Proto-Indo-Iranian Religion

Proto-Indo-Iranian Religion

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Proto-Indo-Iranian religion means the religion of the Indo-Iranian peoples prior to the earliest Hindu and Zoroastrian scriptures. These share a common inheritance of concepts including the universal force *Hṛta- (Sanskrit rta, Avestan asha), the sacred plant and drink *sawHma- (Sanskrit Soma, Avestan Haoma) and gods of social order such as *mitra- (Sanskrit Mitra, Avestan and Old Persian MithraMiϑra) and *bʰaga- (Sanskrit Bhaga, Avestan and Old Persian Baga). Proto-Indo-Iranian religion is an archaic offshoot of Indo-European religion.


Indo-Iranian languages include three subgroups: first Indo-Aryan languages (including the Dardic languages); second Iranian languages (east and west) and third Nuristani languages. From these various and dispersed cultures, a set of common ideas may be reconstructed from which a common, unattested proto-Indo-Iranian source may be deduced.

Beliefs developed in different ways as cultures separated and evolved. For example, the cosmo-mythology of the peoples that remained on the Central Asian steppes and the Iranian plateau is to a great degree unlike that of the Indians, focused more on groups of deities (*daiva and *asura) and less on the divinities individually.[citation needed] Indians were less conservative[citation needed] than Iranians in their treatment of their divinities, so that some deities were conflated with others or, conversely, aspects of a single divinity developed into divinities in their own right. By the time of Zoroaster, Iranian culture had also been subject to the upheavals of the Iranian Heroic Age (late Iranian Bronze Age, 1800–800 BCE[citation needed]), an influence that the Indians were not subject to.

Sometimes certain myths developed in altogether different ways. The Rig-Vedic Sarasvati is linguistically and functionally cognate with Avestan *Haraxvaitī Ārəduuī Sūrā Anāhitā[citation needed]. In the Rig-Veda (6,61,5–7) she battles a serpent called Vritra, who has hoarded all of the Earth’s water. In contrast, in early portions of the Avesta, Iranian *Harahvati is the world-river that flows down from the mythical central Mount Hara. But *Harahvati does no battle — she is blocked by an obstacle (Avestan for obstacle: vərəϑra) placed there by Angra Mainyu.

Cognate terms

The following is a list of cognate terms that may be gleaned from comparative linguistic analysis of the Rigveda and Avesta. Both collections are from the period after the proposed date of separation (ca. 2nd millennium BCE) of the Proto-Indo-Iranians into their respective Indic Iranian branches.

hideIndo-Iranian Vedic Sanskrit Avestan Common meaning
*ap āp āp “water,” āpas “the Waters”
Apam Napat, Apām Napāt Apām Napāt the “water’s offspring”
*aryaman aryaman airyaman “Arya-hood” (lit:** “member of Arya community”)
*rta rta asha/arta “active truth”, extending to “order” & “righteousness”
*athar-van- atharvan āϑrauuan “priest”
*azi ahi azhi, (aži) “dragon, snake”, “serpent”
*daywá- daiva, deva daeva, (daēuua) a class of divinities
*manu manu manu “man”
*mi-tra- mitra mithra, miϑra “oath, covenant”
*asura asura ahura another class of spirits
*sarvatāt sarvatat Hauruuatāt “intactness”, “perfection”
*sara-svnt-ih Sarasvatī Haraxvaitī (Ārəduuī Sūrā Anāhitā) a controversial (generally considered mythological) river, a river goddess
*sáwHma- sauma, soma haoma a plant, deified
*súHar ~ *súHr̥ svar hvar, xvar the Sun, also cognate to Greek helios, Latin sol, Engl. Sun
*vr-tra- Vrtra verethra, vərəϑra (cf. Verethragna, Vərəϑraγna) “obstacle”
*yama Yama Yima son of the solar deity Vivasvant/Vīuuahuuant
*yaĵ-ná- yajña yasna, object: yazata “worship, sacrifice, oblation”

Relationship to Proto-Indo-European religion

When Vedic texts were the oldest surviving evidence of early Indo-European-speaking peoples, it was assumed that these texts preserved aspects of Proto-Indo-European culture with particular accuracy. Many ethnologists hoped to unify Indo-Iranian, CelticNorseGreekGermanic and Roman into a Proto-Indo-European religionMax Müller believed that Indo-Iranian religion began as sun worship. G. Dumézilstressed the tripartite social system of Indo-European religion and society. Later scholarship has moved away from considering all these religions near-identical.

See also

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Persian Mythology

Persian Mythology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Persian mythology are traditional tales and stories of ancient origin, all involving extraordinary or supernatural beings. Drawn from the legendary past of Iran, they reflect the attitudes of the society to which they first belonged – attitudes towards the confrontation of good and evil, the actions of the gods, yazats (lesser gods), and the exploits of heroes and fabulous creatures. Myths play a crucial part in Iranian culture and our understanding of them is increased when we consider them within the context of Iranian history.

For this purpose we must ignore modern political boundaries and look at historical developments in the Greater Iran, a vast area covering the CaucasusMesopotamiaAnatolia, and Central Asia, beyond the frontiers of present-day Iran. The geography of this region, with its high mountain ranges, plays a significant role in many of the mythological stories. The second millennium BC is usually regarded as the age of migration because of the emergence in western Iran of a new form of Iranian pottery, similar to earlier wares of north-eastern Iran, suggesting the arrival of the Ancient Iranian peoples. This pottery, light grey to black in colour, appeared around 1400 BC. It is called Early Grey Ware or Iron I, the latter name indicating the beginning of the Iron Age in this area.[1]

Key texts

The central collection of Persian mythology is the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, written over a thousand years ago. Ferdowsi’s work draws heavily, with attribution, on the stories and characters of Mazdaism and Zoroastrianism, not only from the Avesta, but from later texts such as the Bundahishn and the Denkard as well as many others.

Religious background

The Chogha Zanbil ziggurat.

The characters of Persian mythology almost always fall into one of two camps. They are either good, or they are evil. The resultant discord mirrors the nationalistic ideals of the early Islamic era as well as the moral and ethical perceptions of the Zoroastrian period, in which the world was perceived to be locked in a battle between the destructive Ahriman and his hordes of demonic dews and their Un-Iranian supporters, versus the Creator Ormuzd, who although not participating in the day-to-day affairs of mankind, was represented in the world by the izads and the righteous ahlav Iranians.

Good and Evil

Relief in Tus depicting popular mythical stories of Iran.

Simurgh (Phoenix) decoration outside of Nadir Divan-Beghi madrasah, Bukhara.

The most famous legendary character in the Persian epics and mythology is Rostam. On the other side of the fence is Zahhak, a symbol of despotism who was, finally, defeated by Kaveh the Blacksmith who led a popular uprising against him. Zahhak (Aži Dahāka) was guarded by two vipers which grew out from both of his shoulders. No matter how many times they were beheaded, new heads grew on them to guard him. The snake, like in many other mythologies, was a symbol of evil, but many other animals and birds appear in Iranian mythology, and, especially, the birds were signs of good omen. Most famous of these is Simorgh, a large beautiful and powerful bird; and Homa, a royal bird of victory whose plume adorned the crowns.

Peri (AvestanPairika), considered a beautiful though evil woman in early mythology, gradually became less evil and more beautiful, until during the Islamic period she became a symbol of beauty similar to the houris of Paradise.[citation needed]

The conflict between good and evil is prevalent in Persian myth and Zoroastrianism.[2]


See also

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Religion and Culture in Ancient Iran

Religion and Culture in Ancient Iran

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Indo-Europeans scattered throughout Eurasia.

The beliefs, activities, and cultural events of the ancient Iranians in ancient Iran are complex matters. The ancient Iranians made references to a combination of several Aryans and non-Aryan tribes. Aryans, or ancient Iranians, worshiped natural elements such as the sun, sunlight and thunder, but they eventually shifted their attention mostly to a single god, whilst acknowledging others. The Iranian ancient prophet, Zoroaster, reformed Iranian religious beliefs to a form of Henotheism. The Gathas, hymns of Zoroaster’s Avesta, brought monotheistic ideas to Persia, while through the Yashts and Yasna, mentions are made to Polytheism and earlier creeds. The Vedas and the Avesta have both served researchers as important resources in discovering early Aryan beliefs and ideas.[1]

See also

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Politics of Iran

Politics of Iran

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Emblem of Iran.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Government of Islamic Republic of Iran

Political system of the Islamic Republic of Iran

The politics of Iran take place in a framework of a theocracy in a format of syncretic politics that is guided by Islamic ideology. The December 1979 constitution, and its 1989 amendment, define the political, economic, and social order of the Islamic Republic of Iran, declaring that Shia Islam of the Twelver school of thought is Iran’s official religion.

Iran has an elected president, parliament (or Majlis), “Assembly of Experts” (which elects the Supreme Leader), and local councils. According to the constitution all candidates running for these positions must be vetted by the Guardian Council before being elected.

In addition, there are representatives elected from appointed organizations (usually under the Supreme Leader’s control) to “protect the state’s Islamic character”.[1]

Current office holders[edit]

Five out of seven head officials of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 2015

Main office holders
Office Name Picture Since
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei Ilham Aliyev meet Ali Khamenei - March 5, 2017 (4) (Cropped).jpg 4 June 1989; 29 years ago
President Hassan Rouhani Vladimir Putin met with President of Iran Hassan Rouhani in the Kremlin (12) (Cropped).jpg 3 August 2013; 4 years ago
Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani Ali Larijani.jpg 2 May 2008; 10 years ago
Chief Justice Sadeq Larijani Sixth International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada, Tehran (15) (crop of Sadeq Larijani).jpg 30 June 2009; 8 years ago
Secretary of the Guardian Council Ahmad Jannati Ahmad Jannati tsnm.jpg 29 August 1988; 29 years ago
Chairman of the Assembly of Experts 24 May 2016; 2 years ago
Chairman of Expediency Discernment Council Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi 2017.jpg 14 August 2017; 10 months ago

Political conditions[edit]

The early days of the revolutionary government were characterized by political tumult. In November 1979 the American embassy was seized and its occupants taken hostage and kept captive for 444 days because of support of the American Government to the King of Iran (Shah of Iran). The eight-year Iran–Iraq War killed hundreds of thousands and cost the country billions of dollars. By mid-1982, power struggles eliminated first the center of political spectrum and then the Republicans[2][3][4] leaving the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Khomeini and his supporters in power.

Iran’s post-revolution challenges have included the imposition of economic sanctions and suspension of diplomatic relations with Iran by the United States because of the hostage crisis, political support to Iraq and other acts of terrorism that the U.S. government and some others have accused Iran of sponsoring. Emigration has lost Iran millions of entrepreneurs, professionals, technicians, and skilled craftspeople and their capital.”[5][6] For this and other reasons Iran’s economy has not prospered.[citation needed] Poverty rose in absolute terms by nearly 45% during the first 6 years since Iraqi invasion on Iran started[7] and per capita income has yet to reach pre-revolutionary levels when Iraqi invasion ended in 1988.[8][9]

The Islamic Republic Party was Iran’s ruling political party and for years its only political party until its dissolution in 1987. After the war, new reformist/progressive parties had started to form. The country had no functioning political parties until the Executives of Construction Party formed in 1994 to run for the fifth parliamentary elections, mainly out of executive body of the government close to the then-president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. After the election of Mohammad Khatami in 1997, more parties started to work, mostly of the reformist movement and opposed by hard-liners. This led to incorporation and official activity of many other groups, including hard-liners. After the war ended in 1988, reformist and progressive candidates won four out of six presidential elections in Iran and Right-wing nationalist party of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won twice.

The Iranian Government is opposed by several Militias, including the Mojahedin-e-Khalq, the People’s Fedayeen, and the Kurdish Democratic PartyFor other political parties see List of political parties in Iran.

Supreme Leader[edit]

The Supreme Leader of Iran[10] is the head of state and highest ranking political and religious authority in the Islamic Republic of Iran (above the President). The armed forcesjudicial systemstate television, and other key governmental organizations are under the control of the Supreme Leader. There have been only two Supreme Leaders since the founding of the Islamic Republic, and the current leader (Ali Khamenei), has been in power since 1989. His powers extend to issuing decrees and making final decisions on the economy, environment, foreign policy, education, national planning of population growth,[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] the amount of transparency in elections in Iran,[19] and who is to be fired and reinstated in the Presidential cabinet.[20][21]

The Supreme Leader is appointed and supervised by the Assembly of Experts. However, all candidates to the Assembly of Experts, the President and the Majlis (Parliament), are selected by the Guardian Council, half of whose members are selected by the Supreme Leader of Iran.[22] Also, all directly-elected members after the vetting process by the Guardian Council still have to be approved by the Supreme Leader.[23][24] As such, the Assembly has never questioned the Supreme Leader.[25]

Guardian Council[edit]

The Guardian Council is an appointed and constitutionally mandated 12-member council with considerable power. It approves or vetoes legislative bills from the Islamic Consultative Assembly (the Iranian Parliament), and approves or forbids candidates seeking office to the Assembly of Experts, the Presidency and the parliament,[26] Six of the twelve members are Islamic faqihs (expert in Islamic Law) selected by the Supreme Leader of Iran, and the other six are jurists nominated by the Head of the Judicial system (who is also appointed by the Supreme Leader),[27], and approved by the Iranian Parliament.[28]

Political parties and elections[edit]

These are the most recent elections that have taken place.


Candidate Party Votes %
Hassan Rouhani Moderation and Development Party 23,636,652 57.14
Ebrahim Raisi Combatant Clergy Association 15,835,794 38.28
Mostafa Mir-Salim Islamic Coalition Party 478,267 1.16
Mostafa Hashemitaba Executives of Construction Party 214,441 0.52
Invalid/blank registered votes 1,200,931 2.90
Total registered votes 41,366,085 100
Registered voters/turnout 56,410,234 73.33
Source: Ministry of Interior

Local Councils[edit]

Islamic Consultative Assembly[edit]

Assembly of Experts[edit]

Political pressure groups and leaders[edit]

Active student groups include the pro-reform “Office for Strengthening Unity” and “the Union of Islamic Student Societies’;

  • Groups that generally support the Islamic Republic include Ansar-e Hizballah, The Iranian Islamic Students Association, Muslim Students Following the Line of the Imam, Islam’s Students, and the Islamic Coalition Association. The conservative power base has been said to be made up of a “web of Basiji militia members, families of war martyrs, some members of the Revolutionary Guard, some government employees, some members of the urban and rural poor, and conservative-linked foundations.”[29]
  • opposition groups include the Freedom Movement of Iran and the Nation of Iran party;
  • armed political groups that have been almost completely repressed by the government include Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK), People’s Fedayeen, Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan; the Society for the Defense of Freedom.


The military and the Corps of the Guardians (often mistranslated as guards) of the Islamic Revolution (or Sepaah in Persian meaning the Corps) are charged with defending Iran’s borders and Baseej (Persian for Mobilization) militia are charged with maintaining both external and internal security.

Public finance and fiscal policy[edit]


Government budget deficit has been a chronic problem in Iran in the past. In 2004, about 45 percent of the government’s budget came from exports of oil and natural gas revenuesand 31 percent came from taxes and fees.[30]

Iran’s fiscal year goes from 21 to 20 March of the following year.

Iran has two types of budget:

  1. Public or “General” Government Budget
  2. Overall or “Total” Government Budget; which includes state-owned companies

Iran’s budget is established by the Management and Planning Organization of Iran and then proposed by the government to the parliament/Majlis. Once approved by Majlis, the bill still needs to be ratified by the Guardian Council. The bill will be sent back to the parliament for amendments if it is voted down by the Guardian Council. The Expediency Council acts as final arbiter in any dispute.[15]

Following annual approval of the government’s budget by Majlis, the central bank presents a detailed monetary and credit policy to the Money and Credit Council(MCC) for approval. Thereafter, major elements of these policies are incorporated into the five-year economic development plan.[31] The 5-year plan is part of “Vision 2025”, a strategy for long-term sustainable growth.[32]

A unique feature of Iran’s economy is the large size of the religious foundations (called Bonyads) whose combined budgets make up more than 30% that of the central government.[33][34][35]

Setad, another organization worth more than $95 billion, has been described as “secretive” and “little known”.[36] It is not overseen by the Iranian Parliament, as that body voted in 2008 to “prohibit itself from monitoring organizations that the supreme leader controls, except with his permission”. It is, however, an important factor in the Supreme Leader’s power, giving him financial independence from parliament and the national budget.[36]

The National Development Fund of Iran (NDFI) does not depend on Iran’s budget.[37] But according to the Santiago Principles, NDFI must coordinate its investment decisions and actions with the macro-economic and monetary policies of the government of Iran.


Iran’s projected oil and gas projected revenues by the International Monetary Fund

Officials in Iran estimate that Iran’s annual oil and gas revenues could reach $250 billion by 2015 once the current projects come on stream.[38]

In 2004, about 45 percent of the government’s budget came from exports of oil and natural gas revenues, although this varies with the fluctuations in world petroleum markets and 31 percent came from taxes and fees.[30] Overall, an estimated 50 percent of Iran’s GDP was exempt from taxes in FY 2004.[39]

As of 2010, oil income accounts for 80% of Iran’s foreign currency revenues and 60% of the nation’s overall budget.[40] Any surplus revenues from the sale of crude oil and gas are to be paid into the Oil Stabilization Fund (OSF). The approved “total budget”, including state owned commercial companies, was $295 billion for the same period.[41]

The Government seeks to increase the share of tax revenue in the budget through the implementation of the economic reform plan through more effective tax collectionfrom businesses.

As of 2016, the formula set by law is that, for sales of oil at or below the budget’s price assumption, 14.5% remains with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), 20% goes to the National Development Fund (NDF), 2% goes to deprived and oil-producing provinces, and 63.5% goes to the government treasury.[42]


National Budget Expenditures for Social and Economic Purposes, Fiscal Year 2004. Government spending as percent of total budget was 6% for health care, 16% for education and 8% for the military in the period 1992–2000 and contributed to an average annual inflation rate of 14 percent in the period 2000–2008.

Because of changes in the classification of budgetary figures, comparison of categories among different years is not possible. However, since the Revolution the government’s general budget payments have averaged:[39]

  • 59 percent for social affairs,
  • 17 percent for economic affairs,
  • 15 percent for national defense, and
  • 13 percent for general affairs.

For a breakdown of expenditures for social and economic purposes, see attached chart.

In FY 2004, central government expenditures were divided as follows:[39]

  • current expenditures, 59 percent, and
  • capital expenditures, 32 percent.
  • Other items (earmarked expenditures, foreign-exchange losses, coverage of liabilities of letters of credit, and net lending) accounted for the remainder.

Among current expenditures, wages and salaries accounted for 36 percent; subsidies and transfers to households accounted for 22 percent (not including indirectsubsidies). Earmarked expenditures totaled 13 percent of the central government total. Between FY 2000 and FY 2004, total expenditures and net lending accounted for about 26 percent of GDP.[39] According to the Vice President for Parliamentary Affairs, Iran’s subsidy reforms would save 20 percent of the country’s budget.[43]

According to the head of the Department of Statistics of Iran, if the rules of budgeting were observed in this structure, the government could save at least 30 to 35 percent on its expenses.[44]

External debts[edit]

Distribution of Public Debt (FY 2016)[45]

  Unsecurized Public Debt (43.3% of GDP) (85%)
  Securized Public Debt (4.3% of GDP) (10%)
  External Debt (1.5% of GDP) (5%)

In 2013 Iran’s external debts stood at $7.2 billion compared with $17.3 billion in 2012.[46] Meanwhile, Iran’s banks and financial institutions total claims on the public sector(government and governmental institutions) amounted to 929 trillion IRR ($34.8 billion) in 2014, which must be reduced according to the IMF.[47][48][49] IMF estimates that public debt could be as high as 40% of GDP once government arrears to the private sector are recognized.These arrears are owed to banks (45%), private contractors (37%), and social security (18%) (FY 2016).[50]

Financial situation of the Government[51][52][53][54]
2007-2009 (In billion Iranian rials)1)3)4)5)6)7)
Year 1386 (2007–08)(realized) % of nominal GDP(2007–08)[52][55] Year 1387 (2008–09)(approved budget) Year 1387 (2008–09)(realized) Year 1391 (2012–13)(realized) Revenues and payments
191,815.3 11.4% 217,155 239,741.4 395,166.7 Tax revenues (i.e. Income tax, Corporate tax, VAT, Customs fees etc.)
106,387.8 121,598.1 139,597.1 173,036.5 (+) Other revenues (i.e. Public corporations’ dividend, Government services & other fees)
298,203.1 338,753.1 379,338.5 568,203.2 Revenues
(-) 421,334.1 16.1% (-) 621,126 (-) 564,290.0 (-) 889,993.2 (–) Expenditure payments/current (i.e. Government wages) (see also: Iranian targeted subsidy plan)
-123,131 4.7% -282,372.9 -184,951.5 -321,790.0 = (+/-) Operational balance*
173,519.1 298,865.6 215,650.3 425,526.5 Sale of oil and oil products (see also: Ministry of Petroleum of Iran & National Iranian Oil Company)
1,272.7 3,095 986.5 2,994.9 (+) Others (Value of movable and immovable properties)
174,791.8 301,960.6 216,636.7 428,521.4 Transfer of capital assets
– 147,715.8 (-157,215.8)(2) 5.6% (-) 251,573.8 (-) 213,495.8 (-) 152,277.4 (–) Acquisition of capital assets/development expenditures (in Transport, Urban and Rural Development and Housing Provision Plans in the Framework of Welfare and Social Security System)
27,076.1(17,576.1)(2) 50,386.8 3,140.9 276,244.0 Net transfer of capital assets
-123,131 4.7% -282,372.9 -184,951.5 -321,790.0 + Operational balance (see above for details*)
-96,054.9(-105,554.9)(2) 3.7% -231,986.1 -181,810.6 -45,546.0 = Operational and capital balance (Operational balance + Net transfer of capital assets)
156,614.1 (166,114.0)(2) 267,771.6 218,260.0 67,696.1 Transfer of financial assets (i.e. Privatization proceedsWorld Bank facilitiesSale of participation papers & Oil Stabilization Fund utilization)
(-) 60,559.2 (-) 35,785.5 (-) 36,449.4 (-) 22,150.1 (–) Acquisition of financial assets (i.e. Repayment of external debts and obligations)
96,054.9(105,554.9)(2) 3.7% 231,986.1 181,810.6 45,546.0 = Net transfer of financial assets (Transfer of financial assets – Acquisition of financial assets)

1) Since 2002, the latest International Monetary Fund Guidelines on government financial statistics have been used as a model to prepare annual budgetary acts. Accordingly, revenues are classified into “taxes and other revenues”, and “oil sales” which had earlier been classified as revenue are now referred to as “transfer of capital assets”.
2) In 2007/08, it includes budget supplement at Rls. 9,500 billion.
3) The government budget does not include state revenues and expenses derived from state owned commercial entreprises.[56]
4) The government budget does not account for subsidies paid to state owned commercial enterprise. See also Subsidy reform plan.[56]
5) Excluding special revenues and expenditures and the figure for transparency in the price (subsidy) of energy bearers.[52]
6) For “Total Government Budget” (including state owned commercial companies), see Statistical Center of Iran.
7) Hidden spending and liability not included.


In Iran’s state budget for the Iranian calendar year 1388 (2009–2010), of the $102 billion earmarked for government spending,[41]

Oil revenues are calculated based on the average price of $37.50 per barrel at the US Dollar conversion rate of 9,500 Rials.[57] Iran balances its external accounts around $75 per barrel.[58]


The budget for Iranian year 1389 (2010–2011), which starts on 21 March, amounts to $368.4bn, representing an increase of 31 per cent on the previous year and is based on a projected oil price of $60 a barrel compared with just $37.50 last year.[57]


The public budget was $165 billion (1,770 trillion rials) in Iranian year 2011-2012. The Iranian Parliament also approved a total budget of $500 billion (5,170 trillion rials) that factors in $54 billion from price hikes and subsidy cuts and aside from the government (or public budget) also includes spending for state-owned companies.[59][60] The budget is based on an oil price of $80 per barrel. The value of the US dollar is estimated at IRR 10,500 for the same period. the 2011-total budget shows a 45-percent increase compared with that of 2011 which stood at $368 billion.[61]


The proposed budget for 2011–2012 amounts to 5.1 quadrillion rials (approximately $416 billion).[62] The funding for running the government has been decreased by 5.6 percent and the government’s tax revenues have been envisaged to rise by 20 percent.[62] The defense budget shows an increase of 127 percent. The government also is seeking higher sums for development, research, and health projects.[63]Approved budget of 5,660 trillion Rials $477 billion is based on an oil price of $85 per barrel and the average value of the U.S. dollar for the fiscal year has been projected to be 12,260 rials, allowing the government to gain $53.8 billion from subsidy cut.[64] The approved total state budget figure shows an 11% increase in Rial terms, in comparison to the previous year’s budget. Of this amount, $134 billion relates to the government’s general budget and the remaining $343 billion relates to state-owned companies and organizations. Of the $134 billion for the government’s general budget, $117 billion relates to operating expenditure and $17 billion is for infrastructure developments. The government’s general budget for 2012–13 shows a 3.5% decline in comparison to the previous year, while the budget for state-owned companies and organisations has risen by 18.5%. Revenues from crude oil make up 37% of the state’s total revenues in the budget. Revenues from taxes have been projected at 458 trillion Rials ($37 billion), which shows a 10% increase year-on-year.[65] In the first half of 2012, Iran announced in Majlis that it has taken in only 25% of its budgeted annual revenue.[66] According to Apicorp, Iran needs oil to average $127 a barrel in 2012 for its fiscal budget to break even.[67]


In May 2013, the Iranian parliament approved a 7.27-quadrillion-rial (about $593 billion) national budget bill for 2013–14. The new national budget has forecast a 40% drop in oil revenues compared to the previous year’s projected figure. The bill has set the price of oil at $95 per barrel, based on the official exchange rate of 12,260 rials for a U.S. dollar, which has been fixed by the Central Bank of Iran.[68] The budget law also includes income of 500 trillion Rials from the subsidies reform plan. Out of this amount, 410 trillion Rials is allocated for direct cash handouts to those eligible who have registered and for social funds.[69]


Iran’s earmarked government spending for the year starting in March 2014 at $75 billion, calculated on an open-market exchange rate, with an overall/”total” budget ceiling estimated at about $265 billion. The draft budget estimates oil exports at about 1.1 million barrels per day (bpd). The 2014 budget assumes an average oil price of $100 per barrel, inflation at 21%, GDP growth at 3% and the official USD/IRR exchange rate at 26,000 Iranian rials.[70][71][72][73] The budget bill permits the government to use more than $35 billion in foreign finance.[74] Capital expenditure is set to rise by 9.7%.[75] The administration has set the goal of 519 trillion rials, (about $20.9 billion) government’s income from implementation of the subsidy reform plan in budget bill and will be likely forced to double fuel prices.[76] In February 2014, Parliament approved a total budget bill worth 7,930 trillion rials ($319 billion at the official exchange rate).[77] The International Monetary Fund has estimated Iran needs an oil price above $130 a barrel to balance its 2015-state budget; Brent crude was below $80 a barrel in November 2014. The IMF estimated in October 2014 that Iran would run a general government deficit of $8.6 billion in 2015, at the official exchange rate, to be compensated by drawing on the National Development Fund.[78]


Iran’s 2015 proposed budget is nearly $300 billion. The overall/”total” budget shows a 4% growth compared with the 2014 budget. The budget assumes that the country exports 1 million barrels per day of crude oil and 0.3 million barrels per day of gas condensates at an average price of $72 per barrel of crude.[79] The official exchange rate is projected to be on average 28,500 USD/IRR.[80] Dependency on oil exports in this overall budget bill has dropped to 25% (down from over 30% of government revenues in 2014.)[15] The plan is to increase taxation on large organizations by reducing tax evasion/exemption. The Iranian state is the biggest player in the economy, and the annual budget strongly influences the outlook of local industries and the stock market. The 2015 budget is not expected to bring much growth for many of the domestic industries.[80][81] An average oil price of $50 for the coming year would result in a deficit of $7.5 billion. The government can lower this deficit by increasing the official exchange rate but this will trigger higher inflation.[82] The proposed expenses are $58 billion including $39 billion is salary and pension payments to government employees. Proposed development expenditure amounts to $17 billion.[82] R&D’s share in the GNP is at 0.06% (where it should be 2.5% of GDP)[83][84] and industry-driven R&D is almost non‑existent.[80]


Proposed government budget is 9.52-quadrillion Iranian rials (about 262 billion US dollars).[85] Assumptions made in the budget are $50 billion in foreign investment and foreign loans, 5-6% GDP growth and 11% inflation.[85] Sixty-five percent of the budget is to be financed through taxation and the remaining 35% from oil sales, based on 2.25 million barrels of oil sales per day, an average oil price of 40 dollars a barrel and US dollar-Iranian rial exchange rate at 29,970.[85]

According to the sixth five-year development plan (2016-2021), the subsidy reform plan is to continue until 2021.[85]

An amendment to the budget was passed in August 2016. This amendment allows the government to issue debt based instruments and the use of forex reserves in an attempt to clear its debt to the private sector, including contractorsbanks and insurers.[86]

Complexity of the system[edit]

Iran’s complex and unusual political system combines elements of a modern Islamic theocracy with democracy. A network of elected and unelected institutions influence each other in the government’s power structure.

According to the constitution, the Guardian Council oversees and approves electoral candidates for most national elections in Iran. The Guardian Council has 12 members, six clerics, appointed by the Supreme Leader and six jurists, elected by the Majlis from among the Muslim jurists nominated by the Head of the Judicial System, who is appointed by the Supreme Leader. According to the current law, the Guardian Council approves the Assembly of Expertscandidates, who in turn supervise and elect the Supreme Leader.

The reformists say this system creates a closed circle of power.[87] Iranian reformists, such as Mohammad-Ali Abtahi have considered this to be the core legal obstacle for the reform movement in Iran.[88][89][90][91][92]

See also[edit]

History of Iran

History of Iran

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The history of Iran, commonly also known as Persia in the Western world, is intertwined with the history of a larger region, also to an extent known as Greater Iran, comprising the area from Anatolia, the Bosphorus, and Egypt in the west to the borders of Ancient India and the Syr Darya in the east, and from the Caucasusand the Eurasian Steppe in the north to the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman in the south.

Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 7000 BC.[1] The southwestern and western part of the Iranian Plateau participated in the traditional Ancient Near East with Elam, from the Early Bronze Age, and later with various other peoples, such as the KassitesMannaeans, and GutiansGeorg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel calls the Persians the “first Historical People”.[2] The Medes unified Iran as a nation and empire in 625 BC.[3] The Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC), founded by Cyrus the Great, was the first Persian empire and it ruled from the Balkans to North Africa and also Central Asia, spanning three continents, from their seat of power in Persis (Persepolis). It was the largest empire yet seen and the first world empire.[4] The First Persian Empire was the only civilization in all of history to connect over 40% of the global population, accounting for approximately 49.4 million of the world’s 112.4 million people in around 480 BC.[5] They were succeeded by the SeleucidParthian, and Sasanian Empires, who successively governed Iran for almost 1,000 years and made Iran once again as a leading power in the world. Persia’s arch-rival was the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire.

The Persian Empire proper begins in the Iron Age, following the influx of Iranian peoples. Iranian people gave rise to the Medes, the Achaemenid, Parthian, and Sasanian Empires of classical antiquity.

Once a major empire, Iran has endured invasions too, by the GreeksArabsTurks, and the Mongols. Iran has continually reasserted its national identity throughout the centuries and has developed as a distinct political and cultural entity.

The Muslim conquest of Persia (633–654) ended the Sasanian Empire and is a turning point in Iranian history. Islamization of Iran took place during the eighth to tenth centuries, leading to the eventual decline of Zoroastrianism in Iran as well as many of its dependencies. However, the achievements of the previous Persian civilizations were not lost, but were to a great extent absorbed by the new Islamic polity and civilization.*

Iran, with its long history of early cultures and empires, had suffered particularly hard during the late Middle Ages and the early modern period. Many invasions of nomadic tribes, whose leaders became rulers in this country, affected it negatively.[6]

Iran was reunified as an independent state in 1501 by the Safavid dynasty, which set Shia Islam as the empire’s official religion,[7] marking one of the most important turning points in the history of Islam.[8]Functioning again as a leading power, this time amongst the neighboring Ottoman Empire, its arch-rival for centuries, Iran had been a monarchy ruled by an emperor almost without interruption from 1501 until the 1979 Iranian Revolution, when Iran officially became an Islamic republic on April 1, 1979.[9][10]

Over the course of the first half of the 19th century, Iran lost many of its territories in the Caucasus, which had been a part of Iran for centuries,[11] comprising modern-day Eastern GeorgiaDagestanAzerbaijan, and Armenia, to its rapidly expanding and emerged neighboring rival, the Russian Empire, following the Russo-Persian Wars between 1804–13 and 1826–8.[12]





The earliest archaeological artifacts in Iran were found in the Kashafrud and Ganj Par sites that are thought to date back to 100,000 years ago in the Middle Paleolithic.[13] Mousterian stone tools made by Neandertals have also been found.[14] There are more cultural remains of Neandertals dating back to the Middle Paleolithic period, which mainly have been found in the Zagros region and fewer in central Iran at sites such as Kobeh, Kunji, Bisitun Cave, Tamtama, Warwasi, and Yafteh Cave.[15] In 1949, a Neanderthal radius was discovered by Carleton S. Coon in Bisitun Cave.[16] Evidence for Upper Paleolithic and Epipaleolithic periods are known mainly from the Zagros Mountains in the caves of KermanshahPiranshahr and Khorramabad and a few number of sites in the Alborz and Central Iran. During this time, people began creating rock art.

Neolithic to Chalcolithic[edit]

Early agricultural communities such as Chogha Golan in 10,000 BC[17][18] along with settlements such as Chogha Bonut (the earliest village in Elam) in 8000 BC,[19][20] began to flourish in and around the Zagros Mountains region in western Iran.[21] Around about the same time, the earliest-known clay vessels and modeled human and animal terracotta figurines were produced at Ganj Dareh, also in western Iran.[21] There are also 10,000-year-old human and animal figurines from Tepe Sarab in Kermanshah Province among many other ancient artifacts.[14]

The south-western part of Iran was part of the Fertile Crescent where most of humanity’s first major crops were grown, in villages such as Susa (where a settlement was first founded possibly as early as 4395 cal BC)[22] and settlements such as Chogha Mish, dating back to 6800 BC;[1][23] there are 7,000-year-old jars of wine excavated in the Zagros Mountains[24] (now on display at the University of Pennsylvania) and ruins of 7000-year-old settlements such as Tepe Sialk are further testament to that. The two main Neolithic Iranian settlements were the Zayandeh River Culture and Ganj Dareh.

Bronze Age[edit]

Chogha Zanbil is one of the few extant ziggurats outside of Mesopotamia and is considered to be the best preserved example in the world.

Parts of what is modern-day northwestern Iran was part of the Kura–Araxes culture (circa 3400 BC—ca. 2000 BC), that stretched up into the neighboring regions of the Caucasus and Anatolia.[25][26]

Susa is one of the oldest-known settlements of Iran and the world. Based on C14 dating, the time of foundation of the city is as early as 4395 BC,[27] a time that goes beyond the age of civilization in Mesopotamia. The general perception among archeologists is that Susa was an extension of the Sumerian city state of Uruk.[28][29] In its later history, Susa became the capital of Elam, which emerged as a state found 4000 BC.[27] There are also dozens of prehistoric sites across the Iranian plateau pointing to the existence of ancient cultures and urban settlements in the fourth millennium BC,[1] One of the earliest civilizations in Iranian plateau was the Jiroft culture in southeastern Iran in the province of Kerman.

It is one of the most artifact-rich archaeological sites in the Middle East. Archaeological excavations in Jiroft led to the discovery of several objects belonging to the 4th millennium BC.[30] There is a large quantity of objects decorated with highly distinctive engravings of animals, mythological figures, and architectural motifs. The objects and their iconography are unlike anything ever seen before by archeologists. Many are made from chlorite, a gray-green soft stone; others are in copperbronzeterracotta, and even lapis lazuli. Recent excavations at the sites have produced the world’s earliest inscription which pre-dates Mesopotamian inscriptions.[31][32]

There are records of numerous other ancient civilizations on the Iranian Plateau before the emergence of Iranian peoples during the Early Iron Age. The Early Bronze Age saw the rise of urbanization into organized city states and the invention of writing (the Uruk period) in the Near East. While Bronze Age Elam made use of writing from an early time, the Proto-Elamite script remains undeciphered, and records from Sumer pertaining to Elam are scarce.

Russian historian Igor M. Diakonoff states that the modern inhabitants of the Iranian Plateau are descendants of mainly non-Persian groups: “It is the autochthones of the Iranian plateau, and not the Proto-Indo-European tribes of Europe, which are, in the main, the ancestors, in the physical sense of the word, of the present-day Iranians.”[33]

Early Iron Age[edit]

A gold cup at the National Museum of Iran, dating from the first half of 1st millennium BC

Records become more tangible with the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and its records of incursions from the Iranian plateau. As early as the 20th century BC, tribes came to the Iranian Plateau from the Pontic–Caspian steppe. The arrival of Iranians on the Iranian plateau forced the Elamites to relinquish one area of their empire after another and to take refuge in Elam, Khuzestan and the nearby area, which only then became coterminous with Elam.[34] Bahman Firuzmandi say that the southern Iranians might be intermixed with the Elamite peoples living in the plateau.[35] By the mid-first millennium BC, MedesPersians, and Parthians populated the Iranian plateau. Until the rise of the Medes, they all remained under Assyrian domination, like the rest of the Near East. In the first half of the first millennium BC, parts of what is now Iranian Azerbaijanwere incorporated into Urartu.

Classical antiquity[edit]

Median and Achaemenid Empire (650–330 BC)[edit]

In 646 BC, Assyrian king Ashurbanipal sacked Susa, which ended Elamite supremacy in the region.[36] For over 150 years Assyrian kings of nearby Northern Mesopotamia had been wanting to conquer Median tribes of Western Iran.[37] Under pressure from Assyria, the small kingdoms of the western Iranian plateau coalesced into increasingly larger and more centralized states.[36]

In the second half of seventh century BC, the Medes gained their independence and were united by Deioces. In 612 BC, CyaxaresDeioces‘ grandson, and the Babylonian king Nabopolassar invaded Assyria and laid siege to and eventually destroyed Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, which led to the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.[38] Urartu was later on conquered and dissolved as well by the Medes.[39][40] The Medes are credited with founding Iran as a nation and empire, and established the first Iranian empire, the largest of its day until Cyrus the Great established a unified empire of the Medes and Persians, leading to the Achaemenid Empire (c.550–330 BC).

The Achaemenid Empire at its greatest extent.

Cyrus the Great overthrew, in turn, the Median, Lydian, and Neo-Babylonian Empires, creating an empire far larger than Assyria. He was better able, through more benign policies, to reconcile his subjects to Persian rule; the longevity of his empire was one result. The Persian king, like the Assyrian, was also “King of Kings“, xšāyaθiya xšāyaθiyānām (shāhanshāh in modern Persian) – “great king”, Megas Basileus, as known by the Greeks.

Cyrus’s son, Cambyses II, conquered the last major power of the region, ancient Egypt, causing the collapse of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty of Egypt. Since he became ill and died before, or while, leaving Egypt, stories developed, as related by Herodotus, that he was struck down for impiety against the ancient Egyptian deities. The winner, Darius I, based his claim on membership in a collateral line of the Achaemenid Empire.

Darius’ first capital was at Susa, and he started the building programme at Persepolis. He rebuilt a canal between the Nile and the Red Sea, a forerunner of the modern Suez Canal. He improved the extensive road system, and it is during his reign that mention is first made of the Royal Road (shown on map), a great highway stretching all the way from Susa to Sardis with posting stations at regular intervals. Major reforms took place under Darius. Coinage, in the form of the daric (gold coin) and the shekel (silver coin) was standardized (coinage had already been invented over a century before in Lydia c. 660 BC but not standardized),[41] and administrative efficiency increased.

The Old Persian language appears in royal inscriptions, written in a specially adapted version of the cuneiform script. Under Cyrus the Great and Darius I, the Persian Empire eventually became the largest empire in human history up until that point, ruling and administrating over most of the then known world,[42] as well as spanning the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa. The greatest achievement was the empire itself. The Persian Empire represented the world’s first superpower[43][44] that was based on a model of tolerance and respect for other cultures and religions.[45]

Map showing key sites during the Persian invasions of Greece.

In the late sixth century BC, Darius launched his European campaign, in which he defeated the Paeonians, conquered Thrace, and subdued all coastal Greek cities, as well as defeating the European Scythians around the Danube river.[46] In 512/511, Macedon became a vassal kingdom of Persia.[46]

In 499 BC, Athens lent support to a revolt in Miletus, which resulted in the sacking of Sardis. This led to an Achaemenid campaign against mainland Greece known as the Greco-Persian Wars, which lasted the first half of the 5th century BC, and is known as one of the most important wars in European history. In the First Persian invasion of Greece, the Persian general Mardonius resubjugated Thrace and made Macedon a full part of Persia.[46] The war eventually turned out in defeat however. Darius’ successor Xerxes I launched the Second Persian invasion of Greece. At a crucial moment in the war, about half of mainland Greece was overrun by the Persians, including all territories to the north of the Isthmus of Corinth,[47][48] however, this was also turned out in a Greek victory, following the battles of Plataea and Salamis, by which Persia lost its footholds in Europe, and eventually withdrew from it.[49] During the Greco-Persian wars Persia gained major territorial advantages capture and razed Athens in 480 BC. However, after a string of Greek victories the Persians were forced to withdraw thus losing control of MacedoniaThrace and Ionia. Fighting continued for several decades after the successful Greek repelling of the Second Invasion with numerous Greek city states under the latters’ newly formed Delian League, which eventually ended with the peace of Callias in 449 BC, ending the Greco-Persian Wars. In 404 BC, following the death of Darius II, Egypt rebelled under Amyrtaeus. Later pharaohs successfully resisted Persian attempts to reconquer Egypt until 343 BC, when Egypt was reconquered by Artaxerxes III.

A panoramic view of Persepolis.

Greek conquest and Seleucid Empire (312 BCE–248 BCE)[edit]

The Seleucid Empire in 200 BC, before Antiochus was defeated by the Romans

From 334 BCE to 331 BCE, Alexander the Great, also known in Avestan as Arda Wiraz Nâmag (“the accursed Alexander”), defeated Darius III in the battles of GranicusIssus and Gaugamela, swiftly conquering the Persian Empire by 331 BCE. Alexander’s empire broke up shortly after his death, and Alexander’s general, Seleucus I Nicator, tried to take control of Iran, Mesopotamia, and later Syria and Anatolia. His empire was the Seleucid Empire. He was killed in 281 BCE by Ptolemy Keraunos.

Greek language, philosophy, and art came with the colonists. During the Seleucid era, Greek became the common tongue of diplomacy and literature throughout the empire.

Parthian Empire (248 BC–224 AD)[edit]

Bronze Statue of a Parthian prince, National Museum of Iran

The Parthian Empire was the realm of the Arsacid dynasty, who reunited and governed the Iranian plateau after the Parni conquest of Parthia and defeating the Seleucid Empire in the later third century BC, and intermittently controlled Mesopotamia between ca 150 BC and 224 AD. The Parthian Empire quickly included Eastern Arabia.

Bagadates I, first native Persian ruler after Greek rule

Parthia was the eastern arch-enemy of the Roman Empire and it limited Rome’s expansion beyond Cappadocia (central Anatolia). The Parthian armies included two types of cavalry: the heavily armed and armoured cataphracts and the lightly-armed but highly-mobile mounted archers.

For the Romans, who relied on heavy infantry, the Parthians were too hard to defeat, as both types of cavalry were much faster and more mobile than foot soldiers. The Parthian shot used by the Parthian cavalry was most notably feared by the Roman soldiers, which proved pivotal in the crushing Roman defeat at the Battle of Carrhae. On the other hand, the Parthians found it difficult to occupy conquered areas as they were unskilled in siege warfare. Because of these weaknesses, neither the Romans nor the Parthians were able completely to annex each other’s territory.

The Parthian empire subsisted for five centuries, longer than most Eastern Empires. The end of this empire came at last in 224 AD, when the empire’s organization had loosened and the last king was defeated by one of the empire’s vassal peoples, the Persians under the Sasanians. However, the Arsacid dynasty continued to exist for centuries onwards in Armenia, the Iberia, and the Caucasian Albania, which were all eponymous branches of the dynasty.

Sasanian Empire (224–651 AD)[edit]

Rock-face relief at Naqsh-e Rustam of Iranian emperor Shapur I (on horseback) capturing Roman emperor Valerian(kneeing) and Philip the Arab (standing).

The first shah of the Sasanian Empire, Ardashir I, started reforming the country economically and militarily. For a period of more than 400 years, Iran was once again one of the leading powers in the world, alongside its neighboring rival, the Roman and then Byzantine Empires.[50][51] The empire’s territory, at its height, encompassed all of today’s IranIraqAzerbaijanArmeniaGeorgiaAbkhaziaDagestanLebanonJordanPalestineIsrael, parts of AfghanistanTurkeySyria, parts of PakistanCentral AsiaEastern Arabia, and parts of Egypt.

Most of the Sassanian Empire’s lifespan it was overshadowed by the frequent Byzantine–Sasanian wars, a continuation of the Roman–Parthian Wars and the all-comprising Roman–Persian Wars; the last was the longest-lasting conflict in human history. Started in the first century BC by their predecessors, the Parthians and Romans, the last Roman–Persian War was fought in the seventh century. The Persians defeated the Romans at the Battle of Edessa in 260 and took emperor Valerian prisoner for the remainder of his life.

Eastern Arabia was conquered early on. During Khosrow II‘s rule in 590–628, EgyptJordanPalestine and Lebanon were also annexed to the Empire. The Sassanians called their empire Erânshahr (“Dominion of the Aryans”, i.e., of Iranians).[52]

Battle between Heraclius‘ army and Persians under Khosrow II. Fresco by Piero della Francesca, c. 1452.

A chapter of Iran’s history followed after roughly six hundred years of conflict with the Roman Empire. During this time, the Sassanian and Romano-Byzantine armies clashed for influence in Anatolia, the western Caucasus (mainly Lazica and the Kingdom of Iberia; modern-day Georgia and Abkhazia), Mesopotamia, Armenia and the Levant. Under Justinian I, the war came to an uneasy peace with payment of tribute to the Sassanians.

However, the Sasanians used the deposition of the Byzantine emperor Maurice as a casus belli to attack the Empire. After many gains, the Sassanians were defeated at Issus, Constantinople, and finally Nineveh, resulting in peace. With the conclusion of the over 700 years lasting Roman–Persian Wars through the climactic Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628, which included the very siege of the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, the war-exhausted Persians lost the Battle of al-Qādisiyyah (632) in Hilla (present day Iraq) to the invading Muslim forces.

The Sasanian era, encompassing the length of Late Antiquity, is considered to be one of the most important and influential historical periods in Iran, and had a major impact on the world. In many ways the Sassanian period witnessed the highest achievement of Persian civilization, and constitutes the last great Iranian Empire before the adoption of Islam. Persia influenced Roman civilization considerably during Sassanian times,[53] their cultural influence extending far beyond the empire’s territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe,[54] Africa,[55] China and India[56] and also playing a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asiatic medieval art.[57]

This influence carried forward to the Muslim world. The dynasty’s unique and aristocratic culture transformed the Islamic conquest and destruction of Iran into a Persian Renaissance.[54] Much of what later became known as Islamic culture, architecture, writing, and other contributions to civilization, were taken from the Sassanian Persians into the broader Muslim world.[58]

Medieval Iran[edit]

Caliphate and Sultanate era[edit]

Islamic conquest of Persia (633–651)[edit]

Phases of the Islamic conquest

  Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632
  Expansion during the Patriarchal Caliphate, 632–661
  Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750

In 633, when the Sasanian king Yazdegerd III was ruling over Iran, the Muslims under Umar invaded the country right after it had been in a bloody civil war. Several Iranian nobles and families such as king Dinar of the House of Karen, and later Kanarangiyans of Khorasan, mutinied against their Sasanian overlords. Although the House of Mihran had claimed the Sasanian throne under the two prominent generals Bahrām Chōbin and Shahrbaraz, it remained loyal to the Sasanians during their struggle against the Arabs, but the Mihrans were eventually betrayed and defeated by their own kinsmen, the House of Ispahbudhan, under their leader Farrukhzad, who had mutinied against Yazdegerd III.

Yazdegerd III, fled from one district to another until a local miller killed him for his purse at Merv in 651.[59] By 674, Muslims had conquered Greater Khorasan (which included modern Iranian Khorasan province and modern Afghanistan and parts of Transoxiana).

The Muslim conquest of Persia ended the Sasanian Empire and led to the eventual decline of the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. Over time, the majority of Iranians converted to Islam. Most of the aspects of the previous Persian civilizations were not discarded, but were absorbed by the new Islamic polity. As Bernard Lewis has commented:

These events have been variously seen in Iran: by some as a blessing, the advent of the true faith, the end of the age of ignorance and heathenism; by others as a humiliating national defeat, the conquest and subjugation of the country by foreign invaders. Both perceptions are of course valid, depending on one’s angle of vision.[60]

The Umayyad Caliphate and its incursions into the Caspian coast[edit]

After the fall of the Sasanian Empire in 651, the Arabs of the Umayyad Caliphate adopted many Persian customs, especially the administrative and the court mannerisms. Arab provincial governors were undoubtedly either Persianized Arameans or ethnic Persians; certainly Persian remained the language of official business of the caliphate until the adoption of Arabic toward the end of the seventh century,[61]when in 692 minting began at the capital, Damascus. The new Islamic coins evolved from imitations of Sasanian coins (as well as Byzantine), and the Pahlavi script on the coinage was replaced with Arabic alphabet.

During the Umayyad Caliphate, the Arab conquerors imposed Arabic as the primary language of the subject peoples throughout their empire. Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, who was not happy with the prevalence of the Persian language in the divan, ordered the official language of the conquered lands to be replaced by Arabic, sometimes by force.[62] In al-Biruni‘s From The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries for example it is written:

When Qutaibah bin Muslim under the command of Al-Hajjaj bin Yousef was sent to Khwarazmia with a military expedition and conquered it for the second time, he swiftly killed whomever wrote the Khwarazmian native language that knew of the Khwarazmian heritage, history, and culture. He then killed all their Zoroastrian priests and burned and wasted their books, until gradually the illiterate only remained, who knew nothing of writing, and hence their history was mostly forgotten.”[63]

There are a number of historians who see the rule of the Umayyads as setting up the “dhimmah” to increase taxes from the dhimmis to benefit the Muslim Arab community financially and by discouraging conversion.[64] Governors lodged complaints with the caliph when he enacted laws that made conversion easier, depriving the provinces of revenues.

Map of Tabaristan and its neighbouring territories

In the 7th century, when many non-Arabs such as Persians entered Islam, they were recognized as mawali (“clients”) and treated as second-class citizens by the ruling Arab elite until the end of the Umayyad Caliphate. During this era, Islam was initially associated with the ethnic identity of the Arab and required formal association with an Arab tribe and the adoption of the client status of mawali.[64] The half-hearted policies of the late Umayyads to tolerate non-Arab Muslims and Shias had failed to quell unrest among these minorities.

However, all of Iran was still not under Arab control, and the region of Daylam was under the control of the Daylamites, while Tabaristan was under Dabuyid and Paduspanid control, and the Mount Damavand region under Masmughans of Damavand. The Arabs had invaded these regions several times, but achieved no decisive result because of the inaccessible terrain of the regions. The most prominent ruler of the Dabuyids, known as Farrukhan the Great (r. 712–728), managed to hold his domains during his long struggle against the Arab general Yazid ibn al-Muhallab, who was defeated by a combined Dailamite-Dabuyid army, and was forced to retreat from Tabaristan.[65]

With the death of the Umayyad Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik in 743, the Islamic world was launched into civil war. Abu Muslim was sent to Khorasan by the Abbasid Caliphate initially as a propagandist and then to revolt on their behalf. He took Merv defeating the Umayyad governor there Nasr ibn Sayyar. He became the de facto Abbasid governor of Khurasan. During the same period, the Dabuyid ruler Khurshid declared independence from the Umayyads, but was shortly forced to recognize Abbasid authority. In 750, Abu Muslim became leader of the Abbasid army and defeated the Umayyads at the Battle of the Zab. Abu Muslim stormed Damascus, the capital of the Umayyad caliphate, later that year.

The Abbasid Caliphate and Iranian semi-independent governments[edit]

The Saffarid dynasty in 900.

Map of the Iranian dynasties in the mid 10th-century

The Abbasid army consisted primarily of Khorasanians and was led by an Iranian general, Abu Muslim Khorasani. It contained both Iranian and Arab elements, and the Abbasids enjoyed both Iranian and Arab support. The Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads in 750.[66] According to Amir Arjomand, the Abbasid Revolution essentially marked the end of the Arab empire and the beginning of a more inclusive, multiethnic state in the Middle East.[67]

One of the first changes the Abbasids made after taking power from the Umayyads was to move the empire’s capital from Damascus, in the Levant, to Iraq. The latter region was influenced by Persian history and culture, and moving the capital was part of the Persian mawali demand for Arab influence in the empire. The city of Baghdad was constructed on the Tigris River, in 762, to serve as the new Abbasid capital.[68]

The Abbasids established the position of vizier like Barmakids in their administration, which was the equivalent of a “vice-caliph”, or second-in-command. Eventually, this change meant that many caliphs under the Abbasids ended up in a much more ceremonial role than ever before, with the vizier in real power. A new Persian bureaucracy began to replace the old Arab aristocracy, and the entire administration reflected these changes, demonstrating that the new dynasty was different in many ways to the Umayyads.[68]

By the 9th century, Abbasid control began to wane as regional leaders sprang up in the far corners of the empire to challenge the central authority of the Abbasid caliphate.[68] The Abbasid caliphs began enlisting mamluks, Turkic-speaking warriors, who had been moving out of Central Asia into Transoxiana as slave warriors as early as the 9th century. Shortly thereafter the real power of the Abbasid caliphs began to wane; eventually they became religious figureheads while the warrior slaves ruled.[66]

As the power of the Abbasid caliphs diminished, a series of dynasties rose in various parts of Iran, some with considerable influence and power. Among the most important of these overlapping dynasties were the Tahirids in Khorasan (821–873); the Saffarids in Sistan (861–1003, their rule lasted as maliks of Sistan until 1537); and the Samanids (819–1005), originally at Bukhara. The Samanids eventually ruled an area from central Iran to Pakistan.[66]

By the early 10th century, the Abbasids almost lost control to the growing Persian faction known as the Buyid dynasty (934–1062). Since much of the Abbasid administration had been Persian anyway, the Buyids were quietly able to assume real power in Baghdad. The Buyids were defeated in the mid-11th century by the Seljuq Turks, who continued to exert influence over the Abbasids, while publicly pledging allegiance to them. The balance of power in Baghdad remained as such – with the Abbasids in power in name only – until the Mongol invasion of 1258 sacked the city and definitively ended the Abbasid dynasty.[68]

During the Abbassid period an enfranchisement was experienced by the mawali and a shift was made in political conception from that of a primarily Arab empire to one of a Muslim empire[69] and c. 930 a requirement was enacted that required all bureaucrats of the empire be Muslim.[64]

Islamic golden age, Shu’ubiyya movement and Persianization process[edit]

Extract from a medieval manuscript by Qotbeddin Shirazi (1236–1311), a Persian astronomer, depicting an epicyclic planetary model

Islamization was a long process by which Islam was gradually adopted by the majority population of Iran. Richard Bulliet‘s “conversion curve” indicates that only about 10% of Iran converted to Islam during the relatively Arab-centric Umayyad period. Beginning in the Abassid period, with its mix of Persian as well as Arab rulers, the Muslim percentage of the population rose. As Persian Muslims consolidated their rule of the country, the Muslim population rose from approximately 40% in the mid-9th century to close to 100% by the end of the 11th century.[69] Seyyed Hossein Nasr suggests that the rapid increase in conversion was aided by the Persian nationality of the rulers.[70]

Although Persians adopted the religion of their conquerors, over the centuries they worked to protect and revive their distinctive language and culture, a process known as Persianization. Arabs and Turks participated in this attempt.[71][72][73]

In the 9th and 10th centuries, non-Arab subjects of the Ummah created a movement called Shu’ubiyyah in response to the privileged status of Arabs. Most of those behind the movement were Persian, but references to EgyptiansBerbers and Aramaeans are attested.[74] Citing as its basis Islamic notions of equality of races and nations, the movement was primarily concerned with preserving Persian culture and protecting Persian identity, though within a Muslim context. The most notable effect[citation needed] of the movement was the survival of the Persian language to the present day.[citation needed]

The Samanid dynasty led the revival of Persian culture and the first important Persian poet after the arrival of Islam, Rudaki, was born during this era and was praised by Samanid kings. The Samanids also revived many ancient Persian festivals. Their successor, the Ghaznawids, who were of non-Iranian Turkic origin, also became instrumental in the revival of Persian.[75]

Persian manuscript describing how an ambassador from India brought chess to the Persian court

The culmination of the Persianization movement was the Shahnameh, the national epic of Iran, written almost entirely in Persian. This voluminous work, reflects Iran’s ancient history, its unique cultural values, its pre-Islamic Zoroastrian religion, and its sense of nationhood. According to Bernard Lewis:[60]

“Iran was indeed Islamized, but it was not Arabized. Persians remained Persians. And after an interval of silence, Iran reemerged as a separate, different and distinctive element within Islam, eventually adding a new element even to Islam itself. Culturally, politically, and most remarkable of all even religiously, the Iranian contribution to this new Islamic civilization is of immense importance. The work of Iranians can be seen in every field of cultural endeavor, including Arabic poetry, to which poets of Iranian origin composing their poems in Arabic made a very significant contribution. In a sense, Iranian Islam is a second advent of Islam itself, a new Islam sometimes referred to as Islam-i Ajam. It was this Persian Islam, rather than the original Arab Islam, that was brought to new areas and new peoples: to the Turks, first in Central Asia and then in the Middle East in the country which came to be called Turkey, and of course to India. The Ottoman Turks brought a form of Iranian civilization to the walls of Vienna…”

The Islamization of Iran was to yield deep transformations within the cultural, scientific, and political structure of Iran’s society: The blossoming of Persian literaturephilosophymedicine and art became major elements of the newly forming Muslim civilization. Inheriting a heritage of thousands of years of civilization, and being at the “crossroads of the major cultural highways”,[76] contributed to Persia emerging as what culminated into the “Islamic Golden Age“. During this period, hundreds of scholars and scientists vastly contributed to technology, science and medicine, later influencing the rise of European science during the Renaissance.[77]

The most important scholars of almost all of the Islamic sects and schools of thought were Persian or lived in Iran, including the most notable and reliable Hadith collectors of Shia and Sunni like Shaikh SaduqShaikh KulainyHakim al-NishaburiImam Muslim and Imam Bukhari, the greatest theologians of Shia and Sunni like Shaykh TusiImam GhazaliImam Fakhr al-Razi and Al-Zamakhshari, the greatest physiciansastronomerslogiciansmathematiciansmetaphysiciansphilosophers and scientists like Avicenna, and Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī, the greatest Shaykh of Sufism like RumiAbdul-Qadir Gilani.

Persianate states and dynasties (977–1219)[edit]

The Kharaghan twin towers, built in 1067, Persia, contain tombs of Seljuq princes.

In 977 a Turkic governor of the Samanids, Sabuktigin, conquered Ghazna (in present-day Afghanistan) and established a dynasty, the Ghaznavids, that lasted to 1186.[66]The Ghaznavid empire grew by taking all of the Samanid territories south of the Amu Darya in the last decade of the 10th century, and eventually occupied parts of Eastern Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwest India.[68]

The Ghaznavids are generally credited with launching Islam into a mainly Hindu India. The invasion of India was undertaken in 1000 by the Ghaznavid ruler, Mahmud, and continued for several years. They were unable to hold power for long, however, particularly after the death of Mahmud in 1030. By 1040 the Seljuqs had taken over the Ghaznavid lands in Iran.[68]

The Seljuqs, who like the Ghaznavids were Persianate in nature and of Turkic origin, slowly conquered Iran over the course of the 11th century.[66] The dynasty had its origins in the Turcoman tribal confederations of Central Asia and marked the beginning of Turkic power in the Middle East. They established a Sunni Muslim rule over parts of Central Asia and the Middle East from the 11th to 14th centuries. They set up an empire known as Great Seljuq Empire that stretched from Anatolia in the west to western Afghanistan in the east and the western borders of (modern-day) China in the northeast; and was the target of the First Crusade. Today they are regarded as the cultural ancestors of the Western Turks, the present-day inhabitants of AzerbaijanTurkey, and Turkmenistan, and they are remembered as great patrons of Persian cultureartliterature, and language.[78][79][80]

Seljuq empire at the time of its greatest extent, at the death of Malik Shah I[citation needed]

The dynastic founder, Tughril Beg, turned his army against the Ghaznavids in Khorasan. He moved south and then west, conquering but not wasting the cities in his path. In 1055 the caliph in Baghdad gave Tughril Beg robes, gifts, and the title King of the East. Under Tughril Beg’s successor, Malik Shah(1072–1092), Iran enjoyed a cultural and scientific renaissance, largely attributed to his brilliant Iranian vizier, Nizam al Mulk. These leaders established the observatory where Omar Khayyám did much of his experimentation for a new calendar, and they built religious schools in all the major towns. They brought Abu Hamid Ghazali, one of the greatest Islamic theologians, and other eminent scholars to the Seljuq capital at Baghdad and encouraged and supported their work.[66]

When Malik Shah I died in 1092, the empire split as his brother and four sons quarrelled over the apportioning of the empire among themselves. In Anatolia, Malik Shah I was succeeded by Kilij Arslan I who founded the Sultanate of Rûm and in Syria by his brother Tutush I. In Persia he was succeeded by his son Mahmud I whose reign was contested by his other three brothers Barkiyaruq in IraqMuhammad I in Baghdad and Ahmad Sanjar in Khorasan. As Seljuq power in Iran weakened, other dynasties began to step up in its place, including a resurgent Abbasid caliphate and the Khwarezmshahs. The Khwarezmid Empire was a Sunni Muslim Persianate dynasty, of East Turkic origin, that ruled in Central Asia. Originally vassals of the Seljuqs, they took advantage of the decline of the Seljuqs to expand into Iran.[81] In 1194 the Khwarezmshah Ala ad-Din Tekish defeated the Seljuq sultan Toghrul III in battle and the Seljuq empire in Iran collapsed. Of the former Seljuq Empire, only the Sultanate of Rum in Anatolia remained.

A serious internal threat to the Seljuqs during their reign came from the Ismailis, a secret sect with headquarters at Alamut between Rasht and Tehran. They controlled the immediate area for more than 150 years and sporadically sent out adherents to strengthen their rule by murdering important officials. Several of the various theories on the etymology of the word assassin derive from these killers.[66]

Parts of northwestern Iran were conquered in the early 13th century AD by the Kingdom of Georgia, led by Tamar the Great.[82]

Mongol conquest and rule (1219–1370)[edit]

Mongol invasion (1219–1221)[edit]

Eurasia on the eve of the Mongol invasions, c. 1200

The Mongol Empire’s expansion

The Khwarezmid Empire only lasted for a few decades, until the arrival of the MongolsGenghis Khan had unified the Mongols, and under him the Mongol Empire quickly expanded in several directions, until by 1218 it bordered Khwarezm. At that time, the Khwarezmid Empire was ruled by Ala ad-Din Muhammad (1200–1220). Muhammad, like Genghis, was intent on expanding his lands and had gained the submission of most of Iran. He declared himself shah and demanded formal recognition from the Abbasid caliph an-Nasir. When the caliph rejected his claim, Ala ad-Din Muhammad proclaimed one of his nobles caliph and unsuccessfully tried to depose an-Nasir.

The Mongol invasion of Iran began in 1219, after two diplomatic missions to Khwarezm sent by Genghis Khan had been massacred. During 1220–21 BukharaSamarkandHeratTus and Nishapur were razed, and the whole populations were slaughtered. The Khwarezm-Shah fled, to die on an island off the Caspian coast.[83] During the invasion of Transoxania in 1219, along with the main Mongol force, Genghis Khan used a Chinese specialist catapult unit in battle, they were used again in 1220 in Transoxania. The Chinese may have used the catapults to hurl gunpowder bombs, since they already had them by this time.[84]

While Genghis Khan was conquering Transoxania and Persia, several Chinese who were familiar with gunpowder were serving in Genghis’s army.[85] “Whole regiments” entirely made out of Chinese were used by the Mongols to command bomb hurling trebuchets during the invasion of Iran.[86] Historians have suggested that the Mongol invasion had brought Chinese gunpowder weapons to Central Asia. One of these was the huochong, a Chinese mortar.[87] Books written around the area afterward depicted gunpowder weapons which resembled those of China.[88]

Destruction under the Mongols[edit]

Before his death in 1227, Genghis had reached western Azerbaijan, pillaging and burning cities along the way.

The Mongol invasion was disastrous to the Iranians. Although the Mongol invaders were eventually converted to Islam and accepted the culture of Iran, the Mongol destruction of the Islamic heartland marked a major change of direction for the region. Much of the six centuries of Islamic scholarship, culture, and infrastructure was destroyed as the invaders burned libraries, and replaced mosques with Buddhist temples.[89]

The Mongols killed many Iranian civilians. Destruction of qanat irrigation systems destroyed the pattern of relatively continuous settlement, producing numerous isolated oasis cities in a land where they had previously been rare.[90] A large number of people, particularly males, were killed; between 1220 and 1258, 90% of the total population of Iran may have been killed as a result of mass extermination and famine.[91]

Ilkhanate (1256–1335)[edit]

Mongol successor khanates

After Genghis’s death, Iran was ruled by several Mongol commanders. Genghis’ grandson, Hulagu Khan, was tasked with the westward expansion of Mongol dominion. However, by time he ascended to power, the Mongol Empire had already dissolved, dividing into different factions. Arriving with an army, he established himself in the region and founded the Ilkhanate, a breakaway state of the Mongol Empire, which would rule Iran for the next eighty years and become Persianate in the process.

Hulagu Khan seized Baghdad in 1258 and put the last Abbasid caliph to death. The westward advance of his forces was stopped by the Mamelukes, however, at the Battle of Ain Jalut in Palestine in 1260. Hulagu’s campaigns against the Muslims also enraged Berke, khan of the Golden Horde and a convert to Islam. Hulagu and Berke fought against each other, demonstrating the weakening unity of the Mongol empire.

The rule of Hulagu’s great-grandson, Ghazan Khan (1295–1304) saw the establishment of Islam as the state religion of the Ilkhanate. Ghazan and his famous Iranian vizier, Rashid al-Din, brought Iran a partial and brief economic revival. The Mongols lowered taxes for artisans, encouraged agriculture, rebuilt and extended irrigation works, and improved the safety of the trade routes. As a result, commerce increased dramatically.

Items from India, China, and Iran passed easily across the Asian steppes, and these contacts culturally enriched Iran. For example, Iranians developed a new style of painting based on a unique fusion of solid, two-dimensional Mesopotamian painting with the feathery, light brush strokes and other motifs characteristic of China. After Ghazan’s nephew Abu Said died in 1335, however, the Ilkhanate lapsed into civil war and was divided between several petty dynasties – most prominently the JalayiridsMuzaffaridsSarbadars and Kartids.

The mid-14th-century Black Death killed about 30% of the country’s population.[92]

Sunnism and Shiism in pre-Safavid Iran[edit]

Imam Reza shrine, the greatest religious site in Iran, built in the 9th century

Prior to the rise of the Safavid Empire, Sunni Islam was the dominant religion, accounting for around 90% of the population at the time. According to Mortaza Motahhari the majority of Iranian scholars and masses remained Sunni until the time of the Safavids.[93] The domination of Sunnis did not mean Shia were rootless in Iran. The writers of The Four Books of Shia were Iranian, as well as many other great Shia scholars.

The domination of the Sunni creed during the first nine Islamic centuries characterized the religious history of Iran during this period. There were however some exceptions to this general domination which emerged in the form of the Zaydīs of Tabaristan (see Alid dynasties of northern Iran), the Buyids, the Kakuyids, the rule of Sultan Muhammad Khudabandah (r. Shawwal 703-Shawwal 716/1304-1316) and the Sarbedaran.[94]

Apart from this domination there existed, firstly, throughout these nine centuries, Shia inclinations among many Sunnis of this land and, secondly, original Imami Shiism as well as Zaydī Shiism had prevalence in some parts of Iran. During this period, Shia in Iran were nourished from KufahBaghdad and later from Najaf and Hillah.[94] Shiism was the dominant sect in TabaristanQomKashanAvaj and Sabzevar. In many other areas merged population of Shia and Sunni lived together.

During the 10th and 11th centuries, Fatimids sent Ismailis Da’i (missioners) to Iran as well as other Muslim lands. When Ismailis divided into two sects, Nizarisestablished their base in Iran. Hassan-i Sabbah conquered fortresses and captured Alamut in 1090 AD. Nizaris used this fortress until a Mongol raid in 1256.

After the Mongol raid and fall of the Abbasids, Sunni hierarchies faltered. Not only did they lose the caliphate but also the status of official madhhab. Their loss was the gain of Shia, whose center wasn’t in Iran at that time. Several local Shia dynasties like Sarbadars were established during this time.

The main change occurred in the beginning of the 16th century, when Ismail I founded the Safavid dynasty and initiated a religious policy to recognize Shi’a Islam as the official religion of the Safavid Empire, and the fact that modern Iran remains an officially Shi’ite state is a direct result of Ismail’s actions.

Timurid Empire (1370–1507)[edit]

A map of the Timurid Empire.

Iran remained divided until the arrival of Timur, who is variously described as of Mongol or Turkic origin[95] belonging to the Timurid dynasty. Like its predecessors, the Timurid Empire was also part of the Persianate world. After establishing a power base in Transoxiana, Timur invaded Iran in 1381 and eventually conquered most of it. Timur’s campaigns were known for their brutality; many people were slaughtered and several cities were destroyed.[96]

Timur facial reconstruction from skull

His regime was characterized by tyranny and bloodshed, but also by its inclusion of Iranians in administrative roles and its promotion of architecture and poetry. His successors, the Timurids, maintained a hold on most of Iran until 1452, when they lost the bulk of it to Black Sheep Turkmen. The Black Sheep Turkmen were conquered by the White Sheep Turkmen under Uzun Hasan in 1468; Uzun Hasan and his successors were the masters of Iran until the rise of the Safavids.[96]

Kara Koyunlu[edit]

The Kara Koyunlu were Oghuz Turks who ruled over northwestern Iran and surrounding areas from 1374–1468 CE. The Kara Koyunlu expanded their conquest to Baghdad, however, internal fighting, defeats by the Timurids, rebellions by the Armenians in response to their persecution,[97] and failed struggles with the Ag Qoyunlulead to their eventual demise.[98]

Ak Koyunlu[edit]

The Aq Qoyunlu confederation at its greatest extent.

Aq Qoyunlu were Oghuz Turkic tribal federation of Sunni Muslims who ruled over most of Iran and large parts of surrounding areas from 1378 to 1501 CE. Aq Qoyunlu emerged when Timur granted them all of Diyar Bakr in present-day Turkey. Afterward, they struggled with their rival Oghuz Turks, the Kara Koyunlu. While the Aq Qoyunlu were successful in defeating Kara Koyunlu, their struggle with the emerging Safavid dynasty lead to their downfall.[99]

Early modern era (1502–1925)[edit]

Persia underwent a revival under the Safavid dynasty (1502–1736), the most prominent figure of which was Shah Abbas I. Some historians credit the Safavid dynasty for founding the modern nation-state of Iran. Iran’s contemporary Shia character, and significant segments of Iran’s current borders take their origin from this era (e.g. Treaty of Zuhab).

Safavid Empire (1501–1736)[edit]

The Safavid Empire at its greatest extent

The Safavid dynasty was one of the most significant ruling dynasties of Persia (modern Iran), and “is often considered the beginning of modern Persian history”.[100] They ruled one of the greatest Persian empires after the Muslim conquest of Persia[101][102][103][104] and established the Twelver school of Shi’a Islam[7] as the official religion of their empire, marking one of the most important turning points in Muslim history. The Safavids ruled from 1501 to 1722 (experiencing a brief restoration from 1729 to 1736) and at their height, they controlled all of modern IranAzerbaijan and Armenia, most of Georgia, the North CaucasusIraqKuwait and Afghanistan, as well as parts of TurkeySyriaPakistanTurkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Safavid Iran was one of the Islamic “gunpowder empires“, along with its neighbours, its archrival and principal enemy the Ottoman Empire, as well as the Mughal Empire.

The Safavid ruling dynasty was founded by Ismāil, who styled himself Shāh Ismāil I.[105] Practically worshipped by his Qizilbāsh followers, Ismāil invaded Shirvan to avenge the death of his father, Shaykh Haydar, who had been killed during his siege of Derbent, in Dagestan. Afterwards he went on a campaign of conquest, and following the capture of Tabriz in July 1501, he enthroned himself as the Shāh of Azerbaijan,[106][107][108]minted coins in this name, and proclaimed Shi’ism the official religion of his domain.[7]

Although initially the masters of Azerbaijan and southern Dagestan only, the Safavids had, in fact, won the struggle for power in Persia which had been going on for nearly a century between various dynasties and political forces following the fragmentation of the Kara Koyunlu and the Aq Qoyunlu. A year after his victory in Tabriz, Ismāil proclaimed most of Persia as his domain, and[7] quickly conquered and unified Iran under his rule. Soon afterwards, the new Safavid Empire rapidly conquered regions, nations, and peoples in all directions, including ArmeniaAzerbaijan, parts of GeorgiaMesopotamia (Iraq), KuwaitSyriaDagestan, large parts of what is now Afghanistan, parts of Turkmenistan, and large chunks of Anatolia, laying the foundation of its multi-ethnic character which would heavily influence the empire itself (most notably the Caucasus and its peoples).

Portrait of Shah Abbas I

During Tahmasp’ reign, he carried out multiple invasions in the Caucasus which had been incorporated in the Safavid empire since Shah Ismail I and for many centuries afterwards, and started with the trend of deporting and moving hundreds of thousands of CircassiansGeorgians, and Armenians to Iran’s heartlands. Initially only solely put in the royal harems, royal guards, and minor other sections of the Empire, Tahmasp believed he could eventually reduce the power of the Qizilbash, by creating and fully integrating a new layer in Iranian society. As Encyclopædia Iranica states, for Tahmãsp, the problem circled around the military tribal elite of the empire, the Qezelbāš, who believed that physical proximity to and control of a member of the immediate Safavid family guaranteed spiritual advantages, political fortune, and material advancement.[109] With this new Caucasian layer in Iranian society, the indisputed might of the Qizilbash (who functioned much like the ghazis of the neighboring Ottoman Empire) would be questioned and fully diminished as society would become fully meritocratic.

Shah Abbas I and his successors would significantly expand this policy and plan initiated by Tahmasp, deporting during his reign alone around some 200,000 Georgians, 300,000 Armenians and 100,000–150,000 Circassians to Iran, completing the foundation of a new layer in Iranian society. With this, and the complete systematic disorganisation of the Qizilbash by his personal orders, he eventually fully succeeded in replacing the power of the Qizilbash, with that of the Caucasian ghulams. These new Caucasian elements (the so-called ghilman / غِلْمَان / “servants”), almost always after conversion to Shi’ism depending on given function would be, were unlike the Qizilbash, fully loyal only to the Shah. The other masses of Caucasians were deployed in all other possible functions and positions available in the empire, as well as in the harem, regular military, craftsmen, farmers, etc. This system of mass usage of Caucasian subjects remained to exist until the fall of the Qajar Dynasty.

Rostom (also known as Rustam Khan), viceroy of Kartli, eastern Georgia, from 1633–1658

The greatest of the Safavid monarchs, Shah Abbas I the Great (1587–1629) came to power in 1587 aged 16. Abbas I first fought the Uzbeks, recapturing Herat and Mashhad in 1598, which had been lost by his predecessor Mohammad Khodabanda by the Ottoman–Safavid War (1578–1590). Then he turned against the Ottomans, the Safavids their archrivals, recapturing Baghdad, eastern Iraq and the Caucasian provinces and beyond by 1618. Between 1616–1618, following the disobedience of his most loyal Georgian subjects Teimuraz I and Luarsab II, Abbas carried out a punitive campaign in his territories of Georgia, devastating Kakheti and Tbilisi and carrying away 130,000[110] – 200,000[111][112]Georgian captives towards mainland Iran. His new army, which had dramatically been improved with the advent of Robert Shirley and his brothers following the first diplomatic mission to Europe, pitted the first crushing victory over the Safavids’ archrivals, the Ottomans in the abovementioned 1603–1618 war and would surpass the Ottomans in military strength. He also used his new force to dislodge the Portuguese from Bahrain (1602) and Hormuz (1622) with aid of the English navy, in the Persian Gulf.

He expanded commercial links with the Dutch East India Company and established firm links with the European royal houses, which had been initiated by Ismail I earlier on by the Habsburg–Persian alliance. Thus Abbas I was able to break the dependence on the Qizilbash for military might and therefore was able to centralize control. The Safavid dynasty had already established itself during Shah Ismail I, but under Abbas I it really became a major power in the world along with its archrival the Ottoman Empire, against whom it became able to compete with on equal foot. It also started the promotion of tourism in Iran. Under their rule Persian Architecture flowered again and saw many new monuments in various Iranian cities, of which Isfahan is the most notable example.

Except for Shah Abbas the Great, Shah Ismail I, Shah Tahmasp I, and Shah Abbas II, many of the Safavid rulers were ineffectual, often being more interested in their women, alcohol and other leisure activities. The end of Abbas II’s reign in 1666, marked the beginning of the end of the Safavid dynasty. Despite falling revenues and military threats, many of the later shahs had lavish lifestyles. Shah Soltan Hosain (1694–1722) in particular was known for his love of wine and disinterest in governance.[113]

The declining country was repeatedly raided on its frontiers. Finally, Ghilzai Pashtun chieftain named Mir Wais Khan began a rebellion in Kandahar and defeated the Safavid army under the Iranian Georgian governor over the region, Gurgin Khan. In 1722, Peter the Great of neighbouring Imperial Russia launched the Russo-Persian War (1722–1723), capturing many of Iran’s Caucasian territories, including DerbentShakiBaku, but also GilanMazandaran and Astrabad. At the mids of all chaos, in the same year 1722 an Afghan army led by Mir Wais’ son Mahmud marched across eastern Iran, besieged and took Isfahan. Mahmud proclaimed himself ‘Shah’ of Persia. Meanwhile, Persia’s imperial rivals, the Ottomans and the Russians, took advantage of the chaos in the country to seize more territory for themselves.[114] By these events, the Safavid dynasty had effectively ended. In 1724, conform the Treaty of Constantinople, the Ottomans and the Russians agreed to divide the newly conquered territories of Iran amongst themselves.[115]

Nader Shah and his successors[edit]

Iran’s territorial integrity was restored by a native Iranian Turkic Afshar warlord from Khorasan, Nader Shah. He defeated and banished the Afghans, defeated the Ottomansreinstalled the Safavids on the throne, and negotiated Russian withdrawal from Irans Caucasian territories, by the Treaty of Resht and Treaty of Ganja. By 1736, Nader had become so powerful he was able to depose the Safavids and have himself crowned shah. Nader was one of the last great conquerors of Asia and briefly possessed over what was probably the most powerful empire in the world. To financially aid his wars against Persia’s archrival, the Ottoman Empire, he fixated his mind on the weak but rich Mugal Empire to the east. In 1739, accompanied by his loyal Caucasian subjects including Erekle II,[116][117] he invaded Mughal India, defeated a numerically superior Mughal army in less than three hours, and completely sacked and looted Delhi, bringing back immense wealth to Persia. On his way back, he also conquered all Uzbek khanates – except Kokand – and made the Uzbeks his vassals. He also firmly reestablished Persian rule over the entire Caucasus, Bahrain, as well as large parts of Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Undefeated for years, his defeat in Dagestan, following guerrilla rebellions by the Lezgins and the assassination attempt on him near Mazandaran is often marked as the turning point in Naders impressive career. Frustratingly for him, the Dagestanis resorted to guerrilla warfare and Nader with his standard army could make little headway against them.[118] At the Battle of Andalal and the Battle of Avaria, Nader’s army was crushingly defeated and he lost half of his entire force, as well forcing him to flee for the mountains.[119] Though Nader managed to take most of Dagestan during his campaign, the effective guerrilla warfare as deployed by the Lezgins, but also the Avars and Laks made the Iranian re-conquest of the particular North Caucasian region this time a short lived one; several years later, Nader was forced to withdraw. Around the same time, the assassination attempt was made on him near Mazandaran which accelerated the course of history; he slowly grew ill and megalomaniac, blinding his sons whom he suspected of the assassination attempts, and increasing cruelty against his subjects and officers. In his later years this eventually provoked multiple revolts and, ultimately, Nader’s assassination in 1747.[120]

Nader’s death was followed by a period of anarchy in Iran as rival army commanders fought for power. Nader’s own family, the Afsharids, were soon reduced to holding on to a small domain in Khorasan. Many of the Caucasian territories broke away in various Caucasian khanates. Ottomans regained lost territories in Anatolia and Mesopotamia. Oman and the Uzbek khanates of Bukhara and Khiva regained independence. Ahmad Shah Durrani, one of Nader’s officers, founded an independent state which eventually became modern Afghanistan. Erekle II and Teimuraz II, who, in 1744, had been made the kings of Kakheti and Kartli respectively by Nader himself for their loyal service,[121] capitalized on the eruption of instability, and declared de facto independence. Erekle II assumed control over Kartli after Teimuraz II’s death, thus unifying the two as the Kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti, becoming the first Georgian ruler in three centuries to preside over a politically unified eastern Georgia,[122] and due to the frantic turn of events in mainland Iran he would be able to remain de facto autonomous through the Zand period.[123] From his capital ShirazKarim Khan of the Zand dynasty ruled “an island of relative calm and peace in an otherwise bloody and destructive period,”[124] however the extent of Zand power was confined to contemporary Iran and parts of the Caucasus. Karim Khan’s death in 1779 led to yet another civil war in which the Qajar dynasty eventually triumphed and became kings of Iran. During the civil war, Iran permanently lost Basra in 1779 to the Ottomans, which had been captured during the Ottoman–Persian War (1775–76),[125]and Bahrain to Al Khalifa family after Bani Utbah invasion in 1783.[citation needed]

Qajar dynasty (1796–1925)[edit]

Mihr ‘Ali (Iranian, active ca. 1800–1830). Portrait of Fath-Ali Shah QajarBrooklyn Museum.

Qajar era currency bill with depiction of Nasser al-Din Shah Qajar.

A map of Iran under the Qajar dynasty in the 19th century.

Map showing Iran’s northwestern borders in the 19th century, comprising Eastern GeorgiaDagestanArmenia, and Azerbaijan, before being forced to cede the territories to Imperial Russia per the two Russo-Persian Wars of the 19th century.

Agha Mohammad Khan emerged victorious out of the civil war that commenced with the death of the last Zand king. His reign is noted for the reemergence of a centrally led and united Iran. After the death of Nader Shah and the last of the Zands, most of Iran’s Caucasian territories had broken away into various Caucasian khanates. Agha Mohammad Khan, like the Safavid kings and Nader Shah before him, viewed the region as no different than the territories in mainland Iran. Therefore, his first objective after having secured mainland Iran, was to reincorpate the Caucasus region into Iran.[126] Georgia was seen as one of the most integral territories.[123] For Agha Mohammad Khan, the resubjugation and reintegration of Georgia into the Iranian Empire was part of the same process that had brought ShirazIsfahan, and Tabriz under his rule.[123] As the Cambridge History of Iran states, its permanent secession was inconceivable and had to be resisted in the same way as one would resist an attempt at the separation of Fars or Gilan.[123] It was therefore natural for Agha Mohammad Khan to perform whatever necessary means in the Caucasus in order to subdue and reincorporate the recently lost regions following Nader Shah’s death and the demise of the Zands, including putting down what in Iranian eyes was seen as treason on the part of the wali (viceroy) of Georgia, namely the Georgian king Erekle II (Heraclius II) who was appointed viceroy of Georgia by Nader Shah himself.[123]

Agha Mohammad Khan subsequently demanded Heraclius II to renounce the treaty with Russia of several years earlier, and to reaccept Persian suzerainty,[126] in return for peace and the security of his kingdom. The Ottomans, Iran’s neighboring rival, recognized the latters rights over Kartli and Kakheti for the first time in four centuries.[127]Heraclius appealed then to his theoretical protector, Empress Catherine II of Russia, pledging for at least 3,000 Russian troops,[127] but he was ignored, leaving Georgia to fend off the Persian threat alone.[128] Nevertheless, Heraclius II still rejected the Khan’s ultimatum.[129] As a response, Agha Mohammad Khan invaded the Caucasus region after crossing the Aras river, and, while on his way to Georgia, he re-subjugated Iran’s territories of the Erivan KhanateShirvanNakhchivan KhanateGanja khanateDerbent KhanateBaku khanateTalysh KhanateShaki KhanateKarabakh Khanate, which comprise modern-day ArmeniaAzerbaijanDagestan, and Igdir. Having reached Georgia with his large army, it culminated in the Battle of Krtsanisi, which resulted in the capture, and sack of Tbilisi, as well as the effective resubjugation of Georgia into Iran.[130][131]Upon his return from his successful campaign in Tbilisi and in effective control over Georgia, together with some 15,000 Georgian captives that were moved back to mainland Iran,[128] Agha Mohammad was formally crowned Shah in 1796 in the Mughan plain, just like his predecessor Nader Shah was about sixty years earlier.

Agha Mohammad Shah was later assassinated while preparing a second expedition against Georgia in 1797 in Shusha[132] (nowadays part of the Republic of Azerbaijan) and the seasoned king Heraclius died early in 1798. Reassessment of Iranian hegemony over Georgia did not last long; in 1799 the Russians marched into Tbilisi.[133] The Russians were already actively occupied with an expansionistic policy towards its neighboring empires to its south, namely the Ottoman Empire and the successive Iranian kingdoms since the late 17th/early 18th century. The next two years following Russia’s entrance into Tbilisi were a time of muddle and confusion, and the weakened and devastated Georgian kingdom, with its capital half in ruins, was easily absorbed by Russia in 1801.[128][129] As Iran could not permit or allow the cession of Transcaucasia and Dagestan, which had made an integral part of Iran for centuries,[11] it would lead directly to the wars of several years later, namely the Russo-Persian Wars of 1804-1813 and 1826-1828. The outcome of these two wars (Treaty of Gulistan and the Treaty of Turkmenchay, respectively) proved for the irrevocable forced cession and loss of what is nowadays eastern GeorgiaDagestanArmenia, and Azerbaijan to Imperial Russia.[134][130]

The area to the North of the river Aras, among which the territory of the contemporary republic of Azerbaijan, eastern Georgia, Dagestan, and Armenia were Iranian territory until they were occupied by Russia in the course of the 19th century.[135][136][137][138][139][140][141]

Migration of Caucasian Muslims[edit]

Persian Cossack Brigade in Tabriz in 1909

Following the official losing of the aforementioned vast territories in the Caucasus, major demographic shifts were bound to take place. Solidly Persian-speaking territories of Iran were lost, with all its inhabitants in it. Following the 1804–1814 War, but also per the 1826–1828 war which ceded the last territories, large migrations, so called Caucasian Muhajirs, set off to migrate to mainland Iran. Some of these groups included the AyrumsQarapapaqsCircassians, Shia Lezgins, and other Transcaucasian Muslims.[142]

Through the Battle of Ganja of 1804 during the Russo-Persian War (1804–13), many thousands of Ayrums and Qarapapaqs were settled in Tabriz. During the remaining part of the 1804–1813 war, as well as through the 1826–1828 war, the absolute bulk of the Ayrums and Qarapapaqs that were still remaining in newly conquered Russian territories were settled in and migrated to Solduz (in modern-day Iran’s West Azerbaijan province).[143] As the Cambridge History of Iran states; “The steady encroachment of Russian troops along the frontier in the Caucasus, General Yermolov‘s brutal punitive expeditions and misgovernment, drove large numbers of Muslims, and even some Georgian Christians, into exile in Iran.”[144]

In 1864 until the early 20th century, another mass expulsion took place of Caucasian Muslims as a result of the Russian victory in the Caucasian War. Others simply voluntarily refused to live under Christian Russian rule, and thus disembarked for Turkey or Iran. These migrations once again, towards Iran, included masses of Caucasian Azerbaijanis, other Transcaucasian Muslims, as well as many North Caucasian Muslims, such as Circassians, Shia Lezgins and Laks.[142][145] Many of these migrants would prove to play a pivotal role in further Iranian history, as they formed most of the ranks of the Persian Cossack Brigade, which was also to be established in the late 19th century.[146] The initial ranks of the brigade would be entirely composed of Circassiansand other Caucasian Muhajirs.[146] This brigade would prove decisive in the following decades to come in Qajar history.

Furthermore, the 1828 Treaty of Turkmenchay included the official rights for the Russian Empire to encourage settling of Armenians from Iran in the newly conquered Russian territories.[147][148] This also helped in changing the demographics of the regions considerably.[149] The Treaty of Adrianople, concluded with Turkey in 1829 granted for more mass settling of Armenians in the newly incorporated territories. Slowly but surely, the number of Christians, that formerly made out since the 17th century a relatively small minority in the region (except for Georgia), were starting to compose an ever-growing number of the total population, especially in the former Iranian-ruled Armenian and Georgian territories.

Following the resettlement of Persian Armenians in the newly conquered Russian territories after 1828, thus significant demographic shifts were bound to take place. The Armenian-American historian George Bournoutian gives a summary of the ethnic makeup prior to the events of 1828 just for the territory of the Erivan administrative division as an example:[150]

After the incorporation of the Erivan khanate into the Russian Empire, Muslim majority of the area gradually changed, at first the Armenians who were left captive were encouraged to return.[151] As a result of which an estimated 57,000 Armenian refugees from Persia returned to the territory of the Erivan khanates after 1828, while about 35,000 Muslims (Persians, Turkic groups, Kurds, Lezgis, etc.) out total population of over 100,000 left the region.[152]

Fath Ali Shah’s reign saw increased diplomatic contacts with the West and the beginning of intense European diplomatic rivalries over Iran. His grandson Mohammad Shah, who fell under the Russian influence and made two unsuccessful attempts to capture Herat, succeeded him in 1834. When Mohammad Shah died in 1848 the succession passed to his son Nasser-e-Din, who proved to be the ablest and most successful of the Qajar sovereigns.[citation needed]

Constitutional Revolution and deposement[edit]

The Great Persian Famine of 1870–1871 is believed to have caused the death of 2 million persons.[153]

A new era in the history of Persia dawned with the Persian Constitutional Revolution against the Shah in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Shah managed to remain in power, granting a limited constitution in 1906 (making the country a constitutional monarchy). The first Majlis (parliament) was convened on October 7, 1906.

The discovery of petroleum in 1908 by the British in Khuzestan spawned intense renewed interest in Persia by the British Empire (see William Knox D’Arcy and Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, now BP). Control of Persia remained contested between the United Kingdom and Russia, in what became known as The Great Game, and codified in the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907, which divided Persia into spheres of influence, regardless of her national sovereignty.

During World War I, the country was occupied by British, Ottoman and Russian forces but was essentially neutral (see Persian Campaign). In 1919, after the Russian revolution and their withdrawal, Britain attempted to establish a protectorate in Persia, which was unsuccessful.

Finally, the Constitutionalist movement of Gilan and the central power vacuum caused by the instability of the Qajar government resulted in the rise of Reza Khan, who was later to become Reza Shah Pahlavi, and the subsequent establishment of the Pahlavi dynasty in 1925. In 1921, a military coup established Reza Khan, an officer of the Persian Cossack Brigade, as the dominant figure for the next 20 years. Seyyed Zia’eddin Tabatabai was also a leader and important figure in the perpetration of the coup. The coup was not actually directed at the Qajar monarchy; according to Encyclopædia Iranica, it was targeted at officials who were in power and actually had a role in controlling the government; the cabinet and others who had a role in governing Persia.[154] In 1925, after being prime minister for two years, Reza Khan became the first shah of the Pahlavi dynasty.

Pahlavi era (1925–1979)[edit]

Reza Shah (1925–1941)[edit]

Reza Shah ruled for almost 16 years until September 16, 1941, when he was forced to abdicate by the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran. He established an authoritarian government that valued nationalismmilitarismsecularism and anti-communism combined with strict censorship and state propaganda.[155] Reza Shah introduced many socio-economic reforms, reorganizing the army, government administration, and finances.[156]

To his supporters his reign brought “law and order, discipline, central authority, and modern amenities – schools, trains, buses, radios, cinemas, and telephones”.[157] However, his attempts of modernisation have been criticised for being “too fast”[158] and “superficial”,[159] and his reign a time of “oppression, corruption, taxation, lack of authenticity” with “security typical of police states.”[157]

Many of the new laws and regulations created resentment among devout Muslims and the clergy. For example, mosques were required to use chairs; most men were required to wear western clothing, including a hat with a brim; women were encouraged to discard the hijab; men and women were allowed to freely congregate, violating Islamic mixing of the sexes. Tensions boiled over in 1935, when bazaaris and villagers rose up in rebellion at the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad, chanting slogans such as ‘The Shah is a new Yezid.’ Dozens were killed and hundreds were injured when troops finally quelled the unrest.[160]

World War II[edit]

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi with FDR at the Tehran Conference, 1943

Polish refugee camp on the outskirts of Teheran, c.1943

German interests held great influence within Iran in 1941, with the Germans staging a coup in an attempt to overthrow the Pahlavi dynasty. With German armies highly successful against Russia, the Iranian government expected Germany to win the war and establish a powerful force on its borders. It rejected British and Russian demands to expel the Germans. In response the Allies invaded in August 1941, and easily overwhelmed the weak Iranian army in Operation Countenance. Iran became the major conduit of Allied Lend-Lease aid to the Soviet Union. The purpose was to secure Iranian oil fields and ensure Allied supply lines (see Persian Corridor) . Iran remained officially neutral. Its monarch Rezā Shāh was deposed during the subsequent occupation and replaced with his young son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.[161]

At the Tehran Conference of 1943, the Allies issued the Tehran Declaration guaranteed the post-war independence and boundaries of Iran. However, when the war actually ended, Soviet troops stationed in northwestern Iran not only refused to withdraw but backed revolts that established short-lived, pro-Soviet separatist national states in the northern regions of Azerbaijan and Iranian Kurdistan, the Azerbaijan People’s Government and the Republic of Kurdistan respectively, in late 1945. Soviet troops did not withdraw from Iran proper until May 1946 after receiving a promise of oil concessions. The Soviet republics in the north were soon overthrown and the oil concessions were revoked.[162][163]

Mohammad-Reza Shah (1941–1979)[edit]

Tehran men celebrating the 1953 Iranian coup d’état

Initially there were hopes that post-occupation Iran could become a constitutional monarchy. The new, young Shah Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi initially took a very hands-off role in government, and allowed parliament to hold a lot of power. Some elections were held in the first shaky years, although they remained mired in corruption. Parliament became chronically unstable, and from the 1947 to 1951 period Iran saw the rise and fall of six different prime ministers. Pahlavi increased his political power by convening the Iran Constituent Assembly, 1949, which finally formed the Senate of Iran—a legislative upper house allowed for in the 1906 constitution but never brought into being. The new senators were largely supportive of Pahlavi, as he had intended.

In 1951 Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq received the vote required from the parliament to nationalize the British-owned oil industry, in a situation known as the Abadan Crisis. Despite British pressure, including an economic blockade, the nationalization continued. Mosaddeq was briefly removed from power in 1952 but was quickly re-appointed by the shah, due to a popular uprising in support of the premier and he, in turn, forced the Shah into a brief exile in August 1953 after a failed military coup by Imperial Guard Colonel Nematollah Nassiri.

1953: U.S. organized coup removes Mosaddeq[edit]

Shortly thereafter on August 19 a successful coup was headed by retired army general Fazlollah Zahedi, organized by the United States (CIA)[164] with the active support of the British (MI6) (known as Operation Ajax and Operation Boot to the respective agencies).[165] The coup—with a black propaganda campaign designed to turn the population against Mosaddeq—forced Mosaddeq from office. Mosaddeq was arrested and tried for treason. Found guilty, his sentence reduced to house arrest on his family estate while his foreign minister, Hossein Fatemi, was executed. Zahedi succeeded him as prime minister, and suppressed opposition to the Shah, specifically the National Front and Communist Tudeh Party.


1971 film about Iran under the Shah

Iran was ruled as an autocracy under the shah with American support from that time until the revolution. The Iranian government entered into agreement with an international consortium of foreign companies which ran the Iranian oil facilities for the next 25 years splitting profits fifty-fifty with Iran but not allowing Iran to audit their accounts or have members on their board of directors. In 1957 martial law was ended after 16 years and Iran became closer to the West, joining the Baghdad Pact and receiving military and economic aid from the US. In 1961, Iran initiated a series of economic, social, agrarian and administrative reforms to modernize the country that became known as the Shah’s White Revolution.

The core of this program was land reform. Modernization and economic growth proceeded at an unprecedented rate, fueled by Iran’s vast petroleum reserves, the third-largest in the world. However the reforms, including the White Revolution, did not greatly improve economic conditions and the liberal pro-Western policies alienated certain Islamic religious and political groups. In early June 1963 several days of massive rioting occurred in support of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini following the cleric’s arrest for a speech attacking the shah.

Two years later, premier Hassan Ali Mansur was assassinated and the internal security service, SAVAK, became more violently active. In the 1970s leftist guerilla groups such as Mujaheddin-e-Khalq (MEK), emerged and attacked regime and foreign targets.

Nearly a hundred Iran political prisoners were killed by the SAVAK during the decade before the revolution and many more were arrested and tortured.[166] The Islamic clergy, headed by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (who had been exiled in 1964), were becoming increasingly vociferous.

Iran greatly increased its defense budget and by the early 1970s was the region’s strongest military power. Bilateral relations with its neighbor Iraq were not good, mainly due to a dispute over the Shatt al-Arab waterway. In November 1971, Iranian forces seized control of three islands at the mouth of the Persian Gulf; in response, Iraq expelled thousands of Iranian nationals. Following a number of clashes in April 1969, Iran abrogated the 1937 accord and demanded a renegotiation.

In mid-1973, the Shah returned the oil industry to national control. Following the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973, Iran did not join the Arab oil embargo against the West and Israel. Instead, it used the situation to raise oil prices, using the money gained for modernization and to increase defense spending.

A border dispute between Iraq and Iran was resolved with the signing of the Algiers Accord on March 6, 1975.

Revolution and the Islamic Republic (1979–present)[edit]

Ayatollah Khomeini returns to Iran after 14 years exile in France on 1 February 1979.

The Iranian Revolution, also known as the Islamic Revolution,[167] was the revolution that transformed Iran from an absolute monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, to an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, one of the leaders of the revolution and founder of the Islamic Republic.[10] Its time span can be said to have begun in January 1978 with the first major demonstrations,[168] and concluded with the approval of the new theocratic Constitution—whereby Ayatollah Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country—in December 1979.[169]

In between, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left the country for exile in January 1979 after strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country, and on February 1, 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran.[169] The final collapse of the Pahlavi dynasty occurred shortly after on February 11 when Iran’s military declared itself “neutral” after guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran officially became an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979, when Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum to make it so.[170]

Ideology of the 1979 Iranian Revolution[edit]

The ideology of revolutionary government was populist, nationalist and most of all Shi’a Islamic. Its unique constitution is based on the concept of velayat-e faqih the idea advanced by Khomeini that Muslims – in fact everyone – requires “guardianship”, in the form of rule or supervision by the leading Islamic jurist or jurists.[171]Khomeini served as this ruling jurist, or supreme leader, until his death in 1989.

Iran’s rapidly modernising, capitalist economy was replaced by populist and Islamic economic and cultural policies. Much industry was nationalized, laws and schools Islamicized, and Western influences banned.

The Islamic revolution also created great impact around the world. In the non-Muslim world it has changed the image of Islam, generating much interest in the politics and spirituality of Islam,[172] along with “fear and distrust towards Islam” and particularly the Islamic Republic and its founder.[173]

Khomeini Takes Power (1979–1989)[edit]

Khomeini served as leader of the revolution or as Supreme Leader of Iran from 1979 to his death on June 3, 1989. This era was dominated by the consolidation of the revolution into a theocratic republic under Khomeini, and by the costly and bloody war with Iraq.

The consolidation lasted until 1982–3,[174][175] as Iran coped with the damage to its economy, military, and apparatus of government, and protests and uprisings by secularists, leftists, and more traditional Muslims—formerly ally revolutionaries but now rivals—were effectively suppressed. Many political opponents were executed by the new regimes. Following the events of the revolution, Marxist guerrillas and federalist parties revolted in some regions comprising KhuzistanKurdistan and Gonbad-e Qabus, which resulted in severe fighting between rebels and revolutionary forces. These revolts began in April 1979 and lasted between several months to over a year, depending on the region. The Kurdish uprising, led by the KDPI, was the most violent, lasting until 1983 and resulting in 10,000 casualties.

In the summer of 1979 a new constitution giving Khomeini a powerful post as guardian jurist Supreme Leader[176] and a clerical Council of Guardians power over legislation and elections, was drawn up by an Assembly of Experts for Constitution. The new constitution was approved by referendum in December 1979.

Iran hostage crisis (1979–1981)[edit]

An early event in the history of the Islamic republic that had a long-term impact was the Iran hostage crisis. Following the admitting of the former Shah of Iran into the United States for cancer treatment, on November 4, 1979, Iranian students seized US embassy personnel, labeling the embassy a “den of spies.”[177] Fifty-two hostages were held for 444 days until January 1981.[178] An American military attempt to rescue the hostages failed.[179]

The takeover was enormously popular in Iran, where thousands gathered in support of the hostage takers, and it is thought to have strengthened the prestige of the Ayatollah Khomeini and consolidated the hold of anti-Americanism. It was at this time that Khomeini began referring to America as the “Great Satan.” In America, where it was considered a violation of the long-standing principle of international law that diplomats may be expelled but not held captive, it created a powerful anti-Iranian backlash. Relations between the two countries have remained deeply antagonistic and American international sanctions have hurt Iran’s economy.[180]

Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988)[edit]

An Iranian soldier with gas mask during the Iran–Iraq War

During this political and social crisis, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein attempted to take advantage of the disorder of the Revolution, the weakness of the Iranian military and the revolution’s antagonism with Western governments. The once-strong Iranian military had been disbanded during the revolution, and with the Shah ousted, Hussein had ambitions to position himself as the new strong man of the Middle East, and sought to expand Iraq’s access to the Persian Gulf by acquiring territories that Iraq had claimed earlier from Iran during the Shah’s rule.

Of chief importance to Iraq was Khuzestan which not only boasted a substantial Arab population, but rich oil fields as well. On the unilateral behalf of the United Arab Emirates, the islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs became objectives as well. With these ambitions in mind, Hussein planned a full-scale assault on Iran, boasting that his forces could reach the capital within three days. On September 22, 1980, the Iraqi army invaded Iran at Khuzestan, precipitating the Iran–Iraq War. The attack took revolutionary Iran completely by surprise.

Although Saddam Hussein’s forces made several early advances, Iranian forces had pushed the Iraqi army back into Iraq by 1982. Khomeini sought to export his Islamic revolution westward into Iraq, especially on the majority Shi’a Arabs living in the country. The war then continued for six more years until 1988, when Khomeini, in his words, “drank the cup of poison” and accepted a truce mediated by the United Nations.

Tens of thousands of Iranian civilians and military personnel were killed when Iraq used chemical weapons in its warfare. Iraq was financially backed by Egypt, the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact states, the United States (beginning in 1983), France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, and the People’s Republic of China (which also sold weapons to Iran).

There were more than 100,000 Iranian victims[181] of Iraq’s chemical weapons during the eight-year war. The total Iranian casualties of the war were estimated to be between 500,000 and 1,000,000. Almost all relevant international agencies have confirmed that Saddam engaged in chemical warfare to blunt Iranian human wave attacks; these agencies unanimously confirmed that Iran never used chemical weapons during the war.[182][183][184][185]

Starting on 19 July 1988 and lasting about five months the government systematically executed thousands of political prisoners across Iran. This is commonly referred to as the 1988 executions of Iranian political prisoners or the 1988 Iranian Massacre. The main target was the membership of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), although a lesser number of political prisoners from other leftist groups were also included such as the Tudeh Party of Iran (Communist Party).[186][187] Estimates of the number executed vary from 1,400[188] to 30,000.[189][190]

Rule under Khamenei (1989–present)[edit]

The first eight years (1989–1997)[edit]

On his deathbed in 1989, Khomeini appointed a 25-man Constitutional Reform Council which named then president Ali Khamenei as the next Supreme Leader, and made a number of changes to Iran’s constitution.[191] A smooth transition followed Khomeini’s death on June 3, 1989. While Khamenei lacked Khomeini’s “charisma and clerical standing”, he developed a network of supporters within Iran’s armed forces and its economically powerful religious foundations.[192] Under his reign Iran’s regime is said – by at least one observer – to resemble more “a clerical oligarchy … than an autocracy.”[192]

Succeeding Khamenei as president was pragmatic conservative Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who served two four-year terms and focused his efforts on rebuilding Iran’s economy and war-damaged infrastructure though low oil prices hampered this endeavor. He sought to restore confidence in the government among the general population by privatizing the companies that had been nationalized in the first few years of the Islamic Republic, as well as by bringing in qualified technocrats to manage the economy. The state of their economy also influenced the government to move towards ending their diplomatic isolation. This was achieved through the reestablishment of normalized relations with neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and an attempt to improve its reputation in the region with assertions that its revolution was not exportable to other states.[193] During the Persian Gulf War in 1991 the country remained neutral, restricting its action to the condemnation of the U.S. and allowing fleeing Iraqi aircraft and refugees into the country.

Iran in the 1990s had a greater secular behavior and admiration for Western popular culture than in the previous decades, it had become a way in which the urban population expressed their resentment at the invasive Islamic policies of the government.[194] The pressures from the population placed on the new Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led to an uneasy alliance between him and President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Through this alliance they attempted to hinder the ulama‘s ability to gain further control of the state. In 1989, they created a sequence of constitutional amendments that removed the office of prime minister and increased the scope of presidential power. However, these new amendments did not curtail the powers of the Supreme Leader of Iran in any way; this position still contained the ultimate authority over the armed forces, the making of war and peace, the final say in foreign policy, and the right to intervene in the legislative process whenever he deemed it necessary.[194]

Reforms and consequences (1997–2005)[edit]

Mohammad Khatamireformist President of Iran from 1997 to 2005

President Rafsanjani’s economic policies that led to greater relations with the outside world and his government’s relaxation on the enforcement certain regulations on social behavior were met with some responses of widespread disenchantment among the general population with the ulama as rulers of the country.[194] This led to the defeat of the government’s candidate for president in 1997, who had the backing of the supreme Islamic jurist. He was beaten by an independent candidate from the reformistMohammad Khatami. He received 69% of the vote and enjoyed particular support from two groups of the population that had felt ostracized by the practices of the state: women and youth. The younger generations in the country had been too young to experience the shah’s regime or the revolution that ended it, and now they resented the restrictions placed on their daily lives under the Islamic Republic. Mohammad Khatami’s presidency was soon marked by tensions between the reform-minded government and an increasingly conservative and vocal clergy. This rift reached a climax in July 1999 when massive anti-government protests erupted in the streets of Tehran. The disturbances lasted over a week before police and pro-government vigilantes dispersed the crowds.

Khatami was re-elected in June 2001 but his efforts were repeatedly blocked by the conservatives in the parliament. Conservative elements within Iran’s government moved to undermine the reformist movement, banning liberal newspapers and disqualifying candidates for parliamentary elections. This clampdown on dissent, combined with the failure of Khatami to reform the government, led to growing political apathy among Iran’s youth.

In June 2003, anti-government protests by several thousand students took place in Tehran.[195][196] Several human rights protests also occurred in 2006.

2005 presidential election and consequences (2005–2009)[edit]

In 2005 Iranian presidential electionMahmoud Ahmadinejad, mayor of Tehran, became the sixth president of Iran, after winning 62 percent of the vote in the run-off poll, against former president Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.[197] During the authorization ceremony he kissed Khamenei’s hand in demonstration of his loyalty to him.[198][199]

During this time, the American invasion of Iraq, overthrow of Saddam Hussein‘s regime and empowerment of its Shi’a majority, all strengthened Iran’s position in the region particularly in the mainly Shi’a south of Iraq, where a top Shia leader in the week of September 3, 2006 renewed demands for an autonomous Shi’a region.[200] At least one commentator (Former U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen) has stated that as of 2009 Iran’s growing power has eclipsed anti-Zionism as the major foreign policy issue in the Middle East.[201]

During 2005 and 2006, there were claims that the United States and Israel were planning to attack Iran, with the most cited reason being Iran’s civilian nuclear energy program which the United States and some other states fear could lead to a nuclear weapons program. China and Russia opposed military action of any sort and opposed economic sanctions. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a fatwaforbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons. The fatwa was cited in an official statement by the Iranian government at an August 2005 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) in Vienna.[202][203]

In 2009, Ahmadinejad’s reelection was hotly disputed and marred by large protests that formed the “greatest domestic challenge” to the leadership of the Islamic Republic “in 30 years”. The resulting social unrest is widely known as the Iranian Green Movement.[204] Reformist opponent Mir-Hossein Mousavi and his supporters alleged voting irregularities and by 1 July 2009, 1000 people had been arrested and 20 killed in street demonstrations.[205] Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and other Islamic officials blamed foreign powers for fomenting the protest.[206]

2013 presidential election and improving US–Iran relations (2013–present)[edit]

On 15 June 2013, Hassan Rouhani won the presidential election in Iran, with a total number of 36,704,156 ballots cast; Rouhani won 18,613,329 votes. In his press conference one day after election day, Rouhani reiterated his promise to recalibrate Iran’s relations with the world.

On April 2, 2015, following eight days of tortuous discussions in Switzerland, which lasted through the night to Thursday, Iran and six world powers (United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia plus Germany) agreed on the outlines of an understanding to limit Iran’s nuclear programs, negotiators indicated, as both sides prepared for announcements. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zariftweeted: “Found solutions. Ready to start drafting immediately.” European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini tweeted that she would meet the press with Zarif after a final meeting of the seven nations in the nuclear talks. She wrote: “Good news.”

Reading out a joint statement, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini hailed what she called a “decisive step” after more than a decade of work. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif followed with the same statement in PersianU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the top diplomats of Britain, France and Germany also briefly took the stage behind them. The deal is intended to be a provisional framework for a comprehensive agreement and was signed in 2015, and marked a significant breakthrough in the 12-year history of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme.

When Donald Trump was campaigning to become President of the US, he repeatedly said he would abandon the Iran nuclear deal. After he was appointed president, the USA announced to withdraw from the agreement on the 8th of May 2018.

See also[edit]


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Economy of Iran

Economy of Iran

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Economy of Iran
North Tehran Towers.jpg

Currency toman (superunit) = 10 Iranian rial(IRR) (Rialsymbol.svg);
note: Iran devalued its currency in July 2013
March 21–20
Trade organizations
ECOOPECGECFWTO (observer) and others
GDP Increase $1.636 trillion (2018, PPP),[2]
$ 460 billion (2018, Nominal)[3]
GDP rank 25th (nominal) / 18th (PPP)
GDP growth
−1.8% (2015), 6.4% (2016e),
4.0% (2017f), 4.1% (2018f)[4]
GDP per capita
$19,050 (2017, PPP),
$5,383 (2017, Nominal)[3][2]
GDP per capita rank
96th (nominal); 66th (PPP)
GDP by sector
Agriculture: 9.8%
Industry: 35.9%
Services: 54.3%
(2017 est.)[3]
GDP by component
Household consumption: 50.2%
Government consumption: 13.3%
Investment in fixed capital: 21.3%
Investment in inventories: 14.1%
Exports of goods and services: 22.5%
Imports of goods and services: −21.3% (2017 est.)[3]
Negative increase 10.5% (2017 est.)
Positive decrease 9% (2016 est.)[3]
14.2% (31 December 2015 est.)
Population below poverty line
0.1% living below $1.9/day (2015)[5]

8.1% living below $5.5/day (2013)[6]

Negative increase 0.37 (FY 2015)[7] (List of countries)
Labor force
30.5 million (2017 est.)
Unemployment Positive decrease 12.4% (2017 est.) [3]
Urban households:
IRR 17 million, monthly (FY 2013)[8]
Rural households:
IRR 10 million, monthly (FY 2013)[8]
Main industries
petroleumpetrochemicalsfertilizerscaustic sodacar manufacture, parts, pharmaceuticalshome applianceselectronicstelecomenergypowertextilesconstructioncement and other construction materialsfood processing(particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), ferrous and non-ferrous metal fabricationarmaments
Negative increase 120th (2017)[9]
Exports Decrease $91.99 billion (2017 est.)[3]
Increase $97.39 billion (2016)[10]
Export goods
petroleum (80%), chemical and petrochemical productsautomobilesfruits and nutscarpets
Main export partners
 China 30.1%
 India 16.7%
 South Korea 9.7%
 Turkey 9.5%
 Japan 6.8% (2016)[3]
Imports Negative increase $70.53 billion (2017 est.),
Negative increase $62.12 billion(2016 est)[3]
Import goods
industrial raw materials and intermediate goods (46%), capital goods (35%), foodstuffs and other consumer goods (19%), technical services
Main import partners
 United Arab Emirates 27.4%
 China 13.2%
 Turkey 7.8%
 South Korea 4.3%
 Germany 4% (2016)[3]
FDI stock
Home: Increase $46.1 billion (31 December 2016 est.) (58th; 2015)
Abroad:Increase $4.656 billion (31 December 2016 est.) (67th; 2012)
Negative increase $7.116 billion (2016 est.)
Positive decrease $5.348 billion (2015 est.)[3]
Public finances
Negative increase 14.2% of GDP (2017 est.)
13.4% of GDP (2016 est.)[3]
note: Public debt is 40% of GDP when including government arrears to the private sector and publicly guaranteed debt[11]
Revenues $61.95 billion (on exchange rate basis, not PPP)[3]
Expenses $68.72 billion (2015 est.) (on exchange rate basis)[3]
Economist Intelligence Unit:
CCC (Sovereign risk)
CCC (Currency risk)
CC (Bank sector risk)
CC (Political risk)
B (Economic structure risk)
CC (Country risk)
(February 2014)[12]
Foreign reserves
$135.5 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$110 billion (31 December 2015 est.)[3]
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.

The economy of Iran is a mixed and transition economy with a large public sector. Some 60 percent of the economy is centrally planned.[13][14] It is dominated by oil and gas production, although over 40 industries are directly involved in the Tehran Stock Exchange, one of the best performing exchanges in the world over the past decade.[15][16] With 10 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and 15 percent of its gas reservesIran is considered an “energy superpower“.[17][18][19][20] Iran has fifth highest total estimated value of natural resources, valued at US$27.3 trillion in 2016.[21]

It is the world’s eighteenth largest by purchasing power parity (PPP) and twenty-seventh by nominal gross domestic product. The country is a member of Next Eleven because of its high development potential.[16][22][23][24] A unique feature of Iran’s economy is the presence of large religious foundations called Bonyad, whose combined budgets represent more than 30 percent of central government spending.[25]

Price controls and subsidies, particularly on food and energy,[26][27] burden the economy. Contraband, administrative controls, widespread corruption,[28][29]and other restrictive factors undermine private sector-led growth.[30] The legislature in late 2009 passed the subsidy reform plan. This is the most extensive economic reform since the government implemented gasoline rationing in 2007.[30]

Most of the country’s exports are oil and gas, accounting for a majority of government revenue in 2010.[31] In 2012, oil exports contributed to about 80% of Iranian public revenue,[32] Oil export revenues enabled Iran to amass well over $135 billion in foreign exchange reserves as of December 2016.[33][34] Iran ranked first in scientific growth in the world in 2011 and has one of the fastest rates of development in telecommunication globally.[35][36]

Due to its relative isolation from global financial markets, Iran was initially able to avoid recession in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis.[37]However, following expansion of international sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program, the Iranian rial fell to a record low of 23,900 to the US dollar in September 2012.[38][39][40][41]

Exports aided self-sufficiency and domestic investment.[42] Iran’s educated populationhigh human development, constrained economy and insufficient foreign and domestic investment prompted an increasing number of Iranians to seek overseas employment, resulting in a significant “brain drain“. However, in 2015, Iran and the P5+1 reached a deal on the nuclear program which will remove sanctions. After removal of most sanctions in 2016, inflation decreased and unemployment was reduced. Iranian tourism industry was significantly improved.[43][30][44][45][46]


Persian Achaemenidgold coin (circa 490 BC)

In 546 BC, Croesus of Lydia was defeated and captured by the Persians, who then adopted gold as the main metal for their coins.[47][48] There are accounts in the biblical Book of Esther of dispatches being sent from Susa to provinces as far out as India and the Kingdom of Kush during the reign of Xerxes the Great (485–465 BC). By the time of Herodotus (c. 475 BC), the Royal Road of the Persian Empire ran some 2,857 km from the city of Susa on the Karun (250 km east of the Tigris) to the port of Smyrna (modern İzmir in Turkey) on the Aegean Sea.

Modern agriculture in Iran dates back to the 1820s, when Amir Kabir undertook a number of changes to the traditional agricultural system. Such changes included importing modified seeds and signing collaboration contracts with other countries. Polyakov’s Bank Esteqrazi was bought in 1898 by the Tzarist government of Russia, and later passed into the hands of the Iranian government by a contract in 1920.[49] The bank continued its activities under the name of Bank Iran until 1933 when incorporating the newly founded Keshavarzi Bank.[49][50]

The Imperial Bank of Persia was established in 1885, with offices in all major cities of Persia.[49] Reza Shah Pahlavi (r. 1925–41) improved the country’s overall infrastructure, implemented educational reform, campaigned against foreign influence, reformed the legal system, and introduced modern industries. During this time, Iran experienced a period of social change, economic development, and relative political stability.[50]

Reza Shah Pahlavi, who abdicated in 1941, was succeeded by his son, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (r. 1941–79). No fundamental change occurred in the economy of Iran during World War II (1939–45) and the years immediately following. However, between 1954 and 1960 a rapid increase in oil revenues and sustained foreign aid led to greater investment and fast-paced economic growth, primarily in the government sector. Subsequently, inflation increased, the value of the national currency (the rial) depreciated, and a foreign-trade deficit developed. Economic policies implemented to combat these problems led to declines in the rates of nominal economic growth and per capita income by 1961.[50]

Prior to 1979, Iran developed rapidly. Traditionally agricultural, by the 1970s, the country had undergone significant industrialization and modernization.[51][52] The pace slowed by 1978 as capital flight reached $30 to $40 billion 1980-US dollars just before the revolution.[53]

Following the nationalizations in 1979 and the outbreak of the Iran–Iraq War, over 80% of the economy came under government control.[25] The eight-year war with Iraq claimed at least 300,000 Iranian lives and injured more than 500,000. The cost of the war to the country’s economy was some $500 billion.[54][55]

After hostilities ceased in 1988, the government tried to develop the country’s communicationtransportation, manufacturing, health careeducation and energy sectors (including its prospective nuclear power facilities), and began integrating its communication and transportation systems with those of neighboring states.[56]

The government‘s long-term objectives since the revolution were stated as economic independencefull employment, and a comfortable standard of living but Iran’s population more than doubled between 1980 and 2000 and its median age declined.[57] Although many Iranians are farmers, agricultural production has consistently fallen since the 1960s. By the late 1990s, Iran imported much of its food. At that time, economic hardship in the countryside resulted in many people moving to cities.[53]

Macroeconomic trends[edit]

More than two-thirds of the population (74 million people) are under the age of 30. Net primary school enrollment is almost 100%, suggesting a secondary “demographic boom”.[58][59][60]

Iran’s national science budget in 2005 was about $900 million, roughly equivalent to the 1990 figure.[61] By early 2000, Iran allocated around 0.4% of its GDP to research and development, ranking the country behind the world average of 1.4%.[62] In 2009 the ratio of research to GDP was 0.87% against the government’s medium-term target of 2.5%.[63] Iran ranked first in scientific growth in the world in 2011 and 17th in science production in 2012.[35][64]

Iran has a broad and diversified industrial base.[65] According to The Economist, Iran ranked 39th in a list of industrialized nations, producing $23 billion of industrial products in 2008.[66] Between 2008 and 2009 Iran moved to 28th from 69th place in annual industrial production growth because of its relative isolation from the 2008 international financial crisis.[67]

In the early 21st century, the service sector was the country’s largest, followed by industry (mining and manufacturing) and agriculture. In 2008 GDP was estimated at $382.3 billion ($842 billion PPP), or $5,470 per capita ($12,800 PPP).[30]

Nominal GDP is projected to double in the next five years.[68] However, real GDP growth is expected to average 2.2% a year in 2012–16, insufficient to reduce the unemployment rate.[69] Furthermore, international sanctions have damaged the economy by reducing oil exports by half before recovering in 2016.[70][71] The Iranian rial lost more than half of its value in 2012, directing Iran at an import substitution industrialization and a resistive economy.[70][72][73] According to the International Monetary Fund, Iran is a “transition economy“, i.e., changing from a planned to a market economy.[74]

The United Nations classifies Iran’s economy as semi-developed.[75] In 2014, Iran ranked 83rd in the World Economic Forum‘s analysis of the global competitiveness of 144 countries.[76][77][78] Political, policy and currency stability are regarded as the most problematic factors in doing business in Iran. Difficulty in accessing financing is also a major concern, specially for small and medium enterprises. Most of Iran’s financial resources are directed at trading, smuggling and speculation instead of production and manufacturing.[79][80] According to Goldman Sachs, Iran has the potential to become one of the world’s largest economies in the 21st century.[81][82] Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated, in 2014, that the country has the potential to become one of the ten largest economies within the next 30 years.[83]


  •   GDP, PPP, million (current international $)
  •   GDP per capita, PPP (current international $)

Changes in population of Iran

(Source: IMF)[84]
GDP, current prices
(billions IRR)
Implied PPP
conversion rate
GDP per capita, PPP
(current international dollar)
Inflation index
(average CPI)
Current account balance
(billions US dollars)
(million persons)
1980 6,622 40 4,267 0.5 -3.6 38
1985 16,556 53 6,469 0.9 -0.9 48
1990 35,315 101 6,410 2.5 -2.7 55
1995 185,928 399 7,265 9 3.4 64
2000 580,473 940 9,666 21 12.5 64
2005 1,831,739 2,025 13,036 40 15.4 69
2010 4,333,088 3,498 16,664 82 27.3 74
2015 (est.) 13,077,142 9,788 16,918 253 6.9 79

Economic reform plan[edit]

Expansion of public healthcare and international relations are the other main objectives of the fifth plan, an ambitious series of measures that include subsidy reformbanking recapitalizationcurrencytaxationcustomsconstruction, employment, nationwide goods and services distribution, social justice and productivity.[85] The intent is to make the country self-sufficient by 2015 and replace the payment of $100 billion in subsidies annually with targeted social assistance.[86][87][88][89] These reforms target the country’s major sources of inefficiency and price distortion and are likely to lead to major restructuring of almost all economic sectors.[87] As such, by removing energy subsidies, Iran intends to make its industries more efficient and competitive.[90] By 2016, one third of Iran’s economic growth is expected to originate from productivity improvement. Energy subsidies left the country one of the world’s least energy-efficient, with energy intensity three times the global average and 2.5 times higher than the Middle Eastern average.[91] The banking sector is seen as a potential hedge against the removal of subsidies, as the plan is not expected to directly impact banks.[92]

National economic planning[edit]

Following annual approval of the government’s budget by Majlis, the central bank presents a detailed monetary and credit policy to the Money and Credit Council (MCC) for approval. Thereafter, major elements of these policies are incorporated into the five-year economic development plan.[50] The fifth development plan, for 2010–15, is designed to delegate power to the people and develop a knowledge economy.[93]The plan is part of “Vision 2025”, a strategy for long-term sustainable growth.[94]

The sixth five-year development plan for the 2016–2021 period only defined three priorities:

  • the development of a resilient economy,
  • progress in science and technology,
  • and the promotion of cultural excellence.[95]
Fifth Economic Development Plan (2010–15)
Item 2010 (achieved) 2010–15 (target)
GDP world ranking 18th largest economy by PPP[96] 12th in 2015;[97] Goldman Sachs estimate: 12th by 2025[98]
Annual growth rate 2.6% 8% on average (based on $1.1 trillion domestic and FDI);[99][100] BMI forecast: 3.6% on average (2009–14)[101]
Unemployment 11.8% according to government; unofficially: 12–22%;[102] 30% according to opposition[103] 7% by 2015, by creating 1 million new jobs each year[99]
Inflation rate 15% (as of January 2010) 12% on average[99]
Value Added Tax 3% 8%[104]
Privatization N/A 20% of state-owned firms to be privatized each year[105]
Share of cooperative sector (% GDP) < 5%[106] 25%[107]
R&D (% GDP) 0.87% 2.5%[63]
Share of non-oil exports 20% 30% ($83 billion) by 2016[99][104][108]
Oil price & revenues in budget $60 per barrel $65 per barrel on average[99] / $250 billion in oil and gas revenues[109] in 2015 once the current projects come on stream; International Monetary Fund projections: ~$60 billion only[110]
National Development Fund N/A 30% of oil revenues to be allocated to the National Development Fund by 2015[111]
Oil production 4.1 million bpd 5.2 million bpd (with some 2,500 oil and gas wells to be drilled and commissioned)[112][113]
Natural gas production N/A 900 million cubic meter/day[114]
R&D projects in oil industry N/A Implementation of 380 research projects by 2015 covering the enhancement of the recovery rate, gas conversion and hydro conversion[115]
Investment in oil and gas industry N/A $20 billion a year in private and foreign investment, in part to boost oil refining capacity[99][116]
Petrochemical output ~50 million tpy 100 million tpy[117][118]
Bunkering 25% market share in Persian Gulf 50% market share or 7.5 million  tpy of liquid fuel[119]
Oil products storage capacity 11.5 billion liters 16.7 billion liters[120]
Natural gas storage capacity N/A 14 billion cubic meters[121]
Electricity generation capacity 61,000 MW 86,000 MW[122]
Efficiency of power plants 38% 45% [123]
Investment in mining and industry N/A $70 billion/700,000 billion rials[124]
Crude steel production ~10 million tpy 42 million tpy by 2015[124]
Iron ore production ~27 million tpy 66 million tpy by 2015[124]
Cement ~71 million tpy 110 million tpy[124]
Limestone N/A 166 million tpy[124]
Industrial parks N/A 50 new industrial parks to be built by 2015[125]
Ports capacity 150 million tons 200 million tons[126]
Railways 10,000 kilometers[127] 15,000 kilometers by 2015 at a cost of $8 billion per annum[87]
Transit 7 million tons 40 million tons of goods[128][129]
Electronic trade N/A 20% of domestic trade, 30% of foreign trade and 80% of government transactions to be made electronically[130]

Fiscal and monetary policy[edit]

Since the 1979 revolution, government spending has averaged 59% on social policies, 17% on economic matters, 15% on national defense, and 13% on general affairs.[50] Payments averaged 39% on educationhealth and social security, 20% on other social programs, 3% on agriculture, 16% on waterpower and gas, 5% on manufacturing and mining, 12% on roads and transportation and 5% on other economic affairs.[50] Iran’s investment reached 27.7% of GDP in 2009.[30] Between 2002 and 2006, inflation fluctuated around 14%.[42] In 2008, around 55% of government revenue came from oil and natural gas revenue, with 31% from taxes and fees.[131][132] There are virtually millions of people who do not pay taxes in Iran and hence operate outside the formal economy.[30] The budget for year 2012 was $462 billion, 9% less than 2011.[133] The budget is based on an oil price of $85 per barrel. The value of the US dollar is estimated at IRR 12,260 for the same period.[133] According to the head of the Department of Statistics of Iran, if the rules of budgeting were observed the government could save at least 30 to 35% on its expenses.[134] The central bank’s interest rate is 21%, and the inflation rate has climbed to 22% in 2012, 10% higher than in 2011.[135] There is little alignment between fiscal and monetary policy. According to the Central Bank of Iran, the gap between the rich and the poor narrowed because of monthly subsidies but the trend could reverse if high inflation persists.[136]

Iran had an estimated $110 billion in foreign reserves in 2011[137] and balances its external payments by pricing oil at approximately $75 per barrel.[138] As of 2013, only $30 to $50 billion of those reserves are accessible because of current sanctions.[139] Iranian media has questioned the reason behind Iran’s government non-repatriation of its foreign reserves before the imposition of the latest round of sanctions and its failure to convert into gold. As a consequence, the Iranian rial lost more than 40% of its value between December 2011 and April 2012.[136] Iran’s external and fiscal accounts reflect falling oil prices in 2012–13, but remain in surplus. The current account was expected to reach a surplus of 2.1% of GDP in 2012–13, and the net fiscal balance (after payments to Iran’s National Development Fund) will register a surplus of 0.3% of GDP.[69] In 2013 the external debts stood at $7.2 billion down from $17.3 billion in 2012.[140] Overall fiscal deficit is expected to deteriorate to 2.7% of GDP in FY 2016 from 1.7% in 2015.[11]


Following the hostilities with Iraq, the Government declared its intention to privatize most industries and to liberalize and decentralize the economy.[144] Sale of state-owned companies proceeded slowly, mainly due to opposition by a nationalist majority in the parliament. In 2006, most industries, some 70% of the economy, remained state-owned.[30] The majority of heavy industries including steel, petrochemicals, copper, automobiles, and machine tools remained in the public sector, with most light industry privately owned.[30]

Article 44 of the Iranian Constitution declares that the country’s economy should consist of state, cooperative, and private sectors based. The state sector includes all large-scale industries, foreign trade, major minerals, banking, insurance, power generation, dams and large-scale irrigation networks, radio and television, post, telegraph and telephone services, aviation, shipping, roads, railroads and the like. These are publicly owned and administered by the State. Cooperative companies and enterprises concerned with production and distribution in urban and rural areas form the basis of the cooperative sector and operated in accordance with Shariah law. As of 2012, 5,923 consumer cooperatives, employed 128,396.[145] Consumer cooperatives have over six million members.[145] Private sector operate in construction, agriculture, animal husbandry, industry, trade, and services that supplement the economic activities of the state and cooperative sectors.[146]

Since Article 44 has never been strictly enforced, the private sector has played a much larger role than that outlined in the constitution.[147] In recent years, the role of this sector has increased. A 2004 constitutional amendment allows 80% of state assets to be privatized. Forty percent of such sales are to be conducted through the “Justice Shares” scheme and the rest through the Tehran Stock Exchange. The government would retain the remaining 20%.[148][149] In 2005, government assets were estimated at around $120 billion. Some $63 billion of such assets were privatized from 2005 to 2010, reducing the government’s direct share of GDP from 80% to 40%.[13] Many companies in Iran remain uncompetitive because of mismanagement over the years, thus making privatization less attractive for potential investors.[150] According to then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 60% of Iran’s wealth is controlled by just 300 people.[151]

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps[edit]

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are thought to control about one third of Iran’s economy through subsidiaries and trusts.[152][153][154] Estimates by the Los Angeles Times suggest IRGC has ties to over one hundred companies and annual revenue in excess of $12 billion, particularly in construction.[155] The Ministry of Petroleum awarded IRGC billions of dollars in no-bid contracts as well as major infrastructure projects.[156] Tasked with border control, IRGC maintains a monopoly on smuggling, costing Iranian companies billions of dollars each year.[152] Smuggling is encouraged in part by the generous subsidization of domestic goods (including fuel). IRGC also runs the telecommunication company, laser eye-surgery clinics, makes cars, builds bridges and roads and develops oil and gas fields.[157]

Religious foundations[edit]

Welfare programs for the needy are managed by more than 30 public agencies alongside semi-state organizations known as bonyads, together with several private non-governmental organizations. Bonyadsare a consortium of over 120 tax-exempt organizations that receive subsidies and religious donations. They answer directly to the Supreme Leader of Iran and control over 20% of GDP.[152][158] Operating everything from vast soybean and cotton farms to hotels, soft drink, automobile manufacturing, and shipping lines, they are seen as overstaffed, corrupt and generally unprofitable.[159] Bonyad companies also compete with Iran’s unprotected private sector, whose firms complain of the difficulty of competing with the subsidized bonyads.[159] Bonyads are not subject to audit or Iran’s accounting laws.[160] Setad is a multi-sector business organization, with holdings of 37 companies, and an estimated value of $95 billion. It is under the control of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, and created from thousands of propertiesconfiscated from Iranians.[161]

Labor force[edit]

Employment by sectors (2003)[63]
sector persons
Social, personal and household services & Public service
Mining & Manufacturing
Trade, restaurant & hotel
Construction & Real estate services
Transportation, warehousing & Telecommunications
Financial & monetary institutions services
Oil & gas
Labor force: 18,364,211 (total)
note: Lack of skilled labor[162]

After the revolution, the government established a national education system that improved adult literacy rates: as of 2008 85% of the adult population was literate, well ahead of the regional average of 62%.[163][164] The Human Development Index was 0.749 in 2013, placing Iran in the “high human development” bracket.[46]

Annual economic growth of above 5% is necessary to absorb the 750,000 new labor force entrants each year.[165] Agriculture contributes just 10% to GDP and employs one sixth of the labor force.[3] As of 2017 the industrial sector, which includes mining, manufacturing, and construction, contributed 36% of GDP and employed 35% of the labor force.[3] Mineral products, notably petroleum, account for 80% of Iran’s export revenues, even though mining employs less than 1% of the labor force.[63] In 2004 the service sector ranked as the largest contributor to GDP (48%) and employed 44% of workers.[30] Women made up 33% of the labor force in 2005.[166] Youth unemployment (aged 15–24) was 29.1% in 2012, resulting in significant brain drain.[30][167] According to the government, some 40% of the workforce in the public sector are either in excess or incompetent.[168]

Personal income and poverty[edit]

Unemployment rate, per-capita income growth and minimum wage (2000–2009)

GNI per capita:

  Iran in 2010: $4,520 nominal; (2012: $13,000 PPP)[169]
  Higher GNI per capita compared to Iran
  Lower GNI per capita compared to Iran

Iran is classed as a middle income country and has made significant progress in provision of health and education services in the period covered by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In 2010, Iran’s average monthly income was about $500 (GNI per capita in 2012: $13,000 by PPP).[30][169][170][171] A minimum national wage applies to each sector of activity as defined by the Supreme Labor Council. In 2009 this was about $263 per month ($3,156 per year).[172] The World Bank reported that in 2001, approximately 20% of household consumption was spent on food, 32% on fuel, 12% on health care and 8% on education.[173] Iranians have little debt.[174] Seventy percent of Iranians own their homes.[175]

After the Revolution, the composition of the middle class in Iran did not change significantly, but its size doubled from about 15% of the population in 1979 to more than 32% in 2000.[176] The official poverty line in Tehran for the year ending March 20, 2008, was $9,612, while the national average poverty line was $4,932.[177] In 2010, Iran’s Department of Statistics announced that 10 million Iranians live under the absolute poverty line and 30 million live under the relative poverty line.[178]

Social security[edit]

Although Iran does not offer universal social protection, in 1996, the Iranian Center for Statistics estimated that more than 73% of the Iranian population was covered by social security.[179] Membership of the social security system for all employees is compulsory.[180]

Social security ensures employee protection against unemployment, disease, old age and occupational accidents.[181] In 2003, the government began to consolidate its welfare organizations to eliminate redundancy and inefficiency. In 2003 the minimum standard pension was 50% of the worker’s earnings but no less than the minimum wage.[181] Iran spent 22.5% of its 2003 national budget on social welfare programs of which more than 50% covered pension costs.[182] Out of the 15,000 homeless in Iran in 2015, 5,000 were women.[183]

Employees between the age of 18 and 65 years are covered by the social security system with financing shared between the employee (7% of salary), the employer (20–23%) and the state, which in turn supplements the employer contribution up to 3%.[184] Social security applies to self-employed workers, who voluntarily contribute between 12% and 18% of income depending on the protection sought.[181] Civil servants, the regular military, law enforcement agencies, and IRGC have their own pension systems.[185]

Trade unions[edit]

Although Iranian workers have a theoretical right to form labor unions, there is no union system in the country. Ostensible worker representation is provided by the Workers’ House, a state-sponsored institution that attempts to challenge some state policies.[186] Guild unions operate locally in most areas, but are limited largely to issuing credentials and licenses. The right to strike is generally not respected by the state. Since 1979 strikes have often been met by police action.[187]

A comprehensive law covers labor relations, including hiring of foreign workers. This provides a broad and inclusive definition of the individuals it covers, recognizing written, oral, temporary and indefinite employment contracts. Considered employee-friendly, the labor law makes it difficult to lay off staff. Employing personnel on consecutive six-month contracts (to avoid paying benefits) is illegal, as is dismissing staff without proof of a serious offense. Labor disputes are settled by a special labor council, which usually rules in favor of the employee.[180]

Sectors of the economy[edit]

Agriculture and foodstuffs[edit]

Wheat, the most important crop, is grown mainly in the west and northwest whilst rice is the major crop in the Caspian region.

Agriculture contributes just 10% to the gross national product and employs a sixth of the labor force.[3] About 9% of Iran’s land is arable,[188] with the main food-producing areas located in the Caspian region and in northwestern valleys. Some northern and western areas support rain-fed agriculture, while others require irrigation.[189] Primitive farming methods, overworked and under-fertilized soil, poor seed and water scarcity are the principal obstacles to increased production. About one third of total cultivated land is irrigated. Construction of multipurpose dams and reservoirs along rivers in the Zagros and Alborz mountains have increased the amount of water available for irrigation. Agricultural production is increasing as a result of modernization, mechanization, improvements to crops and livestock as well as land redistribution programs.[190]

Wheat, the most important crop, is grown mainly in the west and northwest. Rice is the major crop in the Caspian region. Other crops include barley, corn, cotton, sugar beets, tea, hemp, tobacco, fruits, potatoes, legumes (beans and lentils), vegetables, fodder plants (alfalfa and clover), almonds, walnuts and spices including cumin and sumac. Iran is the world’s largest producer of saffronpistachios, honey, berberis and berries and the second largest date producer.[191] Meat and dairy products include lamb, goat meat, beef, poultry, milk, eggs, butter, and cheese.

Non-food products include wool, leather, and silk. Forestry products from the northern slopes of the Alborz Mountains are economically important. Tree-cutting is strictly controlled by the government, which also runs a reforestation program. Rivers drain into the Caspian Sea and are fished for salmon, carp, trout, pike, and sturgeon that produce caviar, of which Iran is the largest producer.[190][192]

Since the 1979 revolution, commercial farming has replaced subsistence farming as the dominant mode of agricultural production. By 1997, the gross value reached $25 billion.[63] Iran is 90% self-sufficient in essential agricultural products, although limited rice production leads to substantial imports. In 2007 Iran reached self-sufficiency in wheat production and for the first time became a net wheat exporter.[193] By 2003, a quarter of Iran’s non-oil exports were of agricultural products,[194] including fresh and dried fruits, nuts, animal hides, processed foods, and spices.[63] Iran exported $736 million worth of foodstuffs in 2007 and $1 billion (~600,000 tonnes) in 2010.[195]A total of 12,198 entities are engaged in the Iranian food industry, or 12% of all entities in the industry sector. The sector also employs approximately 328,000 people or 16.1% of the entire industry sector’s workforce.[196]


Iran has a diversified and broad industrial base. In 1998, the United Nations classified Iran’s economy as “semi-developed”.

Large-scale factory manufacturing began in the 1920s. During the Iran–Iraq War, Iraq bombed many of Iran’s petrochemical plants, damaging the large oil refinery at Abadan bringing production to a halt. Reconstruction began in 1988 and production resumed in 1993. In spite of the war, many small factories sprang up to produce import-substitution goods and materials needed by the military.[197]

Iran’s major manufactured products are petrochemicals, steel and copper products. Other important manufactures include automobiles, home and electric appliances, telecommunications equipment, cement and industrial machinery. Iran operates the largest operational population of industrial robots in West Asia.[198] Other products include paper, rubber products, processed foods, leather products and pharmaceuticals. In 2000, textile mills, using domestic cotton and wool such as Tehran Patou and Iran Termeh employed around 400,000 people around Tehran, Isfahan and along the Caspian coast.[199][200]

A 2003 report by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization regarding small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)[162] identified the following impediments to industrial development:

Despite these problems, Iran has progressed in various scientific and technological fields, including petrochemicalpharmaceuticalaerospacedefense, and heavy industry. Even in the face of economic sanctions, Iran is emerging as an industrialized country.[201]


A sample of Tabriz rugs

Iran has a long tradition of producing artisanal goods including Persian carpetsceramics, copperware, brassware, glass, leather goods, textiles and wooden artifacts. The country’s carpet-weaving tradition dates from pre-Islamic times and remains an important industry contributing substantial amounts to rural incomes. An estimated 1.2 million weavers in Iran produce carpets for domestic and international export markets.[202] More than $500 million worth of hand-woven carpets are exported each year, accounting for 30% of the 2008 world market.[203][204] Around 5.2 million people work in some 250 handicraft fields and contribute 3% of GDP.[205]

Automobile manufacturing[edit]

Iran Khodro is the largest car manufacturer in the Middle-East. It has established joint-ventures with foreign partners on 4 continents.

As of 2001, 13 public and privately owned automakers within Iran, led by Iran Khodro and Saipa that accounted for 94% of domestic production. Iran Khodro’s Paykan, replaced by the Samand in 2005, is the predominant brand. With 61% of the 2001 market, Khodro was the largest player, whilst Saipa contributed 33% that year. Other car manufacturers, such as the Bahman Group, Kerman Motors, Kish Khodro, Raniran, Traktorsazi, Shahab Khodro and others accounted for the remaining 6%.[206] These automakers produce a wide range of vehicles including motorbikes, passenger cars such as Saipa’s Tiba, vans, mini trucks, medium-sized trucks, heavy trucks, minibuses, large buses and other heavy automobiles used for commercial and private activities in the country. In 2009 Iran ranked fifth in car production growth after China, Taiwan, Romania and India.[207] Iran was the world’s 12th biggest automaker in 2010 and operates a fleet of 11.5 million cars.[208][209][210][211] Iran produced 1,395,421 cars in 2010, including 35,901 commercial vehicles.[212]

Defense industry[edit]

In 2007 the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated Iran’s defense budget at $7.31 billion, equivalent to 2.6% of GDP or $102 per capita, ranking it 25th internationally. The country’s defense industry manufactures many types of arms and equipment. Since 1992, Iran’s Defense Industries Organization (DIO) has produced its own tanks, armored personnel carriers, guided missiles, radar systems, a guided missile destroyer, military vessels, submarines and a fighter plane.[213] In 2006 Iran exported weapons to 57 countries, including NATO members, and exports reached $100 million.[214][215][216] It is also developing a sophisticated mobile air defense system dubbed as Bavar 373.[217]

Construction and real estate[edit]

Until the early 1950s construction remained in the hands of small domestic companies. Increased income from oil and gas and easy credit triggered a building boom that attracted international construction firms to the country. This growth continued until the mid-1970s when a sharp rise in inflation and a credit squeeze collapsed the boom. The construction industry had revived somewhat by the mid-1980s, although housing shortages and speculation remained serious problems, especially in large urban centers. As of January 2011, the banking sector, particularly Bank Maskan, had loaned up to 102 trillion rials ($10.2 billion) to applicants of Mehr housing scheme.[218] Construction is one of the most important sectors accounting for 20–50% of total private investment in urban areas and was one of the prime investment targets of well-off Iranians.[182]

Annual turnover amounted to $38.4 billion in 2005 and $32.8 billion in 2011.[219][220] Because of poor construction quality, many buildings need seismic reinforcement or renovation.[221] Iran has a large dam building industry.[222]

Mines and metals[edit]

Mobarakeh in Esfahan is Iran’s largest steel mill listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange.[223]

Mineral production contributed 0.6% of the country’s GDP in 2011,[224] a figure that increases to 4% when mining-related industries are included. Gating factors include poor infrastructure, legal barriers, exploration difficulties, and government control over all resources.[225] Iran is ranked among the world’s 15 major mineral-rich countries.[226]

Although the petroleum industry provides the majority of revenue, about 75% of all mining sector employees work in mines producing minerals other than oil and natural gas.[63] These include coal, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromium, barite, salt, gypsummolybdenumstrontiumsilica, uranium, and gold, the latter of which is mainly a by-product of the Sar Cheshmeh copper complex operation.[224][227] The mine at Sar Cheshmeh in Kerman Province is home to the world’s second largest store of copper.[228] Large iron ore deposits exist in central Iran, near Bafq, Yazd and Kerman. The government owns 90% of all mines and related industries and is seeking foreign investment.[225] The sector accounts for 3% of exports.[225]

Iran has recoverable coal reserves of nearly 1.9 billion short tonnes. By mid-2008, the country produced about 1.3 million short tonnes of coal annually and consumed about 1.5 million short tonnes, making it a net importer.[229] The country plans to increase hard-coal production to 5 million tons in 2012 from 2 million tons in November 2008.[230]

The main steel mills are located in Isfahan and Khuzestan. Iran became self-sufficient in steel in 2009.[231] Aluminum and copper production are projected to hit 245,000 and 383,000 tons respectively by March 2009.[230][232] Cement production reached 65 million tons in 2009, exporting to 40 countries.[232][233]


Iran’s refining capacity (2007–2013 est.)

Iran manufactures 60–70% of its equipment domestically, including refineries, oil tankers, drilling rigs, offshore platforms, and exploration instruments.[234][235][236][237]

Based on a fertilizer plant in Shiraz, the world’s largest ethylene unit, in Asalouyeh, and the completion of other special economic zone projects, Iran’s exports in petrochemicals reached $5.5 billion in 2007, $9 billion in 2008 and $7.6 billion during the first ten months of the Iranian calendar year 2010.[238][239][240] National Petrochemical Company‘s output capacity will increase to over 100 million tpa by 2015 from an estimated 50 million tpa in 2010 thus becoming the world’ second largest chemical producer globally after Dow Chemical with Iran housing some of the world’s largest chemical complexes.[117]

Major refineries located at Abadan (site of its first refinery), Kermanshah and Tehran failed to meet domestic demand for gasoline in 2009. Iran’s refining industry requires $15 billion in investment over the period 2007–2012 to become self-sufficient and end gasoline imports.[241] Iran has the fifth cheapest gasoline prices in the world leading to fuel smuggling with neighboring countries.[242]


Despite 1990s efforts towards economic liberalization, government spending, including expenditure by quasi-governmental foundations, remains high. Estimates of service sector spending in Iran are regularly more than two-fifths of GDP, much government-related, including military expenditures, government salaries, and social security disbursements.[30] Urbanization contributed to service sector growth. Important service industries include public services (including education), commerce, personal services, professional services and tourism.

The total value of transport and communications is expected to rise to $46 billion in nominal terms by 2013, representing 6.8% of Iran’s GDP.[243] Projections based on 1996 employment figures compiled for the International Labour Organization suggest that Iran’s transport and communications sector employed 3.4 million people, or 20.5% of the labor force in 2008.[243]

Energy, gas, and petroleum[edit]

Energy [30]

  • production: 258 billion kWh (2014)
  • consumption: 218 billion kWh (2014)
  • exports: 9.7 billion kWh (2014)
  • imports: 3.8 billion kWh (2014)

Electricity – production by source:

Iran plans to generate 23,000 MW of electricity through nuclear technology by 2025 to meet its increasing demand for energy.[244]

  • fossil fuels: 85.6% (2012)
  • hydro: 12.4% (2012)
  • other: 0.8% (2012)
  • nuclear: 1.2% (2012)


  • production: 3,300,000 bbl/d (520,000 m3/d) (2015)
  • exports: 1,042,000 bbl/d (165,700 m3/d) (2013)
  • imports: 87,440 bbl/d (13,902 m3/d) (2013)
  • proved reserves: 157.8 Gbbl (25.09×109 m3) (2016)

Natural gas:

  • production: 174.5 km3 (2014)
  • consumption: 170.2 km3 (2014)
  • exports: 9.86 km3 (2014)
  • imports: 6.886 km3 (2014)
  • proved reserves: 34,020 km3 (2016)

Iran possesses 10% of the world’s proven oil reserves and 15% of its gas reserves.[18] Domestic oil and gas along with hydroelectric power facilities provide power.[18]Energy wastage in Iran amounts to six or seven billion dollars per year,[245] much higher than the international norm.[91] Iran recycles 28% of its used oil and gas, whereas some other countries reprocess up to 60%.[245] In 2008 Iran paid $84 billion in subsidies for oil, gas and electricity.[27] It is the world’s third largest consumer of natural gas after United States and Russia.[30] In 2010 Iran completed its first nuclear power plant at Bushehr with Russian assistance.[246]

Iran has been a major oil exporter since 1913. The country’s major oil fields lie in the central and southwestern parts of the western Zagros mountains. Oil is also found in northern Iran and in the Persian Gulf. In 1978, Iran was the fourth largest oil producer, OPEC‘s second largest oil producer and second largest exporter.[247]Following the 1979 revolution the new government reduced production. A further decline in production occurred as result of damage to oil facilities during the Iraq-Iran war. Oil production rose in the late 1980s as pipelines were repaired and new Gulf fields exploited. By 2004, annual oil production reached 1.4 billion barrels producing a net profit of $50 billion.[248] Iranian Central Bank data show a declining trend in the share of Iranian exports from oil-products (2006/2007: 84.9%, 2007/2008: 86.5%, 2008/2009: 85.5%, 2009/2010: 79.8%, 2010/2011 (first three quarters): 78.9%).[249] Iranian officials estimate that Iran’s annual oil and gas revenues could reach $250 billion by 2015 once current projects come on stream.[109]

Pipelines move oil from the fields to the refineries and to such exporting ports as Abadan, Bandar-e Mashur and Kharg Island. Since 1997, Iran’s state-owned oil and gas industry has entered into major exploration and production agreements with foreign consortia.[250][251] In 2008 the Iranian Oil Bourse (IOB) was inaugurated in Kish Island.[252] The IOB trades petroleum, petrochemicals and gas in various currencies. Trading is primarily in the euro and rial along with other major currencies, not including the US dollar.[253] According to the Petroleum Ministry, Iran plans to invest $500 billion in its oil sector by 2025.[254]

Retail and distribution[edit]

Iran’s retail industry consists largely of cooperatives (many of them government-sponsored), and independent retailers operating in bazaars. The bulk of food sales occur at street markets with prices set by the Chief Statistics Bureau. Iran has 438,478 small grocery retailers.[255] These are especially popular in cities other than Tehran where the number of hypermarkets and supermarkets is still very limited. More mini-markets and supermarkets are emerging, mostly independent operations. The biggest chainstores are state-owned Etka, RefahShahrvand and Hyperstar Market.[255] Electronic commerce in Iran passed the $1 billion mark in 2009.[256]

In 2012, Iranians spent $77 billion on food, $22 billion on clothes and $18.5 billion on outward tourism.[257] In 2015, overall consumer expenditures and disposable income are projected at $176.4 billion and $287 billion respectively.[258]

Healthcare and pharma[edit]

IRAN: Healthcare (Source: EIU)[259] 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Life expectancy, average (years) 70.0 70.3 70.6 70.9 71.1 71.4
Healthcare spending (% of GDP) 4.2 4.2 4.2 4.2 4.2 4.2
Healthcare spending ($ per head) 113 132 150 191 223 261

The constitution entitles Iranians to basic health care. By 2008, 73% of Iranians were covered by the voluntary national health insurance system.[259] Although over 85% of the population use an insurance system to cover their drug expenses, the government heavily subsidizes pharmaceutical production/importation. The total market value of Iran’s health and medical sectorwas $24 billion in 2002 and was forecast to rise to $50 billion by 2013.[260][261] In 2006, 55 pharmaceutical companies in Iran produced 96% (quantitatively) of the medicines for a market worth $1.2 billion.[259][262][263] This figure is projected to increase to $3.65 billion by 2013.[261]

Tourism and travel[edit]

Cyrus‘ tomb lies in Pasargadae. Iran is home to 19 historic sites which have been inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List.

Although tourism declined significantly during the war with Iraq, it has subsequently recovered. About 1,659,000 foreign tourists visited Iran in 2004 and 2.3 million in 2009 mostly from Asian countries, including the republics of Central Asia, while about 10% came from the European Union and North America.[75][264][265]

The most popular tourist destinations are IsfahanMashhad and Shiraz.[266] In the early 2000s the industry faced serious limitations in infrastructure, communications, industry standards and personnel training.[189] The majority of the 300,000 tourist visas granted in 2003 were obtained by Asian Muslims, who presumably intended to visit important pilgrimage sites in Mashhad and Qom.[265] Several organized tours from Germany, France and other European countries come to Iran annually to visit archaeological sites and monuments. In 2003 Iran ranked 68th in tourism revenues worldwide.[267] According to UNESCO and the deputy head of research for Iran Travel and Tourism Organization (ITTO), Iran is rated among the “10 most touristic countries in the world”.[267] Domestic tourism in Iran is one of the largest in the world.[268]

Banking, finance and insurance[edit]

Government loans and credits are available to industrial and agricultural projects, primarily through banks. Iran’s unit of currency is the rial which had an average official exchange rate of 9,326 rials to the U.S. dollar in 2007.[30] Rials are exchanged on the unofficial market at a higher rate. In 1979, the government nationalized private banks. The restructured banking system replaced interest on loans with handling fees, in accordance with Islamic law. This system took effect in the mid-1980s.[50]

The Tehran Stock Exchange has been one of the world’s best performing stock exchanges in recent years.[269][270]

The banking system consists of a central bank, the Bank Markazi, which issues currency and oversees all state and private banks. Several commercial banks have branches throughout the country. Two development banks exist and a housing bank specializes in home mortgages. The government began to privatize the banking sector in 2001 when licenses were issued to two new privately owned banks.[271]

State-owned commercial banks predominantly make loans to the state, bonyad enterprises, large-scale private firms and four thousand wealthy/connected individuals.[272][273] While most Iranians have difficulty obtaining small home loans, 90 individuals secured facilities totaling $8 billion.[274] In 2009, Iran’s General Inspection Office announced that Iranian banks held some $38 billion of delinquent loans, with capital of only $20 billion.[275]

Foreign transactions with Iran amounted to $150 billion of major contracts between 2000 and 2007, including private and government lines of credit.[276] In 2007, Iran had $62 billion in assets abroad.[277] In 2010, Iran attracted almost $11.9 billion from abroad, of which $3.6 billion was FDI, $7.4 billion was from international commercial bank loans, and around $900 million consisted of loans and projects from international development banks.[278]

As of 2010, the Tehran Stock Exchange traded the shares of more than 330 registered companies.[270] Listed companies were valued at $100 billion in 2011.[279][280]

Insurance premiums accounted for just under 1% of GDP in 2008,[229] a figure partly attributable to low average income per head.[229] Five state-owned insurance firms dominate the market, four of which are active in commercial insurance. The leading player is the Iran Insurance Company, followed by Asia, Alborz and Dana insurances. In 2001/02 third-party liability insurance accounted for 46% of premiums, followed by health insurance (13%), fire insurance (10%) and life insurance (9.9%).[271]

Communications, electronics and IT[edit]

Iran is among the top five countries which have shown a growth rate above 20% and high level development in telecommunications.[36][281]

Broadcast media, including five national radio stations and five national television networks as well as dozens of local radio and television stations are run by the government. In 2008, there were 345 telephone lines and 106 personal computers for every 1,000 residents.[282] Personal computers for home use became more affordable in the mid-1990s, since when demand for Internet access has increased rapidly. As of 2010, Iran also had the world’s third largest number of bloggers(2010).[283] In 1998, the Ministry of Post, Telegraph & Telephone (later renamed the Ministry of Information & Communication Technology) began selling Internet accounts to the general public. In 2006, revenues from the Iranian telecom industry were estimated at $1.2 billion.[284] In 2006, Iran had 1,223 Internet Service Providers (ISPs), all private sector operated.[285] As of 2014, Iran has the largest mobile market in the Middle East, with 83.2 million mobile subscriptions and 8 million smart-phones in 2012.[286]

According to the World Bank, Iran’s information and communications technology sector had a 1.4% share of GDP in 2008.[282] Around 150,000 people work in this sector, including 20,000 in the software industry.[287] 1,200 IT companies were registered in 2002, 200 in software development. In 2014 software exports stood at $400 million.[288] By the end of 2009, Iran’s telecom market was the fourth-largest in the Middle East at $9.2 billion and was expected to reach $12.9 billion by 2014 at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9%.[289]


Tehran Metro carries more than 2 million passengers a day.[290]

Iran has an extensive paved road system linking most towns and all cities. In 2011, the country had 173,000 kilometres (107,000 mi) of roads, of which 73% were paved. In 2007 there were approximately 100 passenger cars for every 1,000 inhabitants.[208] Trains operated on 11,106 kilometres (6,901 mi) of track.[30]

The country’s major port of entry is Bandar-Abbas on the Strait of Hormuz. After arriving in Iran, imported goods are distributed by trucks and freight trains. The Tehran–Bandar-Abbas railroad, opened in 1995, connects Bandar-Abbas to Central Asia via Tehran and Mashhad. Other major ports include Bandar Anzali and Bandar Torkaman on the Caspian Sea and Khoramshahr and Bandar Imam Khomeini on the Persian Gulf. Dozens of cities have passenger and cargo airports. Iran Air, the national airline, was founded in 1962 and operates domestic and international flights. All large cities have bus transit systems and private companies provide intercity bus services. Tehran, Mashhad, ShirazTabrizAhvaz and Isfahan are constructing underground railways. More than one million people work in the transportation sector, accounting for 9% of 2008 GDP.[291]

International trade[edit]

Tree maps
Export tree map (2010)
Iran’s export tree-map in 2010. Pistachios, liquefied propane, methanol, hand-woven carpets and automobiles are the core items of Iran’s non-oil exports.

Iran is a founding member of OPEC and the Organization of Gas Exporting Countries.[293] Petroleum constitutes 42% of Iran’s exports with a value of $41.1 billion in 2016.[294] For the first time, the value of Iran’s non-oil exports is expected to reach the value of imports at $43 billion in 2011.[295] Pistachios, liquefied propane, methanol (methyl alcohol), hand-woven carpets and automobiles are the major non-oil exports.[296] Coppercementleathertextilesfruitssaffron and caviar are also export items of Iran.

Technical and engineering service exports in 2007–08 were $2.7 billion of which 40% of technical services went to Central Asia and the Caucasus, 30% ($350 million) to Iraq, and close to 20% ($205 million) to Africa.[297] Iranian firms have developed energy, pipelines, irrigation, dams and power generation in different countries.[298] The country has made non-oil exports a priority[99] by expanding its broad industrial base, educated and motivated workforce and favorable location, which gives it proximity to an estimated market of some 300 million people in Caspian, Persian Gulf and some ECO countries further east.[299][300]

Total import volume rose by 189% from $13.7 billion in 2000 to $39.7 billion in 2005 and $55.189 billion in 2009.[301][302] Iran’s major commercial partners are ChinaIndiaGermanySouth KoreaJapanFranceRussia and Italy. From 1950 until 1978, the United States was Iran’s foremost economic and military partner, playing a major role in infrastructure and industry modernization.[51][52] It is reported that around 80% of machinery and equipment in Iran is of German origin.[303]

Since the mid-1990s, Iran has increased its economic cooperation with other developing countries in “south-south integration” including Syria, India, China, South AfricaCuba and Venezuela. Iran’s trade with India passed $13 billion in 2007, an 80% increase within a year.[305] Iran is expanding its trade ties with Turkey and Pakistan and shares with its partners the common objective to create a common market in West and Central Asia through ECO.[306]

Since 2003, Iran has increased investment in neighboring countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. In DubaiUAE, it is estimated that Iranian expatriates handle over 20% of its domestic economy and account for an equal proportion of its population.[307][308] Migrant Iranian workers abroad remitted less than $2 billion home in 2006.[309]Between 2005 and 2009, trade between Dubai and Iran tripled to $12 billion; money invested in the local real estate market and import-export businesses, collectively known as the Bazaar, and geared towards providing Iran and other countries with required consumer goods.[310] It is estimated that one third of Iran’s imported goods and exports are delivered through the black market, underground economy, and illegal jetties, thus damaging the economy.[152]

Foreign direct investment[edit]

In the 1990s and early 2000s, indirect oilfield development agreements were made with foreign firms, including buyback contracts in the oil sector whereby the contractor provided project finance in return for an allocated production share. Operation transferred to National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) after a set number of years, completing the contract.[311]

Unfavorable or complex operating requirements and international sanctions have hindered foreign investment in the country, despite liberalization of relevant regulations in the early 2000s. Iran absorbed $24.3 billion of foreign investment between the Iranian calendar years 1993 and 2007.[312] The EIU estimates that Iran’s net FDI will rise by 100% between 2010 and 2014.[313]

Foreign investors concentrated their activities in the energy, vehicle manufacture, copper mining, construction, utilities, petrochemicals, clothing, food and beverages, telecom and pharmaceuticals sectors. Iran is a member of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.[314] In 2006, the combined net worth of Iranian citizens abroad was about 1.3 trillion dollars.[315]

According to the head of the Organization for Investment, Economic and Technical Assistance of Iran (OIETAI), in 2008 Iran ranked 142 among 181 countries in working conditions. Iran stands at number 96 in terms of business start-ups, 165 in obtaining permits, 147 in employment, 147 in asset registration, 84 in obtaining credit, 164 in legal support for investments, 104 in tax payments, 142 in overseas trade, 56 in contract feasibility and 107 in bankruptcy.[316] Firms from over 50 countries invested in Iran between 1992 and 2008, with Asia and Europe the largest participants as shown below:[317]

Continent of origin Leading countries investing in Iran (1992–2008) Number of projects Total amount invested
Asia United Arab Emirates (UAE), Singapore, Indonesia and Oman 190 $11.6 billion
Europe Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, UK, Turkey, Italy and France (20 countries in total) 253 $10.9 billion
Americas Canada, Panama, the USA and Jamaica 7 $1.4 billion
Africa Mauritius, Liberia and South Africa N/A $8 billion
Australia Australia 1 $682 million

The economic impact of a partial lifting of sanctions extends beyond the energy sector; The New York Times reported that “consumer-oriented companies, in particular, could find opportunity in this country with 81 million consumers, many of whom are young and prefer Western products”.[318] The consumer-goods market is expected to grow by $100 billion by 2020.[319] Iran is considered “a strong emerging marketplay” by investment and trading firms.[320] Opening Iran’s market place to foreign investment could also be a boon to competitive multinational firms operating in a variety of manufacturing and service sectors, worth $600 billion to $800 billion in new investment opportunities over the next decade.[22][321][322][323]

Iran and the World Trade Organization[edit]

Map of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) member states

Iran has held observer status at the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 2005. Although the United States has consistently blocked its bid to join the organization, observer status came in a goodwill gesture to ease nuclear negotiations between Iran and the international community.[324] With exports of 60 products with revealed comparative advantage, Iran is the 65th “most complex country“.[325]

Should Iran eventually gain membership status in the WTO, among other prerequisites, copyrights will have to be enforced in the country. This will require a major overhaul. The country is hoping to attract billions of dollars’ worth of foreign investment by creating a more favorable investment climate through freer trade. Free trade zones such as QeshmChabahar, and Kish Island are expected to assist in this process. Iran allocated $20 billion in 2010 to loans for the launch of twenty trade centers in other countries.[326]

International sanctions[edit]

After the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the United States ended its economic and diplomatic ties with Iran, banned Iranian oil imports and froze approximately $11 billion of its assets.[327] In 1996, the U.S. Government passed the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) which prohibits U.S. (and non-U.S.) companies from investing and trading with Iran in amounts of more than $20 million annually.[328] Since 2000 exceptions to this restriction have been made for items including pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.[329]

Iran’s nuclear program has been the subject of contention with the West since 2006 over suspicions of its intentions. The UN Security Council imposed sanctions against select companies linked to the nuclear program, thus furthering the country’s economic isolation.[40] Sanctions notably bar nuclear, missile and many military exports to Iran and target investments in oil, gas and petrochemicals, exports of refined petroleum products, as well as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corpsbanks, insurancefinancial transactions and shipping.[330] In 2012 the European Union tightened its own sanctions by joining the three decade-old US oil embargo against Iran.[331][332] In 2015, Iran and the P5+1 reached a deal on the nuclear program that will remove the main sanctions by early 2016.[333] Even though Iran can trade in its own currency some problems subsist mainly due to the fact that it cannot transact in US dollars freely.[334][335] Given its large reserves of oil and gas, the Iranian rial could become a world reserve currency if parity is established with oil and gas.[citation needed]


According to U.S. Undersecretary of State William Burns, Iran may be losing as much as $60 billion annually in energy investment.[336] Sanctions are making imports 24% more costly on average.[337] In addition, the latest round of sanctions could cost Iran annually $50 billion in lost oil revenues.[338] Iran is increasingly using barter trade because its access to the international dollar payment system has been denied. According to Iranian officials, large-scale withdrawal by international companies represents an “opportunity” for domestic companies to replace them.[339][340]

The IEA estimated that Iranian exports fell to a record of 860,000 bpd in September 2012 from 2.2 million bpd at the end of 2011. This fall led to a drop in revenues and clashes on the streets of Tehran when the local currency, the rial, collapsed. September 2012 output was Iran’s lowest since 1988.[341]

The U.S. Energy Department has warned that imposing oil embargoes on Iran would increase world oil prices by widening the gap between supply and demand.[342]According to the U.S. Iran could reduce the world price of crude petroleum by 10%, saving the United States annually $76 billion (at the proximate 2008 world oil price of $100/bbl).[321]

According to NIAC, sanctions cost the United States over $175 billion in lost trade and 279,000 lost job opportunities.[343] Between 2010 and 2012, sanctions cost the E.U. states more than twice as much as the United States in terms of lost trade revenue. Germany was hit the hardest, losing between $23.1 and $73.0 billion between 2010–2012, with Italy and France following at $13.6-$42.8 billion and $10.9-$34.2 billion respectively.[343]

GDP growth turned negative in 2013 (−5%). The unofficial unemployment rate was 20% by mid-2012. Oil exports dropped to 1.4 million bpd in 2014 from 2.5 million bpd in 2011. By 2013, Iran had $80 billion in foreign exchange reserves frozen overseasAutomobile production declined 40% between 2011 and 2013.[344] According to the U.S. government in 2015, Iran’s economy has reached a point where it is “fundamentally incapable of recovery” without a nuclear accommodation with the West.[345]

The tentative rapprochement between Iran and the US, which began in the second half of 2013, has the potential to become a world-changing development, and unleash tremendous geopoliticaland economic opportunities, if it is sustained […] if Iran and the US were to achieve a diplomatic breakthrough, geopolitical tensions in the Middle East could decline sharply, and Iran could come to be perceived as a promising emerging market in its own right.[346]

See also[edit]


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedi

Knot Density

Knot Density

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Back side of a Qom rug with very high knot density
Ghiordes knot
Senneh knot
The yellow yarn is the pile and the horizontal and vertical yarns are the warp and the woof

Knot density is a traditional measure for quality of handmade or knotted pilecarpets. It refers to the number of knots, or knot count, per unit of surface area – typically either per square inch (kpsi) or per square centimeter (kpsc), but also per decimeter or meter (kpsd or kpsm). Number of knots per unit area is directly proportional to the quality of carpet.[1][2][3][4] Density may vary from 25 to over 1000 kpsi, or 4 to over 155 kpsc, where ≤80 kpsi is poor quality, 120 to 330 kpsi medium to good, and ≥330 kpsi is very good quality.[2] The inverseknot ratio, is also used to compare characteristics.[5][6] Knot density = warp×weft while knot ratio = warp/weft. For comparison: 100,000/square meter = 1,000/square decimeter = 65/square inch = 179/gereh.

For two carpets of the same age, origin, condition and design, the one with the higher number of knots will be the more valuable. Knot density is normally measured in knots per square inch (KPSI) which is simply the number of vertical knots across one inch of carpet multiplied by the number of horizontal knots in the same area. Average knot density varies between region and design. A rug could have a knot density half that of another yet still be more valuable, KPSI is only one measurement of quality and value in Persian carpets.[7]

Knot density is related to and affects or affected by the thickness of the length of the pile and the width of the warp and woof,[8] and also the designs and motifs used and their characteristics and appearance.[8] “In rugs with a high knot density, curvilinear, elaborate motifs are possible. In those with a low knot density (as well as kilims), simpler, rectilinear, motifs tend to prevail.”[3] “A carpet design with a high knot density is better adapted to intricate and curvilinear designs, which of necessity must have a shorter pile length to avoid looking blurry. A carpet with a lesser knot density is better adapted to bold, geometric designs and can utilize a long pile for softer, more reflective surface that appeals to the sense of touch.”[9]

Hand-tying of knots is a very labour-intensive task. An average weaver can tie almost 10,000 knots per day. More difficult patterns with an above-average knot density can only be woven by a skillful weaver, thus increasing the production costs even more. An average weaver may tie 360 knots per hour (1/10 seconds), while 1200 knots approaches the maximum a skilful weaver can tie per hour.[2]

In the late fifteenth century a “carpet design revolution” occurred, made possible by finer yarns, and before this time it is rare to find carpets with ≥120 kpsi but by the next century carpets with three to four times that density were fairly common.[9] For example, the Pazyryk carpet (ca. 400 BCE) is around 234 kpsi and the Ardabil Carpets (ca. 1550 CE) are 300–350 kpsi. A fragment of a silk Mughal carpet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a knot density of 2,516 kpsi and a silk Herekeprayer rug (ca. 1970 CE) contains 4,360 symmetric kpsi.[5] However, the rug with the highest knot density is a silk Hereke masterpiece by the Özipeks workshops, having an incredible density of approximately 10,000 kpsi, with a production time of about 15 years. (FN5a –

In Persian, reg (rajrag, Persian: “row, course”) refers to the knots per gereh (Persian: “knot”), which refers to a unit of approximately 2.75 inches.[5]Dihari is a unit of 6,000 knots used to measure production in India.[5]


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Iranian Modern and Contemporary Art

Iranian Modern and Contemporary Art

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Miniator hotel shah abbas deevar.jpg
History of Persian Art
Qajar art 1781–1925
Safavid art 1501–1722 / 1736
Iranian modern art

A cursory glance at the history of art reveals that social, political and economic conditions have always played a major role in the emergence of new artistic currents and styles. In Iran, the social and political developments of the 1940s radically altered the evolution of this country’s plastic arts and entirely altering its natural path.


The modern art movement in Iran had its genesis in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This was the period after the death of famous Persian painter, Kamal-ol-molk(1852–1940) and thus symbolically the end of a rigid adherence to academic painting.[1]

The 1949 opening of the Apadana gallery in Tehran by Mahmoud Javadipour and other colleagues, and the emergence of artists like Marcos Grigorian in the 1950s, signaled a commitment to the creation of a form of modern art grounded in Iran.[2][dead link] Grigorian found influence for his art in popular Iranian culture, specifically a coffee-house storyteller culture and the visual language of dry earth and mud.[1] One of Grigorian’s students at the College of Fine Arts at the University of Tehran was Hossein Zenderoudi, Zenderoudi was interested in the forms and aesthetics of objects made for Shi’a Islam worship.[1] The scholar Karim Emami likened his art to the kind of objects found in saqqakhanas, coining term, the “Saqqakhaneh school”.[1][3]

Saqqakhaneh movement

In the 1950 and 1960s, a new subgenre of Iranian art called the Saqqakhaneh school (also known as Saqqā-ḵāna, Saqqa-khaneh, Saqakhaneh, Sahakhanah) was pioneered by artists Hossein ZenderoudiParviz TanavoliFaramarz PilaramMassoud ArabshahiMansur QandrizNasser OveisiSadeq Tabrizi and Zhazeh Tabatabai.[4][5]

Saqqakhaneh school is a movement of neo-traditional modern art that is found in Iran, rooted in a history of coffee-house paintings and Shiʿite Islam visual elements.[6][7][8] In scholar Karim Emami’s articles on “Saqqā-ḵāna Paintings,” he defined in which a, “combined religious imagery and traditional decorative elements with modern painting techniques, played a significant role in drawing the attention of the media and art connoisseurs to the genre”.[3] A visual language was created by drawing on the history of the Shi’a Islamic culture, specifically the saqqakhana, a small public area in which water is given to strangers often decorated with symbols and offerings.[9] The artists of this genre were re-appropriating these symbolic traditions associated with the saqqakhana but with a modernist stance.[9]

By the late 1960s into the 1970s he Saqqakhaneh school artists of Iran had international prominence and this helped pave the way for the opening of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in 1977.[10] The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art boasting an important collection of both Western and Iranian artists.[10] The Iranian revolution by 1979 halted the dynamics of the Iranian arts scene.[10]

It has been debated by various scholars after the publication of Edward Said’s 1978 book Orientalism (which posed similar questions), was the Saqqakhaneh movement affected by the postcolonial view of Iran or rather, did it intensify Orientalism.[11][12]

Notable artists in Iranian modern art

Notable figures from the Iranian cultural continent

The Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art has a sculpture Garden adjacent to Tehran’s Laleh Park.

Iranian art is shared among people of Iranian cultural continent and is not limited to modern Iran. Modern art is emerging in Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Iraqi Kurdistan. In Afghanistan, Rahraw Omarzad, founded Center for Contemporary Art Afghanistan (CCAA) in 2004.[citation needed] A museum of modern art is under construction in Iraqi Kurdistan.[citation needed] Here is a list of notable figures of Iranian modern art throughout the Iranian cultural continent:

See also

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran

Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Iran Cultural Heritage, Handicraft and Tourism Organization (ICHTO)
سازمان میراث فرهنگی، صنایع دستی و گردشگری ایران
Iran Cultural Heritage Organization logo.svg

Original logo from 2006
Agency overview
Formed 1985
Preceding agencies
  • Touring and Tourism Organization (1991 to 2003)
  • Deputy of Touring and Pilgrimage in Ministry of Islamic Guidance (1979 to 1991)
  • Ministry of Intelligence and Tourism (1974 to 1979)
  • Office of Tourism (1954 to 1963)
  • Touring Council (1941 to 1954)
  • Office of Tourists and publicity (1935 to 1941)
Jurisdiction Islamic Republic of Iran
Headquarters Tehran, Iran
Employees 7,200 (2013)[1]
Annual budget 375 billion toman (2014)[2]
Agency executive

The gates of Bagh Melli, where some offices of ICHTO are located. The gates were constructed during the Qajar dynasty.

Iran Cultural Heritage, Handcraft and Tourism Organization (Persianسازمان میراث فرهنگی، صنایع دستی و گردشگری ایران‎) is an educational and research institution overseeing numerous associated museum complexes throughout Iran. It is administered and funded by the Government of Iran.

It was established in 1985 by legislation from the Majlis merging 11 research and cultural organizations. The current head of organization is Ali Asghar Monesan, being appointed 13 August 2017 by President Hassan Rouhani. He was formerly head of Kish Island Free Area.

It publishes and oversees the publication of many journals and books, and carries out projects in conjunction with foreign museums and academia. It is similar in scope and activity to the Smithsonian Institution.

Some ICHTO Museums and Palaces

Some organizations administered by ICHTO

Select ICHTO archeological projects

ICHTO has branches in all Provinces of Iran that administer and operate local projects, sites and museums.

See also

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Architecture of Turkey

Architecture of Turkey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Architecture of Turkey or Turkish Architecture in the Republican Period refers to the architecture practised in the territory of present-day Turkey since the foundation of the republic in 1923. In the first years of the republic, Turkish architecture was influenced by Seljuk and Ottoman architecture, in particular during the First National Architectural Movement (also called the Turkish Neoclassical architecture movement.) However, starting from the 1930s, architectural styles began to differ from traditional architecture, also as a result of an increasing number of foreign architects being invited to work in the country, mostly from Germany and Austria.[1] The Second World War was a period of isolation, during which the Second National Architectural Movement emerged. Similar to Fascist architecture, the movement aimed to create a modern but nationalistic architecture.[2]

Starting from the 1950s, isolation from the rest of the world began to diminish, which enabled the Turkish architects to experiment with new styles and become increasingly inspired by their counterparts in the rest of the world. However, they were largely constrained by the lack of technological infrastructure or insufficient financial resources until the 1980s.[3] Thereafter, the liberalization of the economy and the shift towards export-led growth[4] paved the way for the private sector to become the leading influence on architecture in Turkey.

1920s to early 1930s: First national architectural movement[edit]

The First National Architectural Movement (TurkishBirinci Ulusal Mimarlık Akımı) was an architectural movement led by Turkish architects Vedat Tek (1873–1942) and Mimar Kemaleddin Bey (1870–1927). Followers of the movement wanted to create a new and “national” architecture, which was based on motifs from Seljuk and Ottoman architecture. The movement was also labelled Turkish Neoclassicalarchitecture, or the National Architectural Renaissance.[5] Other prominent followers of this movement were Arif Hikmet Koyunoğlu (1888–1982) and Giulio Mongeri (1873–1953).[6] Notable buildings from this era are the Istanbul Main Post Office (1905–1909), Tayyare Apartments (1919–1922),[7] Istanbul 4th Vakıf Han (1911–1926),[8] State Art and Sculpture Museum (1927–1930),[9] Ethnography Museum of Ankara(1925–1928),[10] Bebek Mosque,[11] and Kamer Hatun Mosque.[12][13]

1930s to 1950s: Modernism and the influence of foreign architects[edit]

The Bauhaus style Florya Atatürk Marine Mansion (1935) and the Art Deco style Ankara Central Station (1937) are among the notable examples of this era.[14][15] As there were not enough architects in Turkey until the 1950s, various architects were invited by the government from GermanyAustriaSwitzerland and France, in order to manage the rapid construction of the new capital Ankara. About 40 architects and urban planners designed and oversaw various projects (mostly in Ankara, and to a lesser extent in Istanbul and Izmir) between 1924 and 1942. Among them were Gudrun Baudisch, Rudolf BellingPaul Bonatz, Ernst Arnold Egli, Martin ElsaesserAnton Hanak, Franz Hillinger, Clemens HolzmeisterHenri ProstPaolo Vietti-Violi, Werner Issel, Hermann Jansen, Theodor Jost, Heinrich Krippel, Carl Christoph Lörcher, Robert Oerley, Bernhard Pfau, Bruno Taut and Josef Thorak.[1][2]

Selected examples of buildings from this era are the Bauhaus style Florya Atatürk Marine Mansion (1935) designed by Seyfi Arkan; the Art Deco style Ankara railway station (1937) designed by Şekip Akalın; the Court of Cassation building (1933–35) designed by Clemens Holzmeister; the Faculty of Languages, History and Geography building (1937) of Ankara University designed by Bruno Taut; and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey building (1938–63) designed by Clemens Holzmeister.[14]

Second national architectural movement[edit]

Inspired by the design characteristics of Fascist architecture in Italy and Nazi architecture in Germany, which sought a modern interpretation of Neoclassical architecture (i.e. the architecture of a modern era Roman Empire, according to their ideologies), there was a trend towards creating a new national architecture in Turkey around the 1940s.[2][16][17] The movement was called the Second National Architectural Movement (Turkishİkinci Ulusal Mimarlık Akımı). The large number of foreign architects employed in Turkey in this period (especially from Germany and Austria) was a major factor in the introduction of these architectural movements and their stylistical characteristics. The pioneers of the movement in Turkey were Sedad Hakkı Eldem and Emin Onat. In order to lead this movement, Sedad Hakkı Eldem, who was a professor, held National Architecture seminars at the Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts, focusing on the traditional Turkish house styles.[18]

Similar to their contemporary equivalents in Italy and Germany, the government buildings of this style in Ankara and Istanbul had typically large proportions (high ceilings, high windows, etc.) in order to give the impression of a strong state authority. Some of them also had monumental facade designs reminiscent of Neoclassical architecture; but with more modern and plain rectangular shapes, symmetry, simplicity, and a general lack of ornateness.

Some of the buildings related to this style are the Ankara Opera House designed by Şevki Balmumcu (1933–34) and renovated by Paul Bonatz (1946–47); the TCDD General Headquarters Building designed by Bedri Uçar in 1938; Istanbul University Faculty of Science and Faculty of Literature buildings (1944–52); Anıtkabir (1944–53); Istanbul Radio Headquarters (1945–49); Şişli Mosque (1945–49); and the Çanakkale Martyrs’ Memorial (1954–60). The movement was particularly influential between 1935 and 1950. From the 1950s, the influence of this style started to diminish due to the next wave of influences, especially International Style and Rationalism.[18]

1950s and more Western influence[edit]

At the beginning of the 1950s, a new generation of architects such as Nevzat Erol, Turgut Cansever, Abdurrahman Hancı, Cengiz Bektaş, Hayati Tabanlıoğlu, Enver Tokay, İlhan Tayman and Yılmaz Sanlı became more influential in the architectural arena. These were architects who either studied in Europe or had information of the modernist architecture of the time. Their quest for modernist architecture was in line with the International Style and Rationalism. However, the development of the Turkish economy was an important factor as well. Even though Turkish architects were able to follow up on the modern design of important architects of the time, they were constrained by the lack of technological infrastructure or insufficient financial resources.[3][13]

Selected examples of buildings from this era are the Anadolu Club Hotel (1951–1957) in Büyükada designed by Turgut Cansever and Abdurrahman Hancı; Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus (1952–1955) designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Sedad Hakkı Eldem; Istanbul Municipality Headquarters (1953–1960) designed by Nevzat Erol; Emek Business Center (1959–1965) in Ankara designed by Enver Tokay and İlhan Tayman; and Tekel Headquarters (1958–1960) in Istanbul designed by Yılmaz Sanlı and İlhan Tayman.[3]

One of the most important developments of this period was the establishment of the Chamber of Architects of Turkey in 1954. Various professional organizations for architects had existed beforehand, but there were no laws for the architectural profession until 1954.[19]

1960s and 1970s[edit]

Following the 1960 coup d’état, Turkey endured various kinds of political and economic crises which affected the construction industry as well as the architectural sector. Despite these hardships, architects were able to design some important buildings. Abandoning Rationalism, Turkish architects tried to design their buildings in more flexible and fragmented forms. Important works from this period are the Vakıflar Hotel in Istanbul (1968, today the Ceylan Intercontinental Hotel), Middle East Technical University Campuses (1961) in Ankara, Istanbul Manufacturers’ Market (1959), Turkish Historical Society Building (1967), Grand Ankara Hotel (1960, today the Rixos Grand Ankara Hotel) and Atatürk Cultural Center (1969) in Istanbul.[20][21]

As a result of economic and social turbulence, architecture in Turkey suffered also in the 1970s. There were no significant breakthroughs during this period. Some important designs from the 1970s are the Turkish Language Association Building (1972), Atatürk Library (1973) and Abdi İpekçi Arena (1979).[22]

1980s to present[edit]

A view of Maslak business district in Istanbul, 2007. Istanbul’s skyline has changed significantly since the 1990s.[23][24]

In January 1980, the government of Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel began implementing a far-reaching reform program designed by then Undersecretary of the Prime Ministry Turgut Özal to shift Turkey’s economy toward export-led growth. These reforms had a positive effect on the construction industry and architecture.[4] New methods such as prefabrication and curtain wall systems were introduced to Turkish architects and contractors in the 1980s. In addition, steel, aluminum, plastic and glass production increased, which allowed architects to free themselves from rigid forms.

Until the 1980s, the government sector was the leading client when it came to architecture and construction. However, the liberalization of the economy paved the way for the private sector to become the leading influence. Notable architects from this period include Behruz Çinici, Merih Karaaslan, Sevinç Hadi, Şandor Hadi, Ersen Gürsel, Mehmet Çubuk, Doğan Tekeli, Sami Sisa, Emre Arolat, Murat Tabanlıoğlu, Melkan Tabanlıoğlu, Hüsrev Tayla, Doğan Hasol, Atilla Yücel, Sema Soygeniş, Murat Soygeniş and Kaya Arıkoğlu, among others.[21][22][25]

Söğütözü business district in Ankara, 2010.

See also[edit]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia