Country of the World Iran Part 1

About the country Iran, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: Iran lies in southwest Asia with the Caspian Sea to the north and the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea to the south. Much of the country consists of a plateau 3,000 to 5,000 ft. high, fringed on all sides by mountain ranges. Across this central plateau stretch the Dasht-i-Kavir ("Great Sand Desert") and the Dasht-i-Lut ("Great Salt Desert"). Unlike the rest of the country, the Caspian region is semitropical and fertile. Temperatures range from-12 deg. F in the northwestern provinces during the winter to 138 deg. F along the Persian Gulf in summer.

Size: 636, 293 sq. mi. (1,648,000 sq. km.).

Population: 35.9 million.

Who Rules: The shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, as constitutional monarch and commander in chief of the armed forces, through the appointed Council of Ministers. The constitution provides for a popularly elected National Assembly and for a Senate, half of whose members are appointed by the shah. The monarch has veto power over all legislation as well as the power to dissolve either or both houses at any time.

Who REALLY Rules: The shah, as an absolute monarch, supported by a sycophantic industrial-bureaucratic elite, foreign capitalists, a vast (U.S.-supplied and-managed) military machine, and an extensive network of police agents and informers. In 1975 the shah abandoned any pretense of parliamentary democracy when he decreed Iran a one-party state. In the summer of 1977 the Rastakhiz ("Resurgence") party claimed a membership of 6 million persons organized in 500,000 chapters.

Major trends in international affairs since the mid-1960s have strengthened the shah's dictatorship. Following British withdrawal from east of Suez in the period 1968-1971, primary responsibility for maintaining capitalist "stability" in the gulf passed to Iran. The shah has taken his new role as a junior partner seriously. In 1972 he seized three strategic islands near the Strait of Hormuz belonging to the United Arab Emirates, claiming that it was Iran's responsibility to protect the flow of oil from the gulf. In 1973 he sent counterinsurgency forces to help the Sultan of Oman crush the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman. In 1972 Nixon secretly guaranteed the shah access to all the U. S. arms he could afford, including the F-14, a state-of-the-art air superiority fighter. Since the steep rise in oil prices in 1973, the shah has had the revenues to purchase an average $2 billion worth of U. S. weapons annually. A 1976 Senate report estimated that from 50,000 to 60,000 Americans would be in Iran by 1980, most of them in connection with the arms program.

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