2009 SCO & BRIC Summits > SCO Observer States


Updated: 2009-06-11 17:01


Iran or the Islamic Republic of Iran is a Central Asian country. It is the 18-th largest country in the world in terms of area, covering 1,648,000 sq km and with a population of over 70 million. The capital is Teheran.

Iran shares borders with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Turkey in the northwest, with Iraq in the west, with Turkmenistan in the north, and with Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east. Iran borders the Caspian Sea in the north and the Persian Gulf in the south.  

Iran is home to one of the world's oldest continuous major civilizations, with historical and urban settlements dating back to 7,000 BC. The majority of the population speaks the Persian language, which is also the official language of the country, as well as other Iranian languages or dialects.  

According to the Constitution adopted in 1979, Iran is an Islamic republic. Its highest authority is the Supreme Leader of Iran, who is responsible for delineation and supervision of the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Supreme Leader is Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, controls the military intelligence and security operations; and has sole power to declare war or peace.

The second in rank leading official of Iran is the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran(currently Mahmud Ahmadinejad). The President is the guarantor of the Constitution and the highest state authority and is elected directly every four years. The president can only be re-elected for one term. Presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians prior to running in order to ensure their allegiance to the ideals of the Islamic revolution. The President is responsible for the implementation of the Constitution and for the exercise of executive powers, except for matters directly related to the Supreme Leader, who has the final say in all matters. The President appoints and supervises the Council of Ministers, coordinates government decisions, and selects government policies to be placed before the legislature. 

As of 2008, the Legislature of Iran (also known as the Majlis of Iran) is a unicameral body. Before the Iranian Revolution, the legislature was bicameral, but the upper house was removed under the new constitution. 

The Supreme Leader appoints the head of Iran's Judiciary, who in turn appoints the head of the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor. There are public courts that deal with civil and criminal cases, and "revolutionary courts" which deal with certain offenses, including crimes against national security. 

Iran is an agrarian-industrial country with a developed petroleum industry. The country produces crude oil, coal, gas, copper, iron, Mg and Pb/Zn ores.  Iran is a well-known producer of carpets and metalware. The major agricultural produces include wheat, barley, rice, beans, cotton, sugar-beet, sugar cane, tobacco, tea and nuts.  

Iran ranks second in the world in natural gas reserves and also second in oil reserves. It is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (OPEC) second largest oil exporter.

Photo Gallery