Iran, Islamic Rep of

The Islamic Republic of Iran is located in south-western Asia and has an area of about 1 633 190 km2. It is bordered on the north by Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and the Caspian Sea; on the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan; on the south by the Gulf of Oman, the Strait of Hormuz, and the Persian Gulf; and on the west by Iraq and Turkey.

Iran is a land of diverse topography, ranging from high, snow-capped mountains to fertile valleys to barren deserts. The centre of the country is a high (about 1 200 m above sea level) plateau, ringed by mountain chains. Much of the plateau consists of desert, the Dasht-e Kavir, covered mainly with salt, and the Dasht-e Lut, covered largely with sand and rocks.

In the north, to the south of the Caspian Sea, are the Elburz Mountains, forming a barrier between the low Caspian coast and the interior. Mount Damavand rises to 5 604 m, forming Iran´s highest peak. Prevailing winds from the north-west bring plentiful moisture to the Caspian coast and the northern slopes of the mountains.

The Zagros Mountains extend to the south-east from Turkey and Azerbaijan along the country´s western border to the Persian Gulf. Smaller mountain ranges lie along the Gulf of Oman and the borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Khuzistan Plain lies at the north end of the Persian Gulf, between the border of Iraq and the Zagros Mountains.

Iran´s climate is varied due to its topography. The area along the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman can be extremely hot and humid with average summer temperatures up to 35° C. The central highland, because of its elevation, is temperate but extremely arid. Tehran´s average temperature ranges from -3° to 7° C in January and 22° to 37° C in July.

The Elburz Mountains can be very cold, with temperatures occasionally falling as low as -9° C. The Caspian Sea coast, on the other hand, is mild with temperatures seldom above 32° C or below freezing.

Most of the Interior Plateau has a very dry climate. Teheran, which lies at the foot of the Elburz Mountains, receives about 250 mm of rain a year, but the deserts to the south and east average only about 50 mm of rainfall yearly. Abadan, on the Persian Gulf, receives less than 200 mm. The Caspian coast is the one area receives abundant rainfall, averaging 1 000 mm a year.

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

last updated:  Monday, May 28, 2012