Middle East, bordering the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, and the Caspian Sea, between Iraq and Pakistan 

Geographic coordinates:
32 00 N, 53 00 E

Map references:
Middle East 

total: 1.648 million sq km 
land: 1.636 million sq km 
water: 12,000 sq km 

Area – comparative:
slightly larger than Alaska 

Land boundaries:
total: 5,440 km 
border countries: Afghanistan 936 km, Armenia 35 km, Azerbaijan-proper 432 km, Azerbaijan-Naxcivan exclave 179 km, Iraq 1,458 km, Pakistan 909 km, Turkey 499 km, Turkmenistan 992 km 

2,440 km; note – Iran also borders the Caspian Sea (740 km) 

Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM 
territorial sea: 12 NM 
continental shelf: natural prolongation 
exclusive economic zone: bilateral agreements or median lines in the Persian Gulf 

mostly arid or semiarid, subtropical along Caspian coast 

rugged, mountainous rim; high, central basin with deserts, mountains; small, discontinuous plains along both coasts 

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Caspian Sea -28 m
highest point: Kuh-e Damavand 5,671 m 

Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, coal, chromium, copper, iron ore, lead, manganese, zinc, sulfur 

Land use:
arable land: 10.17% 
permanent crops: 1.16% 
other: 88.67% (1998 est.) 

Irrigated land:
75,620 sq km (1998 est.) 

Natural hazards:
periodic droughts, floods; dust storms, sandstorms; earthquakes along western border and in the northeast 

Environment – current issues:
air pollution, especially in urban areas, from vehicle emissions, refinery operations, and industrial effluents; deforestation; overgrazing; desertification; oil pollution in the Persian Gulf; wetland losses from drought; soil degradation (salination); inadequate supplies of potable water; water pollution from raw sewage and industrial waste; urbanization 

Environment – international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands 
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Marine Life Conservation 

Geography – note:
strategic location on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz, which are vital maritime pathways for crude oil transport

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