The Land
Iran (officially The Islamic Republic of Iran) is a vast country in southwest Asia. Covering a surface area of 1,648,195 square kilo meters, it is bordered by Iraq (1,609 km) on the west, Turkey (486 km) on the northwest, the Republics of Armenia, Azarbaijan, Turkmanistan (all parts of the former Soviet Union), as well as the Caspian Sea (2,670 km) on the north, Afghanistan (945 km) on the east, Pakistan (978 km) on the southeast, the Persian Gulf (1,259 km) and the Sea of Oman (748 km) on the south. The Persian Gulf is the shallow marginal part of the Indian Ocean that lies between the Arabian Peninsula and the southwest Iran. The sea has an area of 240,000 square kilometers from the ArvandRud (Shatt ol-Arab) delta to the Strait of Hormoz, which links it with the Sea of Oman. Its linear length is 900 km, and its width varies from a maximum of 338 km to minimum of 55 km in the Strait of Hormoz. It is bordered on the north, northeast and east by Iran, on the northwest by Iraq and Kuwait, on the west and southwest by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and on the south and the southeast by the United Arab Emirates and partly by Oman.
The Sea of Oman opens into the Arabian Sea. It was generally thought that the gulf extended farther north and that sediment dropped by the Tigris, Euphrates, Karun, and Karkheh rivers filled the northern part of the gulf to create a great delta. But geologic investigation now indicates that the coastline has not moved and that the marshlands of the delta represent a sinking of the earth's crust as the Arabian land block pushes under Iran.
The Islands
Regardless of Bahrain as the largest island which belonged to Iran until the early second half of the 20th century, Iran has the largest number of islands in the Persian Gulf, the most important of which are as follows: Minoo, Kharg (Iranian oil terminal, 6 km long, 3 km wide, site of one of the world's largest deep-water oil ports, and linked to the mainland by a 40-km pipeline), Sheikh Sa'ad, Sheikh Sho'ayb, Hendurabi, Kish (largest island of Iran in the Strait of Hormoz, 1,300 sq. km), Farur, Siri, Abu Mussa, the Greater and Lesser Tumbs, Qeshm, Hengam, Larak, Farsi, Hormoz, and Lavan. The most significant Iranian ports on the Persian Gulf are Abadan, Khorramshahr, Bandar-e Imam Khomeini (former Shahpur), Mahshahr, Deilam, Genaveh, Rig, Bushehr, Bandar-e Lengeh, and Bandar-e Abbas.
The Rivers
Several rivers are flowing inside Iranian mainland, the only navigable one of which is the Karun (920-km). Other large rivers are: The Atrak (535 km), Dez (515 km), Hendijan (488 km), Jovein (440 km) Jarahi (438 km), Karkheh (755 km), Mand (685 km), Qara Chai (540 km), SefidRud (795 km), and the ZayandehRud (405 km). During the summertime, there is little water flowing in the mainland rivers. However, water flows underground, finding its outlets in subterranean water canals (locally called qanats), springs, and tapped by wells.
The Mountains
The high Alborz range in the north, the Zagros range in the west and southwest as well as the eastern mountains of Iran, which surround the Iranian Plateau, provide Iran with a ruggedly mountainous terrain.
According to 1992 census, some 33, 137,567 or 57.3% of the total population were living in cities and towns, while 24,972,660 or 42.97% were either living in rural areas or migrating.