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What is the Iranian rial (IRR)?

Credit Ratings & Outlook

Sovereign credit ratings play an important part in determining a country’s access to international capital markets, and the terms of that access. Sovereign ratings help to foster dramatic growth, stability, and efficiency of international and domestic markets.


In 2009 the total GDP was $331,014,973,186 in US Dollars, while the per capita GDP was $4,525. It grew by 1.80% over the previous year.


The latest unemployment rate for 2011 is 9.99%.

Consumer Price Index

The latest consumer price index for 2010 is 205.92.

Political Structure

The current head of the government is President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the head of state is Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei (in an executive role).

Currency Details

The rial, denoted by IRR, is the official currency of Iran. The currency officially consists of 100 dinars, however because the rial is so small in current days, no fraction of the currency is used in accounting anymore. The rial replaced an older currency known as the Iranian toman. Even though this replacement took place in the early 20th century, the term toman is still used today; for example, most Iranians think in tomans when discussing money.

Sovereign Ratings for Iran

Iran is not rated.

What does it look like?

Political Structure

Iran is a constitutional Islamic Republic whose political system is outlined in the nation’s 1979 constitution entitled, Qanun e Asasi. Iran’s makeup has several intricately connected governing bodies, some of which are democratically elected and some of which operate by co-opting people based on their religious inclinations.

The Supreme Leader of Iran

, Rahbar , is described by the constitution as responsible for supervising “the general policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” In the absence of a single leader, a council of religious leaders is appointed. The Supreme Leader is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and controls intelligence and security operations. He also appoints half of the 12-member Council of Guardians.

The President of Iran

, Ra’is-e Jomhour, is the next highest official in the country after the office of Leadership. He is responsible for implementing the Constitution and acting as the head of the executive. According to the law, all presidential candidates must be approved by the Council of Guardians prior to running, after which he is elected by universal suffrage to a 4-year term by an absolute majority of votes. The President, after election, appoints a Council of Ministers (cabinet of 21 members). Eight vice presidents also serve under the president. Unlike many other states, the executive branch in Iran does not control the armed forces.

The Parliament of Iran

is unicameral, entitled the Islamic Consultative Assembly, or Majles-e Shura-ye Eslami. The parliament consists of 290 members who are elected by direct and secret ballot and serve four-year terms.

The Assembly of Experts

meets one week in a year and consists of 86 “virtuous and learned” clerics elected by the public to eight-year terms. The assembly has never been known to challenge any of the Supreme Leader’s decisions.

The Council of Guardians

is made up of twelve jurists, half of whom are appointed by the Supreme Leader. The head of the judiciary recommends the remaining six, which are officially appointed by Parliament. The Council of Guardians is vested with the authority to interpret the constitution and determines if the laws passed by Parliament are in line with Islamic law (also referred to as sharia ). The council also examines presidential and parliamentary candidates to determine their fitness to run for a seat.

The Expediency Council

was created by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1988 to mediate disputes between the Parliament and the Council of Guardians. Presently, according to the constitution, the Expediency Council serves as an advisory body to the Supreme Leader, making it one of the most powerful governing bodies in the country, at least in name.

The Judiciary

is led by the Supreme Court and the chief public prosecutor. Public courts deal with civil and criminal cases. “Revolutionary” courts try certain categories of offenses, including crimes against national security, narcotics smuggling, and acts that undermine the Islamic Republic. The Special Clerical Court handles crimes allegedly committed by clerics, although it has also taken on cases involving lay people.

Prominent Figures

Chief of State Supreme Leader Ali Hoseini-KHAMENEI (since 4 June 1989)
Head of Government President Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD (since 3 August 2005); First Vice President Mohammad Reza RAHIMI (since 13 September 2009)
Cabinet Council of Ministers selected by the president with legislative approval; the Supreme Leader has some control over appointments to the more sensitive ministries note: also considered part of the Executive branch of government are three oversight bodies: 1) Assembly of Experts (Majles-Khebregan), a popularly elected body charged with determining the succession of the Supreme Leader, reviewing his performance, and deposing him if deemed necessary; 2) Expediency Council or the Council for the Discernment of Expediency (Majma-e-Tashkhis-e-Maslahat-e-Nezam) exerts supervisory authority over the executive, judicial, and legislative branches and resolves legislative issues on which the Majles and the Council of Guardians disagree and since 1989 has been used to advise national religious leaders on matters of national policy; in 2005 the Council’s powers were expanded to act as a supervisory body for the government; 3) Council of Guardians of the Constitution or Council of Guardians or Guardians Council (Shora-ye Negban-e Qanon-e Asassi) determines whether proposed legislation is both constitutional and faithful to Islamic law, vets candidates in popular elections for suitability, and supervises national elections
Elections Supreme Leader is appointed for life by the Assembly of Experts; president is elected by popular vote for a four-year term (eligible for a second term and third nonconsecutive term); last held 12 June 2009;(next presidential election slated for June 2013)
Election Results Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD reelected president; percent of vote – Mahmud AHMADI-NEJAD 62.6%, Mir-Hosein MUSAVI-Khamenei 33.8%, other 3.6%; voter turnout 85% (according to official figures published by the government)

Key Economic Factors

Economic Overview:

Iran’s economy is largely characterized by its bloated and highly inefficient state sector, as well as its over reliance on oil. Most economic activity is controlled by the state. Private sector activity is typically small scale, for example, workshops, farming and services. President Khatami, following market plans of former President Rafsanjani, has encountered limited progress. Recent years’ high oil prices have enabled Iran to bring in approximately billion in foreign exchange reserves; however, high employment and inflation continue to plague the nation’s economy.

Key Industries:

Petroleum, petrochemicals, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food processing (particularly sugar refining and vegetable oil production), metal fabrication and armaments.

Agricultural Products:

Wheat, rice, other grains, sugar beets, fruit, nuts, cotton, dairy products, wool and caviar.

Export Commodities:

Petroleum 80%, chemical and petrochemical products, fruits and nuts, and carpets.

Import Commodities:

Industrial raw materials and intermediate goods, capital goods, foodstuffs and other consumer goods, technical services and military supplies.

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