Rivers and Water Basins in Iran

Silk Road

The Salt Lake










 Art &  letteratura






The Salt Lake

Salt lake which is also known as Qom and Kashan Lake is a large evaporizing basin with an area of 2725 square kilometers, 765 meters above the sea level. From the geomorphological point of view, this area is considered a large playa which is surrounded by numerous heights from all sides. These heights are followed by mountainside regions and then large alluvial plains not too steep which extend to the center of the basin. In this playa, in addition to the main basin of Salt lake, two smaller basins are observed west of the basin. One of these small playas which is larger than the other is known as Hoz-ol-Sultan basin. In fact all three basins are from one origin forming one single playa, but for unknown reasons these two have been separated from Salt lake. Many rivers and creeks pour into the salt lake including all seasonal rivers of Tehran from the north and from the west. Karaj, Shur, Gharachai, Qomrood and many other rivers pour into this basin. The sediments which pour into the center of the basin come in three categories which have affected the morphology of the basin. These sediments include:

- Mountainside sediments which are produced as a result of the erosion of heights around the playa. This part is the steepest part of the playa and is formed of small and large granules.

- The sediments of the nearby plains of the playa which are alluvial and have been transferred from the nearby heights. This part which is not very steep extends to the center of the basin. The rivers which cross this part and reach the center of the basin have produced many terraces in it, and so river terrace sediments are also found here.

- Playa sediments, which are often a combination of small granule destructive sediments including clay earth and other sediments like salt, plaster and similar particles. This part is totally flat. The southern border of the Salt lake's playa basin extends to the igneous belt which extends from Azarbaijan to Baluchestan, from northwestern Iran to the southeast.

This igneous belt has produced a series of continental sedimental basins in the north which are often of the kind of desert or salt basins appearing in the form of numerous deserts and saharas. Many salt mines exist in the suburbs of this lake. Those mines also appear in the form of salt crystals which are processed and powdered.

Silk Road

The Silk Road, a formerly major trade artery between the east and west, was constructed during the early years of the rule of Hann dynasty who ruled China from 207 BC to 220 AD. Until the 4th century AD, the road was of great importance.
The origination of the Silk Road matched with the driving to power of
the Arsacide dynasty. Thus, the rivalry of the two major empires of Iran and Rome caused the two fight several wars.

In 476, with the collapse of the Roman empire, the trade on the Silk Road was restricted to the Eastern Roman district.
After the accession to throne of
Sassanids, Iran produced textiles and sold them to the Eastern Roman empire.
At that time, the Iranians had dominated the silk trade and protected the trade routes from western China and
the marine routes of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) to the Persian Gulf.
The traders and political envoys of Venice and Genoa repeatedly travelled to Iranian towns especially to
Tabriz via the Silk Road. Until the 1390s, the route was open to travellers. After the break-out of the One Hundred Year Wars in Europe, the traders sought out an alternative way. Thus, the Silk Road was forgotten.
In the mid-fifteenth century, Tamerlane destroyed all the buildings of the Silk Road. Even the attempts of
Safavid ruler, Shah Abbas I, could not revive trade on the old route.
Generally speaking, the marine section of the Silk Road outstripped its ground route in importance. Since the
might and power of the ancient Iran mainly concentrated in the sea. In fact the Persian Gulf and other seas made it possible for the Iranians to have a direct control and supervision on the Silk Road.
According to a survey carried out jointly by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the
Conference of Trade and Development, during the full power of the Roman empire in 200 AD, the length of the route amounted to 13 thousand kilometers, stretched from Karis in the Atlantic Ocean to the port of Shanghai in China. The road progressed from Rome to Epin, Brandizim and Ankara where it stretched from Tehran to Mashhad, Bokhara, Samarqand and Farqaneh in the Central Asia. The next destination of the route was Kashghar along the Taklamakan Desert. From there, it proceeded to Suzhu through the Jad Gate and reached the great China Wall, Ziyan and Shanghai in the Pacific Ocean.

Rivers and Water Basins in Iran

Rivers in Iran are classified into two categories:

- Permanent rivers

- Temporary or seasonal rivers.

Rain, Snow and Ice Feed Rivers in Northern and Western Iran.

During winter and spring, rivers are filled with water and in summer this trend reduces. Most rivers in Iran are

steep and torrential because they cross mountains.The rivers in Iran have a saline characteristic. Many rivers

in Iran cross saline lands and are contaminated with all kinds of substances and salt. In some areas the river

water penetrates into the ground producing swamps.

Karoun is the only river in Iran where ships can sail.

Flow - wise, the rivers in Iran come in 3 categories:

1- Permanent rivers which originate from Alborz mountains and flow into the Caspian sea.

2- Rivers which originate from Zagros mountains and flow into the Persian Gulf when merged with the

western rivers.

3- Low output rivers which flow across Iran and pour into swamps and lakes.

Iran's water shed basins include:

1- The Caspian sea

2- The Persian Gulf and Oman sea

3- Internal and borderline water shed basins

1. The Caspian sea water shed basin is a large and deep ditch, into which all the waters of the northern skirts

of Alborz flow. The area of this basin is 256,000 square kilometers. The most important rivers which flow into

this basin include Aras, Atrak, Gorgan, Chalus, Haraz, Tajan and Zanjanchai.

2.The Persian Gulf and Oman sea basin

The Persian Gulf is a large ditch with an area of 224,000 square kilometers located in southern Iran. The

major rivers which flow into it include Arvand, Gamasb, Karoun, Jarahi, Zohreh, Sarbaz, Minab and Hendijan.

The northwestern rivers like Karoun which flow from the Zagros mountain range are large and permanent,

whereas we observe smaller outlets on the coasts of Oman sea and part of the Persian Gulf because of lower


Political Structure

Official Title: Islamic Republic of Iran

International Title: Islamic Republic of Iran

International Title in the past: Persia

Capital: Tehran

Major Cities: Tehran - Mashad - Isfahan - Tabriz - Shiraz

Islamic Republic of Iran's Flag & National Anthem

Structure of Government in Iran

The system of government in Iran is Islamic Republic which was founded after the Islamic revolution of 19 79.

According to the constitution passed in a referendum in 1979, Islamic principles underlie all cultural, social,

political and economic affairs of Iran.

Leadership (Vali-e-Faghih) (Jurisprudential Guardianship)

The highest-ranking official in the Islamic Republic of Iran is the leader or Vali-e-Faghih (Jurisprudential

Guardianship). Iran has 3 powers namely, the executive, the legislative and the judiciary which are headed by


The leader or the leadership council is chosen by the Council of Experts, the members of which are elected by

the direct vote of the people.

Executive Power

Iran's highest-ranking executive official and the head of the executive power is the president who is elected by

people's direct vote for a four-year term.

The president must appoint a first vice-president and introduce his cabinet to the parliament. Then, his cabinet

must get the parliament's vote of confidence. Iran's cabinet includes 22 ministers. Ministry of Justice, Ministry

of Defence and Armed Forces, Ministry of Road and Transportation, Ministry of Industries, the Ministry of

Housing and Urban Development, Ministry of Culture and Higher Education, Ministry of Culture and Islamic.Guidance, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture, Interior Ministry,

Ministry of Mines and Metals, Oil Ministry, Ministry of Power, Ministry of Post, Telegraph and Telephone,

Ministry of Cooperation, Ministry of Construction Jihad, Ministry of Health, Treatment and Higher Education,

Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Economy and Financial Affairs and Ministry of


Legislative Power

Iran's legislative power, known as the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis) has 270 members who are

elected by people's direct vote for a four-year term.

In normal conditions, all the legislations passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly turn into a binding law

after being confirmed by the constitution's Guardian Council. This council has 12 members, 6 of whom are

chosen by the leader and the other 6 by the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis). If the Guardian Council

and the Majlis do not agree on a law, the system's Expediency Council, elected by the leader, gives the final

vote on it. Also, the system's general policies are determined after the leader's consultations with the

Expediency Council.

Judiciary Power

The Judiciary is an independent power supporting the individual and social rights of the Iranian citizens. The

highest-ranking judiciary official is the head of the judiciary who is chosen by the leader for a five-year term.

The head of the Supreme Court and the chief Prosecutor are chosen by the head of the judiciary after

consultations with the judges of the supreme court. Their term of office is five years. According to the

constitution, the cases of political and press offences are considered in open sessions of the court attended by

the jury.

Administrative Divisions

According to administrative divisions, Iran consists of 25 provinces, (in 1996 and 1997, the legislation of

forming Qom, Qazvin and Gorgan provinces has been approved, if so, Iran will have 28 provinces. Also, other

legislations such as dividing Khorasan province into 3 provinces are now under consideration). In 1995 Iran's.provinces had 252 counties 612 towns, 680 rural districts and 2212 villages.

Table for the General Specifications of the Provinces based on 1995 Division

Political Parties

According to the constitution, Iran's political parties are free and a multi-party system rules the country. But,

due to some problems which arouse shortly after the Islamic revolution, the activities of different political

parties were restricted in Iran and presently there is no active party in the country. Recently in 1996, in the 5th

round of Majlis elections and also in the 7th round of presidential elections in May 1997, the existence of

different views in the government and Majlis on how to run the country was more evident than before.

It seems that the first ground for the formation of political parties has been prepared with the formation of the

Group of the Servants of Construction who are moderates.

Armed Forces and the Military Service

It is obligatory for all Iranian men of over 18 to pass two years of military service. Iran's armed forces include

the Islamic Republic of Iran's army and the Islamic Revolution's Guards' Corps. (IRGC)

Each of them has air, naval, and ground forces. The Basij paramilitary forces who are under the Islamic

Revolution's Guards' Corps include popular militia who are ready to serve the country and also played a major

role in the Iraqi imposed war against Iran.

International Organizations

In 1945, Iran joined the United Nations as one of its first members. Iran is also a member of the following


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the

international Bank of Repair and Development (IBRD), the International Civil Aviation Organization

(ICAO),the International Development Association (IDA), the International Fund for Agricultural Development


The International fund Corporation (IFC), the International Labor Organization (ILO), the International

Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Marine Organization (IMO), the International Telecommunication.Union (ITU), United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Universal Post Union (UPU), United Nation's Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization

(WHO), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO),

Customs Cooperation Council (CCC), Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP),

Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), Interparliamentary Union (IPU), Organization of Petroleum

Exporting Countries (OPEC),Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), United Nations Conference on

Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nation's High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United

Nation's aid and employment institute for Palestinian Refugees in West Asia (UNRWA), the Non-Aligned

Movement (NAM), Interstates Marine Consultation Organization (IMCO), and the Group of 77 countries (G77)


Table for the General Specifications of the Provinces based on 1995 Division

Province Provincial Center Area Number Number Number Number

(Sq.Km) Connties Rural Districy Town Villages

East Azarbaijan Tabriz 44767 14 34 39 134

West Azarbaijan Urmieh 37599 12 28 22 103

Ardebil Ardebil 18451 6 17 14 62

Isfahan Isfahan 105805 17 37 60 116

Ilam Ilam 19086 7 17 15 36

Bushehr Bushehr 25360 8 17 13 36

Tehran Tehran 40836 11 33 38 103

Chaharmahal va Bakhtiari Shahr-E-Kord 14820 5 13 18 34

Khorasan Mashhad 315687 23 74 53 224

Khuzestan Ahwaz 66532 15 35 28 111

Zanjan Zanjan 23767 4 16 10 51

Semnan Semnan 91544 4 11 14 28

Sistan va Baluchestan Zahedan 181471 7 29 16 92

Fars Shiraz 120006 16 60 48 185

Kordestan Sanandaj 27858 8 21 12 78

Kerman kerman 185675 10 31 26 141

kermanshah kermanshah 23622 11 24 19 83

Kohgiluye va Boyer Ahmad Yasuj 13699 3 12 8 38

Gilan Rasht 14820 12 30 35 99

Lorestan Khoramabad 28560 9 24 10 81

Mazandaran Sari 46645 19 49 51 142

Markazi Arak 29530 8 15 18 60

Hormozgan BandarAbbas 65379 8 21 14 69

Hamadan Hamedan 19445 8 18 16 68

Yazd Yazd 696095 7 14 15 38

Total 1630569 252 680 612 2212



*Source:Statistical Center of Iran.

Farsi 58%
Turkish 26%
Curdo 9%
Luri 2%
Baloch 1%
Arabo 1%
Turkmeno 1%
other 2%