Demographics of Iran
Iran's population increased dramatically during the later half of the 20th century, reaching about 80 million by 2016. As of 2021, Iran’s population is around 85 million. In recent years, however, Iran's birth rate has dropped significantly. Studies project that Iran's rate of population growth will continue to slow until it stabilizes above 100 million by 2050. Half of Iran's population was under 35 years old in 2012.
According to the OECD/World Bank statistics population growth in Iran from 1990 to 2008 was 17.6 million and 32%. The literacy rate was 80% in 2002, and 85% in 2016.Iran fertility has fallen to 1.6 recently which is much less than 2.1 .
According to the 2016 population census the population of Iran was 79.9 million, 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 1.2% between 2011 and 2016.
|Census date||Population||Average annual
|Household size |
|Period||Live births per year||Deaths per year||Natural change per year||crude birth rate1||crude death rate1||natural change1||total fertility rate2||infant mortality rate3|
|1per 1000; 2 TFR = number of children per woman; 3per 1000 births|
Registered births and deaths
|Average population||Live births||Deaths||Natural change||Crude birth rate (per 1000)||Crude death rate (per 1000)||Natural change (per 1000)||Total Fertility Rate|
|Number of children 0-14||Number of people 15-49||Proportion||Number of women 15-49||Proportion|
|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)|
|2006||25.08 (17,681,629)||69.73 (49,157,562)||5.19 (3,656,591)|
|2011||23.37 (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
|Province||2006||2011||Average annual growth|
|Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari||857,910||895,263||0.86|
|Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad||634,299||658,629||0.76|
|Sistan and Baluchestan||2,405,742||2,534,327||1.05|
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)
|Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari||1.22||1.19|
|Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad||0.90||0.88|
|Sistan and Baluchestan||3.41||3.37|
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
The largest linguistic group comprises speakers of Iranian languages, like modern Persian, Kurdish, Gilaki, Mazandarani, Luri, Talysh, and Balochi. Speakers of Turkic languages, most notably Azerbaijanis, which is by far the second-most spoken language in the country, but also the 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, Georgian (a member of the Kartvelian language family), spoken in a large pocket 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, Tehran Province and the rest of Iran no longer speak the language but keep a Georgian conscience. The Circassians in Iran, a very large minority in the past and speakers of the Circassian language, have been strongly assimilated and absorbed within the population in the past few centuries. However, significant pockets do exist spread over the country, and they are the second-largest Caucasus-derived group in the nation after the Georgians.
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.
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%; Azerbaijani and other Turkic languages 18%; Kurdish 10%; Arabic 2%; Balochi 2%; others 2% (Armenian, Georgian, Circassian, Assyrian, etc.).
Other sources, such as the Library of Congress, and the Encyclopedia of Islam (Leiden) give Iran's ethnic groups as following: Persians 65%, Azerbaijanis 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, Circassians, Basseri ) less than 1%. For sources prior to and after 2000, see Languages and ethnicities 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 2015 population estimates, approximately 73.4 percent of Iran's population lives in urban areas, up from 27 percent in 1950. Changes in urbanization law and regulations eased the urbanization process of rural areas, which created more than 400 cities only in the period of 1996-2005.
The following is a list of the eight most populous cities in the country:
|Religion||census 1956||census 1966||census 1976||census 2006||census 2011|
About 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. Less than 1% non-Muslim minorities include Christians, Zoroastrians, Jews, Baháʼís, Mandeans, and Yarsan. By far the largest group of Christians in Iran are Armenians under the Armenian Apostolic Church which has between 110,000, 250,000, and 300,000, adherents. There are hundreds of Christian churches in Iran. The Baháʼí 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 since in inception in Iran. Since the 1979 revolution the persecution of Baháʼís has increased with executions, the denial of civil rights and liberties, and the denial of access to higher education and employment. Unofficial estimates for the Assyrian Christian population range between 20,000, and 70,000. The number of Iranian Mandaeans is a matter of dispute. In 2009, there were an estimated 5,000 and 10,000 Mandaeans in Iran, according to the Associated Press. Whereas Alarabiya has put the number of Iranian Mandaeans as high as 60,000 in 2011.
Iranian citizens abroad
The term "Iranian citizens abroad" or " Iranian/Persian diaspora" refers to the Iranian people and their children born in Iran but living outside of Iran. Migrant Iranian workers abroad remitted less than two billion dollars home in 2006.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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. As of 2016, some 300,000 work permits have been issued for foreign nationals in Iran.
CIA World Factbook demographic statistics
- 0-14 years: 23.69% (male 9,937,715/female 9,449,716)
- 15-24 years: 17.58% (male 7,386,826/female 6,998,188)
- 25-54 years: 46.87% (male 19,534,794/female 18,817,480)
- 55-64 years: 6.58% (male 2,650,049/female 2,731,997)
- 65 years and over: 5.28% (male 1,990,961/female 2,326,544) (2015 est.)
- total: 28.8 years
- male: 28.6 years
- female: 29.1 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate
- 1.2% (2015 est.)
- 17.99 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
- 5.94 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
- urban population: 73.4% of total population (2015)
- rate of urbanization: 2.07% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
- at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
- 0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
- 15-24 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
- 25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female
- total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 71.15 years
- male: 69.56 years
- female: 72.82 years (2015 est.)
Total fertility rate
- 1.83 children born/woman (2015 est.)
- definition: age 15-24 can read and write
- total population: above 90%
- male youth: 98%
- female youth: 98.0% (2008 est.)
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.
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, whose genetic build up including chromosomal DNA are nearly identical to the major South Caucasian ethnicities, 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 leaning towards northwest South Asian ethnic groups.
People of Iranian ancestry
Tats use the Tat language, a southwestern Iranian language and a variety of Persian Azerbaijani and Russian are also spoken. Tats are mainly Shia Muslims, with a significant Sunni Muslim minority. Likely the ancestors of modern Tats settled in South Caucasus when the Sassanid Empire from the 3rd to 7th centuries built cities and founded military garrisons to strengthen their positions in this region.
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).
In Pakistan and India, the term "Irani" has come to denote Iranian Zoroastrians who have migrated 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 moved 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. Some, such as Ardeshir Irani, have also become very famous in cinema.
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. Ajams are also a large percentage of the populace in UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman.
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.
Huwala are the descendants of Persians and Persian Arabs who belong to the Sunni sect of Islam. Huwala migrated from Ahvaz in Iran to the Persian Gulf in the seventeenth and eighteenth century.
- Culture of Iran
- Economy of Iran
- Education in Iran
- Ethnic groups in West Asia
- Health care in Iran
- Human rights in Iran
- Human capital flight from Iran
- Iranian names
- Social class in Iran
- Women in Iran
- List of Iranians
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Demographics of Iran.|
- Statistical Center of Iran
- BBC - Iran in Maps - Map of Iranian ethnic groups & population density
- Iran: A Vast Diaspora Abroad and Millions of Refugees at Home - Migration Information Institute (2006)
- Human Development Report - 2009 (UNDP Iran's entry)