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Coordinates: 33°N 44°E / 33°N 44°E / 33; 44

Republic of Iraq
  • جمهورية العراق (

    Komarî Êraq
Coat of arms of Iraq
Coat of arms
Anthem: موطني
Location of Iraq
and largest city
Mohamed al-Halbousi
Fa'iq Zaydan
LegislatureCouncil of Representatives
3 October 1932
14 July 1958
15 October 2005
Driving sideright
Calling code+964
ISO 3166 codeIQ
  1. Constitution of Iraq, Article 4 (1st).


Armenians, Yazidis, Mandaeans, Persians and Shabakis with similarly diverse geography and wildlife. The vast majority of the country's 44 million residents are Muslims – the notable other faiths are Christianity, Yazidism, Mandaeism, Yarsanism and Zoroastrianism.[12][2] The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish; others also recognised in specific regions are Neo-Aramaic, Turkish and Armenian.[13]

Starting as early as the

Cradle of Civilisation" that saw the independent development of a writing system, mathematics, timekeeping, a calendar, astrology, and a law code.[15][16][17] Following the Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia, Baghdad became the capital and the largest city of the Abbasid Caliphate, and during the Islamic Golden Age, the city evolved into a significant cultural and intellectual center, and garnered it a worldwide reputation for its academic institutions, including House of Wisdom.[18] The city was largely destroyed at the hands of the Mongol Empire in 1258 during the Siege of Baghdad
, resulting in a decline that would linger through many centuries due to frequent plagues and multiple successive empires.

Modern Iraq dates back to 1920, when the British Mandate for Mesopotamia, joining three Ottoman vilayets, was created under the authority of the League of Nations. A British-backed Kingdom was established in 1921 under Faisal I of Iraq. The Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from the UK in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic created.[19] Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party from 1968 until 2003. In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, sparking a protracted war which would last for almost eight years, and end in a stalemate with devastating losses for both countries. 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.[20]

Iraq is a federal parliamentary republic. The president is the head of state, the prime minister is the head of government, and the constitution provides for two deliberative bodies, the Council of Representatives and the Council of Union. The judiciary is free and independent of the executive and the legislature.[21]

Iraq is considered an emerging middle power[22] with a strategic location[23] and a founding member of the United Nations, the OPEC as well as of the Arab League, OIC, Non-Aligned Movement and the IMF. From 1920 to 2005 Iraq experienced spells of significant economic and military growth and briefer instability including wars. Since the inception of the current multipartite system in 2005, the country has seen further growth and steadier international investment, and a major decline in factional domestic attacks. However, recurrent failures to form a working government by members of parliament have been accompanied by politically motivated violence against government institutions.


The Arabic name al-ʿIrāq (العراق) has been in use since before the 6th century AD.

There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the

Another possible etymology for the name is from the

Mesene) that suggests that it refers to the region of southern Mesopotamia.[27]

An Arabic folk etymology for the name is "deeply rooted, well-watered; fertile".[28]

During the medieval period, there was a region called ʿIrāq ʿArabī ("Arabian Iraq") for Lower

westernmost parts of the modern territory of Iraq.[30] Prior to the middle of the 19th century, the term Eyraca Arabica was commonly used to describe Iraq.[31][32]

The term

Jazira Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the "al-Iraq arabi" area.[33]



When the British established the Hashemite king on 23 August 1921, Faisal I of Iraq, the official English name of the country changed from Mesopotamia to the endonymic Iraq.[37] Since January 1992, the official name of the state is "Republic of Iraq" (Jumhūrīyyet al-'Irāq), reaffirmed in the 2005 Constitution.[1][38][39]


Prehistoric era

Inside the Shanidar Cave, where the remains of eight adults and two infant Neanderthals, dating from around 65,000–35,000 years ago were found.[40][41]

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[42] This same region is also the location of a number of pre-Neolithic cemeteries, dating from approximately 11,000 BC.[43]

Since approximately 10,000 BC, Iraq, together with a large part of the

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 BC),[43] a number of sites belonging to the Halaf culture, and Tell al-'Ubaid, the type site of the Ubaid period (between 6500 BC and 3800 BC).[44] The respective periods show ever-increasing levels of advancement in agriculture, tool-making and architecture.

Ancient Mesopotamia

Map of the Akkadian Empire and the directions in which military campaigns were conducted (yellow arrows). The Akkadian Empire was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia after the long-lived civilization of Sumer

The "

It was here, in the late

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.[45]

The cities to the north like Ashur, Arbela (modern Erbil) and Arrapha (modern Kirkuk) were also extant in what was to be called Assyria from the 25th century BC; however, at this early stage, they were Sumerian ruled administrative centres.

Bronze Age

Bronze head of an Akkadian ruler from Nineveh, presumably depicting either Sargon of Akkad, or Sargon's grandson Naram-Sin

In the 26th century BC,

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

Between the 29th and 24th centuries BC, a number of kingdoms and city states within Iraq began to have Akkadian speaking dynasties; including Assyria, Ekallatum, Isin and Larsa.

However, the Sumerians remained generally dominant until the rise of the 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 in modern-day Iran, and had victories that did not result into a full conquest against the Amorites and Eblaites of the Levant. The empire of Akkad likely fell in the 22nd century BC, within 180 years of its founding, ushering in a "Dark Age" with no prominent imperial authority until the Third Dynasty of Ur. The region's political structure may have reverted to the status quo ante of local governance by city-states.[48]

After many years (and 4 kings) of chaos,

Gutians, based in Adab, who had been conquered by Akkad in the reign of Sharkalisharri.[49]
After the collapse of the Akkadian Empire in the late 22nd century BC, the ] .


In 1792 BC, an

Babylonian Empire. He eventually prevailed over the successor of 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.[50][51] Genetic and cultural analysis indicates that the Marsh people of southern Iraq are probably their most direct modern descendants.[52][53][54]

It is from the period of Hammurabi that southern Iraq came to be known as

Sealand Dynasty
, falling back into native Akkadian hands.

Shamash. Relief on the upper part of the stele of Hammurabi's code of laws

After this, another foreign people, the

, 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:

Sealand Dynasty in the far south. The Sealand Dynasty was finally conquered by Kassite Babylonia circa 1380 BC. The origin of the Kassites is uncertain, though a number of theories have been advanced.[55]


Mediterranean coasts of Phoenicia to the Zagros Mountains of Iran. In 1235 BC, Tukulti-Ninurta I of Assyria took the throne of Babylon

During the

The Levant, and these were followed in the late 10th to early 9th century BC by the Chaldeans who were West Semitic migrants to the southeastern corner of the region.[56] However, the Chaldeans were absorbed and assimilated into the indigenous population of Babylonia.[57]

Iron Age

Neo-Assyrian Empire

Map of the Neo-Assyrian Empire under Shalmaneser III (dark green) and Esarhaddon
(light green)

After a period of comparative decline in

Arabia in the south.
Jehu, king of Israel, bows before Shalmaneser III
of Assyria
, 825 BC.

It was during this period that an Akkadian influenced form of

Arabs and the
Lamassu from the Assyrian gallery at the Iraq Museum, Baghdad

The Neo-Assyrian Empire left a legacy of great cultural significance. The political structures established by the Neo-Assyrian Empire became the model for the later empires that succeeded it and the ideology of universal rule promulgated by the Neo-Assyrian kings inspired, through the concept of translatio imperii, similar ideas of rights to world domination in later empires as late as the early modern period. The Neo-Assyrian Empire became an important part of later folklore and literary traditions in northern Mesopotamia through the subsequent post-imperial period and beyond. Judaism, and thus in turn also Christianity and Islam, was profoundly affected by the period of Neo-Assyrian rule; numerous Biblical stories appear to draw on earlier Assyrian mythology and history and the Assyrian impact on early Jewish theology was immense. Although the Neo-Assyrian Empire is prominently remembered today for the supposed excessive brutality of the Neo-Assyrian army, the Assyrians were not excessively brutal when compared to other civilizations of their time, nor when compared to other civilizations throughout human history.[62]