Population: 31,129,225 (est.)
Language(s): Arabic, Kurdish
- The Iraqi dinar is the official currency of Iraq.
- Islam is the official and by far the majority religion in Iraq with around 97% of the population adhering. Shias make up about 60%-65%, Sunnis represent around 32%-37% and Christian or other 3%.
- Iraq’s government is said to be a ‘parliamentary democracy’.
- It follows a mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law.
- An improving security environment and foreign investment are helping to spur economic activity, particularly in the energy, construction, and retail sectors.
- Iraq’s largely state-run economy is dominated by the oil sector, which provides more than 90% of government revenue and 80% of foreign exchange earnings.
- In 1980, Iraq declared war on Iran, which lasted for eight years.
- US and British armies invaded Iraq in March 2003 and eventually took down then-leader Saddam Hussein.
- The invasion was mainly on the premise of existence of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ in the country.
- Kurdistan is the only legally defined region within Iraq, with its own government and quasi-official militia, the Peshmerga.
Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert.
Iraq borders Syria to the northwest, Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Jordan to the southwest and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south. Iraq has a narrow section of coastline measuring 58 km (36 mi) on the northern Persian Gulf. The capital city, Baghdad is in the center-east of the country. Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run through the center of Iraq, flowing from northwest to southeast. These provide Iraq with agriculturally capable land and contrast with the steppe and desert landscape that covers most of Western Asia.
Historically, Iraq was the center of the Abbasid Caliphate. Iraq has been known to the west by the Greek toponym ‘Mesopotamia’ (Land between the rivers) and has been home to continuous successive civilizations since the 6th millennium BC. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is often referred to as the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of writing, law and the wheel. At different periods in its history, Iraq was the center of the indigenous Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian-Chaldean, and Arab Abbasid empires. It was also part of the Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, Roman, Rashidun, Umayyad, Mongol, Safavid, Afsharid, and Ottoman empires, and under British control as a League of Nations mandate.
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 and the Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from Britain in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Republic of Iraq was created. Iraq was controlled by the Ba’ath Party (Iraqi-led faction) from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion led by American and British forces, the Ba’ath Party was removed from power and Iraq came under a military occupation by a multinational coalition. Sovereignty was transferred to the Iraqi Interim Government in June 2004 which then approved a new constitution and a new Government of Iraq was elected. Foreign troops remained in Iraq after the establishment of a new government due to an insurgency that developed shortly after the invasion, withdrawing in 2011. Iraq is a country with a Shia majority and a large Sunni minority.