Coordinates: 33°N 44°E / 33°N 44°E / 33; 44
Republic of Iraq
جمهورية العراق (Arabic)
کۆماری عێراق (Kurdish)
Coat of arms
Motto: الله أكبر (Arabic)
"Allahu Akbar" (transliteration)
"God is the Greatest"
(English: "My Homeland")
and largest city
33°20′N 44°26′E / 33.333°N 44.433°E / 33.333; 44.433
Federal parliamentary republic
• Prime Minister
Council of Representatives
Independence from the United Kingdom
3 October 1932 (1932-10-03)
14 July 1958
• Current constitution
15 October 2005
437,072 km2 (168,754 sq mi) (58th)
• Water (%)
• 2016 estimate
82.7/km2 (214.2/sq mi) (125th)
$612 billion (34th)
• Per capita
$240.006 billion (47th)
• Per capita
medium · 121st
Iraqi dinar (IQD)
Drives on the
ISO 3166 code
Constitution of Iraq, Article 4 (1st).
Iraq (/ɪˈræk/, /ɪˈrɑːk/ ( listen) or /aɪˈræk/;
Arabic: العراق al-‘Irāq; Kurdish: عێراق Eraq),
officially known as the
Iraq (Arabic: جُمُهورية
العِراق Jumhūrīyyat al-‘Irāq; Kurdish:
کۆماری عێراق Komari Eraq), is a country in Western Asia,
Turkey to the north,
Iran to the east,
Kuwait to the
Saudi Arabia to the south,
Jordan to the southwest and
Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. The main
ethnic groups are
Arabs and Kurds; others include Assyrians, Turkmen,
Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans,
Circassians and Kawliya.
Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with
Mandeanism also present. The
official languages of
Arabic and Kurdish.
Iraq has a coastline measuring 58 km (36 miles) on the northern
Persian Gulf and encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the
northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range and the eastern part of
the Syrian Desert. Two major rivers, the
Tigris and Euphrates, run
Iraq and into the
Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf.
These rivers provide
Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land.
The region between the
Euphrates rivers, historically known
as Mesopotamia, is often referred to as the cradle of civilisation. It
was here that mankind first began to read, write, create laws and live
in cities under an organised government—notably Uruk, from which
"Iraq" is derived. The area has been home to successive civilisations
since the 6th millennium BC.
Iraq was the centre of the Akkadian,
Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires. It was also part of the
Median, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, Roman, Rashidun,
Umayyad, Abbasid, Ayyubid, Mongol, Safavid, Afsharid and Ottoman
Iraq's modern borders were mostly demarcated in 1920 by the League of
Nations when the
Ottoman Empire was divided by the
Treaty of Sèvres.
Iraq was placed under the authority of the
United Kingdom as the
British Mandate of Mesopotamia. A monarchy was established in 1921,
Kingdom of Iraq
Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from the UK in 1932. In
1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi
Republic created. Iraq
was controlled by the
Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party from 1968 until
2003. After an invasion by the
United States and its allies in 2003,
Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party was removed from power, and multi-party
parliamentary elections were held in 2005. The US presence in Iraq
ended in 2011, but the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified
as fighters from the
Syrian Civil War
Syrian Civil War spilled into the country. Out of
the insurgency came a highly destructive group calling itself ISIL,
which took large parts of the north and west. It has since been
largely defeated. Disputes over the sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan
continue. A referendum about the full sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan
was held on 25 September 2017.
Iraq is a founding member of the UN as well as of the
Non-Aligned Movement and the IMF. It is a federal parliamentary
republic consisting of 19 governorates (provinces) and one autonomous
region (Iraqi Kurdistan). The country's official religion is Islam.
Iraq has a very rich heritage and celebrates the
achievements of its past in pre-Islamic times and is known for its
poets. Its painters and sculptors are among the best in the Arab
world, some of them being world-class as well as producing fine
handicrafts, including rugs and carpets.
2.1 Pre-historic era
2.2 Ancient Iraq
2.2.1 Bronze Age
2.2.2 Iron Age
2.2.3 Babylonian and Persian periods
2.3 Middle Ages
2.4 Ottoman Iraq
2.5 British administration and independent Kingdom
Republic and Ba'athist Iraq
4 Government and politics
4.3 Foreign relations
4.4 Human rights
4.5 Administrative divisions
5.1 Oil and energy
Water supply and sanitation
6.1 Ethnic groups
6.3 Urban areas
6.5 Diaspora and refugees
7.2 Art and architecture
8.1 Mobile phones
8.3 Undersea cable
9 See also
12 Further reading
13 External links
Arabic name العراق al-ʿIrāq has been in use since before
the 6th century. There are several suggested origins for the name. One
dates to the Sumerian city of
Uruk (Biblical Hebrew Erech) and is thus
ultimately of Sumerian origin, as
Uruk was the
Akkadian name for the
Sumerian city of Urug, containing the Sumerian word for "city",
Arabic folk etymology for the name is "deeply rooted,
During the medieval period, there was a region called ʿIrāq ʿArabī
("Arabian Iraq") for Lower
Mesopotamia and ʿIrāq ʿajamī ("Foreign
Iraq"), for the region now situated in Central and Western
Iran. The term historically included the plain south of the Hamrin
Mountains and did not include the northernmost and westernmost parts
of the modern territory of Iraq. Prior to the middle of the 19th
century, the term Eyraca
Arabic was commonly used to describe
Sawad was also used in early Islamic times for the region of
the alluvial plain of the
Euphrates rivers, contrasting it
with the arid Arabian desert. As an
Arabic word, عراق means "hem",
"shore", "bank", or "edge", so that the name by folk etymology came to
be interpreted as "the escarpment", viz. at the south and east of the
Jazira Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the
Iraq arabi" area.
Arabic pronunciation is [ʕiˈrɑːq]. In English, it is either
/ɪˈrɑːk/ (the only pronunciation listed in the Oxford English
Dictionary and the first one in Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary)
or /ɪˈræk/ (listed first by MQD), the American Heritage Dictionary,
and the Random House Dictionary. The pronunciation /aɪˈræk/ is
frequently heard in US media.
In accordance with the 2005 Constitution, the official name of the
state is the "
Republic of Iraq" (Jumhūrīyyat al-‘Irāq).
Main article: History of Iraq
Between 65,000 BC and 35,000 BC northern
Iraq was home to a
Neanderthal culture, archaeological remains of which have been
discovered at Shanidar Cave This same region is also the location
of a number of pre-
Neolithic cemeteries, dating from approximately
Since approximately 10,000 BC,
Asia Minor and The
Levant) was one of centres of a
Neolithic culture (known as
Neolithic A) where agriculture and cattle breeding
appeared for the first time in the world. The following Neolithic
period (PPNB) is represented by rectangular houses. At the time of the
pre-pottery Neolithic, people used vessels made of stone, gypsum and
burnt lime (Vaisselle blanche). Finds of obsidian tools from Anatolia
are evidences of early trade relations.
Further important sites of human advancement were
Jarmo (circa 7100
Halaf culture and
Ubaid period (between 6500 BC and 3800
BC). These periods show ever-increasing levels of advancement in
agriculture, tool-making and architecture.
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. Relevant
discussion may be found on the talk page. Please help improve this
article by introducing citations to additional sources. (June 2014)
Cylinder Seal, Old Babylonian Period, c.1800 BC, hematite. The king
makes an animal offering to Shamash. This seal was probably made in a
workshop at Sippar.
Main article: History of Mesopotamia
The historical period in
Iraq truly begins during the
(4000 BC to 3100 BC), with the founding of a number of Sumerian
cities, and the use of Pictographs,
Cylinder seals and mass-produced
The "Cradle of Civilization" is thus a common term for the area
Iraq as it was home to the earliest known
civilisation, the Sumerian civilisation, which arose in the fertile
Euphrates river valley of southern
Iraq in the Chalcolithic
It was here, in the late 4th millennium BC, that the world's first
writing system and recorded history itself were born. The Sumerians
were also the first to harness the wheel and create
City States, and
whose writings record the first evidence of Mathematics, Astronomy,
Astrology, Written Law,
Medicine and Organised religion.
The language of the Sumerians is a language isolate. The major city
states of the early Sumerian period were; Eridu, Bad-tibira, Larsa,
Sippar, Shuruppak, Uruk, Kish, Ur, Nippur, Lagash, Girsu, Umma,
Hamazi, Adab, Mari, Isin, Kutha, Der and Akshak.
The cities to the north like Ashur, Arbela (modern Irbil) and Arrapkha
(modern Kirkuk) were also extant in what was to be called
the 25th century BC; however, at this early stage, they were Sumerian
ruled administrative centres.
Victory stele of Naram-Sin of Akkad.
In the 26th century BC,
Lagash created what was perhaps
the first empire in history, though this was short-lived. Later,
Lugal-Zage-Si, the priest-king of Umma, overthrew the primacy of the
Lagash dynasty in the area, then conquered Uruk, making it his
capital, and claimed an empire extending from the
Persian Gulf to the
Mediterranean. It was during this period that the Epic of
Gilgamesh originates, which includes the tale of The Great Flood.
From the 29th century BC,
Akkadian Semitic names began to appear on
king lists and administrative documents of various city states. It
remains unknown as to the origin of Akkad, where it was precisely
situated and how it rose to prominence. Its people spoke Akkadian, an
East Semitic language.
During the 3rd millennium BC, a cultural symbiosis developed between
the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread
bilingualism. The influences between Sumerian and
Akkadian are evident
in all areas, including lexical borrowing on a massive scale—and
syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This mutual
influence has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and
the 3rd millennium BC as a Sprachbund. From this period, the
Iraq came to be known as Sumero-Akkadian.
Bill of sale of a male slave and a building in Shuruppak, Sumerian
tablet, circa 2600 BC.
Between the 29th and 24th centuries BC, a number of kingdoms and city
Iraq began to have
Akkadian speaking dynasties;
including Assyria, Ekallatum,
Isin and Larsa.
However, the Sumerians remained generally dominant until the rise of
Akkadian Empire (2335–2124 BC), based in the city of Akkad in
central Iraq. Sargon of Akkad, originally a
Rabshakeh to a Sumerian
king, founded the empire, he conquered all of the city states of
southern and central Iraq, and subjugated the kings of Assyria, thus
uniting the Sumerians and Akkadians in one state. He then set about
expanding his empire, conquering Gutium,
Elam and had victories that
did not result into a full conquest against the
Amorites and Eblaites
of Ancient Syria.
After the collapse of the
Akkadian Empire in the late 22nd century BC,
Gutians occupied the south for a few decades, while Assyria
reasserted its independence in the north. This was followed by a
Sumerian renaissance in the form of the Neo-Sumerian Empire. The
Sumerians under king
Shulgi conquered almost all of
Iraq except the
northern reaches of Assyria, and asserted themselves over the Gutians,
Elamites and Amorites, destroying the first and holding off the
An Elamite invasion in 2004 BC brought the Sumerian revival to an end.
By the mid 21st century BC, the
Akkadian speaking kingdom of Assyria
had risen to dominance in northern Iraq.
territorially into the north eastern Levant, central Iraq, and eastern
Anatolia, forming the Old Assyrian
Empire (circa 2035–1750 BC) under
kings such as Puzur-
Ashur I, Sargon I,
Ilushuma and Erishum I, the
latter of whom produced the most detailed set of law yet
written. The south broke up into a number of Akkadian
speaking states, Isin,
Eshnunna being the major ones.
During the 20th century BC, the Canaanite speaking
Amorites began to
migrate into southern Mesopotamia. Eventually, they began to set up
small petty kingdoms in the south, as well as usurping the thrones of
extant city states such as Isin,
Larsa and Eshnunna.
Hammurabi, depicted as receiving his royal insignia from Shamash.
Relief on the upper part of the stele of Hammurabi's code of laws.
One of these small
Amorite kingdoms founded in 1894 BC contained the
then small administrative town of
Babylon within its borders. It
remained insignificant for over a century, overshadowed by older and
more powerful states, such as Assyria, Elam, Isin, Ehnunna and Larsa.
In 1792 BC, an
Amorite ruler named
Hammurabi came to power in this
state, and immediately set about building
Babylon from a minor town
into a major city, declaring himself its king.
Hammurabi conquered the
whole of southern and central Iraq, as well as
Elam to the east and
Mari to the west, then engaged in a protracted war with the Assyrian
Ishme-Dagan for domination of the region, creating the
short-lived Babylonian Empire. He eventually prevailed over the
Ishme-Dagan and subjected
Assyria and its Anatolian
colonies. By the middle of the eighteenth century BC, the Sumerians
had lost their cultural identity and ceased to exist as a distinct
people. Genetic and cultural analysis indicates that the Marsh
Arabs of southern
Iraq are probably their most direct modern
It is from the period of
Hammurabi that southern
Iraq came to be known
as Babylonia, while the north had already coalesced into Assyria
hundreds of years before. However, his empire was short-lived, and
rapidly collapsed after his death, with both
Assyria and southern
Iraq, in the form of the Sealand Dynasty, falling back into native
Akkadian hands. The foreign
Amorites clung on to power in a once more
weak and small
Babylonia until it was sacked by the Indo-European
Empire based in
Anatolia in 1595 BC. After this,
another foreign people, the
Language Isolate speaking Kassites,
originating in the
Zagros Mountains of Ancient Iran, seized control of
Babylonia, where they were to rule for almost 600 years, by far the
longest dynasty ever to rule in Babylon.
Iraq was from this point divided into three polities:
Assyria in the
Babylonia in the south central region, and the Sealand
Dynasty in the far south. The
Sealand Dynasty was finally conquered by
Babylonia circa 1380 BC.
The Middle Assyrian
Empire (1365–1020 BC) saw
Assyria rise to be the
most powerful nation in the known world. Beginning with the campaigns
of Ashur-uballit I,
Assyria destroyed the rival Hurrian-Mitanni
Empire, annexed huge swathes of the Hittite
Empire for itself, annexed
Babylonia from the Kassites, forced the Egyptian
the region, and defeated the Elamites, Phrygians, Canaanites,
Phoenicians, Cilicians, Gutians, Dilmunites and Arameans. At its
height, the Middle Assyrian
Empire stretched from
The Caucasus to
Dilmun (modern Bahrain), and from the
Mediterranean coasts of
Phoenicia to the
Zagros Mountains of Iran. In 1235 BC, Tukulti-Ninurta
Assyria took the throne of Babylon, thus becoming the very first
native Mesopotamian to rule the state.
Jehu, king of Israel, bows before
Shalmaneser III of Assyria, 825 BC.
Bronze Age collapse
Bronze Age collapse (1200–900 BC),
Babylonia was in a
state of chaos, dominated for long periods by
Assyria and Elam. The
Kassites were driven from power by
Assyria and Elam, allowing native
south Mesopotamian kings to rule
Babylonia for the first time,
although often subject to Assyrian or Elamite rulers. However, these
Akkadian kings, were unable to prevent new waves of West
Semitic migrants entering southern Iraq, and during the 11th century
Babylonia from The Levant, and these
were followed in the late 10th to early 9th century BC by the migrant
Chaldeans who were closely related to the earlier Arameans.
After a period of comparative decline in Assyria, it once more began
to expand with the Neo Assyrian
Empire (935–605 BC). This was to be
the largest empire the region had yet seen, and under rulers such as
Adad-Nirari II, Ashurnasirpal, Shalmaneser III, Semiramis,
Tiglath-pileser III, Sargon II, Sennacherib,
Iraq became the centre of an empire stretching from
Elam in the east, to
Antioch in the
west, and from
The Caucasus in the north to Egypt,
Arabs and the Chaldeans are first mentioned in written history
(circa 850 BC) in the annals of Shalmaneser III.
It was during this period that an
Akkadian influenced form of Eastern
Aramaic was adopted by the Assyrians as the lingua franca of their
vast empire, and Mesopotamian Aramaic began to supplant
the spoken language of the general populace of both
Babylonia. The descendant dialects of this tongue survive amongst the
Mandaeans of southern
Iraq and Assyrians of northern
Iraq to this day.
Relief showing a lion hunt, from the north palace of Nineveh,
In the late 7th century BC, the Assyrian
Empire tore itself apart with
a series of brutal civil wars, weakening itself to such a degree that
a coalition of its former subjects; the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Medes,
Scythians and Cimmerians, were able to attack
Assyria, finally bringing its empire down by 605 BC.
Babylonian and Persian periods
Neo-Babylonian Empire (620–539 BC) succeeded that of
Assyria. It failed to attain the size, power or longevity of its
predecessor; however, it came to dominate The Levant, Canaan, Arabia,
Israel and Judah, and to defeat Egypt. Initially,
Babylon was ruled by
yet another foreign dynasty, that of the Chaldeans, who had migrated
to the region in the late 10th or early 9th century BC. Its greatest
king, Nebuchadnezzar II, rivalled another non native ruler, the
Amorite king Hammurabi, as the greatest king of
Babylon. However, by 556 BC, the Chaldeans had been deposed from power
by the Assyrian born
Nabonidus and his son and regent Belshazzar.
In the 6th century BC,
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great of neighbouring
Neo-Babylonian Empire at the
Battle of Opis
Battle of Opis and
Iraq was subsumed
into the Achaemenid
Empire for nearly two centuries. The Achaemenids
Babylon their main capital. The Chaldeans and
at around this time, though both
Babylonia endured and
thrived under Achaemenid rule (see Achaemenid Assyria). Little changed
under the Persians, having spent three centuries under Assyrian rule,
their kings saw themselves as successors to Ashurbanipal, and they
retained Assyrian Imperial Aramaic as the language of empire, together
with the Assyrian imperial infrastructure, and an Assyrian style of
art and architecture.
Seleucid Empire (in yellow) with capital in Seleucia
on the Tigris, north of Babylon.
In the late 4th century BC,
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great conquered the region,
putting it under Hellenistic Seleucid rule for over two centuries.
The Seleucids introduced the
Indo-Anatolian and Greek term
the region. This name had for many centuries been the Indo-European
Assyria and specifically and only meant Assyria; however, the
Seleucids also applied it to
The Levant (Aramea, causing both the
Assyria and the Assyrians of
Iraq and the
The Levant to
Syria and Syrians/Syriacs in the
Flourished in the 2nd century, the strongly fortified Parthian city of
Hatra shows a unique blend of both Classical and Persian architecture
Parthians (247 BC – 224 AD) from
Persia conquered the region
during the reign of Mithridates I of
Parthia (r. 171–138 BC). From
Syria, the Romans invaded western parts of the region several times,
Assyria Provincia in Assyria.
Christianity began to
take hold in
Iraq (particularly in Assyria) between the 1st and 3rd
Assyria became a centre of Syriac Christianity, the
Church of the East
Church of the East and Syriac literature. A number of indigenous
Neo-Assyrian states evolved in the north during the
Parthian era, such as Adiabene, Assur,
Osroene and Hatra.
The Sassanids of
Ardashir I destroyed the Parthian Empire
and conquered the region in 224 AD. During the 240s and 250's AD, the
Sassanids gradually conquered the small Neo Assyrian states,
Assur in 256 AD. The region was thus a province of
Sassanid Empire for over four centuries (see also; Asōristān),
and became the frontier and battle ground between the Sassanid Empire
and Byzantine Empire, with both empires weakening each other, paving
the way for the Arab-Muslim conquest of
Persia in the mid-7th century.
Abbasid Caliphate at its greatest extent, c. 850.
Arab Islamic conquest in the mid-7th century AD established Islam
Iraq and saw a large influx of Arabs. Under the Rashidun Caliphate,
the prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, Ali, moved his capital
Kufa when he became the fourth caliph. The
Umayyad Caliphate ruled
the province of
Damascus in the 7th century. (However,
eventually there was a separate, independent
Caliphate of Córdoba
Caliphate of Córdoba in
Abbasid Caliphate built the city of
Baghdad in the 8th century as
its capital, and the city became the leading metropolis of the Arab
Muslim world for five centuries.
Baghdad was the largest
multicultural city of the Middle Ages, peaking at a population of more
than a million, and was the centre of learning during the Islamic
Golden Age. The Mongols destroyed the city and burned its library
during the siege of
Baghdad in the 13th century.
Hulagu Khan amassed an unusually large army, a significant
portion of the Mongol Empire's forces, for the purpose of conquering
Baghdad. When they arrived at the Islamic capital, Hulagu Khan
demanded its surrender, but the last Abbasid
refused. This angered Hulagu, and, consistent with Mongol strategy of
discouraging resistance, he besieged Baghdad, sacked the city and
massacred many of the inhabitants. Estimates of the number of dead
range from 200,000 to a million.
The sack of
Baghdad by the Mongols.
The Mongols destroyed the
Abbasid Caliphate and Baghdad's House of
Wisdom, which contained countless precious and historical documents.
The city has never regained its previous pre-eminence as a major
centre of culture and influence. Some historians believe that the
Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation infrastructure that
Mesopotamia for millennia. Other historians point to
soil salination as the culprit in the decline in agriculture.
Black Death ravaged much of the Islamic
world. The best estimate for the
Middle East is a death rate of
In 1401, a warlord of Mongol descent,
Tamerlane (Timur Lenk), invaded
Iraq. After the capture of Baghdad, 20,000 of its citizens were
massacred. Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at
least two severed human heads to show him (many warriors were so
scared they killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign just to
ensure they had heads to present to Timur). Timur also conducted
massacres of the indigenous Assyrian
Christian population, hitherto
still the majority population in northern Mesopotamia, and it was
during this time that the ancient Assyrian city of
Assur was finally
Ottoman Iraq and Mamluk dynasty of Iraq
The 1803 Cedid Atlas, showing the area today known as
between "Al Jazira" (pink), "Kurdistan" (blue), "Iraq" (green), and
"Al Sham" (yellow).
During the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the Black Sheep Turkmen
ruled the area now known as Iraq. In 1466, the White Sheep Turkmen
defeated the Black Sheep and took control. From the earliest 16th
century, in 1508, as with all territories of the former White Sheep
Iraq fell into the hands of the Iranian Safavids. Owing to
the century long Turco-Iranian rivalry between the
Safavids and the
neighbouring Ottoman Turks,
Iraq would be contested between the two
for more than a hundred years during the frequent Ottoman-Persian
Treaty of Zuhab in 1639, most of the territory of present-day
Iraq eventually came under the control of
Ottoman Empire as the eyalet
Baghdad as a result of wars with the neighbouring rival, Safavid
Iran. Throughout most of the period of Ottoman rule (1533–1918), the
territory of present-day
Iraq was a battle zone between the rival
regional empires and tribal alliances.
By the 17th century, the frequent conflicts with the
sapped the strength of the
Ottoman Empire and had weakened its control
over its provinces. The nomadic population swelled with the influx of
bedouins from Najd, in the Arabian Peninsula.
Bedouin raids on settled
areas became impossible to curb.
Austen Henry Layard
Austen Henry Layard in the ancient Assyrian city
of Nineveh, 1852.
During the years 1747–1831,
Iraq was ruled by a Mamluk dynasty of
Georgian origin who succeeded in obtaining autonomy from the
Ottoman Porte, suppressed tribal revolts, curbed the power of the
Janissaries, restored order and introduced a programme of
modernisation of economy and military. In 1831, the Ottomans managed
to overthrow the Mamluk regime and imposed their direct control over
Iraq. The population of Iraq, estimated at 30 million in 800 AD, was
only 5 million at the start of the 20th century.
During World War I, the Ottomans sided with
Germany and the Central
Powers. In the
Mesopotamian campaign against the Central Powers,
British forces invaded the country and initially suffered a major
defeat at the hands of the Turkish army during the Siege of Kut
(1915–1916). However, subsequent to this the British began to gain
the upper hand, and were further aided by the support of local Arabs
and Assyrians. In 1916, the British and French made a plan for the
post-war division of
Western Asia under the Sykes-Picot Agreement.
British forces regrouped and captured
Baghdad in 1917, and defeated
the Ottomans. An armistice was signed in 1918.
During World War I, the Ottomans were defeated and driven from much of
the area by the
United Kingdom during the dissolution of the Ottoman
Empire. The British lost 92,000 soldiers in the Mesopotamian campaign.
Ottoman losses are unknown but the British captured a total of 45,000
prisoners of war. By the end of 1918, the British had deployed 410,000
men in the area, of which 112,000 were combat troops.
British administration and independent Kingdom
Mandatory Iraq and Kingdom of Iraq
British troops in Baghdad, June 1941.
On 11 November 1920,
Iraq became a
League of Nations
League of Nations mandate under
British control with the name "State of Iraq". The British established
the Hashemite king, Faisal I of Iraq, who had been forced out of Syria
by the French, as their client ruler. Likewise, British authorities
Arab elites from the region for appointments to
government and ministry offices.[specify][page needed]
Faced with spiraling costs and influenced by the public protestations
of the war hero T. E. Lawrence in The Times, Britain replaced
Arnold Wilson in October 1920 with a new Civil Commissioner, Sir Percy
Cox. Cox managed to quell a rebellion, yet was also responsible
for implementing the fateful policy of close co-operation with Iraq's
Sunni minority. The institution of slavery was abolished in the
Britain granted independence to the
Kingdom of Iraq
Kingdom of Iraq in 1932, on
the urging of King Faisal, though the British retained military bases,
local militia in the form of Assyrian Levies, and transit rights for
their forces. King Ghazi ruled as a figurehead after King Faisal's
death in 1933, while undermined by attempted military coups, until his
death in 1939. Ghazi was followed by his underage son, Faisal II. 'Abd
al-Ilah served as
Regent during Faisal's minority.
On 1 April 1941, Rashid
Ali al-Gaylani and members of the Golden
Square staged a coup d'état and overthrew the government of 'Abd
al-Ilah. During the subsequent Anglo-Iraqi War, the United Kingdom
(which still maintained air bases in Iraq) invaded
Iraq for fear that
Ali government might cut oil supplies to Western nations
because of his links to the Axis powers. The war started on 2 May, and
the British, together with loyal Assyrian Levies, defeated the
forces of Al-Gaylani, forcing an armistice on 31 May.
A military occupation followed the restoration of the pre-coup
government of the Hashemite monarchy. The occupation ended on 26
October 1947, although Britain was to retain military bases in Iraq
until 1954, after which the Assyrian militias were disbanded. The
rulers during the occupation and the remainder of the Hashemite
monarchy were Nuri as-Said, the autocratic Prime Minister, who also
ruled from 1930 to 1932, and 'Abd al-Ilah, the former
Regent who now
served as an adviser to King Faisal II.
Republic and Ba'athist Iraq
Main articles: Iraqi
Republic (1958–68), Ba'athist Iraq, and
14 July Revolution
14 July Revolution in 1958.
In 1958, a coup d'état known as the
14 July Revolution
14 July Revolution was led by the
Brigadier General Abd al-Karim Qasim. This revolt was strongly
anti-imperial and anti-monarchical in nature and had strong socialist
elements. Numerous people were killed in the coup, including King
Faysal II, Prince Abd al-Ilah, and Nuri al-Sa'id. Qasim controlled
Iraq through military rule and in 1958 he began a process of forcibly
reducing the surplus amounts of land owned by a few citizens and
having the state redistribute the land. He was overthrown by Colonel
Abdul Salam Arif
Abdul Salam Arif in a February 1963 coup. After the latter's death in
1966, he was succeeded by his brother, Abdul Rahman Arif, who was
overthrown by the Ba'ath Party in 1968.
Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr
Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr became
the first Ba'ath
President of Iraq
President of Iraq but then the movement gradually
came under the control of Saddam Hussein, who acceded to the
presidency and control of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC),
then Iraq's supreme executive body, in July 1979.
In 1979, the
Iranian Revolution took place. Following months of
cross-border raids between the two countries, Saddam declared war on
Iran in September 1980, initiating the Iran–
Iraq War (or First
Persian Gulf War). Taking advantage of the post-revolution chaos in
Iraq captured some territories in southwest of Iran, but Iran
recaptured all of the lost territories within two years, and for the
next six years
Iran was on the offensive.[page needed] The
war, which ended in stalemate in 1988, had cost the lives of between
half a million and 1.5 million people. In 1981, Israeli aircraft
bombed an Iraqi nuclear materials testing reactor at Osirak and was
widely criticised at the United Nations. During the 8-year war
Saddam Hussein extensively used chemical weapons against
Iranians. In the final stages of the Iran–
Iraq War, the
Ba'athist Iraqi regime led the Al-Anfal Campaign, a genocidal
campaign that targeted Iraqi Kurds, and led to the killing
of 50,000–100,000 civilians.
Chemical weapons were also used
against Iraqi Shia civilians during the 1991 uprisings in Iraq.
In August 1990,
Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait. This subsequently led
to military intervention by United States-led forces in the First Gulf
War. The coalition forces proceeded with a bombing campaign targeting
military targets and then launched a 100-hour-long ground
assault against Iraqi forces in Southern
Iraq and those occupying
Saddam Hussein meets
Donald Rumsfeld during the Iran-
Iraq War. Hussein
Iraq from 1979 until 2003.
Iraq's armed forces were devastated during the war. Shortly after it
ended in 1991, Shia and Kurdish
Iraqis led several uprisings against
Saddam Hussein's regime, but these were successfully repressed using
the Iraqi security forces and chemical weapons. It is estimated that
as many as 100,000 people, including many civilians were killed.
During the uprisings the US, UK, France and Turkey, claiming authority
under UNSCR 688, established the
Iraqi no-fly zones
Iraqi no-fly zones to protect Kurdish
Shiite populations from attacks by the Saddam regime's fixed-wing
aircraft (but not helicopters).
Iraq was ordered to destroy its chemical and biological weapons and
the UN attempted to compel Saddam's government to disarm and agree to
a ceasefire by imposing additional sanctions on the country in
addition to the initial sanctions imposed following Iraq's invasion of
Kuwait. The Iraqi Government's failure to disarm and agree to a
ceasefire resulted in sanctions which remained in place until 2003.
The effects of the sanctions on the civilian population of
been disputed. Whereas it was widely believed that the
sanctions caused a major rise in child mortality, recent research has
shown that commonly cited data were fabricated by the Iraqi government
and that "there was no major rise in child mortality in
1990 and during the period of the sanctions." An oil for
food program was established in 1996 to ease the effects of sanctions.
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the George W. Bush
administration began planning the overthrow of Saddam's government and
in October 2002, the US Congress passed the Joint Resolution to
Authorize the Use of
United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. In
November 2002, the UN Security Council passed UNSCR 1441 and in March
2003 the US and its allies invaded Iraq.
The April 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in
Firdos Square in
Baghdad shortly after the
Iraq War invasion.
Main articles: 2003 invasion of Iraq,
History of Iraq
History of Iraq (2003–11), and
On 20 March 2003, a United States-organized coalition invaded Iraq,
under the pretext that
Iraq had failed to abandon its weapons of mass
destruction program in violation of UN Resolution 687. This claim was
based on documents provided by the
CIA and the British government
and were later found to be unreliable.
Following the invasion, the
United States established the Coalition
Provisional Authority to govern Iraq. In May 2003 L. Paul Bremer, the
chief executive of the CPA, issued orders to exclude Baath Party
members from the new Iraqi government (CPA Order 1) and to disband the
Iraqi Army (CPA Order 2). The decision dissolved the largely Sunni
Iraqi Army and excluded many of the country's former government
officials from participating in the country's governance, including
40,000 school teachers who had joined the Baath Party simply to keep
their jobs, helping to bring about a chaotic post-invasion
An insurgency against the US-led coalition-rule of
Iraq began in
summer 2003 within elements of the former Iraqi secret police and
army, who formed guerilla units. In fall 2003, self-entitled
'jihadist' groups began targeting coalition forces. Various Sunni
militias were created in 2003, for example Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad
led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The insurgency included intense
inter-ethnic violence between Sunnis and Shias. The Abu Ghraib
torture and prisoner abuse scandal came to light, late 2003 in reports
Amnesty International and Associated Press.
US Marines patrol the streets of Al Faw, October 2003.
The Mahdi Army—a Shia militia created in the summer of 2003 by
Muqtada al-Sadr—began to fight Coalition forces in April
2004. 2004 saw Sunni and Shia militants fighting against each
other and against the new
Iraqi Interim Government installed in June
2004, and against Coalition forces, as well as the First Battle of
Fallujah in April and
Second Battle of Fallujah
Second Battle of Fallujah in November. The Sunni
militia Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-
Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Al-Qaeda in Iraq in October
2004 and targeted Coalition forces as well as civilians, mainly Shia
Muslims, further exacerbating ethnic tensions.
In January 2005, the first elections since the invasion took place and
in October a new Constitution was approved, which was followed by
parliamentary elections in December. However, insurgent attacks were
common and increased to 34,131 in 2005 from 26,496 in 2004.
During 2006, fighting continued and reached its highest levels of
violence, more war crimes scandals were made public, Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi the leader of
Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Al-Qaeda in Iraq was killed by US forces and
Iraq's former dictator
Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for
crimes against humanity and hanged. In late 2006, the US
Iraq Study Group
Iraq Study Group recommended that the US begin focusing
on training Iraqi military personnel and in January 2007 US President
George W. Bush announced a "Surge" in the number of US troops deployed
to the country.
In May 2007, Iraq's Parliament called on the
United States to set a
timetable for withdrawal and US coalition partners such as the UK
and Denmark began withdrawing their forces from the country.
The war in
Iraq has resulted in between 151,000 and 1.2 million Iraqis
Main articles: 2008 in Iraq, 2009 in Iraq, 2010 in Iraq, 2011 in Iraq,
2012 in Iraq, 2013 in Iraq, 2014 in Iraq, 2015 in Iraq, and 2016 in
See also: Iraqi Civil War (2014–present), American-led intervention
Iraq (2014–present), and 2017 Iraqi–Kurdish conflict
In 2008, fighting continued and Iraq's newly trained armed forces
launched attacks against militants. The Iraqi government signed the
Iraq Status of Forces Agreement, which required US forces to
withdraw from Iraqi cities by 30 June 2009 and to withdraw completely
Iraq by 31 December 2011.
US troops handed over security duties to Iraqi forces in June 2009,
though they continued to work with Iraqi forces after the pullout.
On the morning of 18 December 2011, the final contingent of US troops
to be withdrawn ceremonially exited over the border to Kuwait.
Crime and violence initially spiked in the months following the US
withdrawal from cities in mid-2009 but despite the initial
increase in violence, in November 2009, Iraqi Interior Ministry
officials reported that the civilian death toll in
Iraq fell to its
lowest level since the 2003 invasion.
Military situation in 2015
Following the withdrawal of US troops in 2011, the insurgency
Iraq suffered from political instability. In February
Arab Spring protests spread to Iraq; but the initial
protests did not topple the government. The Iraqi National Movement,
reportedly representing the majority of Iraqi Sunnis, boycotted
Parliament for several weeks in late 2011 and early 2012, claiming
that the Shiite-dominated government was striving to sideline Sunnis.
In 2012 and 2013, levels of violence increased and armed groups inside
Iraq were increasingly galvanised by the Syrian Civil War. Both Sunnis
and Shias crossed the border to fight in Syria. In December 2012,
Arabs protested against the government, whom they claimed
During 2013, Sunni militant groups stepped up attacks targeting the
Iraq's Shia population in an attempt to undermine confidence in the
Nouri al-Maliki-led government. In 2014, Sunni insurgents
belonging to the
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorist
group seized control of large swathes of land including several major
Iraqi cities, like Tikrit,
Mosul creating hundreds of
thousands of internally displaced persons amid reports of atrocities
by ISIL fighters.
US-led anti-ISIL coalition has conducted air strikes in support of the
Mosul offensive, 11 July 2017
After an inconclusive election in April 2014,
Nouri al-Maliki served
On 11 August, Iraq's highest court ruled that PM Maliki's bloc is
biggest in parliament, meaning Maliki could stay Prime Minister.
By 13 August, however, the Iraqi president had tasked Haider al-Abadi
with forming a new government, and the United Nations, the United
States, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and some Iraqi
politicians expressed their wish for a new leadership in Iraq, for
example from Haider al-Abadi. On 14 August, Maliki stepped down
as PM to support Mr al-Abadi and to "safeguard the high interests of
the country". The US government welcomed this as "another major step
forward" in uniting Iraq. On 9 September 2014, Haider
al-Abadi had formed a new government and became the new prime
minister. Intermittent conflict between Sunni, Shiite
and Kurdish factions has led to increasing debate about the splitting
Iraq into three autonomous regions, including Sunni
the northeast, a
Sunnistan in the west and a Shiastan in the
In response to rapid territorial gains made by the Islamic State of
Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during the first half of 2014, and its
universally-condemned executions and reported human rights abuses,
many states began to intervene against it in the Iraqi Civil War
(2014–present). Since the airstrikes started, ISIL has been losing
ground in both
Iraq and Syria. Tens of thousands of civilians
have been killed in
Iraq in ISIL-linked violence. The
Yazidis by ISIL has led to the expulsion, flight and
effective exile of the
Yazidis from their ancestral lands in Northern
2016 Karrada bombing
2016 Karrada bombing killed nearly 400 civilians and
injured hundreds more. On 17 March 2017, a US-led coalition
Mosul killed more than 200 civilians.
Since 2015, ISIL lost territory in Iraq, including
Tikrit in March and
April 2015, Baiji in October 2015,
Sinjar in November
Ramadi in December 2015,
Fallujah in June 2016
Mosul in July 2017. By December 2017, ISIL had no remaining
territory in Iraq, following the 2017 Western
In September 2017, a referendum was held regarding Kurdish
independence in Iraq. 92% of Iraqi
Kurds voted in favor of
independence. The referendum was regarded as illegal by the
federal government in Baghdad.
Satellite map of Iraq.
Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification map.
Geography of Iraq
Geography of Iraq and Governorates of Iraq
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Iraq lies between latitudes 29° and 38° N, and longitudes 39° and
49° E (a small area lies west of 39°). Spanning 437,072 km2
(168,754 sq mi), it is the 58th-largest country in the
world. It is comparable in size to the US state of California, and
somewhat larger than Paraguay.
Iraq mainly consists of desert, but near the two major rivers
Euphrates and Tigris) are fertile alluvial plains, as the rivers
carry about 60,000,000 m3 (78,477,037 cu yd) of silt
annually to the delta. The north of the country is mostly composed of
mountains; the highest point being at 3,611 m (11,847 ft)
point, unnamed on the map opposite, but known locally as Cheekah Dar
Iraq has a small coastline measuring 58 km
(36 mi) along the Persian Gulf. Close to the coast and along the
Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrūd: اروندرود among Iranians)
there used to be marshlands, but many were drained in the 1990s.
Geography of Iraq
Geography of Iraq § Climate
Iraq has a hot arid climate with subtropical influence. Summer
temperatures average above 40 °C (104 °F) for most of the
country and frequently exceed 48 °C (118.4 °F). Winter
temperatures infrequently exceed 21 °C (69.8 °F) with
maxima roughly 15 to 19 °C (59.0 to 66.2 °F) and
night-time lows 2 to 5 °C (35.6 to 41.0 °F). Typically,
precipitation is low; most places receive less than 250 mm
(9.8 in) annually, with maximum rainfall occurring during the
winter months. Rainfall during the summer is extremely rare, except in
the far north of the country. The northern mountainous regions have
cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive
Government and politics
Main article: Politics of Iraq
Baghdad Convention Center, the current meeting place of the Council of
Representatives of Iraq.
The federal government of
Iraq is defined under the current
Constitution as a democratic, federal parliamentary Islamic republic.
The federal government is composed of the executive, legislative, and
judicial branches, as well as numerous independent commissions. Aside
from the federal government, there are regions (made of one or more
governorates), governorates, and districts within
jurisdiction over various matters as defined by law.
The National Alliance is the main Shia parliamentary bloc, and was
established as a result of a merger of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's
State of Law Coalition
State of Law Coalition and the Iraqi National Alliance. The Iraqi
National Movement is led by Iyad Allawi, a secular Shia widely
supported by Sunnis. The party has a more consistent anti-sectarian
perspective than most of its rivals. The
Kurdistan List is
dominated by two parties, the
Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Masood
Barzani and the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan headed by Jalal Talabani.
Both parties are secular and enjoy close ties with the West.
In 2010, according to the Failed States Index,
Iraq was the world's
seventh most politically unstable country. The concentration
of power in the hands of Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki and growing
pressure on the opposition led to growing concern about the future of
political rights in Iraq. Nevertheless, progress was made and the
country had risen to 11th place by 2013. In August 2014,
al-Maliki's reign came to an end. He announced on 14 August 2014 that
he would stand aside so that Haider Al-Abadi, who had been nominated
just days earlier by newly installed President Fuad Masum, could take
over. Until that point, al-Maliki had clung to power even asking the
federal court to veto the president's nomination describing it as a
violation of the constitution.
Transparency International ranks Iraq's government as the
eighth-most-corrupt government in the world. Government payroll have
increased from 1 million employees under
Saddam Hussein to around 7
million employees in 2016. In combination with decreased oil prices,
the government budget deficit is near 25% of GDP as of 2016.
Pro-independence rally in
Iraqi Kurdistan in September 2017
Since the establishment of the no–fly zones following the Gulf War
of 1990–1991, the
Kurds established their own autonomous region.
Main article: Law of Iraq
In October 2005, the new
Constitution of Iraq was approved in a
referendum with a 78% overall majority, although the percentage of
support varying widely between the country's territories. The new
constitution was backed by the Shia and Kurdish communities, but was
Arab Sunnis. Under the terms of the constitution, the
country conducted fresh nationwide parliamentary elections on 15
December 2005. All three major ethnic groups in
Iraq voted along
ethnic lines, as did Assyrian and Turcoman minorities.
Law no. 188 of the year 1959 (Personal Status Law) made polygamy
extremely difficult, granted child custody to the mother in case of
divorce, prohibited repudiation and marriage under the age of 16.
Article 1 of Civil Code also identifies Islamic law as a formal source
Iraq had no Sharia courts but civil courts used Sharia
for issues of personal status including marriage and divorce. In 1995
Iraq introduced Sharia punishment for certain types of criminal
offences. The code is based on French civil law as well as Sunni
and Jafari (Shi'ite) interpretations of Sharia.
In 2004, the CPA chief executive
L. Paul Bremer
L. Paul Bremer said he would veto any
constitutional draft stating that sharia is the principal basis of
law. The declaration enraged many local Shia clerics, and by
United States had relented, allowing a role for sharia in the
constitution to help end a stalemate on the draft constitution.
Iraqi Penal Code is the statutory law of Iraq.
Main article: Iraqi Armed Forces
BMP-1 on the move.
The current military situation, 24 October 2017:
Controlled by Iraqi government
Controlled by the Islamic State in
Iraq and the Levant
Controlled by Iraqi Kurds
Iraqi security forces are composed of forces serving under the
Ministry of Interior (which controls the Police and Popular
Mobilization Forces) and the Ministry of Defense, as well as the Iraqi
Counter Terrorism Bureau, reporting directly to the Prime Minister of
Iraq, which oversees the Iraqi
Special Operations Forces. Ministry of
Defense forces include the Iraqi Army, the
Iraqi Air Force
Iraqi Air Force and the
Iraqi Navy. The
Peshmerga are a separate armed force loyal to the
Kurdistan Regional Government. The regional government and the central
government disagree as to whether they are under Baghdad's authority
and to what extent.
Iraqi Army is an objective counter-insurgency force that as of
November 2009 includes 14 divisions, each division consisting of 4
brigades. It is described as the most important element of the
counter-insurgency fight. Light infantry brigades are equipped
with small arms, machine guns, RPGs, body armour and light armoured
vehicles. Mechanized infantry brigades are equipped with
battle tanks and
BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles. As of
mid-2008, logistical problems included a maintenance crisis and
ongoing supply problems.
Iraqi Air Force
Iraqi Air Force is designed to support ground forces with
surveillance, reconnaissance and troop lift. Two reconnaissance
squadrons use light aircraft, three helicopter squadrons are used to
move troops and one air transportation squadron uses C-130 transport
aircraft to move troops, equipment, and supplies. It currently has
3,000 personnel. It is planned to increase to 18,000 personnel, with
550 aircraft by 2018.
Iraqi Navy is a small force with 1,500 sailors and officers,
including 800 Marines, designed to protect shoreline and inland
waterways from insurgent infiltration. The navy is also responsible
for the security of offshore oil platforms. The navy will have coastal
patrol squadrons, assault boat squadrons and a marine battalion.
The force will consist of 2,000 to 2,500 sailors by year 2010.
Main article: Foreign relations of Iraq
Donald Trump with Iraqi Prime Minister
Haider al-Abadi in
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On 17 November 2008, the US and
Iraq agreed to a Status of Forces
Agreement, as part of the broader Strategic Framework
Agreement. This agreement states "the Government of Iraq
requests" US forces to temporarily remain in
Iraq to "maintain
security and stability" and that
Iraq has jurisdiction over military
contractors, and US personnel when not on US bases or on–duty.
On 12 February 2009,
Iraq officially became the 186th State Party to
the Chemical Weapons Convention. Under the provisions of this treaty,
Iraq is considered a party with declared stockpiles of chemical
weapons. Because of their late accession,
Iraq is the only State Party
exempt from the existing timeline for destruction of their chemical
weapons. Specific criteria is in development to address the unique
nature of Iraqi accession.
Iran–Iraq relations have flourished since 2005 by the exchange of
high level visits: Iraqi PM
Nouri al-Maliki made frequent visits to
Iran, along with
Jalal Talabani visiting numerous times, to help boost
bilateral co-operation in all fields. A conflict
occurred in December 2009, when
Iran of seizing an oil
well on the border.
Turkey are tense, largely because of the Kurdistan
Regional Government, as clashes between
Turkey and the PKK
continue. In October 2011, the Turkish parliament renewed a law
that gives Turkish forces the ability to pursue rebels over the border
Main article: Human rights in Iraq
Human rights in ISIL-controlled territory
Human rights in ISIL-controlled territory and Mass
executions in ISIL occupied Mosul
Iraq and its Kurdish population have been sour in
recent history, especially with Saddam Hussein's genocidal campaign
against them in the 1980s. After uprisings during the early 90s, many
Kurds fled their homeland and no-fly zones were established in
Iraq to prevent more conflicts. Despite historically poor
relations, some progress has been made, and
Iraq elected its first
Kurdish president, Jalal Talabani, in 2005. Furthermore, Kurdish is
now an official language of
Arabic according to Article
4 of the constitution.
LGBT rights in Iraq
LGBT rights in Iraq remain limited. Although decriminalised,
homosexuality remains stigmatised in Iraqi society. Targeting
people because of their gender identity or sexual orientation is not
uncommon and is usually carried out in the name of family honour.
People who dress in emo style are mistakenly associated with
homosexuality and may suffer the same fate. Investigations by the
BBC and other western media in 2008 and 2009, including interviews of
homosexual and transgender Iraqis, showed that violence against LGBT
people had significantly increased since
Saddam Hussein was
Main article: Governorates of Iraq
Iraq is composed of nineteen governorates (or provinces) (Arabic:
muhafadhat (singular muhafadhah); Kurdish: پارێزگا Pârizgah).
The governorates are subdivided into districts (or qadhas), which are
further divided into sub-districts (or nawāḥī). Iraqi Kurdistan
Sulaymaniyah and Halabja) is the only legally defined
region within Iraq, with its own government and quasi-official army
Halabja (not shown)
Main article: Economy of Iraq
GNP per capita in
Iraq from 1950 to 2008.
Global distribution of Iraqi exports in 2006.
Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally
provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. The lack of
development in other sectors has resulted in 18%–30% unemployed and
a depressed per capita GDP of $4,000. Public sector employment
accounted for nearly 60% of full-time employment in 2011. The oil
export industry, which dominates the Iraqi economy, generates very
little employment. Currently only a modest percentage of women
(the highest estimate for 2011 was 22%) participate in the labour
Prior to US occupation, Iraq's centrally planned economy prohibited
foreign ownership of Iraqi businesses, ran most large industries as
state-owned enterprises, and imposed large tariffs to keep out foreign
goods. After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the Coalition Provisional
Authority quickly began issuing many binding orders privatising Iraq's
economy and opening it up to foreign investment.
Agriculture is the main occupation of the people.
On November 20, 2004, the
Paris Club of creditor nations agreed to
write off 80% ($33 billion) of Iraq's $42 billion debt to Club
members. Iraq's total external debt was around $120 billion at the
time of the 2003 invasion, and had grown another $5 billion by 2004.
The debt relief will be implemented in three stages: two of 30% each
and one of 20%.
In February 2011,
Iraq in a group of countries
which it described as 'Global Growth Generators', that it argued will
enjoy significant economic growth in the future.
The official currency in
Iraq is the Iraqi dinar. The Coalition
Provisional Authority issued new dinar coins and notes, with the notes
De La Rue
De La Rue using modern anti-forgery techniques. Jim
Cramer's October 20, 2009 endorsement of the
Iraqi Dinar on
further piqued interest in the investment.
Five years after the invasion, an estimated 2.4 million people were
internally displaced (with a further two million refugees outside
Iraq), four million
Iraqis were considered food-insecure (a quarter of
children were chronically malnourished) and only a third of Iraqi
children had access to safe drinking water.
According to the Overseas Development Institute, international NGOs
face challenges in carrying out their mission, leaving their
assistance "piecemeal and largely conducted undercover, hindered by
insecurity, a lack of coordinated funding, limited operational
capacity and patchy information". International NGOs have been
targeted and during the first 5 years, 94 aid workers were killed, 248
injured, 24 arrested or detained and 89 kidnapped or abducted.
Oil and energy
Oil reserves in Iraq
Oil reserves in Iraq and Energy in Iraq
Tankers at the
Basra Oil Terminal.
With its 143.1 billion barrels (2.275×1010 m3) of proved oil
Iraq ranks third in the world behind
Venezuela and Saudi
Arabia in the amount of oil reserves. Oil production levels
reached 3.4 million barrels per day by December 2012. Only about
2,000 oil wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared with about 1
million wells in
Iraq was one of the founding
members of OPEC.
During the 1970s
Iraq produced up to 3.5 million barrels per day, but
sanctions imposed against
Iraq after its invasion of
Kuwait in 1990
crippled the country's oil sector. The sanctions prohibited
exporting oil until 1996 and Iraq's output declined by 85% in the
years following the First Gulf War. The sanctions were lifted in 2003
after the US-led invasion removed
Saddam Hussein from power, but
development of Iraq's oil resources has been hampered by the ongoing
As of 2010[update], despite improved security and billions of dollars
in oil revenue,
Iraq still generates about half the electricity that
customers demand, leading to protests during the hot summer
Iraq oil law, a proposed piece of legislation submitted to the
Iraqi Council of Representatives
Iraqi Council of Representatives in 2007, has failed to gain approval
due to disagreements among Iraq's various political blocs.
According to a US Study from May 2007, between 100,000 barrels per day
(16,000 m3/d) and 300,000 barrels per day (48,000 m3/d) of
Iraq's declared oil production over the past four years could have
been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling. In 2008, Al
Jazeera reported $13 billion of Iraqi oil revenues in US care was
improperly accounted for, of which $2.6 billion is totally unaccounted
for. Some reports that the government has reduced corruption in
public procurement of oil; however, reliable reports of bribery and
kickbacks to government officials continue to persist.
In June 2008, the
Iraqi Oil Ministry announced plans to go ahead with
small one- or two-year no-bid contracts to Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total
and BP—once partners in the
Petroleum Company—along with
Chevron and smaller firms to service Iraq's largest fields. These
plans were cancelled in September because negotiations had stalled for
so long that the work could not be completed within the time frame,
according to Iraqi oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani. Several United
States senators had also criticised the deal, arguing it was hindering
efforts to pass the hydrocarbon law.
On 30 June and 11 December 2009, the Iraqi ministry of oil awarded
service contracts to international oil companies for some of Iraq's
many oil fields. Oil fields contracted include the
"super-giant" Majnoon Field, Halfaya Field,
West Qurna Field
West Qurna Field and
Rumaila Field. BP and
Petroleum Corporation won a
deal to develop Rumaila, the largest Iraqi oil field.
On 14 March 2014, the
International Energy Agency
International Energy Agency said Iraq's oil
output jumped by half a million barrels a day in February to average
3.6 million barrels a day. The country hadn't pumped that much oil
since 1979, when
Saddam Hussein rose to power. However, on 14
July 2014, as sectarian strife had taken hold,
Government forces seized control of the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk
oilfields in the north of the country, taking them from Iraq's
Baghdad condemned the seizure and threatened "dire
consequences" if the fields were not returned.
The UN estimates that oil accounts for 99% of Iraq's revenue.
Water supply and sanitation
A reservoir in the
Samawa desert Southern Iraq
Water supply and sanitation in Iraq
Water supply and sanitation in Iraq is characterized by poor water and
service quality. Three decades of war, combined with limited
environmental awareness, have destroyed Iraq's water resources
management system. Access to potable water differs significantly among
governorates and between urban and rural areas. 91% of the entire
population has access to potable water. But in rural areas, only 77%
of the population has access to improved drinking water sources
compared to 98% in urban areas. Large amounts of water are wasted
Although many infrastructure projects are underway,
Iraq remains in
deep housing crisis, with the war-ravaged country likely to complete
only 5 percent of the 2.5 million homes it needs to build by 2016 to
keep up with demand, the Minister for Construction and Housing said in
In 2009, the I
BBC was established (
Iraq Britain Business Council). The
Council was established by Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne.
In August 2009, two American firms reached a deal with the Iraqi
Government to build
Basra Sports City, a new sports complex.
In October 2012, the Emirati property firm,
Emaar Properties reached a
deal with the Iraqi Ministry of Construction and Housing to build and
develop housing and commercial projects in Iraq.
In January 2013, the Emirati property firm,
Nakheel Properties signed
a deal to build Al Nakheel City, a future town in Basra, Iraq.
See also: Demographics of Iraq
Historical populations in millions
The 2016 estimate of the total Iraqi population is 37,202,572.
Iraq's population was estimated to be 2 million in 1878. In 2013
Iraq's population reached 35 million amid a post-war population
Arabs form 75%–80% of the population. 15% of Iraq's population
are Kurds. Assyrians, Iraqi Turkmen/Turkoman and other much smaller
minorities, such as Mandeans, Armenians, Circassians, Iranians,
Yazidis and Kawliya, make up the remainder 5%–10% of the
population. Around 20,000 Marsh
Arabs live in southern
Iraq has a community of 2,500 Chechens. In southern Iraq, there
is a community of
Iraqis of African descent, a legacy of the slavery
practised in the Islamic Caliphate beginning before the Zanj Rebellion
of the 9th century, and Basra's role as a key port. It is the most
populous country in the Arabian Plate.
Main article: Languages of Iraq
Kurdish children in Sulaymaniyah.
Arabic is the majority language; Kurdish is spoken by approximately
10–15% of the population; and Turkmen/Turkoman, the Neo-Aramaic
language of the Assyrians and others, by 5%. Other smaller
minority languages include Mandaic, Shabaki, Armenian, Circassian and
Persian. Arabic, Kurdish, Persian, and Turkmen/Turkoman are written
with versions of the
Arabic script, the
Neo-Aramaic languages in the
Syriac script and Armenian is written in the Armenian script.
Prior to the invasion in 2003,
Arabic was the sole official language.
Since the new
Constitution of Iraq approved in June 2004, both Arabic
and Kurdish are official languages, while Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
and Turkmen/Turkoman language (referred to as respectively "Syriac"
and "Turkmen" in the constitution) are recognised regional
languages. In addition, any region or province may declare other
languages official if a majority of the population approves in a
According to the Iraqi constitution:
Arabic language and the
Kurdish language are the two official
languages of Iraq. The right of
Iraqis to educate their children in
their mother tongue, such as Turkmen, Assyrian, and Armenian shall be
guaranteed in government educational institutions in accordance with
educational guidelines, or in any other language in private
Main article: List of cities in Iraq
Largest cities or towns in Iraq
Largest cities in
Religion in Iraq
Religion in Iraq and
Islam in Iraq
Religion in Iraq, 2014
Ali Mosque in Najaf.
Muslim (official) 99% (Shia 55-60%, Sunni 40%),
Yazidi <.1%, Sabean Mandaean <.1%, Baha'i <.1%, Zoroastrian
<.1%, Hindu <0.1%, Buddhist <0.1%, Jewish <0.1%, folk
religion <0.1, unafilliated 0.1%, other <0.1% It has a
mixed Shia and Sunni population. The
CIA World Factbook estimates that
around 65% of
Iraq are Shia, and around 35% are Sunni.
A 2011 Pew Research Center estimates that 51% of
Shia, 42% are Sunni, while 5% identify themselves as "Just a
Muslim". The Sunni Muslims, 12-13 million in a population of 36
million, include Arabs, most Turkomen, and Kurds.
The Sunni population complains of facing discrimination in almost all
aspects of life by the government. However, former Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki denied that such discrimination occurs.
Christians have lived in the area for about 2,000 years, and many
descend from the pre-
Arab ancient Mesopotamians-Assyrians. They
numbered over 1.4 million in 1987 or 8% of the estimated population of
16.3 million and 550,000 in 1947 or 12% of the population of 4.6
Neo Aramaic speaking Assyrians, most of whom are adherents
of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East, Assyrian
Pentecostal Church and
Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church account for most of the
Christian population. Estimates for the numbers of Christians suggest
a decline from 8–12% in the mid-20th century to 5% in 2008 or 1.6
million. More than half of
Iraqi Christians have fled to neighbouring
countries since the start of the war, and many have not returned,
although a number are migrating back to the traditional Assyrian
homeland in the Kurdish Autonomous region.
There are also small ethno-religious minority populations of
Yarsan and Yezidis remaining. Prior to 2003 their
numbers together may have been 2 million, the majority Yarsan, a
non-Islamic religion with roots in pre-Islamic and pre-Christian
religion. There are reports of over 100.000 conversions to
Zoroastrianism in recent years. The
Iraqi Jewish community, numbering
around 150,000 in 1941, has almost entirely left the country.
Iraq is home to two of the world's holiest places among Shias: Najaf
Diaspora and refugees
Refugees of Iraq
Refugees of Iraq and Assyrian exodus from Iraq
Iraqi refugees in Damascus, Syria.
The dispersion of native
Iraqis to other countries is known as the
Iraqi diaspora. The
UN High Commission for Refugees
UN High Commission for Refugees has estimated that
nearly two million
Iraqis have fled the country after the
multinational invasion of
Iraq in 2003, mostly to
Jordan. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre estimates an
additional 1.9 million are currently displaced within the
In 2007, the UN said that about 40% of Iraq's middle class is believed
to have fled and that most are fleeing systematic persecution and have
no desire to return. Refugees are mired in poverty as they are
generally barred from working in their host countries. In
recent years the diaspora seems to be returning with the increased
security; the Iraqi government claimed that 46,000 refugees have
returned to their homes in October 2007 alone.
As of 2011[update], nearly 3 million
Iraqis have been displaced, with
1.3 million within
Iraq and 1.6 million in neighbouring countries,
Jordan and Syria. More than half of
Iraqi Christians have
fled the country since the 2003 US-led invasion. According
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
Iraqis have been granted refugee-status citizenship
as of May 25, 2011.
To escape the civil war, over 160,000 Syrian refugees of varying
ethnicities have fled to
Iraq since 2012. Increasing violence
Syrian civil war
Syrian civil war led to an increasing number of Iraqis
returning to their native country.
Main article: Health in Iraq
In 2010, spending on healthcare accounted for 6.84% of the country's
GDP. In 2008, there were 6.96 physicians and 13.92 nurses per 10,000
inhabitants. The life expectancy at birth was 68.49 years in
2010, or 65.13 years for males and 72.01 years for females. This
is down from a peak life expectancy of 71.31 years in 1996.
Iraq had developed a centralised free health care system in the 1970s
using a hospital based, capital-intensive model of curative care. The
country depended on large-scale imports of medicines, medical
equipment and even nurses, paid for with oil export income, according
to a "Watching Brief" report issued jointly by the United Nations
Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in
July 2003. Unlike other poorer countries, which focused on mass health
care using primary care practitioners,
Iraq developed a Westernized
system of sophisticated hospitals with advanced medical procedures,
provided by specialist physicians. The UNICEF/WHO report noted that
prior to 1990, 97% of the urban dwellers and 71% of the rural
population had access to free primary health care; just 2% of hospital
beds were privately managed.
Main article: Education in Iraq
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Students at the college of medicine of the University of Basrah, 2010.
CIA World Factbook estimates that, in 2000, the adult literacy
rate was 84% for males and 64% for females, with UN figures suggesting
a small fall in literacy of
Iraqis aged 15–24 between 2000 and 2008,
from 84.8% to 82.4%. The Coalition Provisional Authority
undertook a complete reform of Iraq's education system: Baathist
ideology was removed from curricula and there were substantial
increases in teacher salaries and training programs, which the Hussein
regime neglected in the 1990s. In 2003, an estimated
80% of Iraq's 15,000 school buildings needed rehabilitation and lacked
basic sanitary facilities, and most schools lacked libraries and
Education is mandatory only through to the sixth grade, after which a
national examination determines the possibility of continuing into the
upper grades. Although a vocational track is
available to those who do not pass the exam, few students elect that
option because of its poor quality. Boys and girls
generally attend separate schools beginning with seventh
In 2005, obstacles to further reform were poor security conditions in
many areas, a centralised system that lacked accountability for
teachers and administrators, and the isolation in which the system
functioned for the previous 30 years. Few private
schools exist. Prior to the invasion of 2003, some
240,000 persons were enrolled in institutions of higher
According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the
top-ranking universities in the country are the University of Dohuk
(1717th worldwide), the University of
Baghdad (3160th) and Babylon
Main article: Culture of Iraq
See also: Tourism in Iraq
Public holidays in Iraq include
Republic Day on 14 July and the
National Day on 3 October.
Main article: Music of Iraq
Iraqi maqam performer
Iraq is known primarily for its rich maqam heritage which has been
passed down orally by the masters of the maqam in an unbroken chain of
transmission leading up to the present. The maqam al-Iraqi is
considered to be the most noble and perfect form of maqam. Al-maqam
al-Iraqi is the collection of sung poems written either in one of the
sixteen meters of classical
Arabic or in Iraqi dialect (Zuhayri).
This form of art is recognised by
UNESCO as "an intangible heritage of
Early in the 20th century, many of the most prominent musicians in
Iraq were Jewish. In 1936,
Iraq Radio was established with an
ensemble made up entirely of Jews, with the exception of the
percussion player. At the nightclubs of Baghdad, ensembles consisted
of oud, qanun and two percussionists, while the same format with a ney
and cello were used on the radio.
The most famous singer of the 1930s–1940s was perhaps the
Pasha (later Salima Murad). The respect and adoration for
Pasha were unusual at the time since public performance by women was
considered shameful, and most female singers were recruited from
The most famous early composer from
Iraq was Ezra Aharon, an oud
player, while the most prominent instrumentalist was Daoud
Al-Kuwaiti. Daoud and his brother Saleh formed the
official ensemble for the Iraqi radio station and were responsible for
introducing the cello and ney into the traditional ensemble.
Art and architecture
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Great Ziggurat of Ur
Great Ziggurat of Ur near Nasiriyah.
Main articles: Architecture of
Mesopotamia and Iraqi art
Important cultural institutions in the capital include the Iraqi
National Symphony Orchestra – rehearsals and performances were
briefly interrupted during the Occupation of
Iraq but have since
returned to normal. The National Theatre of
Iraq was looted during the
2003 invasion, but efforts are underway to restore it. The live
theatre scene received a boost during the 1990s when UN sanctions
limited the import of foreign films. As many as 30 cinemas were
reported to have been converted to live stages, producing a wide range
of comedies and dramatic productions.
Institutions offering cultural education in
Baghdad include the
Academy of Music, Institute of Fine Arts and the Music and Ballet
Baghdad also features a number of museums including
National Museum of Iraq
National Museum of Iraq – which houses the world's largest and
finest collection of artefacts and relics of Ancient Iraqi
civilisations; some of which were stolen during the Occupation of
Facade of Temple at Hatra, declared
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site by
The capital, Ninus or Nineveh, was taken by the
Medes under Cyaxares,
and some 200 years after
Xenophon passed over its site, then mere
mounds of earth. It remained buried until 1845, when Botta and Layard
discovered the ruins of the Assyrian cities. The principal remains are
those of Khorsabad, 16 km (10 mi) N.E. of Mosul; of Nimroud,
supposed to be the ancient Calah; and of Kouyunjik, in all probability
the ancient Nineveh. In these cities are found fragments of several
great buildings which seem to have been palace-temples. They were
constructed chiefly of sun-dried bricks, and all that remains of them
is the lower part of the walls, decorated with sculpture and
paintings, portions of the pavements, a few indications of the
elevation, and some interesting works connected with the drainage.
Main article: Media of Iraq
After the end of the full state control in 2003, there were a period
of significant growth in the broadcast media in Iraq. Immediately, and
the ban on satellite dishes is no longer in place, and by mid-2003,
according to a
BBC report, there were 20 radio stations from 0.15 to
17 television stations owned by Iraqis, and 200 Iraqi newspapers owned
and operated. Significantly, there have been many of these newspapers
in numbers disproportionate to the population of their locations. For
example, in Najaf, which has a population of 300,000, is being
published more than 30 newspapers and distributed.
Iraqi media expert and author of a number of reports on this subject,
Ibrahim Al Marashi, identifies four stages of the US invasion of Iraq
in 2003 where they had been taking the steps that have significant
effects on the way for the later of the Iraqi media since then. Stages
are: pre-invasion preparation, and the war and the actual choice of
targets, the first post-war period, and a growing insurgency and hand
over power to the
Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) and Prime Minister
Iyad Allawi.[page needed]
Main article: Iraqi cuisine
Iraqi cuisine can be traced back some 10,000 years – to the
Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Ancient
Persians. Tablets found in ancient ruins in
Iraq show recipes
prepared in the temples during religious festivals – the first
cookbooks in the world. Ancient Iraq, or Mesopotamia, was home to
many sophisticated and highly advanced civilisations, in all fields of
knowledge – including the culinary arts. However, it was in the
medieval era when
Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate
that the Iraqi kitchen reached its zenith. Today the cuisine of
Iraq reflects this rich inheritance as well as strong influences from
the culinary traditions of neighbouring Turkey,
Iran and the Greater
Some characteristic ingredients of
Iraqi cuisine include –
vegetables such as aubergine, tomato, okra, onion, potato, courgette,
garlic, peppers and chilli, cereals such as rice, bulgur wheat and
barley, pulses and legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and cannellini,
fruits such as dates, raisins, apricots, figs, grapes, melon,
pomegranate and citrus fruits, especially lemon and lime.
Similarly with other countries of Western Asia, chicken and especially
lamb are the favourite meats. Most dishes are served with rice –
usually Basmati, grown in the marshes of southern Iraq. Bulgur
wheat is used in many dishes – having been a staple in the country
since the days of the Ancient Assyrians.
Main article: Sport in Iraq
Football is the most popular sport in Iraq. Football is a considerable
uniting factor in
Iraq following years of war and unrest. Basketball,
swimming, weightlifting, bodybuilding, boxing, kick boxing and tennis
are also popular sports.
Iraqi Football Association
Iraqi Football Association is the governing body of football in
Iraq, controlling the Iraqi National Team and the Iraqi Premier League
(also known as Dawri Al-Nokba). It was founded in 1948, and has been a
FIFA since 1950 and the
Asian Football Confederation
Asian Football Confederation since
1971. The biggest club in
Iraq is Al-Shorta, who won back-to-back
league titles in 2013 and 2014 and were the first ever winners of the
Arab Champions League. The Iraqi National Football Team were the 2007
AFC Asian Cup champions after defeating
Saudi Arabia in the final by
1–0 thanks to a goal by captain
Younis Mahmoud and they have
participated in two
FIFA competitions (the 1986
FIFA World Cup and the
FIFA Confederations Cup).
Despite having mobile phones in the
Middle East since 1995, Iraqis
were only able to use mobile phones after 2003. Mobile phones were
banned under Saddam's rule. In 2013, it was reported that 78% of
Iraqis owned a mobile phone.
According to the Iraqi Ministry of Communication,
Iraq is now in the
second phase of building and launching a multipurpose strategic
A project which expected to cost $600 million is ongoing in
co-operation with market leaders such as
Astrium and Arianespace.
On 18 January 2012,
Iraq was connected to the undersea communications
network for the first time.
This had an immense impact on internet speed, availability and usage
In October 2013, the Iraqi Minister for Communication ordered internet
prices to be lowered by a third. This is an attempt to boost usage and
comes as a result of significant improvements in Internet
infrastructure in the country.
Outline of Iraq
Index of Iraq-related articles
Middle East portal
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