Iran has one of the strongest-performing economies of the major oil-producing countries in the Middle East. But critics argue it has squandered much of this wealth through imprudent public-sector spending, subsidies, corruption and inefficiency.
An International Monetary Fund report estimated that the country's non-oil fiscal deficit would rise to about 18% of its GDP by the end of the last financial year, making it even more at risk to a fall in oil prices.
While UN sanctions, imposed over its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program have played some role in Iran's recent economic decline, the general feeling is that although they have made some aspects of business more difficult, they are not economically that significant.
Financial institutions and assets were targeted, deterring foreign banks from doing business in Tehran.
Petrol rationing, introduced in June 2007, sparked angry protests in which a number of petrol stations were burnt to the ground.