Jefferson M Fish Ph.D.

Looking in the Cultural Mirror

Iran is Very Big

Think twice before going to war with Iran

Posted May 12, 2015

Wikimedia Commons
Map of Iran
Source: Wikimedia Commons

If the attempt to negotiate and ratify a nuclear agreement with Iran fails, an escalation in our confrontation is likely, possibly leading to war. Before contemplating war with Iran, we need to get a sense of the size of the country. Iran is a neighbor of Iraq, and the two countries recently fought a war, so we tend to think of them as roughly equivalent in size and population. This is not the case. Here are some relevant figures, rounded off from Wikipedia entries

Iran’s population (2013) is 77.2 million, more than double that of Iraq (36.0 million, 2014). Iran’s population is greater than that of the United Kingdom (64.1 million, 2013), or France (66.6 million, 2014), and nearly as great as Germany’s (80.7 million, 2014)

Our images of the geographical size of the country are even further from reality. Because Iran (like Iraq) is closer to the equator than the United States or Europe, its image on world maps is shrunken relative to countries closer to the poles.  Iran has a surface area of about 640,000 square miles, nearly four times the size of Iraq (170,000 square miles). Here are some comparisons: United Kingdom 94,000 square miles, France 246,000 square miles, Germany 140,000 square miles. In other words, at 640,000 square miles Iran is nearly as large as the UK, France, and Germany combined (650,000 square miles)--and is actually larger if France’s overseas departments and territories are excluded from the calculation (615,000 square miles)

These numbers make it likely that a war with Iran would cost at least several times as much, in lives and money, as the war with Iraq.

Image Source:

Map of Iran

Wikimedia Commons

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