Mithraism, the worship of Mithra, the Iranian god of the sun, justice, contract, and war in pre-Zoroastrian Iran. Known as Mithras in the Roman Empire during the 2nd and 3rd centuries ad, this deity was honoured as the patron of loyalty to the emperor. After the acceptance of Christianity by the emperor Constantine in the early 4th century, Mithraism rapidly declined.
Zayeshmehr also known as Yalda and Shab-e Cheleh in Persian is celebrated on the eve of the first day of the winter (December 21-22) in the Iranian calendar, which falls on the Winter Solstice and forty days before the next major Iranian festival “Jashn-e Sadeh (fire festival)”.
As the longest night of the year, the Eve of Zayeshmehr or the Birth of Mithra (Shab-e Yalda) is also a turning point, after which the days grow longer. It symbolised the triumph of Light and Goodness over the powers of Darkness.
Yalda celebration has great significance in the Iranian calendar. It is the eve of the birth of Mithra, the Sun God, who symbolised light, goodness and strength on earth. Shab-e Zayehmehr is a time of joy. The festival was considered pone of the most important celebrations in ancient Iran and continues to be celebrated to this day, for a period of more than 5000 years.
Yalda is a Syriac word meaning birth (NPer. milād is from the same origin) in the 3rd century CE, Mithra-worshippers adopted and used the term ‘yalda’ specifically with reference to the birth of Mithra.
The original Avestan and Old-Persian term for the celebration is unknown, but it is believed that in Parthian-Pahlavi and Sasanian-Pahlavi (Middle-Persian) it was known as Zāyishn (zāyīšn-i mithr/mihr – birth of Mithra). The New Persian “Shab-e Cheleh Festival” is a relatively recent term. The celebration was brought to Iranian plateau by the Aryan (Iranian) migrants around middle of the 2nd millenniums BCE, but the original date of celebration could be reach as far as pre-Zoroastrian era, around 3rd to 4th millennium BCE.
In Ancient Iran, the start of the solar year has been marked to celebrate the victory of light over darkness and the renewal of the Sun. The last day of the Iranian month of “Āzar” (21st December) is the longest night of the year, when the forces of Ahriman (darkness) are assumed to be at their peak. While the next day, the first day of the month of “Dey” known as “Khorram rūz” or “Khur rūz” (the day of the sun, 22 December) symbolises the creator, Ahura Mazda (the Lord of Wisdom). Since the days are getting longer and the nights shorter, this day marks the victory of the sun over darkness, and goodness over evil. The occasion was celebrated in the festival of “Deygān” dedicated to Ahura Mazda, on the first day of the month of “Dey” (December-January).
Fires would be burnt all night to ensure the defeat of the forces of Ahriman. There would be feasts, acts of charity and a number of Zoroastrian deities honoured and prayers performed to ensure the total victory of the sun that was essential for the protection of winter crops. There would be prayers to God Mithra (Mithr/Mihr/Mehr) and feasts in his honour, since Mithra is an īzad (av. Yazata) and responsible for protecting “the light of the early morning”, known as “Hāvangāh”. It was also believed that Ahura Mazda would grant people’s wishes in that day.
One of the themes of the festival was the temporary subversion of order, as the masters and servants reversed roles. The king dressed in white would change place with ordinary people. A mock king was crowned and masquerades spilled into the streets. As the old year died, rules of ordinary living were relaxed. This tradition in its original form persisted until the fall of Sasanian dynasty (224-651 CE), and is mentioned by the Persian polymath Bīruni and others in their recordings of pre-Islamic rituals and festivals.
The Iranian traditions merged into ancient Rome belief system, in a festival dedicated to the ancient god of seedtime, Saturn. The Romans exchanged gifts, partied and decorated their homes with greenery. Following the Iranian tradition, the usual order of the year was suspended. Grudges and quarrels would be forgotten and wars interrupted or postponed. Businesses, courts and schools were closed. Rich and poor became equal, masters served slaves, and children headed the family. Cross-dressing and masquerades, merriment of all kinds prevailed. A mock king, the Lord of Misrule, was crowned. Candles and lamps chased away the spirits of darkness.
Another related Roman festival celebrated at the same time was dedicated to “Sol Invictus” (the Invincible Sun) dedicated to the God Mithra. This ancient Iranian cult was spread into the Roman world by Emperor Elagabalus (r. 218 to 222 CE) and declared as the god of state.
With the spread of Christianity, Christmas celebration became the most important Christian festival. In the third century various dates, from December to April, were celebrated by Christians as Christmas. January 6th, was the most favoured day because it was thought to be Jesus’s Baptismal day (in the Greek Orthodox Church this continues to be the day to celebrate Christmas). In year 350, December 25th it was adopted in Rome and gradually almost the entire Christian church agreed to that date, which coincided, with the Winter solstice and the festivals, Sol Invicta and Saturnalia. Many of the rituals and traditions of the pre-Christian festivals were incorporated into the Christmas celebration and are still observed to this date.
It is not clear when and how the word “Yalda” entered to the Persian language. The massive persecution of early Christians in Rome which brought many Christian refugees into the Sasanian Empire and it is claimed that these Christians re-introduced and popularised “Yalda” in Iran. Gradually “Shab-e Yalda” and “Shab-e Cheleh” became synonymous and the two are used interchangeably. With the conquest of Islam the religious significance of the ancient Iranian festivals was lost. Today “Shab-e Cheleh” is merely a social occasion, when family and friends get together for fun and merriment. Different kinds of dried fruits, nuts, seeds and fresh winter fruits are consumed. The presence of dried and fresh fruits is reminiscence of the ancient feasts to celebrate and pray to the ancient deities to ensure the protection of the winter crops.
Iranian Jews, who are amongst the oldest inhabitants of the country, in addition to “Shab-e Cheleh”, also celebrate the festival of “Illanout” (tree festival) at around the same time. Illanout is very similar to the Shab-e Cheleh celebration. Candles are lit and all varieties of dried and fresh winter fruits are served. Special meals are prepared and prayers are performed. There are also very similar festivals in many parts of Southern Russia that are identical to “Shab-e Cheleh” with local variations. Sweetbreads are baked in the shape of humans and animals. Bonfires are made and dances resemble crop harvesting. Comparison and detailed studies of all these celebrations no doubt will shed more light on the forgotten aspects of this wonderful and ancient festival, where merriment was the main theme of the festival.
Because Shab-e Yalda is the longest and darkest night, it has become to symbolise many things in Persian poetry; separation from a beloved one, loneliness and waiting. After Shab-e Yalda a transformation takes place – the waiting is over, light shines and goodness prevails.
‘ The sight of you each morning is a New Year
Any night of your departure is the eve of Yalda’ (Sa’adi)
‘With all my pains, there is still the hope of recovery
Like the eve of Yalda, there will finally be an end’ (Sa’adi)
The Circle of Ancient Iranian Studies
PERSIAN, THE SECOND CLASSIC AND ANCIENT LANGUAGE
In conclusion of their three days conference in Berlin, in the second half of September 1872, linguists and theologians declared Persian as one of the four classic languages and in range with Greek, Latin and Sanskrit languages. In this conference, the Indo-European languages were discussed and studied. This conference put Persian language, from the classic point of view, as second in rank (after Greek). In this respect, the Persian language is one century older than Latin and 12 centuries older than English language. In this conference, the Avesta language was declared as a non colloquial branch of the Persian language and it was said that its origin is from East Khorasan (the northern part of present Afghanistan, Tajikestan and Transoxania), and therefore, most probably, Zarathushtra was born in this area and went to Azarbaijan from there.
In definition, a language that is, in the first place, ancient, secondly possessing rich literature, and thirdly has had little changes in the last millennium of its life is called classic. Therefore, judging was on basis of the literature of the language and percentage of its changes in the last 1000 years before judging is done. No language has been immune from changes in the course of time, but the less the changes are, the more classic the language remains and has more solidity ad stability. The language of the Persian speaking Iranians is the same language that Ferdowsi and Hafez have used in their poems; the same words, phrases and grammar. In the Berlin conference linguists and theologians accepted that in the medieval centuries Persian literature had the highest rank among literatures of other nations and in those centuries Iran had raised more poets, writers and thinkers (hakim = philosopher) than other nations and their words will remain pleasant to the ear and full of advice, till eternity.
In the conferences in 1922 and 1936 the rank of Persian language (second language) among the ancient and classic languages of Indo-Europe was again confirmed.
MAZDAK PROTO-SOCIALIST PERSIAN REFORMER
Mazdak is a persian name.
Mazdak is a forbidden name in Iran.
The reason why, is because in the 600 year century, there was a man named mazdak, he was a proto-socialist Persian reformer and religious activist. To say it more mild, he was against the islamic republic. Still there are groups named “Mazdaki” who tries to save the islamic countries from the religion. People who name their sons, Mazdak, is mostly because they are against the religious leadership in Iran, and uses the name to provokate.
I’m gonna call my son Mazdak, cause I just hate the leaders of Iran.
LIST OF KINGS OF IRAN (PERSIA)
1) Awan Dynasty (c. 2600–2270 BC)
2) Simashki Dynasty (c. 2070–c. 1975 BC)
3) Epartid Dynasty (c. 1975–c. 1500 BC)
4) Kidinuid Dynasty (c. 1500–c. 1370 BC)
5) Igehalkid Dynasty (c. 1400–c. 1200 BC)
6) Shutrukid Dynasty (c. 1200–c. 1000 BC)
7) Neo-Elamites (c. 821 – c. 640)
8) Median Empire (674–652 BC)
9) Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC)
10) Macedonian Empire (330–309 BC)
11) Seleucid Empire (311–129 BC)
12) Parthian Empire (247 BC – AD 228)
13) Sasanian Empire (224–651)
14) Rulers of Tabaristan
14.1) Dabuyid dynasty (642–760)
15) Rashidun Caliphate (651–661)
16) Umayyad Caliphate (661–750)
17) Abbasid Caliphate (750–946)
18) Saffarid dynasty (861–1003)
19) Buyid Empire (934–1062)
20) Great Seljuq Empire (1029–1194)
21) Khwarezmid Empire (1153–1231)
22) Mongol Empire (1230–1357)
23) Rival Dynasties (1332–1501)
23.1) Sarbadars (1332–1386)
23.2) Chupanids (1335–1357)
23.3) Jalayirids (1335–1432)
23.4) Injuids (1335–1357)
23.5) Muzaffarids (1314–1393)
23.6) Kara Koyunlu (1375–1468)
23.7) Ak Koyunlu (1378–1508)
23.8) Timurid Empire (1370–1507)
24) Safavid dynasty (1501–1786)
25) Afsharid dynasty (1736–1796)
26) Zand dynasty (1751–1794)
27) Qajar dynasty (1794–1925)
28) Pahlavi dynasty (1925–1979)
AFTER OCCUPIED IN 1979
Known as Persia until 1935, Iran became an Islamic republic in 1979 after the ruling monarchy was overthrown and Shah Mohammad Reza PAHLAVI was forced into exile. Conservative clerical forces led by Ayatollah Ruhollah KHOMEINI established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar referred to commonly as the Supreme Leader who, according to the constitution, is accountable only to the Assembly of Experts – a popularly elected 86-member body of clerics. US-Iranian relations became strained when a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and held embassy personnel hostages until mid-January 1981. The US cut off diplomatic relations with Iran in April 1980.
During the period 1980-88, Iran fought a bloody, indecisive war with Iraq that eventually expanded into the Persian Gulf and led to clashes between US Navy and Iranian military forces. Iran has been designated a state sponsor of terrorism for its activities in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world and remains subject to US, UN, and EU economic sanctions and export controls because of its continued involvement in terrorism and concerns over possible military dimensions of its nuclear program.
Following the election of reformer Hojjat ol-Eslam Mohammad KHATAMI as president in 1997 and a reformist Majles (legislature) in 2000, a campaign to foster political reform in response to popular dissatisfaction was initiated. The movement floundered as conservative politicians, supported by the Supreme Leader, unelected institutions of authority like the Council of Guardians, and the security services reversed and blocked reform measures while increasing security repression.
Starting with nationwide municipal elections in 2003 and continuing through Majles elections in 2004, conservatives reestablished control over Iran’s elected government institutions, which culminated with the August 2005 inauguration of hardliner Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD as president. His controversial reelection in June 2009 sparked nationwide protests over allegations of electoral fraud. These protests were quickly suppressed, and the political opposition that arouse as a consequence of AHMADI-NEJAD’s election was repressed.
Deteriorating economic conditions due primarily to government mismanagement and international sanctions prompted at least two major economically based protests in July and October 2012, but Iran’s internal security situation remained stable. President AHMADI-NEJAD’s independent streak angered regime establishment figures, including the Supreme Leader, leading to conservative opposition to his agenda for the last year of his presidency, and an alienation of his political supporters.
In June 2013 Iranians elected a moderate conservative cleric, Dr. Hasan Fereidun RUHANI to the presidency. He is a long-time senior member in the regime, but has made promises of reforming society and Iran’s foreign policy. The UN Security Council has passed a number of resolutions calling for Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities and comply with its IAEA obligations and responsibilities, but in November 2013 the five permanent members, plus Germany, (P5+1) signed a joint plan with Iran to provide the country with incremental relief from international pressure for positive steps toward transparency of their nuclear program.
SADDAM HUSSEIN WAR
The protracted war between these neighboring Middle Eastern countries resulted in at least half a million casualties and several billion dollars’ worth of damages, but no real gains by other side. Started by Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein in September 1980, the war was marked by indiscriminate ballistic-missile attacks, extensive use of chemical weapons and attacks on third-country oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. Although Iraq was forced on the strategic defensive, Iran was unable to reconstitute effective armored formations for its air force and could not penetrate Iraq’s borders deeply enough to achieve decisive results. The end came in July 1988 with the acceptance UN Resolution 598.
INFORMATION ABOUT IRAN
Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan.
Geographic coordinates: 32 00 N, 53 00 E
Total: 1,648,195 sq km
Country comparison to the world: 18
Land: 1,531,595 sq km
Water: 116,600 sq km
Total: 5,894 km
Afghanistan 921 km, Armenia 44 km, Azerbaijan 689 km, Iraq 1,599 km, Pakistan 959 km, Turkey 534 km, Turkmenistan 1,148 km
2,440 km; note – Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km)
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf.
Continental shelf: natural prolongation
Climate: mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast.
Terrain: rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts.
Lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
Highest point: Kuh-e Damavand 5,671 m
Petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur.
Arable land: 10.05 permanent crops: 1.08%
Other: 88.86% (2011)
Irrigated land: 87,000 sq km (2009)
Total renewable water resources: 137 cu km (2011)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 93.3 cu km/yr (7%/1%/92%) per capita: 1,306 cu m/yr (2004)
Periodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes.
Current issues: air pollution, especially in urban areas, from vehicle emissions, refinery operations, and industrial effluents; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; oil pollution in the Persian Gulf; wetland losses from drought; soil degradation (salination); inadequate supplies of potable water; water pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste; urbanization.
International agreements party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation.
Note: strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport.
Persian 61%, Azeri 16%, Kurd 10%, Lur 6%, Baloch 2%, Arab 2%, Turkmen and Turkic tribes 2%, other 1%
Persian (official) 53%, Azeri Turkic and Turkic dialects 18%, Kurdish 10%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 7%, Luri 6%, Balochi 2%, Arabic 2%, other 2%
Muslim (official)(unwanted) 99.4% (Shia 90-95%, Sunni 5-10%), other (includes Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian) 0.3%, unspecified 0.4% (2011 est.)
80,840,713 (July 2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 19
0-14 years: 23.7% (male 9,834,866/female 9,350,017) 15-24 years: 18.7% (male 7,757,256/female 7,341,309) 25-54 years: 46.1% (male 18,955,874/female 18,289,849) 55-64 years: 6.3% (male 2,519,630/female 2,603,458) 65 years and over: 5.1% (male 1,941,692/female 2,246,762) (2014 est.)
Total dependency ratio: 41.5 %
Youth dependency ratio: 33.9 %
Elderly dependency ratio: 7.6 %
Potential support ratio: 13.1 (2014 est.)
Total: 28.3 years
Male: 28 years
Female: 28.6 years (2014 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.22% (2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 97
18.23 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 105
5.94 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 168
Net migration rate:
-0.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 115
Urban population: 69.1% of total population (2011)
Rate of urbanization: 1.25% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Major urban areas
Population: TEHRAN (capital) 7.304 million; Mashhad 2.713 million; Esfahan 1.781 million; Karaj 1.635 million; Tabriz 1.509 million; Shiraz 1.321 million (2011)
At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female 0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female 25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 55-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
Maternal mortality rate:
21 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
Country comparison to the world: 137
Infant mortality rate:
Total: 39 deaths/1,000 live births
Country comparison to the world: 55
Male: 39.53 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 38.45 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Total population: 70.89 years
Country comparison to the world: 148
Male: 69.32 years
Female: 72.53 years (2014 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.85 children born/woman (2014 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 146
Contraceptive prevalence rate:
6% of GDP (2011)
Country comparison to the world: 110
0.89 physicians/1,000 population (2005)
Hospital bed density:
1.7 beds/1,000 population (2009)
Drinking water source:
Urban: 97.7% of population
Rural: 91.7% of population
Total: 95.9% of population
Urban: 2.3% of population
Rural: 8.3% of population
Total: 4.1% of population (2012 est.)
Sanitation facility access:
Urban: 92.8% of population
Rural: 81.6% of population
Total: 89.4% of population
Urban: 7.2% of population
Rural: 18.4% of population
Total: 10.6% of population (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS – Adult prevalence rate:
0.2% (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 102
People living with HIV/AIDS:
70,900 (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 54
HIV/AIDS – Deaths:
4,600 (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 43
Major infectious diseases:
Degree of risk: Intermediate
Food or waterborne diseases: Bacterial diarrhoea
Vectorborne diseases: Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever
Note: Highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2013).
Obesity – Adult prevalence rate:
Country comparison to the world: 99
Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 4.6% (2004)
Country comparison to the world: 92
3.7% of GDP (2012)
Country comparison to the world: 119
Definition: Age 15 and over can read and write.
Total population: 85%
Female: 80.7% (2008 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
Total: 15 years
Male: 15 years
Female: 15 years (2012)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
Country comparison to the world: 48
Female: 33.9% (2008)
Conventional long form: Islamic Republic of Iran
Conventional short form: Iran
Local long form: Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran
Local short form: Iran
Geographic coordinates: 35 42 N, 51 25 E
UTC+3.5 (8.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Daylight saving time: +1hr, begins fourth Tuesday in March; ends fourth Thursday in September
31 provinces (ostanha, singular – ostan); Alborz, Ardabil, Azarbayjan-e Gharbi (West Azerbaijan), Azarbayjan-e Sharqi (East Azerbaijan), Bushehr, Chahar Mahal va Bakhtiari, Esfahan, Fars, Gilan, Golestan, Hamadan, Hormozgan, Ilam, Kerman, Kermanshah, Khorasan-e Jonubi (South Khorasan), Khorasan-e Razavi (Razavi Khorasan), Khorasan-e Shomali (North Khorasan), Khuzestan, Kohgiluyeh va Bowyer Ahmad, Kordestan, Lorestan, Markazi, Mazandaran, Qazvin, Qom, Semnan, Sistan va Baluchestan, Tehran, Yazd, Zanjan
1 April 1979 (Islamic Republic of Iran proclaimed); notable earlier dates: 16 January 1979 (Shah Reza PAHLAVI flees Iran to escape popular political revolt against his rule); 12 December 1925 (modern Iran established under the PAHLAVI Dynasty); 1905-1907 (constitutional revolution resulting in establishment of a parliament); A.D. 1501 (Iran reunified under the Safavid Dynasty)
Republic Day, 1 April (1979)
Previous 1906; latest adopted 24 October 1979, effective 3 December 1979; amended 1989 (2013)
Religious legal system based on secular and Islamic law
International law organization participation:
Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
18 years of age; universal
Chief of state: Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 4 June 1989)
Head of government: President Hasan Fereidun RUHANI (since 3 August 2013); First Vice President Eshaq JAHANGIRI (since 5 August 2013)
Cabinet: Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval; the Supreme Leader has some control over appointments to the more sensitive ministries
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
Note: Also considered part of the Executive branch of government are three oversight bodies: 1) Council of Guardians of the Constitution or Council of Guardians or Guardians Council (Shora-ye Negban-e Qanon-e Asasi) determines whether proposed legislation is both constitutional and faithful to Islamic law, vets candidates in popular elections for suitability, and supervises national elections; 2) Assembly of Experts (Majles-e Khoebregan), an elected consultative body of senior clerics constitutionally mandated to select, appoint, supervise, and dismiss the Supreme Leader; 3) Expediency Council or the Council for the Discernment of Expediency (Majma-ye- Tashkhis-e -Maslahat-e- Nezam) resolves legislative issues when the Majles and the Council of Guardians disagree and since 1989 has been used to advise national religious leaders on matters of national policy; in 2005 the Council’s powers were expanded to act as a supervisory body for the government.
Supreme leader appointed for life by the Assembly of Experts; president elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term and additional nonconsecutive term); election last held on 14 June 2013 (next presidential election to be held in June 2017).
Election Results: Hasan Fereidun RUHANI 50.7%, Mohammad Baqer QALIBAF 16.5%, Saeed JALILI 11.4%, Mohsen REZAI 10.6%, Ali Akber VELAYATI 6.2%, other 4.6%
Unicameral Islamic Consultative Assembly or Majles-e Shura-ye Eslami or Majles (290 seats; members elected by popular vote from single and multimember districts to serve four-year terms).
Elections: last held on 2 March 2012 (first round); second round held on 4 May 2012; (next election to be held in 2016).
Election results: percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – NA
Highest court(s): Supreme Court (consists of a president and NA judges)
Judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court president appointed by the head of the Supreme Judicial Council in consultation with judges of the Supreme Court; president appointed for a 5-year term; other judge appointments and tenure NA
Subordinate courts: Penal Courts I and II; Islamic Revolutionary Courts; Courts of Peace; Special Clerical Court (functions outside the judicial system and handles cases involving clerics); military courts.
Political parties and leaders:
Note: Formal political parties are a relatively new phenomenon in Iran and most conservatives still prefer to work through political pressure groups rather than parties; often political parties or coalitions are formed prior to elections and disbanded soon thereafter; a loose pro-reform coalition called the 2nd Khordad Front, which includes political parties as well as less formal groups and organisations, achieved considerable success in elections for the sixth Majles in early 2000; groups in the coalition included the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), Executives of Construction Party (Kargozaran), Solidarity Party, Islamic Labor Party, Mardom Salari, Mojahedin of the Islamic Revolution Organisation (MIRO), and Militant Clerics Society (MCS; Ruhaniyun); the coalition participated in the seventh Majles elections in early 2004 but boycotted them after 80 incumbent reformists were disqualified; following his defeat in the 2005 presidential elections, former MCS Secretary General and sixth Majles Speaker Mehdi KARUBI formed the National Trust Party; a new conservative group, Islamic Iran Developers Coalition (Abadgaran), took a leading position in the new Majles after winning a majority of the seats in February 2004; ahead of the 2008 Majles elections, traditional and hardline conservatives attempted to close ranks under the United Front of Principlists and the Broad Popular Coalition of Principlists; several reformist groups, such as the MIRO and the IIPF, also came together as a reformist coalition in advance of the 2008 Majles elections; the IIPF has repeatedly complained that the overwhelming majority of its candidates were unfairly disqualified from the 2008 elections.
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Groups that generally support the Islamic Republic:
- Ansar-e Hizballah
- Followers of the Line of the Imam and the Leader
- Islamic Coalition Party (Motalefeh)
- Islamic Engineers Society
- Tehran Militant Clergy Association (MCA; Ruhaniyat)
Active pro-reform student group:
Office of Strengthening Unity (OSU)
- Freedom Movement of Iran
- Green Path movement [Mehdi KARUBI, Mir-Hosein MUSAVI]
- Marz-e Por Gohar
- National Front
- Various ethnic and monarchist organisations
Armed political groups repressed by the government:
- Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI)
- Harekat-e Ansar-e Iran (splinter faction of Jundallah)
- Jaysh l-Adl (formerly known as Jundallah)
- Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK or MKO)
- People’s Fedayeen
- People’s Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK)
- International organization participation:
- CICA, CP, D-8, ECO, FAO, G-15, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, MIGA, NAM, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, SAARC (observer), SCO (observer), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Note – Iran has an Interests Section in the Pakistani Embassy;
Address: Iranian Interests Section, Pakistani Embassy, 2209 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007; telephone:  (202) 965-4990; FAX  (202) 965-1073
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Note – the US Interests Section is located in the Embassy of Switzerland No. 39 Shahid Mousavi (Golestan 5th), Pasdaran Ave., Tehran, Iran; telephone  21 2254 2178/2256 5273; FAX  21 2258 0432
Three equal horizontal bands of green (top), white, and red; the national emblem (a stylized representation of the word Allah in the shape of a tulip, a symbol of martyrdom) in red is centered in the white band; ALLAH AKBAR (God is Great) in white Arabic script is repeated 11 times along the bottom edge of the green band and 11 times along the top edge of the red band; green is the color of Islam and also represents growth, white symbolizes honesty and peace, red stands for bravery and martyrdom.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$987.1 billion (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 19
$1.002 trillion (2012 est.)
$1.021 trillion (2011 est.)
Note: data are in 2013 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$411.9 billion (2013 est.)
GDP – real growth rate:
-1.5% (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 208
-1.9% (2012 est.)
3% (2011 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP):
$12,800 (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 103
$13,200 (2012 est.)
$13,600 (2011 est.)
Note: data are in 2013 US dollars
Gross national saving:
30.3% of GDP (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 28
30.3% of GDP (2012 est.)
36.6% of GDP (2011 est.)
GDP – composition, by end use:
Household consumption: 45.4%
Government consumption: 14.1%
Investment in fixed capital: 31.1%
Investment in inventories: 1.2%
Exports of goods and services: 20.8%
Imports of goods and services: -12.7%
GDP – composition, by sector of origin:
Services: 44.5% (2013 est.)
Agriculture – products:
Wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, sugarcane, fruits, nuts, cotton; dairy products, wool; caviar
Petroleum, petrochemicals, fertilizers, caustic soda, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), ferrous and non-ferrous metal fabrication, armaments
Industrial production growth rate:
-5.2% (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 191
Country comparison to the world: 23
Note: shortage of skilled labor (2013 est.)
Labor force – by occupation:
Services: 48.7% (2012 est.)
16% (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 142
15.5% (2012 est.)
Note: data are according to the Iranian Government
Population below poverty line:
18.7% (2007 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Lowest 10%: 2.6%
Highest 10%: 29.6% (2005)
Distribution of family income – Gini index:
Country comparison to the world: 45
Revenues: $47.84 billion
Expenditures: $66.38 billion (2013 est.)
Taxes and other revenues:
11.6% of GDP (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 205
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
-4.5% of GDP (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 160
18.7% of GDP (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 137
18.6% of GDP (2012 est.)
Note: includes publicly guaranteed debt
21 March – 20 March
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
42.3% (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 221
30.5% (2012 est.)
Note: official Iranian estimate
Central bank discount rate:
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
12% (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 74
11% (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of narrow money:
$26.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 62
$42.91 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of broad money:
$65.02 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 65
$104.6 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of domestic credit:
$42.32 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 63
$77.74 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$NA (31 December 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 34
$140.8 billion (31 December 2012)
$107.2 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
Current account balance:
-$8.659 billion (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 174
-$9.333 billion (2012 est.)
$61.22 billion (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 53
$67.04 billion (2012 est.)
petroleum 80%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, carpets
China 22.1%, India 11.9%, Turkey 10.6%, South Korea 7.6%, Japan 7.1% (2012)
$64.42 billion (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 46
$70.03 billion (2012 est.)
Industrial supplies, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services
UAE 33.2%, China 13.8%, Turkey 11.8%, South Korea 7.4% (2012)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$68.06 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 32
$74.06 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Debt – external:
$15.64 billion (2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 87
$17.25 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home:
$41.45 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 56
$37.31 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad
$3.645 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 65
$3.345 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Iranian rials (IRR) per US dollar –
18,517.2 (2013 est.)
12,175.5 (2012 est.)
10,254.18 (2010 est.)
Note: Iran devalued its currency in July 2013
Energy in Iran
239.7 billion kWh (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 18
199.8 billion kWh (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 19
6.707 billion kWh (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 25
3.015 billion kWh (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 45
Installed generating capacity:
62.09 million kW (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 15
From fossil fuels:
86.2% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 87
From nuclear fuels:
0% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 109
From hydroelectric plants:
13.7% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 104
From other renewable sources:
0.2% of total installed capacity (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 96
3.594 million bbl/day (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 6
2.445 million bbl/day (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 3
15,600 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 71
154.6 billion bbl (1 January 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 4
Refined petroleum products
1.718 million bbl/day (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 12
1.709 million bbl/day (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 14
330,800 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 21
180,400 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 29
162.6 billion cu m (2012 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 4
144.6 billion cu m (2010 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 5
9.05 billion cu m (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 26
10.59 billion cu m (2011 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 29
33.61 trillion cu m (1 January 2013 est.)
Country comparison to the world: 2
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:
624.9 million Mt (2011 est.)
COMMUNICATIONS IN IRAN
Telephones – main lines in use:
28.76 million (2012)
Country comparison to the world: 12
Telephones – mobile cellular:
58.16 million (2012)
Country comparison to the world: 24
Currently being modernized and expanded with the goal of not only improving the efficiency and increasing the volume of the urban service but also bringing telephone service to several thousand villages, not presently connected.
The addition of new fiber cables and modern switching and exchange systems installed by Iran’s state-owned telecom company have improved and expanded the fixed-line network greatly; fixed-line availability has more than doubled to more than 27 million lines since 2000; additionally, mobile-cellular service has increased dramatically serving roughly 56 million subscribers in 2011; combined fixed and mobile-cellular subscribership now exceeds 100 per 100 persons.
International Country code – 98;
Submarine fiber-optic cable to UAE with access to Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fiber-optic line runs from Azerbaijan through the northern portion of Iran to Turkmenistan with expansion to Georgia and Azerbaijan; HF radio and microwave radio relay to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Kuwait, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; satellite earth stations – 13 (9 Intelsat and 4 Inmarsat) (2011)
State-run broadcast media with no private, independent broadcasters; Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), the state-run TV broadcaster, operates 5 nationwide channels, a news channel, about 30 provincial channels, and several international channels; about 20 foreign Persian-language TV stations broadcasting on satellite TV are capable of being seen in Iran; satellite dishes are illegal and, while their use had been tolerated, authorities began confiscating satellite dishes following the unrest stemming from the 2009 presidential election; IRIB operates 8 nationwide radio networks, a number of provincial stations, and an external service; most major international broadcasters transmit to Iran (2009).
Internet country code:
Country comparison to the world: 72
8.214 million (2009)
Country comparison to the world: 35
Country comparison to the world: 22
Airports – with paved runways:
Over 3,047 m: 42
2,438 to 3,047 m: 29
1,524 to 2,437 m: 26
914 to 1,523 m: 36
Under 914 m: 7 (2013)
Airports – with unpaved runways:
Over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
914 to 1,523 m: 135
Under 914 m:
condensate 7 km; condensate/gas 973 km; gas 20,794 km; liquid petroleum gas 570 km; oil 8,625 km; refined products 7,937 km (2013)
Total: 8,442 km
Country comparison to the world: 24
Broad gauge: 94 km 1.676-m gauge
Standard gauge: 8,348 km 1.435-m gauge (148 km electrified) (2008)
Total: 198,866 km
Country comparison to the world: 26
Paved: 160,366 km (includes 1,948 km of expressways)
Unpaved: 38,500 km (2010)
850 km (on Karun River; some navigation on Lake Urmia) (2012)
Country comparison to the world: 70
Country comparison to the world: 60
By type: bulk carrier 8, cargo 51, chemical tanker 3, container 4, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 2, refrigerated cargo 2, roll on/roll off 2
Foreign-owned: 2 (UAE 2)
Registered in other countries: 71 (Barbados 5, Cyprus 10, Hong Kong 3, Malta 48, Panama 5) (2010)
Ports and terminals:
Major seaport(s): Bandar-e Asaluyeh, Bandar Abbas
River port(s): Bandar Emam Khomeyni (Shatt al-Arab)
Container port(s) (TEUs): Bandar Abbas (2,752,460)
Islamic Republic of Iran Regular Forces (Artesh): Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force (IRIAF), Khatemolanbia Air Defense Headquarters; Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Sepah-e Pasdaran-e Enqelab-e Eslami, IRGC): Ground Resistance Forces, Navy, Aerospace Force, Quds Force (special operations); Law Enforcement Forces (2011)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for compulsory military service; 16 years of age for volunteers; 17 years of age for Law Enforcement Forces; 15 years of age for Basij Forces (Popular Mobilization Army); conscript military service obligation is 18 months; women exempt from military service (2012)
Manpower available for military service:
Males age 16-49: 23,619,215
Females age 16-49: 22,628,341 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
Males age 16-49: 20,149,222
Females age 16-49: 19,417,275 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
Female: 677,372 (2010 est.)
TRANSNATIONAL ISSUES IN IRAN
Disputes – international:
Iran protests Afghanistan’s limiting flow of dammed Helmand River tributaries during drought; Iraq’s lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Iran and UAE dispute Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island, which are occupied by Iran; Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia ratified Caspian seabed delimitation treaties based on equidistance, while Iran continues to insist on a one-fifth slice of the sea; Afghan and Iranian commissioners have discussed boundary monument densification and resurvey.
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Refugees (country of origin): 43,268 (Iraq) (2013); 2.4 million (1 million registered, 1.4 million undocumented) (Afghanistan) (2014)
Trafficking in persons:
Current situation: Iran is a presumed source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; Iranian and Afghan boys and girls are forced into prostitution domestically; Iranian women are subjected to sex trafficking in Iran, Pakistan, the Persian Gulf, and Europe; Azerbaijani women and children are also sexually exploited in Iran; Afghan migrants and refugees and Pakistani men and women are subjected to conditions of forced labor in Iran; NGO reports indicate that criminal organizations play a significant role in human trafficking in Iran.
Tier 3 – Iran does not comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government does not share information on its anti-trafficking efforts, making it difficult to assess the country’s human trafficking problem or the government’s attempts to curb it; NGOs report that laws against human trafficking, forced labor, and debt bondage remain unenforced because of a lack of political will and widespread political corruption; there is no evidence that the government has a process to identify trafficking victims, refers victims to protective services, or has made efforts to prevent human trafficking (2013).
Despite substantial interdiction efforts and considerable control measures along the border with Afghanistan, Iran remains one of the primary transshipment routes for Southwest Asian heroin to Europe; suffers one of the highest opiate addiction rates in the world, and has an increasing problem with synthetic drugs; lacks anti-money laundering laws; has reached out to neighboring countries to share counter-drug intelligence.
CHINGFORD: Iran’s ‘government in exile’ celebrates 14th anniversary
THE self-proclaimed “Iranian Government in exile” has celebrated its 14th anniversary – at its international headquarters in Chingford.
The group, which founded the United Iranian Party (UIP) in Cyprus in 1997, wants to see the overthrow of the Islamic republic’s dictatorial regime and the introduction of free elections.
Its modest but high-security building in Connaught Avenue, off Station Road, has been the subject of curiosity from Chingford residents and has even been mistaken for the Iranian embassy.
But, despite its otherwise low profile, the group says it has tens of thousands of members worldwide – including 150,000 covert supporters in Iran.
The UIP is battling for international diplomatic recognition to show Iranians that there is an alternative to its current leadership of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah khomeini.
Party co-ordinator Ali Befroei, 55, who lives nearby in Chingford Mount, fled Iran to Cyprus in the 1980s following the Islamic Revolution which brought the regime to power in 1979.
He escaped with his daughters after his wife was imprisoned for campaigning against the country’s new rulers.
When she was eventually released it was discovered she had leukaemia, and Cypriot doctors sent the family to the UK for treatment in 1991.
She died within a week and, with certain imprisonment or even execution awaiting them in Iran, Mr Befroi and his family settled in England.
“The people running Iran are mad – they’ve killed five people million and now they want to have an atomic bomb. It’s very worrying. The people are very unhappy”, he said.
“If you want heroin or hashish you go into the street and it takes two minutes. But if you want bread who have to wait half an hour. What kind of Government ruling is that?”
Mr Befroei and his family have lived in various parts of London but says he likes Chingford best because its residents are friendly and is far away from other areas of the capital populated by factions hostile to his party, such as Hezbollah.
Mr Befroei said his fellow Iranians in exile had been inspired by the Arab Spring, which saw dictators overthrown in Egypt and Libya.
He strongly believes legitimate change can only come with a people-led revolution, and says it would be a big mistake if the West used force against Iran.
He said: “I like England very much and it is my home now but of course I’d like to go back. But the main thing is I just want my country to be free.”