Demographics of Iran

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search
Changes in population of Iran

Iran's population increased dramatically during the later half of the 20th century, reaching about 75 million by 2011.[1][2] In recent years, however, Iran's birth rate has dropped significantly.[dubious ] Studies project that Iran's rate of population growth will continue to slow until it stabilizes above 100 million by 2050.[3][4] More than half of Iran's population is under 35 years old (2012).[5]

In 2009, the number of households stood at 15.3 million (4.8 persons per household).[6] According to the Central Bank of Iran in 2012, in 22.5 per cent of Iranian families, all family members were unemployed.[7] Families earn some 11.8 million rials (about $960) per month on average (2012).[8]

According to the OECD/World Bank statistics population growth in Iran from 1990 to 2008 was 17.6 million and 32%.[9] The literacy rate was 80% in 2007,[10][11][12] and 85% in 2008[13]


According to the 2011 population census the population of Iran was 75 million,[1] a fourfold increase since 1956. Between 1976 and 1986, an average annual population growth of almost 4% was reached, but due to decreasing fertility levels the growth decreased to 1.3% between 2006 and 2011.

Population census results[1][14]
Census datePopulationAverage annual
growth (%)
urban (%)
Household size

Vital statistics[edit]

UN estimates[15][edit]

PeriodLive births per yearDeaths per yearNatural change per yearcrude birth rate1crude death rate1natural change1total fertility rate2infant mortality rate3
1per 1000; 2 TFR = number of children per woman; 3per 1000 births

Registered births and deaths[14][16][edit]

Average population (x 1000)Live birthsDeathsNatural changeCrude birth rate (per 1000)Crude death rate (per 1000)Natural change (per 1000)Total Fertility Rate
201175,1491,382 229422,133960,09618.35.612.71.30[17]

Structure of the population[edit]

Structure of the population 2006 and 2011:

Age groupNumber(2006)Percentage(2006)Number(2011)Percentage(2011)
Number of children 0-14Number of people 15-49ProportionNumber of women 15-49Proportion
17,681,629 (2006)43,049,709 (2006)0.4107 (2006)~21,524,855 (2006)0.8215 (2006)
17,561,778 (2011)45,174,366 (2011)0.3888 (2011)~22,587,183 (2011)0.7775 (2011)
200625.08 (17,681,629)69.73 (49,157,562)5.19 (3,656,591)
201123.37 (17,561,778)70.91 (53,297,122)5.72 (4,290,769)

Table 9 – Population and Average Annual Growth by Provinces: 2006 and 2011

Province20062011Average annual growth
Eastern Azerbaijan3,603,4563,724,6200.66
Western Azerbaijan2,873,4593,080,5761.40
Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari857,910895,2630.86
South Khorassan636,420662,5340.81
Razavi Khorassan5,593,0795,994,4021.40
North Khorassan811,572867,7271.35
Sistan and Baloochestan2,405,7422,534,3271.05
Kohgilooyeh and Booyerahmad634,299658,6290.76

1 The population of the provinces of Alborz and Tehran for 2006 and their average annual growth have been calculated based on the data of 2011.

Unofficial Translation 17

Table 10 – Population Percentages by Province: 2006 and 2011 (Percentage)

Eastern Azerbaijan5.114.96
Western Azerbaijan4.084.10
Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari1.221.19
South Khorassan0.900.88
Razavi Khorassan7.947.98
North Khorassan1.151.15
Sistan and Baloochestan3.413.37
Kohgilooyeh and Booyerahmad0.900.88

1 The population of the provinces of Alborz and Tehran for 2006 and their average annual growth have been calculated based on the data of 2011.

Languages and ethnic groups[edit]

Major Ethnic Groups of Iran

The largest linguistic group comprises speakers of Iranian languages, like modern Persian, Kurdish, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Luri, Talysh, and Balochi. Speakers of Turkic languages, such as the Azeri, Turkmen, and the Qashqai peoples, comprise a substantial minority. The remainder are primarily speakers of Semitic languages such as Arabic and Assyrian. There are small groups using other Indo-European languages such as Armenian, Russian, Pashto; the isolate Dravidian language Brahui in the south-east; and Georgian (a member of the Kartvelian language family), spoken only by those Iranian Georgians that live in Fereydan, Fereydunshahr. Most of those Georgians who live in the north Iranian provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, Isfahan, and in Tehran Province no longer speak the language but keep a Georgian conscience. The Circassians, a very large minority in the past and speakers of the Circassian language, have almost all been fully assimilated and absorbed in the past few centuries. However, small sockets do exist spread over the country.[18]

Jews have had a continuous presence in Iran since the time of Cyrus the Great of the Achaemenid Empire. in 1948, there were approximately 140,000–150,000 Jews living in Iran. According to the Tehran Jewish Committee, the Jewish population of Iran was (more recently) estimated at about 25,000 to 35,000, of which approximately 15,000 are in Tehran with the rest residing in Hamadan, Shiraz, Isfahan, Kermanshah, Yazd, Kerman, Rafsanjan, Borujerd, Sanandaj, Tabriz and Urmia. However, the official 2011 state census recorded only 8,756 Jews in Iran.[19]

The CIA World Factbook (which is based on 2013 statistics) gives the following numbers for the languages spoken in Iran today: Persian, Luri, Gilaki and Mazandarani 66%; Azeri and other Turkic languages 18%; Kurdish 10%; Arabic 2%; Baloch 2%; others 1%.[20]

Other sources, such as the Library of Congress, and the Encyclopedia of Islam (Leiden)[21] give Iran's ethnic groups as following: Persians 65%, Azeris 16%, Kurds 7%, Lurs 6%, Arabs 2%, Baloch 2%, Turkmens 1%, Turkic tribal groups (e.g. Qashqai) 1%, and non-Persian, non-Turkic groups (e.g. Armenians, Georgians, Assyrians, Pashtuns,) less than 1%.[22] For sources prior to 2000, see Languages and ethnicities in Iran.

Urban Population[edit]

Population density in Iran

In addition to its international migration pattern, Iran also exhibits one of the steepest urban growth rates in the world according to the UN humanitarian information unit. According to 2005 population estimates, approximately 67 percent of Iran's population lives in urban areas, up from 27 percent in 1950.[23] The following is a list of the six most populous cities in the country.

RankCity (Province)2007
1.Tehran (Tehran Province)12,765,238 (conurbation and commuter towns included)[24][dubious ]
(8,088,287 in the city itself)[24]
2.Mashad (Razavi Khorasan)2,868,350 (this does include suburban population)
(2,410,800 in the city itself)[24]
3.Isfahan (Isfahan Province)3,430,353 (including its metropolitan area and the population living within the Isfahan conurbation)
(1,602,110 in the city itself)[24]
4.Tabriz (East Azarbaijan)1,597,319 (city proper and main suburbs)
(1,378,935 in the city itself)[24]
5.Karaj (Alborz Province)1,377,450[24]
6.Shiraz (Fars Province)1,204,882[24]

Religious affiliations[edit]

The entrance to Shah Mosque (aka Imam Mosque or Shah Jame' Mosque) in Isfahan. This mosque is a fantastic example of Persian architecture during the Safavid dynasty.
Population of Iran according to religion 1956-2011[1][14]
Religioncensus 1956census 1966census 1976census 2006census 2011
Number %Number %Number %Number %Number %

More than 99% of the Iranians are Muslims; 90% belong to the Shi'a branch of Islam, the official state religion, and about 9% belong to the Sunni branch, which predominates in neighboring Muslim countries.[11] Less than 1% non-Muslim minorities include Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews, Bahá'ís, Mandeans, and Yarsan. The Bahá'í Faith, Iran's largest non-Muslim religious minority with a population around 300,000, is not officially recognized (and therefore not included in the census results), and has been persecuted during its existence in Iran. Since the 1979 revolution the persecution of Bahá'ís has increased with executions, the denial of civil rights and liberties, and the denial of access to higher education and employment.[25][26] Today, there are an estimated 8,000 Assyrian Christians in Iran, who belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church.

Iranian citizens abroad[edit]

The term "Iranian citizens abroad" or " Iranian/Persian diaspora" refers to the Iranian people born in Iran and their children but living outside of Iran. Migrant Iranian workers abroad remitted less than two billion dollars home in 2006.[27]

As of 2010, there are about four to five million Iranians living abroad, mostly in the United States, Canada, Europe, Persian Gulf States, Turkey, Australia and the broader Middle East.[23][28][29] According to the 2000 Census and other independent surveys, there are an estimated 1 million Iranian-Americans living in the U.S., in particular, the Los Angeles area is estimated to be host to approximately 72,000 Iranians, earning the Westwood area of LA the nickname Tehrangeles.[30] Other metropolises that have large Iranian populations include Dubai with 300,000 Iranians, Vancouver, London, Toronto, San Francisco Bay Area, Washington D.C., Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Stockholm, Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt. Their combined net worth is estimated to be $1.3 trillion.[31] 43.3% of Iranian youth say they would like to emigrate to another country.[32]

Note that this differs from the other Iranian peoples living in other areas of Greater Iran, who are of related ethnolinguistical family, speaking languages belonging to the Iranian languages which is a branch of Indo-European languages.

Refugee population[edit]

Iran hosts one of the largest refugee population in the world, with more than one million refugees, mostly from Afghanistan (80%) and Iraq (10%). Since 2006, Iranian officials have been working with the UNHCR and Afghan officials for their repatriation.[33][34] Between 1979 and 1997, UNHCR spent more than US$1 billion on Afghan refugees in Pakistan but only $150 million on those in Iran. In 1999, the Iranian government estimated the cost of maintaining its refugee population at US$10 million per day, compared with the US$18 million UNHCR allocated for all of its operations in Iran in 1999.[34]

CIA World Factbook demographic statistics[edit]

Net Iranian migration (1979-2008). A positive value represents more people entering Iran than leaving it

The following demographic statistics are from the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated.[11]

Age structure

0-14 years: 21.7% (male 7,394,841/female 7,022,076)
15-64 years: 72.9% (male 24,501,544/female 23,914,172)
65 years and over: 5.4% (male 1,725,828/female 1,870,823) (2010 est.)
0-14 years: 24.1% (male 9,608,342/female 9,128,427)
15-64 years: 70.9% (male 28,083,193/female 27,170,445)
65 years and over: 5% (male 1,844,967/female 2,055,846) (2011 est.)

Median age

total: 26.4 years
male: 26.2 years
female: 26.7 years (2008 est.)
total: 26.8 years
male: 26.6 years
female: 27.1 years (2011 est.)


urban population: 71% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 1.9% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 70.86 years
male: 69.65 years
female: 72.72 years (2008 est.)
total population: 70.35 years
male: 68.84 years
female: 71.93 years (2012 est.)

Youth literacy

definition: age 15-24 can read and write
total population: above 90%[35]
male youth: 98%
female youth: 98.0% (2008 est.)


Y-chromosome DNA[edit]

Y-Chromosome DNA Y-DNA represents the male lineage, the Iranian Y-chromosome pool is as follows where haplogroups, R1 (25%), J2 (23%) G (14%), J1 (8%) E1b1b (5%), L (4%), Q (4%),comprise more than 85% of the total chromosomes.[36]


Mitochondrial DNA[edit]

Mitochondrial DNA mtDNA represents the female lineage. The Iranian mitochondrial DNA shows more Western Eurasian lineages than the Y-DNA lineages.[38]

In Iran outliers in the Y-chromosomes and Mitochondrial DNA gene pool are consisted by the north Iranian ethnicities, such as the Gilaki's and Mazandarani's, who's genetic build up including chromosomal DNA are nearly identical to the major South Caucasian ethnicites, namely the Georgians, Armenians and Azerbaijani's. Other outliers are made by the Baloch people, representing a mere 1-2% of the total Iranian population, who have more patrilinial and mitochondrial DNA lines resembling South Asian ethnic groups.

People of Iranian Ancestry[edit]

See also: Greater Iran

It is estimated that some 200 million people around the world have Iranian ancestry from the various Iranian peoples.[39]


Main article: Parsis

The Parsis are the close-knit Zoroastrian community based primarily in India but also found in Pakistan. Parsis are descended from Persian Zoroastrians who emigrated to the Indian subcontinent over 1,000 years ago. Indian census data (2001) records 69,601 Parsis in India, with a concentration in and around the city of Mumbai (previously known as Bombay). There are approximately 8,000 Parsis elsewhere on the subcontinent, with an estimated 2,500 Parsis in the city of Karachi and approximately 50 Parsi families in Sri Lanka. The number of Parsis worldwide is estimated to be fewer than 100,000 (Eliade, 1991:254).


Main article: Iranian peoples

In Pakistan and India, the term "Irani" has come to denote Iranian Zoroastrians who have immigrated to Pakistan and India within the last two centuries, as opposed to most Parsis who arrived in India over 1000 years ago. Many of them immigrated during the Qajar era, when persecution of Iranian Zoroastrians was rampant. They are culturally and linguistically closer to the Zoroastrians of Iran. Unlike the Parsis, they speak a Dari dialect, the language spoken by the Iranian Zoroastrians in Yazd and Kerman. Their last names often resemble modern Iranian names, however Irani is a common surname among them. In India they are mostly located in modern-day Mumbai while in Pakistan they are mostly located in modern-day Karachi. In both Pakistan and India, they are famous for their restaurants and tea-houses.[40] Some, such as Ardeshir Irani, have also become very famous in cinema.

Ajam (Bahrain)[edit]

Main article: Ajam (Bahrain)

The "Ajam" are an ethnic community of Bahrain, of Iranian origin. They have traditionally been merchants living in specific quarters of Manama and Muharraq. The Iranians who adhere to Shiite sect of Islam are Ajam, and they are different from the Huwala, who are Sunnis and some of them have Arab origin.

In addition to this, many names of ancient villages in Bahrain are of Persian origin. It is believed that these names were given during the Safavid rule of Bahrain (1501–1722). i.e. Karbabad, Salmabad, Karzakan, Duraz, Barbar, which indicates that the history of Ajams is much older.


Main article: Huwala

Huwala are the descendants of Persians and Persian Arabs who belong to the Sunni sect of Islam.[41] Huwala migrated from Ahwaz in Iran to the Persian Gulf in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.[41][42]


Main article: Bunnag

The House of Bunnag was a powerful Siamese noble family of Persian descent of the early Rattanakosin Kingdom of Siam.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d [1]
  2. ^ Asia-Pacific Population Journal, United Nations. "A New Direction in Population Policy and Family Planning in the Islamic Republic of Iran". Retrieved 2006-04-14. 
  3. ^ U.S. Census Bureau International Data Base - Iran (retrieved 2011-07-22).
  4. ^ Iran News, "Iran's population growth rate falls to 1.5 percent: UNFP". Retrieved 2006-10-18. 
  5. ^ "International News | World News - ABC News". 2012-11-30. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  6. ^ "Iran". Iran economy: Social indicators & living standards. Economist Intelligence Unit. June 23, 2009. 
  7. ^ Bozorgmehr, Najmeh (2012-04-25). "Subsidy dispute adds to Iran’s woes". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  8. ^ "Central bank: Income equality improved in Iran". Tehran Times. Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  9. ^ CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion Population 1971-2008 (pdf pages 83-85) IEA (OECD/ World Bank) original population ref e.g. in IEA Key World Energy Statistics 2010 page 57)
  10. ^ Table H
  11. ^ a b c "CIA - The World Factbook". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  12. ^ "Iran: Country Brief". Development Economics, Development Data Group (DECDG). World Bank. June 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  13. ^ [2]
  14. ^ a b c UN Demographic Yearbooks
  15. ^ World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision
  16. ^ Institute of Statistics Iran
  17. ^ a b
  18. ^ "Circassian (people)". Retrieved 28 April 2014. 
  19. ^ Wikipedia, "Persian Jews"
  20. ^ "The World Factbook - Iran". Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  21. ^ See Iran in Encyclopedia of Islam, Leiden. C.E. Bosworth (editor)
  22. ^ Library of Congress, Library of Congress – Federal Research Division. "Ethnic Groups and Languages of Iran". Retrieved 2009-12-02. 
  23. ^ a b "Migration Information Source - Iran: A Vast Diaspora Abroad and Millions of Refugees at Home". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Official Website of "Statistical Center of Iran" (in Persian)
  25. ^ International Federation for Human Rights (2003-08-01). "Discrimination against religious minorities in Iran". Retrieved 2007-03-19. 
  26. ^ Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (2007). "A Faith Denied: The Persecution of the Bahá'ís of Iran". Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. Retrieved 2007-03-19. 
  27. ^ Iran Daily - Domestic Economy - 10/22/07
  28. ^ "No Operation". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  29. ^ Iran: Coping With The World's Highest Rate Of Brain Drain - RADIO FREE EUROPE / RADIO LIBERTY
  30. ^ "Iranian-Americans cast ballots on Iran's future -". CNN. 2009-06-16. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  31. ^ Iran Daily - Domestic Economy - 02/14/07
  32. ^
  33. ^ United Nations, UNHCR. "Tripartite meeting on returns to Afghanistan". Retrieved 2006-04-14. 
  34. ^ a b "Migration Information Source - Iran: A Vast Diaspora Abroad and Millions of Refugees at Home". Retrieved 2012-12-04. 
  35. ^ "Iran - Literacy rate". Index Mundi. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  36. ^ Regueiro et al. 2006, Nasidze et al. 2008
  37. ^ Bekada A, Fregel R, Cabrera VM, Larruga JM, Pestano J, et al. (2013) Introducing the Algerian Mitochondrial DNA and Y-Chromosome Profiles into the North African Landscape. PLoS ONE 8(2): e56775. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056775
  38. ^ Kivisild et al. 2004, Nasidze et al. 2008
  39. ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.) (2005). "Report for Iranian languages". Ethnologue: Languages of the World (Fifteenth ed.) (Dallas: SIL International). 
  40. ^
  41. ^ a b "Two ethnicities, three generations: Phonological variation and change in Kuwait". Newcastle University. 2010. p. 11. 
  42. ^ Farmanfarmaian, Roxane (2008). War and Peace in Qajar Persia. Routledge. p. 128. ISBN 978-0415421195. 

External links[edit]