unilaterally imposes new sanctions on Iran. It is also thought likely that Trump will demand that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard be classified as a terrorist organization.
Iran defies US with new medium-range robot
Iran announces that it has successfully tested a new medium-range robot with a range of 200 miles. The shooting took place the days after Iran was involved in a heated exchange of words with US President Donald Trump in the UN Security Council. Trump insists that the international agreement on Iran’s nuclear research program is a disaster and the worst the US has ever signed. In his speech at the UN, Trump describes Iran as a “rogue state whose main export goods are violence, bloodshed and chaos”. Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami comments on the shooting that the country will continue to strengthen its defense “as long as some speak the language of the threat”.
Multibillion loan from South Korean bank
The Iranian central bank is granted a loan of eight billion euros, just over SEK 64 billion, from the South Korean bank Eximbank. It is the largest loan to the Iranian state since the international agreement on the country’s nuclear energy program was signed in 2015, which re-entered the country into the international financial market. The loan will fund South Korean companies’ development projects in Iran.
Opposition leader to hospital
Opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, who has been in house arrest for six years, is taken to hospital after starting a hunger strike, his family says. Karroubi is 79 years old and is said to have problems with high blood pressure. He hunger strikes for the demand for a public trial. He also requires the security service to remove the surveillance cameras and personnel placed in his residence. He interrupts the hunger strike after a day after receiving the promise that the security agents should leave the home.
Conservative leader for important institution
Iran’s highest leader Ayatollah Khamenei appoints Conservative Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi as chairman of the Medal Council advisory body. Sharoudi, who was previously head of the judiciary, is among the most hard-witted conservative wing, which is now strengthening its grip on the country, despite the more reform-friendly forces having stronger support in public opinion. One surprise is that former President Ahmadinejad gets a seat on the Medlar Council. He had been considered to have lost influence in recent years.
Minor drug crime penalty
Parliament adopts a law that greatly raises the threshold for when the death penalty can be imposed for drug offenses; Since the law is also to apply retroactively, the sentence for several thousand death sentences can be converted to a maximum of 30 years in prison. The law must be approved by the conservative Guardian Council in order to take effect.
Increased funding for the robot program
Parliament approves an additional grant of the equivalent of just over SEK 4 billion for the Iranian robot program and the operations of the Revolutionary Guard abroad. The decision is a reaction to the new sanctions introduced by the United States. Iran believes US sanctions are in violation of the 2015 international agreement restricting Iran’s nuclear program.
Rohani’s new government receives criticism
President Rohani, who has just assumed his second term, presents a ministerial list without a single woman. Admittedly, he appoints two female vice presidents, but that does not silence criticism of the entirely male government. The ministers also have no representatives of ethnic minorities, and the average age is higher than in the previous government. The government must be approved by Parliament before it can take office.
New US sanctions
Both chambers of the US Congress are adopting new sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for its continued work on developing robotic systems. Shortly after the Senate’s decision, Iran announces that the country successfully test-fired a rocket capable of firing a 250-kilo-heavy satellite up to 50 miles above the earth. The US immediately condemns the trial as a violation of a UN resolution banning Iran from developing ballistic robots.
Increased Iraq-Iran military cooperation
Iran and Iraq sign an agreement to increase their military cooperation and the fight against “terrorism and extremism”. The agreement is signed by the country’s defense ministers and also covers border protection, logistics and education.
New US sanctions
US President Donald Trump, who threatened to tear up the Iranian nuclear program agreement, admits that Iran is living up to its commitments but claims the country does not live up to the agreement spirit. Therefore, the US faces new sanctions against Iran targeting 18 people or companies whose assets in the US are blocked. Iran’s parliament is responding by starting a swift debate on a law on increased funding for the country’s robotic program and the Revolutionary Guard, each with the equivalent of $ 260 million. President Rohani says that Iran is faithful to the international agreement but that it will provide “an appropriate response” to new US combat measures. He argues that the new US sanctions violate both the spirit of the agreement and its letter.
New US sanctions underway
The US House of Representatives adopts new sanctions on Iran, which are targeted at people involved in Iran’s robot development program and against members of the Revolutionary Guard. Certain parts of the arms embargo prevailing are strengthened. The bill now goes on for consideration in the Senate before it becomes reality.
First IS attacks in Iran
The Sunni extremist terrorist movement Islamic State (IS) claims to be behind two armed attacks targeting the Iranian parliament and the mausoleum over former Ayatollah Khomeini leader. Twelve people are killed and dozens injured in IS’s first attack in Shiite-dominated Iran. At about the same time, three, four men enter the Parliament and the area around the mausoleum, where they open fire and in a few cases trigger explosive charges hidden on the body.
Grand victory for Tehran reformists
All 21 seats in the Tehran City Council go to reform advocates in the elections held at the same time as the presidential election. This means that the Conservatives lose power in the capital after 14 years.
Grand victory for Rohani
Hassan Rohani wins by a large margin and is re-elected as president with about 57 percent of the vote against just over 38 percent for the main competitor Ebrahim Raisi. The high turnout of about 73 percent is considered to have benefited Rohani. Especially in the big cities, millions of people seem to have voted for the incumbent president to prevent hard-fought clergy favorite Raisi from winning. During his years as president, Rohani has been criticized for failing to improve respect for human rights or to strengthen the economy for the broad masses, but he has received respect for having at least partially normalized Iran’s relationship with the western world.
Great interest in presidential elections
Participation seems high when the Iranian people elect a president. A high turnout has been deemed to benefit incumbent President Rohani, as his conservative main opponent Raisi is believed to have the most devoted supporters. Many voters have said in advance that they would rather vote for Raisi than for Rohani. Raisi goes to the election to support the poor, who did not get better under Rohani, and to hold a tougher tone against the Western world, while Rohani talked about a choice between increased personal freedom and conservative extremism. Rohani’s main triumph is the nuclear agreement with the outside world, but he has been criticized for not strengthening the country’s economy as expected.
The vice president resigns from the election
Reform-oriented First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri withdraws his candidacy in the presidential election and calls on voters to vote for incumbent President Rohani. Jahangiri’s candidacy is believed to have been purely tactical, so that he could be a support to Rohani during the election campaign.
Conservative candidate jumps off
15th of May
Four days before the presidential election, Tehran Mayor Bagher Ghalibaf announces that he will withdraw his candidacy. He urges his supporters to vote for Ebrahim Raisi, who is the only remaining standout conservative candidate.
Ahmadinejad is not allowed to stand
The Guardian Council rejects former President Ahmadinejad as a candidate in the upcoming elections. Six candidates are approved by the Guardian Council, among them the incumbent President Rohani. Her toughest opponent is believed to be the 56-year-old former judge and imam Ebrahim Raisi. He leads a powerful religious foundation and a number of companies in the city of Mashhad and is considered to be close to the highest leader Khamenei. Tehran Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who came second in the 2013 elections, may also run for office.
Rohani is seeking re-election
As expected, President Rohani will register as a candidate in the May 19 election. He hopes to be re-elected for a new term. He has won international respect for agreeing to shut down the Iranian nuclear program, but there is disappointment among his own people that unemployment remains high, that foreign investment has largely failed and that he has failed to mitigate social pressure from the conservative forces or free political prisoners. In total, more than 1,600 people have registered when the registration period expires, but almost all will be sorted out by the Guardian Council (see Political system).
Ex-president wants to come back
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registers as a candidate in the May presidential election. He signs up despite the fact that the senior leader Ayatollah Khamenei in 2016 asked him not to stand and he then said he would accept it. “But it was a council, not a ban,” said Ahmadinejad, whose eight years as president were characterized by economic problems and poor relations with the western world.
Iranian money remains blocked
A court in Luxembourg denies an Iranian request to recover $ 1.6 billion that was blocked at the request of the United States. The money has been frozen since a judge in the US in 2012 ordered Iran to pay damages to the victims of the attacks of 11 September 2001. According to the judge, Iran is jointly responsible for the attacks for allowing members of al-Qaeda to travel through the country. The Iranian central bank says it will appeal the decision.
New US sanctions
US President Trump orders financial sanctions to be imposed on a number of Iranian people and companies or government as punishment for the latest robotic test and for Iran’s support for the Shiite militia in Yemen
American threat after robot test
After Iran announced that it was carrying out a ballistic robot test shoot, which is technically considered to be equipped with a nuclear charge, US new president Trump says Iran “should be grateful” for the international nuclear agreement and suggests he is preparing for reprisals.
US sanctions are being extended
US outgoing President Obama extends US sanctions against Iran by one year to March 15, 2018. The sanctions apply to Iranian human rights violations and support to terrorist organizations. The sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program were abolished in 2015.
Former President Rafsanjani dies
Former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani dies at the age of 82. His passing is considered a hardship for the reform-minded and moderately conservative forces, whose leading representative he has been for many years. Rafsanjani was one of the leaders of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 and was the Speaker of Parliament until 1989, after which he was President for two terms until 1997. He was also a member of the important Expert Assembly, which elected the country’s highest leader, and since 1990, chairman of the Suitability Council.. Although he belonged to the conservative Islamic Republic’s inner circle, he was regarded as a pragmatic who worked for economic liberalization and better relations with the western world.