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At a glance - A view from our expert author
Iran at a glance
Location Asia; borders with Iraq, Caucasian and central Asian republics, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Area 1,648,195km2, three times the size of France
Climate Most regions: long, hot summers; short, sharp winters. Marked contrasts in northwest, east and central desert regions.
Population Over 79 million (2015); more than 70% living in cities and towns.
Government A theocracy with a Supreme Leader, an Assembly of (Theological) Experts, a Council of Guardians and elected Parliament and President
Capital Tehran (population over 12 million)
Other major cities Mashhad (population over two million), Esfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Ahvaz (over 1.5 million each) and Hamadan (one million)
Language Farsi (an Indo-Aryan language) alongside dialects of Turkish, Arabic and Kurdish
Alphabet Based on the Arabic script, reading from right to left
Religion Predominantly Shi’a Muslims, with some Sunnis; also Zoroastrians, Christians and Jews.
Currency Rial IRR; for up-to-date rates, go to www.xe.com.
International telephone code +98
Time GMT +3.5
Weights and measures Metric
Electricity 220 volts, 50Hz
National flag Three horizontal stripes of green, white and red with repeated legend ‘Allah Akbar’ (‘God is great’) around the edge and the red emblem of Iran on the white stripe
National anthems ‘Sourud-e Jomhuri Islami Iran’ (Song of the Islamic Republic of Iran); ‘Sourud-e Iran’ (Song of Iran).
Public holidays Fixed holidays: 11 February, 20 March and the week following (Nou Rouz), 1 April, 4 and 5 June. Also numerous Muslim holidays dated to the lunar calendar, which means these fall approximately 11 days earlier each Gregorian year.