Over 70 ethnic groups, some being small nomadic groups

Indo-Iranian 71.8%
Persian (Farsi, Dari, Tajik) 30 million
Kurd (6) 5 million
Luri 4,946,000

Gilaki 3,659,000
Mazanderani 2,946,000
Bakhtiari 1,154,000
Baluch 623,000
Takistani 306,000
Tat 137,000
Mamsani 127,000
Talysh 112,000

Azeri (Azari) 11,224,000
Turkmen 1,003,000
Qashqai 962,000
Khorasani 773,000
Hazara (speaking Dari) 687,000
Teymur 206,000
Shahseven 100,000

Arab (mainly southwest and Iraq border) 2 million
Jews 20,000.

Christian minorities 0.2%
Armenian and Assyrian

Gypsy (Nawar and Ghorbati) 1,470,000
Brahui 16,000.

At one time 4.5 million Afghans, Iraqi Kurds, Shi”a Arabs and Tajiks were refugees in Iran. Maybe up to 1.5 million remain, but now they are somewhat integrated into Iran.


Official language
Persian (Farsi; Dari and Tajik are major dialects); spoken by 83% of Iranians.


Shi’a Islam is the state religion and 93% of Iranians follow this. Sunni Islam is respected and is largely followed by the Turkoman, Kurd and Baluch populations. All other deviations or defections from Islam are severely handled. Constitutionally the rights of Jews, Zoroastrians and Christians are guaranteed, but closely monitored. All Christian proselytism is forbidden.

Religion type:                                     % of population        Approx number

Muslim                                                      99.02                          67,038,717

Baha’I                                                        0.52                            352,051

Christian                                                   0.33                            220,000

Other                                                        0.10                            67,702

Jewish                                                      0.03                             25,000

Prayer Needs

  1. Pray for political change and a government that is truly accountable to their people and which respects human rights.
  2. Pray that the shackles of economic recession and political tyranny may be shattered and many Iranians find true liberty in believing in Jesus.
  3. Pray that this land may open up again for the proclamation of the gospel.
  4. Pray for the Iranian Diaspora…nearly 5 million Iranians who have found refuge in USA, Canada, Western Europe, Turkey, Gulf States and other lands where they can be evangelized.
  5. Pray for networks of over 70 Iranian Diaspora churches, their growth in grace, unity and preparation for return to minister one day in Iran.
  6. Pray for training of Iranian Christian workers
  7. Pray that agencies around the world may pray, plan and network together with Iranian believers in preparation for that day.
  8. Pray for unreached peoples – Iran is home of some of the largest totally unreached peoples in the world; only in eight of the 70 ethnic groups are there known groups of believers.


Area: 1,648,196 square kilometers

Situated between the Caspian Sea in north and Arabian Sea/Persian Gulf in south. A central desert ringed by mountains.

Major Cities

Tehran                                                                                  11 million

Mashhad                                                                              2.15 million

Isfahan                                                                                 1.63 million

Tabriz                                                                                   1.28 million

Shiraz                                                                                   1.13 million

Qom                                                                                     880,000



Oil provides 75% of export earnings. Carpet sales provides 11%.

The policies of the current religious leaders have reversed much of the progress made under the Shah. National paranoia, and the flight of the business and technology elite followed. Inefficiency, corruption, war with Iraq and economic sanctions imposed by the West brought Iran to the brink of disaster in the 1980s. There has been a slow improvement since 1990 and the lot of the rural poor has greatly improved. Rapid population growth outstrips the means to feed and employ all.