The population of Iran estimated at 79,997,380 in 2016. In 1998, 61 percent of the population lived in urban areas. About 99 percent of rural Iranians resided in villages. Only 240,000 were nomads (people without permanent residences that migrate seasonally), a fraction of the 2 million nomads counted in 1966.
Tehran, the country’s capital and largest city, serves as the main administrative, commercial, educational, financial, industrial, and publishing center. Iran’s major cities included:
Shiraz, a manufacturing center in the south near the ruins of the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis;
Mashhad, a manufacturing and commercial center in the northeast and the site of the country’s most important religious shrine;
Isfahan, a manufacturing center for central Iran with several architecturally significant public buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries;
Tabriz, the main industrial and commercial center of the northwest;
Ahwaz, Major and principal commercial and manufacturing center in the southwestern oil region.
Iran’s population is made up of numerous ethnic groups. Persians migrated to the region from Central Asia beginning in the 7th century BC and established the first Persian empire in 550 BC. They are the largest ethnic group, and include such groups as the Gilaki, who live in Gilan Province, and the Mazandarani, who live in Mazandaran Province. Two, groups closely related to the Persians both ethnically and linguistically are the Kurds and the Lurs. The Kurds, who make up about 7 percent of the population, reside primarily in the Zagros Mountains near the borders with Iraq and Turkey. The Lurs account for 2 percent of the population; they inhabit the central Zagros region. Turkic tribes began migrating into northwestern Iran in the 11th century, gradually changing the ethnic composition of the region so that by the late 20th century East Azerbaijan Province was more than 90 percent Turkish . The remainder of the population comprises small communities of Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Baluchis, Georgians, Pashtuns, and others.