Statistically speaking, 60% of Iran's economy is centrally planned and it is dominated by oil and gas production since most of the country's exports are oil and gas although over 40 industries have been directly involved in the Tehran Stock Exchange, one of the best performing exchanges in the world over the past decade. With 10% of the world's proven oil reserves and 15% of its gas reserves, Iran is considered as an "energy superpower." A unique feature of Iran's economy is the presence of large religious foundations called Bonyad, whose combined budgets represent more than 30 percent of central government spending. Here are just a few examples of Iran’s huge capacity in producing variegated industries:
Iran’s agriculture and foodstuffs
Wheat, the most important crop, is grown mainly in the west and northwest while rice is the major crop in the Caspian region. Agriculture contributes 10% to the gross domestic product and employs 16% of the labor force. About 9% of Iran's land is arable, with the main food-producing areas located in the Caspian region and in northwestern valleys.
Other crops include barley, corn, cotton, sugar beets, tea, hemp, tobacco, fruits, potatoes, legumes (beans and lentils), vegetables, fodder plants (alfalfa and clover), almonds, walnuts and spices including cumin and sumac. Iran is the world's largest producer of saffron, pistachios, honey and berries and the second largest date producer. Meat and dairy products include lamb, goat meat, beef, poultry, milk, eggs, butter, and cheese. Non-food products include wool, leather, and silk.
Iran’s manufacturing industry
Iran has a diversified and broad industrial base. In 1998, the United Nations classified Iran's economy as "semi-developed".
Iran's major manufactured products are petrochemicals, steel and copper. Other important manufactures contain automobiles, home and electric appliances, telecommunications equipment, cement and industrial machinery. Iran operates the largest operational population of industrial robots in West Asia. Other Iranian products are paper, rubber products, processed foods, leather products and pharmaceuticals.
Iran has a long tradition of producing branded goods including Persian carpets, ceramics, copperware, brassware, glass, leather goods, textiles and wooden artifacts. The country's carpet-weaving tradition dates from pre-Islamic times and remains an important industry contributing substantial amounts to rural incomes.
An estimated 1.2 million weavers in Iran produce carpets for domestic and international export markets. More than $500 million worth of hand-woven carpets are exported each year. Around 5.2 million people work in some 250 handicraft fields and contribute to 3% of GDP.
Iran’s mines and metals
Mobarakeh in Isfahan is Iran's largest steel mill listed on the Tehran Stock Exchange. The main steel mills are located in Isfahan and Khuzestan. Iran became self-sufficient in steel in 2009. Aluminum and copper production was projected to hit 245,000 and 383,000 tons respectively by March 2009. Cement production reached 65 million tons in 2009, exporting to 40 countries.
Although the petroleum industry provides the majority of revenue, about 75% of all mining sector employees work in mines producing minerals other than oil and natural gas. These include coal, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromium, barite, salt, gypsum, molybdenum, strontium, silica, uranium and gold. The mine at Sar Cheshmeh in Kerman Province is home to the world's second largest store of copper. Large iron ore deposits exist in central Iran, near Bafq, Yazd and Kerman. The government owns 90% of all mines and related industries and is seeking foreign investment. The sector accounts for 3% of exports.
Iran’s petrochemical industry
Iran manufactures 60–70% of its equipment domestically, including refineries, oil tankers, drilling rigs, offshore platforms, and exploration instruments. Iran's exports in petrochemicals reached $5.5 billion in 2007, $9 billion in 2008 and $7.6 billion during the first ten months of the Iranian calendar year 2010.