Iran is a West Asian nation that is situated on the western edge of the continent where it spans an area of roughly 636,372 square miles. Iran's economy, which according to the World Bank is heavily reliant on natural resources, is considered to be the second largest in the Middle East and North Africa region. In 2017, the value of Iran's gross domestic product was roughly $447.7 billion. Some of the main natural resources of the Iranian economy include oil, arable land, natural gas, agriculture, and minerals such as zinc and iron ore.
Iran's Major Natural Resources
Research indicates that close to 35% of Iran's total land area can support crop production, but due to several reasons, not all the land is adequately utilized. Official records indicate that only 12% of Iran's total land area is utilized in crop production. Due to the region's unique climate, irrigation is practiced on roughly a third of the total farmland. Some of the most common crops grown within Iran include wheat, rice, and pistachios. The most fertile regions in Iran are situated in the northwestern and western edges of the country. According to a report from the Iranian government, in 2014, the nation was close to attaining total food security as its food security index was roughly 96%.
The pistachio is one of the essential natural agricultural resources in Iran since it employs more than 350,000 individuals. In Iran, pistachio is most commonly grown in the southeastern edge of the country around oases. Iran is one of the most prolific producers of pistachio nuts in the world, and it exports more pistachios than any other nation in the world. In 2008, the value of Iran's Pistachio exports was estimated to be $840 million which contributed significantly to the Iranian economy. Estimates indicate that by 2010, Iran already controlled close to 50% of the international pistachio market.
Saffron is also one of the most important natural agricultural resources in Iran which is mainly grown in the northeastern section of the county. Iran's saffron is of extremely high quality and is sold to a variety of nations such as the United Arab Emirates, Spain, and France. The province of Khorasan Razavi accounts for a large portion of the saffron grown in Iran. In 2010, the province's saffron production was estimated to be worth $156.5 million. In 2010, Khorasan Razavi's saffron was exported to more than 40 countries around the world.
Fruits are some of Iran's most important agricultural resources, and the nation is the most significant producer of fruits among the countries in the Middle East and North African region. Internationally, the nation of Iran has been previously ranked as the eighth highest fruit producer in the world. In the production of pomegranates, Iran ranks first in the world while in the production of dates it ranks second in the world. Several fruits trace their origin to Iran such as the muskmelons, pomegranates, limes, and the Persian walnuts.
Due to the vast quantities of crude oil reserves within Iran, the nation is considered an energy superpower. According to official records from the Iranian government, in 2006, the crude oil reserves in the nation were estimated to be 132.5 billion barrels. At the time, Iran's reserves were estimated to be 15% of the total reserves of all the members of the organization of petroleum exporting countries. In comparison to the rest of the world, Iran's 2006 oil reserves were approximately 11.4% of the global reserves. After the discovery of oil reserves around the town of Bushehr, the oil reserves in Iran increased by roughly 32%. According to the International Monetary Fund, the monetary value of Iran's oil reserves was estimated to be $10 trillion. The Iranian government entered into several agreements with oil companies from a variety of nations such as the United Kingdom, Russia, the Netherlands, and Spain to develop the oil reserves. Several oil refineries are situated within Iran's boundaries with the most prominent being Abadan, Esfahan, and Bandar-e Abbas. The main method of transporting Iranian petroleum is through the pipeline. According to a study carried out in 2004, pipelines in Iran transported roughly 69% of the refined petroleum products.
Iran also has massive reserves of natural gas that according to official government records are estimated to be 1,201 trillion cubic feet. Iran's reserves are some of the largest in the world as they account for close to 18% of the world's total. The only nation with larger gas reserves than Iran is Russia. In 2011, the Iranian petroleum minister released a report indicating that Iran's reserves of natural gas had increased significantly due to the discovery of gas reserves within the Caspian Sea. The Caspian reserves were estimated to be 50 trillion cubic feet. Iran is currently exploiting a limited amount of its natural gas reserves, and on average it exploits 5.5 trillion cubic feet annually. The Iranian government has planned to invest huge sums of money in improving the gas industry. The government has planned to set aside $15 billion every year to increase the annual natural gas production. The Iranian government is planning to take advantage of the increase in the demand for natural gas all over the world. Estimates indicate that over 20 years the global demand for natural gas would increase by either 2% or 3%. Some of the main markets for Iranian natural gas include China and India.
Iran has a wide variety of sites that are extremely popular due to their beauty. The natural beauty of Iraq attracts huge numbers of tourists each year, but due to security concerns, the number of tourists visiting the nation declined sharply. Some of the most popular tourist attraction sites are the beaches along the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf. The Iranian government has put in place some measures to increase the number of tourists visiting the nation.
Challenges Facing the Iranian Economy
Due to its reliance on oil, one of the most significant challenges facing the Iranian economy is the fluctuation of global oil prices. Iran's political situation has also significantly affected the country's economy.