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Iran Geography


Situated in southwestern Asia, Iran covers an area of 1,648,000 sq km (636,296 sq mi) and extends about 2,250 km (1,398 mi) southeast to northwest, and 1,400 km (870 mi) northeast to southwest.

Comparatively, the area occupied by Iran is slightly larger than the state of Alaska.

Iran is bounded 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 and the Persian Gulf, on the west by Iraq, and on the northwest by Turkey, with a total land boundary length of 5,440 km (3,380 mi).

The coastline is 2,440 km (1,516 mi). The shoreline on the Caspian Sea is 740 km (460 mi). Iran's territory includes several islands in the Persian Gulf.

Iran's capital city, Tehran, is located in the northwestern part of the country.

Most of the land area consists of a plateau some 1,200 m (4,000 ft) above sea level and strewn with mountains. The Zagros and Elburz ranges stamp a 'V' upon the plateau; the apex is in the northwest, and within the lower area between the arms are to be found salt flats and barren deserts. Most of the drainage is from these two great ranges into the interior deserts, with limited drainage into the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The ranges run in parallel files, enclosing long valleys that provide most of the agricultural land. Mt. Damavand, northeast of Tehran, rises to 5,671 m (18,606 ft), while the Caspian littoral is below sea level and has a semitropical climate. Only the Karun River, emptying into the Persian Gulf, is navigable for any distance, but the rivers that rush down from high altitudes offer fine sources of power.

Harbours of limited depth are found along the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea has similar facilities for coastal fishing and trade. Iran is geologically unstable with occasional severe earthquakes. About 140,000 people were killed in Iranian earthquakes during the twentieth century.

Iran has a continental type of climate, with cold winters and hot summers prevalent across the plateau. On the plateau, the annual rainfall does not exceed 30 cm (12 in), with the deserts and the Persian Gulf littoral receiving less than 13 cm (5 in). Snow falls heavily on the mountain peaks and is the principal source of water for irrigation in spring and early summer. The Caspian littoral is warm and humid throughout the year, and the annual rainfall is from about 100 to 150 cm (40-60 in). Clear days are the rule, for the skies are cloudless more than half the days of each year. The seasons change abruptly. By the Persian New Year, the first day of spring, orchards are in bloom and wild flowers abound. The Tehran temperature ranges from -3°C (27°F), the average low, to an average high of 7°C (45°F) in January, and from an average minimum of 22°C (72°F) to an average maximum of 37°C (99°F) in July.


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

Map references
Middle East

total: 1.648 million sq km
land: 1.636 million sq km
water:12,000 sq km

Area - comparative
slightly larger than Alaska

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