Country Profile: Iran

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Jomhuri-ye Eslami-ye Iran), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Iran’s Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) is the principle source of legislation.

Country Background

Iran is located in the Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman, Persian Gulf, and Caspian Sea. It is bounded by Afghanistan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, and Pakistan. The capital of Iran is Tehran. The official language is Persian (Farsi). The country’s population in 2016 was approximately 82 million. The official religion of Iran is Islam. Iran is a predominantly Muslim country, with about 99% of the population Muslim (90-95% of which are Shīʿī and 5-10% of which are Sunnī). Iran is a member state of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

Constitution & Legal Structure

Iran is referred to as a theocratic republic. After the Islamic revolution in 1979 and overthrow of the Shah, the current Constitution was adopted. Significant amendments were implemented in 1989. These changes were primarily focused on governmental structure, and included:

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