Iran is located in the northern hemisphere in southwest Asia. It is situated in the Iranian plateau between 25 to 40 degrees northern latitude and 45 to 63 degrees eastern longitude. Its southern areas are situated in the equatorial region and its northern areas in the northern temperate zone. Iran's area is 1,648,195 square kilometers. Its northern neighbors are Turkmenistan, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Armenia while the Caspian Sea is also located in its north. Pakistan and Afghanistan are located in the east of Iran and Turkey and Iraq in the west. The Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman are situated in the southern parts of the country. Iran's borders extend 7,774 km, some one-third of which are sea borders.
Iran's borders in the southern coastal areas of the Caspian Sea and the northern coastal areas of the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman are 663 km and 1,952 km long respectively.
From a geographical point of view, no country in the Caspian Sea, Central Asia, and Caucasus Region has access to free water, except Iran. This is while the regional economies mainlydepend on the production and export of oil and imports of various goods from the rest of the world. Since the Caspian Sea is located among Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, the regional trade activities can thrive meaningfully. Furthermore, these countries believe that their economic, cultural, and social progress is contingent upon their access to the international markets.
Due to its unique geographical location and cultural and historical commonalities with the regional countries, Iran is the best venue for ensuring an international trade link in the region. Iran has the best transit facilities in the region; it has high security and is the shortest and least expensive route for the transport of regional energy. It also has access to the energy transport technology. Until 1998, the proven oil reserves of the region were estimated at 154.4 billion barrels while its proven gas reserves stood at 48.5 trillion cubic meters. These are Iran's indisputable economic advantages.
For some 4000 years, Iran has been the hub of trade and culture in the East. It has acted like a sturdy bridge connecting the East to the West. Two commercial roads of Silk and Spices pass through Iran. The countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus as well as Russia depend on Iran for access to the free waters of the world (North-South link). Iran is the land where the transfer of science and technology from the East to the West and vice versa has become a reality . Iran also has maintained its trade security throughout the years. Interestingly enough, Marco Polo, the famous Venetian traveler and author, traveled to China via Iran.
The Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman
- The Persian Gulf is a semi-closed sea, which is surrounded by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, and Oman. It is the greatest link among Europe, Africa, as well as South and Southeast Asia. The strategic Strait of Hormoz in the Sea of Oman essentially links the regional countries to the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. The population of the Persian Gulf area is about 100 million. Most of these people are consumers of Western and Japanese industrial products. The regional countries' main source of revenue is oil and gas. Every day about 15 to 16 million barrels of oil are exported to different parts of the planet from the regional countries via the Strait of Hormoz alone. The U.S., Western European countries, and Japan procure some 30, 60, and 76 percents of their oil needs respectively through the Persian Gulf region. The total regional imports and exports amount to over 145 billion dollars, some 80 billion dollars of which are related to the exports of crude minerals, particularly oil and gas. Over eight million foreign skilled and semi-skilled laborers are employed in the regional countries.