Where is Iraq located?

What countries border Iraq?

Iraq Weather

What is the current weather in Iraq?


Iraq Facts and Culture

What is Iraq famous for?

  • Food and Recipes: Women may eat in a different area, and serve the men. Food is prepared in abundance for the guests. The... More
  • Family: Couples can live either with the husband's extended family, or in a nuclear unit. Due to economic hardship, the extended... More
  • Fashion: The urban population dress conservatively, and most women wear a scarf or head shawl. In rural areas, men wear the... More
  • Visiting: Friends and relatives visit unannounced, but otherwise warning is appreciated. Shoes are removed at the door, and usually slippers are... More
  • Recreation: Football (soccer) is Iraq’s national passion. A popular venue in Baghdad is Al-Sha’ab (“People’s”) Stadium, where throngs of Iraqis wait outside the gates... More
  • Cultural Attributes: Generally, reserve is the norm, and respect for the older generation is a key. People always give up seats on... More
  • Dating: In urban settings, women and men have more choice over their partner, but introductions (and outings) are often set up... More
  • Diet: Devout Muslims do not eat pork, and eat only halaal meat. The Iraq diet is based around rice, unleavened bread,... More

Iraq Facts

What is the capital of Iraq?

Capital Baghdad
Government Type parliamentary democracy
Currency Iraqi Dinar (IQD)
Total Area 169,234 Square Miles
438,317 Square Kilometers
Location Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
Language Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian
GDP - per capita (PPP) $15,500.00 (USD)

Iraq Demographics

What is the population of Iraq?

Ethnic Groups Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%
Languages The majority of Iraqis speak Arabic, with variations in dialect according to region. Modern standard Arabic is spoken by educated Iraqis and is the written language. Other languages spoken include Chaldean, Armenian, Syriac, Turkish dialects and Persian. English is the most widely used foreign language and is taught in Iraqi schools.
Nationality Adjective Iraqi
Nationality Noun Iraqi(s)
Population 38,872,655
Population Growth Rate 2.29%
Population in Major Urban Areas BAGHDAD (capital) 6.036 million; Mosul 1.494 million; Erbil 1.039 million; Basra 942,000; As Sulaymaniyah 867,000; Najaf 779,000
Predominant Language Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian
Urban Population 66.5%

Iraq Government

What type of government does Iraq have?

  • Executive Branch: chief of state: President Barham SALIH (since 2 October 2018); vice presidents (vacant) head of government: Prime Minister-designate Muhammad Tawfiq ALLAWI... More
  • Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal More
  • National Holiday: Republic Day, July 14 (1958); note - the Government of Iraq has yet to declare an official national holiday but... More
  • Constitution: ratified 15 October 2005 (subject to review by the Constitutional Review Committee and a possible public referendum) More
  • Independence: 3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration); note - on 28 June 2004 the Coalition Provisional... More

Iraq Geography

What environmental issues does Iraq have?

  • Overview: Iraq is bordered by Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The country slopes from mountains over 3,000 meters... More
  • Climate: mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience... More
  • Border Countries: Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 240 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 352 km More
  • Environment - Current Issues: government water control projects have drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or... More
  • Environment - International Agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification More
  • Terrain: mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and... More

Iraq Economy

How big is the Iraq economy?

  • Economic Overview: Iraq's GDP growth slowed to 1.1% in 2017, a marked decline compared to the previous two years as domestic consumption... More
  • Industries: petroleum, chemicals, textiles, construction materials, food processing More
  • Currency Name and Code: Iraqi Dinar (IQD) More
  • Export Partners: US 37.4%, Taiwan 7.7%, Canada 7.5%, France 7.5%, Jordan 6.9%, Netherlands 5.8%, Italy 4.9%, Morocco 4.3%, Spain 4.1% More
  • Import Partners: Jordan 10.4%, France 8.4%, China 7.9%, Vietnam 7.9%, Germany 7.2%, Russia 6.9%, Australia 6.8%, Italy 6.1%, Japan 5.3% More

Iraq News & Current Events

What current events are happening in Iraq?
Source: Google News

Interesting Iraq Facts

What unique things can you discover about Iraq?

  • Around 4000 BC, the Sumerians were the first settlers in Iraq to cultivate land. They also used early calendars, invented the wheel and the first alphabet, and were among the first peoples to study mathematics and astronomy.
  • Built in the 9th century, the great Mosque of Samarra has a distinctive spiral minaret. People can walk up spiralling stairs to its top.
  • Eman Al-Rufei is an Iraqi chess grandmaster; she recently competed for Iraq in the World Chess Olympiad.
  • Iraq has two important winds. The eastern Sharki wind is hot and humid, while the northern Shamal wind brings welcome cooler air during summer weather.
  • Iraqis begin work early while temperatures are cool. People frequently take a nap after finishing work around 2:30 or 3:00 p.m.
  • Iraqis make soft drinks at home from rose petals, orange blossoms, lemons, oranges, apricots, pomegranates or raisins.
  • Iraqis observe the death of a family member with a 40-day mourning period. Women and men wear black, and after sundown during the first seven days (the aza), they share their grief with visitors, drinking coffee and listening to recordings of the Koran or to someone hired to read it aloud.
  • Iraqis use wildflowers such as chamomile to help sooth agitated nerves.
  • Kurds have their own traditional dress. On festive occasions, Kurdish women may wear a brightly coloured costume of loose pants covered by a long, gauzy dress that has loose sleeves tied at the wrists. Overtop is a snug waistcoat or jacket.
  • Muslin, the name of a cloth, comes from the name of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which was one of the earliest exporters of cotton.
  • Numerous Arabic words that have been accepted into English still show the Arabic article “al”. These words include alcohol, alchemy, algebra, almanac and algorithm.
  • Over one million Assyrians, a Semitic people indigenous to ancient Mesopotamia, still live in Iraq and form the country's largest Christian minority. The Assyrian Church was founded in 33 AD.
  • People show their appreciation for singers by kissing or hugging them. Sometimes people also place banknotes on the singer's forehead or hand.
  • The ancient name for most of modern Iraq is Mesopotamia, a Greek word meaning “ and between two rivers” - the Euphrates and the Tigres. Most Iraqis still live in this region.
  • The Ba'ath Party began as a group of young activists in the government who supported Arab nationalism and socialism.
  • The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, were built in Iraq by King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 BC) for his wife, Amytis, to dispel her homesickness for mountainous northern Persia (Iran).
  • Widely recognized as Iraqs predominant classical music tradition, the Maqam encompasses a vast repertory of songs, accompanied by traditional instruments. Moreover, this popular genre provides a wealth of information on the musical history of the region and the Arab influences that have held sway over the centuries.

    The Iraqi Maqam is closely linked, in structure and instrumentation, to the family of traditional musical forms practiced in Iran, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. The Iraqi Maqam embraces numerous genres and primary melodic modes. It features improvisational vocal segments that sometimes use metric accompaniment and often lead to a medley of strophic songs. The skilful improvisation of the lead vocalist (qari) creates an intricate interplay with the orchestra (tshalghi) that provides accompaniment throughout the performance. Typical instruments include the board cither santur, a four-string spike fiddle (jawzah), a low-pitched hand-drum (dumbak) and a small tambourine (daff). Maqam performances generally take place at private gatherings and in coffee-houses and theatres. With a repertory rooted in classical and colloquial Arabic poetry, the Maqam is highly revered by musicians and scholars, but also by the Iraqi population at large.

    While many Arab musical styles in the region have either disappeared or become westernized, the Iraqi Maqam has remained largely intact, in particular retaining its ornate vocal technique and improvisational character.

    Due to the current political situation, Maqam concerts are less frequently held in front of large audiences and more often limited to performances in private settings. However, the numerous live concerts and recordings of Iraqi Maqam abroad bear witness to its continuing success and popularity.

Watch video on Iraq

What can you learn about Iraq in this video?

The Iraqi Maqam YouTube: Unesco

Iraq Travel Information

What makes Iraq a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

Iraq is a parliamentary democracy located in the Middle East with a population of more than 31 million people. Iraq held parliamentary elections in March 2010 and has a coalition government. Iraq is a country with a developing infrastructure and extremely limited tourist facilities. Iraqi forces have full responsibility for providing security in Iraq. The Government of Iraq (GOI) has made significant politicalandeconomic progress in recent years, but the country still faces many challenges. Those challenges include overcoming three decades of war and government mismanagement that stunted Iraq's economy; sectarian and ethnic tensions that have slowed progress toward national reconciliation; and ongoing criminal and terrorist violence. The slight decline and leveling off in the number of insurgent attacks in 2011-12spurred economic growth in Iraq; however, during 2013 there has been a marked increasein insurgent attacks and civilian casualties. Conditions throughout the country remain dangerous. The ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services to U.S. citizens outside Baghdad is particularly limited given the security environment. Host government emergency services and support are limited.

Crime

Petty theft is common in Iraq; this includes pick-pocketing in busy areas (e.g. markets), as well as the theft of money, jewelry, or other valuables from hotel roomsand private residences.Historically, carjacking by armed thieves has been very common, even during daylight hours, and particularly on the highways from Jordan and Kuwait to Baghdad. Both foreigners - especially dual American-Iraqi citizens - and Iraqi citizens are targets of kidnapping. Kidnappers often demand money but have also carried out kidnappings for political/religious reasons. Many hostages have been killed.

The number of murders reported in 2013, especially in the Baghdad area, has increased, likely due to terrorism, tribal and family disputes, and religious/sectarian tensions.

Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.

Criminal Penalties

While you are traveling in Iraq, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’thave your passport with youor if you take pictures of certain buildings.In some places, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. These criminalpenalties will varyfrom country to country. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, andyou can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Iraq, your U.S. passport won’thelp you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’svery important to know what’slegal and what’snot wherever you go. Persons violating Iraq’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for the possession, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Iraq are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines, and in some cases may be subject to the death penalty.

Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrestedin a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.

Languages

The majority of Iraqis speak Arabic, with variations in dialect according to region. Modern standard Arabic is spoken by educated Iraqis and is the written language. Other languages spoken include Chaldean, Armenian, Syriac, Turkish dialects and Persian. English is the most widely used foreign language and is taught in Iraqi schools.

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Basic modern medical care and medicines are not widely available in Iraq. Conflict has left some medical facilities non-operational and medical stocks and supplies severely depleted. The facilities in operation do not meet U.S. standards, and the majority lack medicines, equipment, and supplies. Some private companies facilitate medical evacuations. Blood banks exist in Iraq, though blood supply may not be sufficient in the event of an emergency. In addition, many areas suffer rolling power outages and generators are not always available for back-up.

Safety and Security

Violence and threats against U.S. citizens persist. U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at risk for kidnapping. Methods of attack in the past have included roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs); magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles; human and vehicle-borne IEDs, mines placed on or concealed near roads; mortars and rockets, and shootings using various direct fire weapons. Numerous insurgent groups, including Al Qaida in Iraq, are increasingly active throughout Iraq. Although Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) operations against these groups continue, terrorist activity persists in many areas of the country. Sectarian and terrorist violence has increased since the beginning of 2013 in Iraq, most notably in the provinces of Baghdad, Ninewa, Salah adDin, Anbar, and Diyala.

The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines. All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Chief of Mission must follow strict safety and security procedures when traveling outside the Embassy. State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details. Detailed security information is available at the U.S. Embassy website.

Some regions within Iraq have experienced fewer violent incidents than others in recent years, in particular the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR).The security situation in the IKR,which includes the provinces of Sulymaniya, Erbil, and Dohuk, has been more stable relative to the rest of Iraq in recent years, but threats remain. U.S. government personnel in northern Iraq are required to be accompanied by a protective security detail when traveling outside secure facilities. Although there have been significantly fewer terrorist attacks and lower levels of insurgent violence in the IKR than in other parts of Iraq, the security situation throughout the country remains dangerous.

U.S. citizens should avoid areas near the Syrian, Turkish and Iranian borders in northern Iraq.The Governments of Turkey and Iran continue to carry out military operations against insurgent groups in the mountain regions bordering Iraq. These operations have included troop movements and both aerial and artillery bombardments. Extensive unmarked minefields also remain along these borders. The unrest in Syria has resulted in large numbers of people seeking refuge in the area. In addition, borders in these areas are not always clearly defined. In 2009, three U.S. citizens were detained by Iranian authorities while hiking in the vicinity of the Iranian border in the IKR.The resources available to the U.S. Embassy to assist U.S. citizens who venture close to or cross the border with Iran are extremely limited. The Department of State discourages travel in close proximity to the Iranian border.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in Iraq, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Vehicular travel in Iraq can be extremely dangerous. There have been attacks on civilian vehicles as well as Iraqi military and security convoys on roads and highways throughout Iraq, both in and outside metropolitan areas. Attacks occur throughout the day, but travel at night is more dangerous and should be avoided. Such attacks have been random and unpredictable, and have involved small arms fire and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) capable of destroying the average vehicle. Travel throughout the country by road involves the significant potential for attacks. While Baghdad has seen the majority of insurgent activity over the past year, significant incidents have also occurred in outlying cities, indicating a high risk to travelers on roadways. Anyone traveling by vehicle through Iraq should consider the risk of IED attacks carefully and plan accordingly. Buses run irregularly and frequently change routes. Poorly-maintained city transit vehicles are often involved in accidents. Long-distance buses are available, but are often in poor condition and drive at unsafe speeds. Jaywalking is common. Drivers usually do not yield to pedestrians at crosswalks and ignore available traffic lights, traffic rules, and regulations. Roads are congested. Some cars do not use lights at night and urban street lights may not be functioning. Some motorists drive at excessive speeds, tailgate, and force other drivers to yield the right of way.

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