At the 1996 census the population of the Iran it amounted to approximately 60 million units; in 1998, a UN estimate attributed the country to 65,758,000 residents. The annual growth rate is still very high today and exposes the country to the dramatic consequences of overpopulation. Over the last few decades, birth rates have progressively decreased (46, 1 ‰ in the period 1980 – 85, 41, 4 ‰ in 1985 – 90, 35, 5 ‰ in 1990 – 95), as well as mortality rates showed a clear tendency to decline (in the same time intervals, respectively, 10, 4, 8, 1 and 6, 7 ‰): Iran it has not yet passed the acute phase of the demographic transition and, barring a sudden and unlikely change in trend, the overall population is destined to increase significantly in the coming years.
The Iranians continue to constitute the majority: Persians in clear prevalence, then Baloch, Kurds and semi-nomadic populations such as the Luri; the Kurds (based in a large region divided between Iran, where they amount to about 5 million, Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Armenia) are still seeking national autonomy. They are flanked by people of Turkish stock (Azeri, Turkmen) and the Arabs, settled along the coast of the Arabian Gulf. For Iran 2004, please check topb2bwebsites.com.
The distribution of the population is very irregular, conditioned by the morphology and the climate, and goes from very few residents / km ² in the central-eastern provinces to over 260 residents / km ² in the province of the capital. The 39 % of the population is considered rural and lives generally in villages, placed at the center of the oasis or in any case where the presence of surface water allows the irrigation practice and, therefore, the crops. Some forms of nomadism still exist, and seasonal migrations are still carried out in the Zagros Mountains. Teherān approaches 7 million residents; other cities with more than one million residents. they are Mašhad, Iṣfahān, Tabrīz and Šīrāz.
As regards the administrative division, in 1997 the new provinces of Qazwīn (by detachment from that of Zanǧān) and of Gurgān (from that of Māzandarān) were established, whose capitals are constituted by the cities of the same name.
Over the last few decades, the Iranian economy has been strongly affected by the political and military events that have affected the country: from the revolution that transformed the Iran in an Islamic republic (1979) to the war with Iraq (1980 – 88) and the Gulf War (1990 – 91); consequently the extraordinary process of expansion, which started around the first half of the 1960s and determined above all by the very high proceeds from oil extraction (of which Iran was for a long time the second largest producer in the Near and Middle East, after the Saudi Arabia), suffered a sharp setback. The strong fluctuations in the price of crude oil on international markets and the continuous fluctuations in production volume also negatively weighed, for which the government policy of more recent years has focused on greater diversification of activities in order to break the dependence of the national economy on hydrocarbons.
In an attempt to get the Iran the economic emergency and in response to the trade embargo decreed by the United States in April 1995 (but later somewhat attenuated), the government launched, with the Second Five-Year Plan (1995 – 2000), a serious program of austerity and reforms, pursuing the economic recovery of the country also through drastic cuts in imports. The country’s financial credibility is linked, among other things, to the reduction of the huge external debt, which in 1997 amounted to 11,816 million dollars. The economic and financial recovery of the Iran was favored by the resilience of oil prices, which raised to around 19 billions of dollars in oil revenues. However, some significant problems remain unsolved, such as still very high inflation and the flourishing of an underground economy, which deprives the State of considerable tax revenues (see below: Economic and financial policy).
Despite attempts at diversification, the economic structure of the Iran it remains based on oil and natural gas, which make up over 80 % of total exports. The agricultural sector (which accounts for 23 % of the workforce and contributes to the formation of GDP 20.4 %) is increasing its production (+ 4, 7 % per annum in the period 1985 – 95, according to FAO estimates), however the agricultural balance remains passive and Iran is forced to import food.
Only a modest percentage (11.3 %) of the land area is used for arable land and tree crops: however, only about 5 % of it is used regularly, while the chronic lack of water conditions the expansion of arable areas. The main cereals are wheat, harvested mainly in Azerbaiǧān, rice, of which the Caspian provinces supply 90 % of the total, and barley. Among industrial plants, cotton, beet and sugar cane, soybeans and tobacco continue to be widespread. In the province of Fārs the opium poppy is grown – under strict government control. Among the other products of the earth, tea, vegetables and fruit deserve to be mentioned; there. is one of the largest producers of dates and pistachios.
The political and military events mentioned above have also had heavy repercussions on the industrial apparatus, which during the 1980s found itself in a situation close to paralysis and only in the following decade saw new perspectives open, thanks also to a liberal turn of the government. However, the secondary sector still remains conditional in its expansion by the scarcity of technological resources and the inadequacy of the infrastructure: it contributes to the 36, 4 % to the formation of GDP and is almost totally oriented to the processing of hydrocarbons, with refining plants and petrochemical, while the traditional industry, connected to the processing of agricultural products and the textile sector, is of modest economic importance.
Thanks to the restrictions imposed by the government on imports, the trade balance has registered a surplus in recent years. For exports, the main partners are Germany (17 % of the total), Japan (12 %), Belgium and Luxembourg (7 %), France (7 %), the Netherlands (7 %), Romania (6 %), Italy, Spain, Turkey and India.
In 1996 a railway line, 300 km long, was completed, linking Mašhad to Tedžen in Turkmenistan, allowing this country an alternative route to the sea compared to the Afghan route and the Russian communications network; at the same time it allows the Iran to enter into more stable relations with former Soviet Central Asia, thus mitigating the effects of its international isolation. Furthermore, the Iran has applied to host the passage of an important gas pipeline serving the Turkmen fields.