Agriculture contributes just over 20% to the gross national product and employs a third of the labor force. The main food-producing areas are in the Caspian region and in the valleys of the northwest. Wheat, the most important crop, is grown mainly in the west and northwest; rice is the major crop in the Caspian region.
Barley, corn, cotton, sugar beets, tea, hemp, tobacco, fruits (including citrus), nuts, and dates are also grown, and livestock is raised.
Illicit cultivation of the opium poppy is fairly common.
The construction of multipurpose dams and reservoirs along the rivers in the Zagros and Elburz mts. has increased the amount of water available for irrigation.
The northern slopes of the Elburz Mts. are heavily wooded, and forestry products are economically important. In the rivers entering the Caspian Sea are salmon, carp, trout, and pike; sturgeon are abundant in the Caspian Sea.
Petroleum (discovered in 1908 in Khuzestan province) and natural gas are by far the most important of the variety of natural resources found in Iran.
The chief oil fields are found in the central and southwestern parts of the Zagros Mts. in W Iran. Oil also is found in N Iran and in the South in offshore waters of the Persian Gulf.
Domestic oil and gas, along with hydroelectric power facilities, provide the country with power.
Iran is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Besides crude and refined petroleum, Iran’s chief exports are carpets, fruits, nuts, hides, and iron and steel.

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