oNE of THE largest countries in the Middle East, the Islamic Republic of Iran has a land area of 636,372 sq. mi. (1,648,195 sq. km.), with a population of 71,208,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 109 people per sq. mi. (42 people per sq. km.). Tehran, the capital and the largest city, has a population density of 26,620 people per sq. mi. (10,260 per sq. km.). Ten percent of the country is arable land; 27 percent is used for meadows and pasture, much of it for low-intensity grazing of sheep and cattle; and 7 percent of the land is forested, although this is declining rapidly with heavy deforestation.

With an economy heavily reliant on oil, and with the price of petroleum low in the country, Iran had a per capita rate of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 3.9 metric tons in 1990, rising to 5.6 metric tons by 2003. As for electricity production in the country, 94.2 percent comes from fossil fuels, and only 5.8 percent from hydropower. Iran embarked on a nuclear power program in the 1970s.

This nuclear power program was disbanded in 1979, but has been started up again, ostensibly to try to remove Iran's dependence on oil. Of the country's development and deforestation

There has also been massive urban and industrial development, as well as deforestation, with soil erosion and overgrazing noticeable around the Alborz Mountains. A widespread drought hit Iran in 19992001, and, in one study in 2001, it was found that 90 percent of the wetlands had dried up because of the drought, with the winter of 1999-2000 the driest on record, and the years 1999, 2000, and 2001 ranking as the fifth, third, and seventh driest since records began in 1900.

The Iranian government ratified the Vienna Convention in 1990 and took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, which was ratified in 1996. They accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on August 22, 2005, and it took effect on November 20, 2005.

sEE ALsO: Drought; Deforestation; Oil, Consumption.

BIBLIoGRAPHY. Kamin Mohammadi, "Prayers of a Nation," Geographical (v.71/12, 1999); N.P. Peritore, Third World Environmentalism: Case Studies from the Global South (University of Florida Press, 1999); World Resources Institute, "Iran, Islamic Rep—Climate and Atmosphere," www. (cited October 2007).

Robin Corfield Independent Scholar

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