Iran's geographical location makes the country strategically vital. From the south, the Persian Gulf with its close proximity to the Indian Ocean Region and to the north, Central Asia. This means that Iran forms a geographic ‘corridor’ between Europe, Africa, South Asia and South East Asia. Combined oil and gas reserves of the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea total over 60% of the global oil and gas reserves and much of this is transported via the Indian Ocean. Global energy consumption is expected to increase by 49% from 2007 to 2035 as demand increases from China and India. Iran has the fifth largest oil reserves and the second largest gas reserves in the world. In addition to these resources, Iran has a population of 70 million, 65% of whom are under 30 years-old and are comparatively highly educated. These combined elements give the country the potential to be a major player in both the security and development of the region. Since 1979, Iran has taken an ‘Eastward’ orientated political stance, cutting its diplomatic ties with the United States. Historically, Iran has had significant linguistic and cultural links with most of the countries in Central Asia and has maintained close relationships, both economically and politically, with other countries in the region. These relationships have taken a new shape since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, creating closer linkages with the East in order for Iran to establish itself as a regional power. Hence, on a domestic, regional and global level, Iran's approach to the Indian Ocean Region is crucial. Following the end of the Cold War (1947–1992), as the United States became the only great power in the world and India and China emerged as major economic forces, the focus on the importance of the region has deepened. Indeed, the current Islamic Republic leaders’ intention to turn Iran into a regional player by acquiring nuclear energy is a reflection of their ambitious vision for the country, within the region and beyond.