Iran has one of the longest land borders of any country in western Asia covering 3,662 miles in length. There are seven countries that Iran shares this long land border with. These countries are Iraq, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Of these countries, Turkmenistan shares the longest border with Iran, with the border between the two countries stretching 713 miles. On the other end of the spectrum is Armenia which has the shortest international border with Iran, being only 27 miles in length.
Afghanistan is one of Iran’s bordering countries and lies to the east of Iran. The two countries share a long land border which is 572 miles in length. The tri-point connecting Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan marks the start of the border, from where it extends north to the Afghanistan-Iran-Turkmenistan tri-point. The history of the two countries goes back several centuries. Afghanistan was once part of the Persian Empire after Shah Ismail I conquered vast past of Afghanistan, incorporating them as part of his empire. These regions were predominantly inhabited by Shia Muslims, who after being oppressed by the Sunni Persians for centuries, decided to fight for independence. The influence of the Shia Persians was on a decline in the 17th century. Mirwais Hotak, a tribal leader, led a successful campaign against the Persians that saw the emergence of Afghanistan (the southern part of the country) as an independent country in the late 17th century, which marked the earliest demarcation of the international border. Security forces from the two countries recently clashed on the border in Afghanistan’s Nimroz Province. Some border crossings found on the Iran-Afghanistan border include the Taybad-Islam Qala border crossing, the border’s primary crossing which connects Iran’s city of Mashhad to the city of Herat in Afghanistan.
East of Iran is Turkey, one of its bordering countries. Turkey and Iran share a land border that stretches 332 miles in length. This international border is among the oldest in the world, as it was first demarcated in 1514, as was provided for by the Treaty of Zuhab, an international agreement signed by the Safavid (Iran) and Ottoman (Turkey) Empires in the aftermath of the Battle of Chaldiran. The border Turkey has embarked on the construction of a border barrier over a significant portion of the international border. The purpose of the border barrier is to aid in the fight against cross-border smuggling and illegal cross-border movement that is rife on the Iran-Turkey border. Turkey’s National Housing Commission is the body tasked with the construction of the border barrier. Both Iran and Turkey agree that the construction of the barrier is in their interest. Construction of the barrier is expected to be completed in 2019. When complete, the border barrier is expected to stretch about 89 miles in length. The border barrier will touch the provinces of Igdir and Agri in Turkey. There are numerous border crossings found on the international border. The busiest of the border crossings is the Bazargan-Gurbulak border crossing, which connects the Turkish city of Dogubayazit to the city of Tabriz in Iran. Another border crossing found on the Iran-Turkey border is the Razi-Kapikoy border crossing.
Azerbaijan is one of Iran’s bordering countries and lies northwest of Iran. The border between the two countries is 268 miles in length. Cross-border movement on the border is quite high because Iran has more Azerbaijanis than Azerbaijan. However, the border is heavily guarded as the two countries have a history of strained diplomatic relations. Some of the main border crossings that are found on the Iran-Azerbaijan border include the Julfa-Jolfa Crossing, the Bilasuvar Crossing, and the Astara Crossing.
Pakistan lies to the southeast of Iran and is among Iran’s bordering countries. The two countries share a long land border that is 596 miles in length. The start of the border is marked by the tri-point connecting Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan, with the border extending southwards until it meets the waters of the Gulf of Oman. Pakistan’s Balochistan Province is the sole province touched by the international border, while the Baluchestan and Sistan Province are the two provinces in Iran that are touched by the Iran-Pakistan international border. Iran has started the construction of a border barrier along the international border. When complete, the three-inch-thick concrete wall is expected to be 434 miles in length and 10 feet in height. Iran resolved to construct the wall to stop the runaway illegal cross-border activities on the border that range from drug trafficking to terrorist attacks. 13 people were killed in Zahedan, a small Iranian border town as a result of a terrorist attack. While Iran stated that it did not blame Pakistan for the attack, the terrorist attack is believed to be one of the factors that led to the construction of the border barrier. The border barrier is expected to extend from Mand to Taftan. However, construction of the border barrier had attracted criticism mainly from the Baloch people, whose ancestral land lies on both sides of the border, stating that the wall will cut off families from each other and divide the community socially. The primary border crossing on the international border is the Taftan-Mirjaveh border crossing.
Iraq is situated west of Iran and shares its entire eastern land border with Iran. The border starts at the Turkey-Iran-Iraq tri-point at Kuh e-Dalanper and extends 994 miles south until finally reaching the Persian Gulf at Shatt al-Arab. Established in the mid-17th century, the international border is among the earliest extant international borders in the world. The Zuhab Treaty of 1639 between the Ottoman Empire and Safavid Iran provided for the delineation of the international border, dictating that the border would lie between the Tigris River and the Zagros Mountains. However, the two empires would mutually recognize the border in the 1847 Treaty of Erzerum, after decades of territorial disputes, many culminating in wars. The border was later revised in the early 20th century, with the revised border being accepted by both countries in the 1990s. Zarbatiya, Mandali Soomar, al-Shib, and Shalamja are some of the border crossing found on the Iraq-Iran border.