Iran is situated in Southwest Asia, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan. Iran is one of the world’s most mountainous countries. Its mountains have helped to shape both the political and the economic history of the country for several centuries. The mountains enclose several broad basins, or plateaus, on which major agricultural and urban settlements are located. Until the twentieth century, when major highways and railroads were constructed through the mountains to connect the population centers, these basins tended to be relatively isolated from one another.
Typically, one major town dominated each basin, and there were complex economic relationships between the town and the hundreds of villages that surrounded it. In the higher elevations of the mountains rimming the basins, tribally organized groups practiced transhumance, moving with their herds of sheep and goats between traditionally established summer and winter pastures. There are no major river systems in the country, and historically transportation was by means of caravans that followed routes traversing gaps and passes in the mountains. The mountains also impeded easy access to the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea.
With an area of 1,648,000 square kilometers, Iran ranks sixteenth in size among the countries of the world. Iran is about one-fifth the size of the continental United States, or slightly larger than the combined area of the contiguous states of California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.
Located in southwestern Asia, Iran shares its northern borders with former Soviet Union republics Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. These borders extend for more than 2,000 kilometers, including nearly 650 kilometers of water along the southern shore of the Caspian Sea. Iran’s western borders are with Turkey in the north and Iraq in the south, terminating at the Shatt al Arab (which Iranians call the Arvand Rud).
The Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman littorals form the entire 1,770 kilometer southern border. To the east lie Afghanistan on the north and Pakistan on the south. Iran’s diagonal distance from Azerbaijan in the northwest to Baluchestan va Sistan in the southeast is approximately 2,333 kilometers.
Province Capital Area
Qom Qom 11,526 km² (4,450 sq mi)
Hamadan Hamadan 19,368 km² (7,478 sq mi)
Golestan Gorgan 20,195 km² (7,797 sq mi)
Azarbaijan, West Urmia 37,437 km² (14,455 sq mi)
Kermanshah Kermanshah 24,998 km² (9,652 sq mi)
Azarbaijan, East Tabriz 45,650 km² (17,630 sq mi)
Qazvin Qazvin 15,549 km² (6,004 sq mi)
Ardabil Ardabil 17,800 km² (6,900 sq mi)
Yazd Yazd 129,285 km² (49,917 sq mi)
Khorasan, South Birjand 69,555 km² (26,855 sq mi)
Khuzestan Ahvaz 64,055 km² (24,732 sq mi)
Tehran Tehran 18,814 km² (7,264 sq mi)
Lorestan Khorramabad 28,294 km² (10,924 sq mi)
Semnan Semnan 97,491 km² (37,641 sq mi)
Kurdistan Sanandaj 29,137 km² (11,250 sq mi)
Chahar Mahaal and Bakhtiari Shahrekord 16,332 km² (6,306 sq mi)
Markazi Arak 29,130 km² (11,250 sq mi)
Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Yasuj 15,504 km² (5,986 sq mi)
Zanjan Zanjan 21,773 km² (8,407 sq mi)
Isfahan Isfahan 107,029 km² (41,324 sq mi)
Khorasan, Razavi Mashhad 144,681 km² (55,862 sq mi)
Bushehr Bushehr 22,743 km² (8,781 sq mi)
Fars Shiraz 122,608 km² (47,339 sq mi)
Khorasan, North Bojnourd 28,434 km² (10,978 sq mi)
Ilam Ilam 20,133 km² (7,773 sq mi)
Hormozgan Bandar Abbas 70,669 km² (27,285 sq mi)
Gilan Rasht 14,042 km² (5,422 sq mi)
Kerman Kerman 180,836 km² (69,821 sq mi)
Sistan and Baluchistan Zahedan 181,785 km² (70,188 sq mi)
Mazandaran Sari 23,701 km² (9,151 sq mi)
Iran (Total) Tehran 1,628,554 km² (628,788 sq mi)