The mineral resources of Persia are considerable, but undeveloped. Gold and copper are found in tlie north and north-east near Meshed ; silver and lead mines are worked near Tabriz ; tin occurs in the same district and in the north-east ; sul[)hur is obtained in several districts, chiefly in the neighbour- hood of Demavend ; iron, manganese, cobalt, and nickel are also found ; coal is met with near the Caspian, and petroleum is abundant in southern Persia ; salt, borax and alum are worked. The turquoise has been mined in Persia from an early age ; in Khorassan the yearly output is now valued at about 8,000Z.
The principal centres of commerce are Tabriz, Teheran, and Ispahan ; the principal ports, Bender Abbas, Lingah, and Bushire on the Persian Gulf, and Enzeli, Meshed i Sar, and Bender i Gez on the Caspian. There are no official returns of the value of the total imports and exports ; the revenue from the customs being, however, known, the approximate value of the commerce may be calculated. The custom dues are for Europeans 5 per cent, ad valorem, the value being considered to be the invoice price plus the freight ; for Persian subjects they vary from 1| per cent, to 8 per cent. The customs are farmed out to the highest bidders, who generally make a good profit ; the farm money, therefore, does not represent the actual sum taken for customs, which latter sum, it is estimated, is 20 per cent, in excess. The following table shows the farm money received by Government for ten years, the estimated amounts paid annually for customs, and the value of the imports and exports, obtained by taking the average of the duty at 4 per cent, of the value : —
Farm Money received by Government
of Customs Paid
Farm Money -i-
20 per cent.
Estimated Value of j
Imports, and Ex- |
ports, Average Duty
taken at 4 per cent.
It was stated in 1896 that considering the great fall in the value of silver, the figures ujj to year 1894-95 were no longer correct, for if they were it would seem that the value of the commerce had decreased by about 2,000,000?. Competent persons pointed out that the commerce had not decreased, but was equivalent to about 7,500,000L or more, and that the farmers pocketed a large amount of money which by rights ought to enter into the Government treasury. The Government in 1895 thereupon increased the farm money to 1,250,000 tomans, or 250,O00L, and increased it again for the year 1897-98 to 1,500,000 tomans.
The imports into Persia consist mostly of cotton fabrics, cloth, glass, woollen goods, carriages, sugar, petroleum, tea, coffee, drugs, &c. The exports principally consist of dried fruits, opium, cotton and wool, silk, carpets, pearls, turquoises, rice, &c.