Iran (Middle East: Region in Transition) by Laura Etheredge (editor)

By Laura Etheredge (editor)

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Construction of broad avenues and ring roads to accommodate modern traffic has changed the appearance of the large cities. Their basic plan, however, is still that of a labyrinth of narrow, crooked streets and culs-de-sac. Demographic trends Iran is a young country. One-fourth of its people are 15 years of age or younger, and well over half are under age 30. However, the country’s postrevolutionary boom in births has slowed substantially, and—with a birth below the world average and a low death rate—Iran’s natural rate of increase is now only marginally higher than the world average.

Foreign investment has remained a contentious issue because of the adverse social and political effects of foreign economic entanglements during Iran’s colonial past. agRiCultuRe, foReStRy, and fiShing Roughly one-third of Iran’s total surface area is arable farmland, of which less than one-fourth—or one-tenth 31 7 Iran 7 of the total land area—is under cultivation, because of poor soil and lack of adequate water distribution in many areas. Less than one-third of the cultivated area is irrigated; the rest is devoted to dry farming.

Low funding and poor maintenance long reduced the efficiency of the highways. Nevertheless, motor vehicles—buses and trucks in particular—are the most important means of transportation for both passengers and goods. Since the early 1990s the Iranian government has allocated considerable resources to road construction and repair, and about half the roads are now paved. The principal line of the state-owned railway system runs between the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf, with spur lines to many provincial capitals.

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