Located in Southwest Asia, Iran or Persia is surrounded by Iraq on the west side, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea, and Turkmenistan on the north side, Afghanistan and Pakistan on the east side and the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea on the south side. Iran is currently a member of the United Nations, Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The government structure comprises the Office of the Supreme Leader (current leader Ali Khamenei), who is also the Commander-in-Chief, the Executive Branch (current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), the Legislative Branch/Parliament (Majlis in Persian, current speaker Ali Larijani), the Judiciary Branch (current head Sadeq Larijani), the Council of Guardians, a legislative watchdog (current secretary Ahmad Janati), the Expediency Discernment Council of the System, a council that resolves conflicts between the Majlis and the Council of Guardians (current head Ali-Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani), and the Assembly of Experts of the Leadership, a council that elects and removes the Supreme Leader (current speaker Mohammad-Reza Mahdavi Kani).
Iran’s economy is centrally planned and more than 80% of it is state owed. In addition, powerful semi-state institutions and Islamic foundations play an important role in the economy. The latest interpretation of article 44 of the constitution allowed the government to privatize major industries that it had originally monopolized according to its previous interpretation by offering their shares to the public and private sectors. Privatization began more than a decade ago, but it has not made much progress in spite of the latest interpretation. Major state entities acquired most of the ceded shares.
Furthermore, the government controls both monetary and fiscal policies. Unlike the concept of central banking, the Central Bank of Iran does not function independent of the government. This important distinction has completely been ignored. Because of this fact, the economy has encountered serious difficulties such as high inflation and unemployment.