Provinces of Iran

Buy data    Donate


Thanks to Sorin Cosoveanu for 2016 census data (source [8]).

On 2015-11-27, ISO announced an update that changes the spelling of five province names. It just uses a different method of transliteration from Arabic script.

"Geopolitical Entities, Names, and Codes, Edition 2" (GENC), a U.S. standard that's supposed to correspond to ISO 3166-2, was issued on 2014-03-31. It gives Alborz the code IR-32. Subsequently, on 2014-10-30, ISO issued that same code for Alborz.

In 2012, the Majlis considered a plan to split a Persian Gulf province from Hormozgan.

Sorin Cosoveanu found the results of the 2011 census at, the website of the Statistical Center of Iran. The populations and areas in the main table below are from his spreadsheet.

Update 3 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes, the successor to FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2011-02-28. It changes the transliteration of two province names.

Update 1 to the U.S. standard "Geopolitical Entities and Codes", dated 2010-08-20, adds a code for the new Alborz province. I also revised the list of internet second-level domain codes to bring it up to date. When first letter of the code represents Kh, it is now an x; those codes used to begin with k.

A correspondent who identifies him- or herself as a resident of Kermanshah(an) province tells me that its correct name is Kermanshahan. I did a search to see what documentation I could find on the subject. I found 57 sources, dated from 1922 to 2006. Just about all sources are consistent with the supposition that both the capital city and the province were named Bakhtaran during a period from 1986 (or earlier) to around 1995. Also, the capital seems to have been called Kermanshah consistently, aside from that lacuna. As for the province, all sources prior to 1969 called it Kermanshah. From 1969 to 1985, most sources (12 out of 17) called it Kermanshahan. The other five were probably just copying the name from their own earlier editions. From 1996 to 2001, I find a mixture, with three occurrences of Kermanshah, three of Kermanshahan, and three of Bakhtaran. Since 2001, five sources are unanimously agreed on Kermanshah. As mentioned below, both the ISO and GEC standards have explicitly stated that the name was changed from Kermanshahan to Kermanshah, no later than 2001. Today (2007-08-10), a Google search prefers "Kermanshah province" to "Kermanshahan province" by a 28.5:1 ratio. Wikipedias in a dozen different languages spell it without the "-an" ending. Some of them give its Persian name in Arabic script, which transliterates to "Kermanshah". I'm still open to further evidence, but for the present I have to conclude that its English name is Kermanshah.

Khorasan was split into three provinces on 2004-09-29. ISO 3166-2 Newsletter I-8, published on 2007-04-17, has ISO codes for the new provinces of Iran. FIPS Publication Change Notice No. 10, affecting FIPS PUB 10-4, was issued on 2006-03-23. It assigns new GEC codes to these new provinces, and changes the code for Yazd province due to its territorial change.

ISO 3166-2 Newsletter Number I-2 was published on 2002-05-21. It adds the new provinces of Golestan and Qazvin. It also makes spelling changes similar to those in FIPS Change Notice 6 (next paragraph). I've added the new ISO codes for Golestan and Qazvin to the table below.

Change Notice 6 to FIPS PUB 10-4 was published on 2001-01-28. It shows new spellings for the names of two Iranian provinces. Kermanshahan is supposed to be changed to Kermanshah, and Kohkiluyeh va Buyer Ahmadi is now Kohgiluyeh va Buyer Ahmad.

Change notice 5 to FIPS PUB 10-4 was issued on 2000-08-10. It showed three new provinces in Iran: Golestan, Qazvin, and Qom. These provinces had already been reported on this page and elsewhere.

Country overview: 

Short nameIRAN
ISO codeIR
GEC codeIR
LanguagePersian (fa)
Time zone+3:30 ~


Iran began the century as an absolute monarchy. It has had major changes in government since then, but its borders have undergone only minor adjustments. The names Persia and Iran had both been used for the area since antiquity. Although Iran was a more correct name for the modern kingdom, westerners used Persia preferentially until 1935. Then the Iranian government requested a change, and standard usage in the West shifted to Iran.

Other names of country: 

  1. Danish: Iran, Persien (obsolete)
  2. Dutch: Iran, Islamitische Republiek Iran (formal)
  3. English: Islamic Republic of Iran (formal), Persia (obsolete)
  4. Finnish: Iran
  5. French: Iran, République f Islamique d' Iran m (formal)
  6. German: Iran m
  7. Icelandic: Íran
  8. Italian: Iran m
  9. Norwegian: Den islamske republikk Iran (formal) (Bokmål), Den islamske republikken Iran (formal) (Nynorsk), Iran
  10. Persian: Jomhoori-e-Islami-e-Iran (formal)
  11. Portuguese: Irão, Irã m (Brazil), República f Islâmica do Irão m (formal), Pérsia f (obsolete)
  12. Russian: Исламская Республика Иран (formal), Персия (obsolete)
  13. Spanish: Irán, República f Islámica del Irán m, República Islámica de Irán (formal)
  14. Swedish: Iran
  15. Turkish: İran İslam Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

from Avestian Ayryanem: land of the Aryans

Spelling note: Persian (sometimes called Farsi) is spelled with a modified Arabic alphabet. Transliteration into the Roman alphabet can be done by various systems. As a result, there are many alternate spellings for these names. In particular, the letters o and u are often switched. So are a, e, and i. Some schemes use x instead of kh. Many schemes use diacritical marks for long vowels or aspirated consonants, but they seem to be inconsistent, so I haven't attempted to use diacriticals.

Primary subdivisions: 

Iran is divided into 31 ostanha (sing. ostan: provinces).

AlborzIR.AL32 IR442,712,4002,412,5135,1221,977Karaj
Chahar Mahall and BakhtiariIR.CM08cbIR03947,763895,26316,3286,304Shahr-e-Kord
East AzarbaijanIR.EA01asIR333,909,6523,724,62045,65117,626Tabriz
Kohgiluyeh and Buyer AhmadIR.KB18kbIR05713,052658,62915,5045,986Yasuj
North KhorasanIR.KS31xlIR43863,092867,72728,43410,979Bojnurd
Razavi KhorasanIR.KV30xrIR426,434,5015,994,402118,85145,889Mashhad
Sistan and BaluchestanIR.SB13sbIR042,775,0142,534,327181,78570,188Zahedan
South KhorasanIR.KJ29xjIR41768,898662,53495,38536,828Birjand
West AzarbaijanIR.WA02agIR013,265,2193,080,57637,41114,445Orumiyeh
31 provinces79,926,27075,149,6691,628,771628,872

Postal codes: 

Iran uses five-digit postal codes.

Further subdivisions:

See the Counties of Iran page.

The provinces are subdivided into shahrestan (counties), which are in turn subdivided into bakhsh (districts).

Territorial extent: 

Hormozgan includes most of the larger islands off Iran's south coast: Qeshm, Lavan, Kish, Larak, Hormoz, Hengam, Forur, Sirri. It also includes Abu Musa, an island which is administered jointly by Iran and the United Arab Emirates.

The UN LOCODE page  for Iran lists locations in the country, some of them with their latitudes and longitudes, some with their ISO 3166-2 codes for their subdivisions. This information can be put together to approximate the territorial extent of subdivisions.

Origins of names: 

  1. Azarbaijan: see the country listing for Azerbaijan
  2. Baluchestan: land of the Baluchi (ethnic name; see Balochistan in Pakistan)
  3. Esfahan: Avesti espahan: armies
  4. Fars: from Old Persian parsi: pure
  5. Gilan: from Persian gil: a medicinal plant
  6. Hamadan: Old Persian hangmatana, probably meaning place of assembly
  7. Khorasan: Persian "where the sun arrives from"
  8. Kordestan: land of the Kurds
  9. Khuzestan: Middle Persian for the land of Husa (the city known in ancient times as Susa)
  10. Markazi: Persian for central
  11. Tehran: possibly meaning "flat land"

Change history: 

  1. In 1900, the provinces of Iran were Ardelan, Azarbaijan, Baluchestan, Farsistan, Gilan, Irakajemi, Khorasan, Khoristan, Kerman, Larestan, Lorestan, and Mazandaran. There were a number of splits and boundary changes in the first half of the century.
  2. 1950: Iran reorganized into 10 numbered provinces: 1 (Gilan), 2 (Mazandaran = Tehran), 3 (East Azarbaijan), 4 (West Azarbaijan), 5 (Kermanshahan), 6 (Khuzestan), 7 (Fars), 8 (Kerman), 9 (Khorasan), 10 (Esfahan).
  3. ~1960-1981: Governorates, which had hitherto been subordinate to provinces, were promoted one by one to province status. In this way, Chahar Mahall and Bakhtiari province (formerly Bakhtiari governorate) and Yazd split from Esfahan; Khalij-e Fars (Persian Gulf) split from Fars; Banader va Jazayer-e Bahr-e Oman (Ports and Islands of the Sea of Oman) split from Kerman; Kordestan and Zenjan split from Gilan; Hamadan and Ilam split from Kermanshahan; Bovir Ahmadi and Kohkiluyeh province and Lorestan split from Khuzestan; Markazi and Semnan split from Mazandaran.
  4. ~1977: Name of Khalij-e Fars changed to Bushehr; name of Banader va Jazayer-e Bahr-e Oman changed to Hormozgan. The two provinces appear to have been united for a period around 1970.
  5. ~1979: In the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution, all names reminiscent of Shah Reza Pahlavi were changed. Name of Kermanshahan, and its capital, Kermanshah, both changed to Bakhtaran. Name of capital of West Azarbaijan changed from Rezaiyeh to Orumiyeh. (The city had been renamed from Orumiyeh -- then spelled Urmia -- to Rezaiyeh in 1926, before it was a capital.)
  6. ~1986: Markazi province (capital: Tehran, GEC=IR19) split up into a smaller Markazi, a new Tehran province, and portions which were annexed to Esfahan (former GEC code IR06), Semnan (IR18), and Zanjan (IR21); part of Kerman province (IR12) annexed to Yazd (IR20); name of Baluchestan and Sistan province changed to Sistan and Baluchestan. This table shows the divisions of Iran at about the time of the 1986 census.
Bovir Ahmadi and KohkiluyehIR05496,73914,261Yasuj
Chahar Mahall and BakhtiariIR03747,29714,870Shahr-e-Kord
East AzarbaijanIR024,420,34367,102Tabriz
Sistan and BaluchestanIR041,455,102181,578Zahedan
West AzarbaijanIR012,284,20838,850Orumiyeh
24 provinces55,837,1631,643,967
  • GEC: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4, a U.S. government standard.
  • Population: 1991-12-11 census.
  1. ~1990: Name of Bovir Ahmadi and Kohkiluyeh province changed to Kohgiluyeh and Buyer Ahmad.
  2. 1993: Ardebil province (1991 population 1,141,625) split from East Azarbaijan.
  3. ~1995: Name of Bakhtaran province changed back to Kermanshah.
  4. 1995: Qom province formed by taking Qom county from Tehran province.
  5. 1996-12-31: Qazvin province formed by taking Qazvin and Takestan counties from Zanjan province.
  6. 1997-05-31: Golestan province formed by taking Aliabad, Gonbad-e-kavus, Gorgan, Kordkuy, Minudasht, and Torkaman counties from Mazandaran province.
  7. ~2002: Tabas county (area = 55,344 km.²) transferred from Khorasan province to Yazd (former GEC code IR31).
  8. 2004-09-29: Khorasan divided into three provinces. According to Wikipedia, this measure was approved by the parliament on 2004-05-18, and by the Council of Guardians on 2004-05-29. The codes for Khorasan province before the split were HASC = IR.KR, ISO = 09, Dom = kh, and GEC = IR30, and its capital was Mashhad. The counties of Khorasan were distributed as follows: Bojnurd, Esfarayen, Jajarm, Maneh and Samalqan, and Shirvan to North Khorasan; Bardeskan, Chenaran, Darrehgaz, Fariman, Ferdows, Gonabad, Kalat, Kashmar, Khaf, Mashhad, Neyshabur, Qayenat, Quchan, Rashtkhar, Sabzevar, Sarakhs, Taybad, Torbat-e-Heydariyeh, and Torbat-e-Jam to Razavi Khorasan; and Birjand, Nehbandan, and Sarbisheh to South Khorasan.
  9. 2007-03: Ferdows county transferred from Razavi Khorasan to South Khorasan.
  10. 2010-06-23: Alborz province split from Tehran (former HASC code IR.TH). It consists of Karaj, Nazarabad, and Savojbolagh counties.

Other names of subdivisions: 

  1. Ardebil: Ardabil (variant)
  2. Bushehr: Banader va Jazayer-e Khalij-e Fars, Khalij-e Fars (obsolete-Persian); Bushire (variant); Persian Gulf, Ports and Islands of the Persian Gulf (obsolete)
  3. Chahar Mahall and Bakhtiari: Bakhtiari, Chaharmahal va Bakhtiyari (variant-Persian); Charmahal-Bakhtiyari (variant)
  4. East Azarbaijan: Azarbayjan-e Khavari (Persian); Azarbaijan-e Sharghi, Azarbaijan-Sharqi, East Azarbayejan (variant); Azerbaïdjan e Sharqi (French)
  5. Esfahan: Isfahan, Ispahan (variant)
  6. Hamadan: Hamedan (variant)
  7. Hormozgan: Banader va Jazayer-e Bahr-e Oman, Ports and Islands of the Sea of Oman, Saheli (obsolete)
  8. Ilam: Ilam and Poshtkuh (obsolete)
  9. Kermanshah: Bakhtaran (obsolete); Kermanshahan (variant)
  10. Khorasan: Khorassan (obsolete); Khorazan, Khurasan (variant)
  11. Khuzestan: Khuzistan (variant); Kouzistan (French)
  12. Kohgiluyeh and Buyer Ahmad: Bovir Ahmadi and Kohkiluyeh, Boyer-Ahmad and Koh-Giluye, Boyer Ahmad e Kohkiluyeh, Boyer Ahmadi-ye Sardir va Kohkiluyeh, Kohgiloyeh va Boyerahmad, Kohgiluyeh and Boveir Ahmadi, Kohkiluye-Boyerahmad (variant); Kohkiluyeh and Buyer Ahmadi (obsolete)
  13. Kordestan: Kurdistan (variant)
  14. North Khorasan: Khorasan-e Shemali, Khorasan-e Shomali (Persian)
  15. Razavi Khorasan: Khorasan-e Razavi (Persian)
  16. Sistan and Baluchestan: Baluchestan va Sistan, Seistan and Baluchistan (variant); Sistan e Baloutchistan (French)
  17. South Khorasan: Khorasan-e Janubi, Khorasan-e Jonubi (Persian)
  18. Tehran: Teheran (obsolete); Teherán (Spanish); Téhéran (French); Тегеран (Russian)
  19. West Azarbaijan: Azarbayjan-e Bakhtari (Persian); Azarbaijan-e Gharbi, West Azarbayejan (variant); Azerbaïdjan e Gharbi (French)

Population history:

Chahar Mahall and Bakhtiari340,612298,448394,357631,179747,297761,168857,910895,263
East Azarbaijan2,112,1342,596,4393,197,6854,114,0844,420,3433,325,5403,603,4563,724,620
Kohgiluyeh and Buyer Ahmad161,219244,370411,828496,739544,356634,299658,629
North Khorasan811,572867,727
Razavi Khorasan2,023,6122,497,3813,264,3985,280,6056,013,2005,988,0295,593,0795,994,402
Sistan and Baluchestan428,363454,966664,2921,197,0591,455,1021,722,5792,405,7422,534,327
South Khorasan636,420662,534
West Azarbaijan719,0231,087,1821,407,6041,971,6772,284,2082,496,3202,873,4593,080,576


Sources for census data: 1956 - [7]; 1966 - [6]; 1976 - [2]; 1991 - [1]; 2011 - [5].


  1. [1] The Statesman's Year-Book, 1997-98 edition.
  2. [2] Iran Almanac, 1978 edition.
  3. [3] Fourth United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names, Vol. II, United Nations, New York, 1987.
  4. [4] 1979 Demographic Yearbook , 31st Ed. Statistical Office, United Nations, New York, 1980 (retrieved 2011-12-28).
  5. [5] Statistical Center of Iran  (in Persian). Census data from the 2011 census retrieved 2011-09-01.
  6. [6] Webster's New Geographical Dictionary, 1980 edition. G. & C. Merriam, Springfield, MA, 1980.
  7. [7] The Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas, 1964 edition.
  8. [8] Statistical Center of Iran  (through Syracuse University). Census data from the 2016 census retrieved 2017-04-21.
Back to main statoids page Last updated: 2016-04-21
Copyright © 1999-2012, 2014, 2015 by Gwillim Law.