According to rrrjewelry, the agricultural sector contributes around 10% to GDP, the share of employees is around 17%. One tenth of the total area of Iran is used for arable farming, half of it is irrigated. Rain-fed agriculture is mainly used for growing grain in the winter-humid western mountainous regions. Irrigated agriculture has a tradition since the Achaimenid period on the basis of often kilometer-long underground tunnels (Kanat) for the cultivation of a variety of crops (vegetables, melons, fodder crops, sugar beets, sugar cane) and permanent crops (fruit, date palms).
However, the canal system is decaying and is being replaced by modern dam and canal systems. The Iranian government invested large sums in order to achieve the goal of self-sufficiency. The irrigated area has almost doubled in the past three decades. The southern Caspian coastal lowlands are a particularly fertile region; it is the main growing area for rice, citrus fruits and cotton and the only one for tea. A part of the agricultural production (especially sugar, cotton, tea and tobacco) is subject to the state monopoly. Other important crops, especially for export, are fresh fruit (especially apples, grapes, pomegranates), dates, dried fruits and pistachios (the world’s largest producer).
About a fifth of the country’s area can be used for pasture farming. Livestock farming is therefore of great importance (sheep, goats, increasingly also cattle, chickens). The previously widespread nomadic way of life is quickly being replaced by semi-sedentary forms with additional feeding and winter stables. This enables both production increases and better veterinary care. Although the agricultural sector has been strongly promoted since the Islamic revolution (loans, purchase guarantees at subsidized fixed prices, investments in irrigation systems), the goal of food self-sufficiency has never been achieved. The large number of financially weak small businesses that arose in the course of the agricultural reforms of the Shah period is problematic. Cereals in particular have to be imported in large quantities.
Forestry: Around 7% of the country’s area is covered by forests. However, productive forestry is only practiced in the Elburs on the damp north side and in places in the Zagros Mountains and in the border area with Azerbaijan .
Fisheries: With its coastline of 2,500 km, Iran has great fishing potential. In addition, fish are raised in aquaculture. The caviar industry that was once important on the Caspian Sea is no longer of any economic importance.
The oil and gas sector forms the backbone of the Iranian economy. The first oil field was discovered in 1908 at Masjid-e Sulaiman. The Iranian government has been in control of Iranian oil and natural gas through the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) since 1973. Iran has around 9% of the proven world oil reserves and, with a share of 5% in world oil production, is one of the most important producer countries. An increasing proportion of crude oil is used for personal consumption. The oil fields are mainly located at the southwestern foot of the Zagros Mountains, in Khusistan. Most of the crude oil is transported to the island of Kharg via pipelinespumped in and exported from the Persian Gulf; a smaller part is processed in the oil refineries of Abadan , Isfahan , Shiraz , Tabriz and Tehran as well as in the petrochemical plants.
Natural gas is of outstanding importance as an energy source in Iran. Numerous pipelines connect the most important deposits in Khusistan and Loristan with the major cities. Iran has the largest natural gas reserves with 16% of the world’s reserves. With a production volume of (2018) around 240 billion m 3 , Iran is one of the world’s largest gas producers.
In addition to crude oil and natural gas, Iran has economically interesting deposits of iron ore (near Yazd , Bafg and Bender Abbas), chrome ore (in the hinterland of Bender Abbas) and copper ore near Kerman. Hard coal is mined near Kerman and Semnan , but the production is not enough to meet the needs of the Iranian steel industry. There are also smaller mining sites for zinc, lead, chromium, sulfur, rock and potash salt, strontium, phosphate, uranium, gold, bauxite and quartz, which are, however, important as industrial raw materials.
State industrialization programs were carried out in several phases in the 1930s, 1950s and 1960s. After the petroleum industry and the petrochemical industry, steel and aluminum production, automobile manufacture (assembly plants), the chemical and construction industries as well as mechanical engineering and the electrical and electronics industries are important branches of industry. The textile industry (carpets) and traditional handicrafts have lost a lot of their importance. The industrial companies concentrate on the Tehran area; Isfahan, Tabriz, Ahwas and Abadan follow at a distance.
The tourist infrastructure is well developed. The variety of landscapes and numerous historical sites with important buildings create great potential for further development. The main attractions for the (2015) around 5 million foreign visitors are the historical sites of Isfahan , Tabriz , Susa and Persepolis ; Gulf Arabs mainly come to Shiraz in summer. Iranian inland tourism is also important (beach holidays on the Caspian Sea, pilgrimages to Kum and Meschhed).
The railway network is primarily used for freight transport. The road network has been expanded rapidly in recent years. The west-east connection from the Iraqi to the Afghan border and the “Asian Road” from Kwoi (Turkish border) to Zahedan(Pakistani border) are particularly important. The most important ports in the Persian Gulf for maritime shipping are Khorramshahr , Bender Khomeini and the oil port on the island of Kharg, as well as the ports further south of Bender Abbas, Bushehr , Chahbahar and Lingeh. The largest ports on the Caspian Sea are Bender Ansali and Bender Nowschahr. The most important international airport is Tehran, there is also a dense network of domestic connections.