Iran, once Persia, is a major player in the Middle East. It has a large land territory and is centrally located in Eurasia and Western Asia. It has a wide array of neighbors including Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and Iraq. It is also close to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which are located south and east of the Persian Gulf. Iran’s population is slowly growing and estimated to have surpassed the 80-million-inhabitants mark as of 2016. The fertility rate is just slightly below the natural replacement rate, while life expectancy is slowly but steadily increasing. Overall, few people are over the age of 65. The capital of Iran is Tehran, and most of the country’s population lives in or close to urban areas.
Iran’s economy is marked by reliance on oil and gas exports, but Iran also possesses significant agricultural, industrial, and service sectors. The Iranian government directly owns and operates hundreds of state-owned enterprises.
Private sector activity includes small and medium scale workshops, farming, manufacturing, and services, in addition to construction, cement production, mining, and metalworking.
In June 2013, the election of President Hasan ROUHANI generated widespread public expectations of economic improvement and greater international engagement. ROUHANI has achieved some success, including reining in inflation and, in July of 2015, securing the promise of sanctions relief for Iran by signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the P5+1. The JCPOA, should bolster foreign direct investment, increase trade, and stimulate growth.
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