The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Demographics of Iran

The statistics in this article come from the CIA World Factbook, 2004 edition.

More than two-thirds of Iran's people are of Aryan origin; their ancestors migrated into Iran from Central Asia. The major groups in this category include Persians, Kurds, Lurs, and Baluchi. The remainder are primarily Turkic (such as the Qashqais of southeastern Iran) but also include Arabs, Armenians, Jews, and Assyrians.

The 1979 Islamic revolution and the war with Iraq transformed Iran's class structure politically, socially, and economically. In general, however, Iranian society remains divided into urban, market-town, village, and tribal groups. Clerics, called mullahs, dominate politics and nearly all aspects of Iranian life, both urban and rural. After the fall of the Pahlavi regime in 1979, much of the urban upper class of prominent merchants, industrialists, and professionals, favored by the former Shah, lost standing and influence to the senior clergy and their supporters. Bazaar merchants, who were allied with the clergy against the Pahlavi shahs, have also gained political and economic power since the revolution. The urban working class has enjoyed somewhat enhanced status and economic mobility, spurred in part by opportunities provided by revolutionary organizations and the government bureaucracy.

Unemployment, a major problem even before the revolution, has many causes, including population growth, the war with Iraq, and shortages of raw materials and trained managers. Farmers and peasants received a psychological boost from the attention given them by the Islamic regime but appear to be hardly better off in economic terms. The government has made progress on rural development, including electrification and road building but has not yet made a commitment to land redistribution.

Most Iranians are Muslims; 89% belong to the Shi'a branch of Islam, the official state religion, and about 10% belong to the Sunni branch, which predominates in neighboring Muslim countries. Non-Muslim minorities include Zoroastrians, Jews, Bahá'ís, and Christians.

Non-Muslim minorities have been shrinking in the past few decades in absolute and relative terms. At the time of the Islamic Revolution there were 80,000 Jews in Iran, today there are only 11,000. Zoroastrian, Bahá'í, and Christian communities are seeing similar contraction. Today there are actually fewer Chaldean Christians (about 8,000) than there are Jews.

Population: 69,018,924 (July 2004 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 28% (male 9,935,527; female 9,411,647)
15-64 years: 67.2% (male 23,608,621; female 22,744,128)
65 years and over: 4.8% (male 1,645,246; female 1,673,755) (2004 est.)

Median age:
total: 23.5 years
male: 23.3 years
female: 23.7 years (2004 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.07% (2004 est.)

Birth rate: 17.1 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)

Death rate: 5.53 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)

Net migration rate: -0.84 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.98 male(s)/female
total population: 1.04 male(s)/female (2004 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 43.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 69.66 years
male: 68.31 years
female: 71.07 years (2004 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.93 children born/woman (2004 est.)

noun: Iranian(s) -- adjective: Iranian

Ethnic groups: Persians 51%, Azeris 24%, Gilaki and Mazandarani 8%, Kurds 7%, Arabs 3%, Lur 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmen 2%, other 1%

Religions: Shi'a Muslim 89%, Sunni Muslim 9%, Zoroastrian, Jewish, Christian, and Bahá'í 2%

Languages: Persian and Persian dialects (AKA Farsi) 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.4%
male: 85.6%
female: 73.0% (2003 est.)

  • Almost all illiteracy is among older people. For the generation under the age of 30 literacy rate is nearly 100% for both males and females.

See also:

Last updated: 05-07-2005 17:08:13
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04