Persians are a sedentary people who have traditionally relied on agriculture as a means of subsistence. Much of the agriculture in Iran is based on dry farming. Farming methods and implements are primitive by Western standards, but well adapted to the steep and rocky terrain and shallow topsoil of much of the country. Important crops include wheat, barley, legumes, and a few cash crops such as tobacco, sugar beets, and sesame. Few villages have a substantial surplus.
The production of oil has added immensely to the economic base of Iran in the twentieth century. The role of oil in providing jobs for the labor market is clear, and Persians have certainly benefited from an expanded job market. The proportion of Persians involved in oil production and the effects of huge oil revenues on the daily lives of the Persian population are not clear at this point.