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.
Iraq is considered an emerging middle power with a strategic location 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.
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. Since January 1992, the official name of the state is "Republic of Iraq" (Jumhūrīyyet al-'Irāq), reaffirmed in the 2005 Constitution.
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.
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 11,000 BC.
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), 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). The respective periods show ever-increasing levels of advancement in agriculture, tool-making and architecture.
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 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.
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.
After many years (and 4 kings) of chaos,
Gutians, based in Adab, who had been conquered by Akkad in the reign of Sharkalisharri.
After the collapse of the Akkadian Empire in the late 22nd century BC, the
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. Genetic and cultural analysis indicates that the Marsh people of southern Iraq are probably their most direct modern descendants.
It is from the period of Hammurabi that southern Iraq came to be known as
, 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.
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. However, the Chaldeans were absorbed and assimilated into the indigenous population of Babylonia.
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.
Sumero-Akkadian culture. The empire was the last of the Mesopotamian empires to be ruled by monarchs native to Mesopotamia.Nebuchadnezzar II succeeded Nabopolassar in 605 BC following the death of his father. The empire Nebuchadnezzar inherited was among the most powerful in the world, in which he quickly reinforced his father's alliance with the Medes by marrying Cyaxares's daughter or granddaughter, Amytis. Some sources suggest that the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, were built by Nebuchadnezzar for his wife as to remind her of her homeland (though the existence of these gardens is debated). Nebuchadnezzar's 43-year reign would bring with it a golden age for Babylon, which was to become the most powerful kingdom in the Middle East.
In the 6th century BC, Cyrus the Great of neighbouring Persia defeated the Neo-Babylonian Empire at the Battle of Opis and Mesopotamia was subsumed into the Achaemenid Empire for nearly two centuries. The Achaemenids made Babylon their main capital. The Chaldeans and Chaldea disappeared at around this time, though both Assyria and Babylonia endured and thrived under Achaemenid rule (see Achaemenid Assyria). Their kings retained Assyrian Imperial Aramaic as the language of empire, together with the Assyrian imperial infrastructure, and an Assyrian style of art and architecture.
Al-Hariri of Basra was a poet, high government official and scholar of the Arabic language, He is known for his Maqamat al-Hariri (‘'Assemblies of Hariri'’), a collection of some 50 stories written in the Maqama
style. Al-Hariri's best known work, Maqamat has been regarded as the greatest treasure in Arabic literature.
The first organised conflict between invading Arab-Muslim tribes and occupying Persian forces in Mesopotamia seems to have been in 634, when the Arabs were defeated at the Battle of the Bridge. There was a force of some 5,000
Battle of al-Qādisiyyah and moved on to capture the Persian capital of Ctesiphon. By the end of 638, the Muslims had conquered all of the Western Sassanid provinces (including modern Iraq), and the last Sassanid Emperor, Yazdegerd III, had fled to central and then northern Persia, where he was killed in 651.
The Islamic expansions constituted the largest of the Semitic expansions in history. These new arrivals did not disperse and settle throughout the country; instead they established two new garrison cities, at Kufa, near ancient Babylon, and at Basra in the south and established Islam in these cities, while the north remained largely Assyrian and Christian in character.
In 1257, 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 Caliph Al-Musta'sim 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 Mongols destroyed the Abbasid Caliphate and Baghdad's
soil salination as the culprit in the decline in agriculture.
Islamic world. The best estimate for the Middle East is a death rate of roughly one-third.
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 AssyrianChristian population, hitherto still the majority population in northern Mesopotamia, and it was during this time that the ancient Assyrian city of Assur was finally abandoned.
Mamluk dynasty of Iraq
During the late 14th and early 15th centuries, the
. 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 Safavids had 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.
in 1631, a Turkish soldier in the foreground holding a severed head. L., C. (Stecher) 1631 -1650
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.
Sykes-Picot Agreement. British forces regrouped and captured Baghdad in 1917, and defeated the Ottomans. An armistice was signed in 1918. 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.[citation needed
British Mandate of Mesopotamia and independent kingdom
Faced with spiralling costs and influenced by the public protestations of the war hero
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 1920s.
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.[citation needed
On 1 April 1941,
Assyrian Levies, defeated the forces of Al-Gaylani, forcing an armistice on 31 May.[citation needed
Nuri Said served as the prime minister during the Kingdom of Iraq, and was a major political figure in Iraq under the monarchy. During his many terms in office, he was involved in some of the key policy decisions that shaped the modern Iraqi state. In 1930, during his first term, he signed the
Anglo-Iraqi Treaty, which, as a step toward greater independence, granted Britain the unlimited right to station its armed forces in and transit military units through Iraq and also gave legitimacy to British control of the country's oil industry. In addition, Said contributed to the establishment of the Kingdom of Iraq and the Iraqi army.[citation needed
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.[citation needed
(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 Iran, 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.
Due to Iraq's inability to pay Kuwait more than US$14 billion that it had borrowed to finance the Iran–Iraq War and Kuwait's surge in petroleum production levels which kept revenues down, Iraq interpreted Kuwait's refusal to decrease its oil production as an act of aggression. Throughout much of the 1980s, Kuwait's oil production was above its mandatory OPEC quota, which kept the oil prices down.
and then launched a 100-hour-long ground assault against Iraqi forces in Southern Iraq and those occupying Kuwait.
Iraq's armed forces were devastated during the war. Shortly after it ended in 1991,
Iraqi no-fly zones
to protect Kurdish population 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
oil for food program
was established in 1996 to ease the effects of sanctions.
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 United States and its allies invaded Iraq.[citation needed
Following the invasion, the United States established the
L. Paul Bremer, the chief executive of the CPA, issued orders to exclude Ba'ath 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 Ba'ath Party simply to keep their jobs, helping to bring about a chaotic post-invasion environment.
In late 2006, the US government's 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.
, which required US forces to withdraw from Iraqi cities by 30 June 2009 and to withdraw completely from Iraq by 31 December 2011.
An Iraqi Army Aviation Command aerial gunner prepares to test fire his M240 machine gun, Near Baghdad International Airport, 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.
, 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.
, provides command and control of air power throughout Iraq and Syria.
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, Sunni Arabs protested against the government, who they claimed marginalised them.
During 2013, Sunni militant groups stepped up attacks targeting the Iraq's population in an attempt to undermine confidence in the
internally displaced persons amid reports of atrocities by ISIL fighters.
On 4 June 2014, the insurgents began their efforts to capture Mosul. The Iraqi army officially had 30,000 soldiers and another 30,000 federal police stationed in the city, facing a 1,500-member attacking force. The Iraqi forces' actual numbers were much lower due to "ghost soldiers", severely reducing combat ability. After six days of combat and massive desertions, Iraqi soldiers received orders to retreat. The city of Mosul, including Mosul International Airport and the helicopters located there, all fell under ISIL's control. An estimated 500,000 civilians fled from the city.
By late June, the Iraqi government had lost control of its borders with both Jordan and Syria. al-Maliki called for a national state of emergency on 10 June following the attack on Mosul, which had been seized overnight. However, despite the security crisis, Iraq's parliament did not allow Maliki to declare a state of emergency; many legislators boycotted the session because they opposed expanding the prime minister's powers.
A former commander of the Iraqi ground forces, Ali Ghaidan, accused former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of being the one who issued the order to withdraw from the city of Mosul.
After an inconclusive election in April 2014, Nouri al-Maliki served as caretaker-Prime-Minister.
Sunnistan in the west and a Shiastan in the southeast.
In response to rapid territorial gains made by the
genocide of Yazidis by ISIL has led to the expulsion, flight and effective exile of the Yazidis from their ancestral lands in northern Iraq. The 2016 Karrada bombing killed nearly 400 civilians and injured hundreds more. On 17 March 2017, a US-led coalition airstrike in Mosul killed more than 200 civilians.
Since 2015, ISIL lost territory in Iraq, including
civil unrest Iraq has experienced since the 2003 invasion.
Serious civil unrest rocked the country beginning in Baghdad and Najaf in July 2018 and spreading to other provinces in
Protests and demonstrations started again on 1 October 2019, against 16 years of corruption, unemployment and inefficient public services, before they escalated into calls to overthrow the administration and to stop Iranian intervention in Iraq
. The Iraqi government at times reacted harshly, resulting in over 500 deaths by 12 December 2019.
). Demonstrators smashed a door of the checkpoint, set fire to the reception area, left anti-American posters and sprayed anti-American graffiti. U.S. president Trump accused Iran of orchestrating the attack.
Three days later, amid rising tensions between the United States and Iran, the U.S.
In November 2021, the Iraqi Prime Minister al-Kadhimi survived a failed assassination attempt.
On 30 November, the political bloc led by Shia leader
political near-deadlock at the highest level of constitutional and ratifying decisions as a new president is yet to be elected by parliament. In June 2022, 73 members of parliament from the Sadrist movement, resigned. On 27 July 2022, the parliament building was stormed by protesters for the second time in a week. On approximately 5 September the second round of negotiations ended, leaving further talks required to agree on any selection for the key ratificatory and head of state role of president and to agree a working coalition, key-issues confidence and supply arrangement between the parties or to the fresh elections the Prime Minister continues to seek.
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 has a coastline measuring 58 km (36 miles) on the northern
alluvial plains, as the rivers carry about 60,000,000 m3 (78,477,037 cu yd) of silt annually to the delta
. The central part of the south, which slightly tapers in favour of other countries, is natural vegetation marsh mixed with rice paddies and is humid, relative to the rest of the plains.
Rocky deserts cover about 40 percent of Iraq. Another 30 percent is mountainous with bitterly cold winters. 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
Iraq is home to seven terrestrial ecoregions:
South Iran Nubo-Sindian desert and semi-desert.
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 rare, except in northern parts of the country. The northern mountainous regions have cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive flooding.
The Asiatic lion has remained a prominent symbol of the country throughout history.
The wildlife of Iraq includes its
Basra reed-warbler.An essentially experimental draining of the Mesopotamian Marshes, by Saddam's regime, caused there a significant drop in biological life and heated many paddies and fields to higher consumption of water and low productivity. Since the overthrow, flow is restored and the ecosystem has begun to recover, fast water runoff and drought less severe, and crop yields made more sustainable.
Iraqi corals are some of the most extreme heat-tolerant as the seawater in this area ranges between 14 and 34 °C.
Aquatic or semi-aquatic wildlife occurs in and around these, the major lakes:
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 Iraq with jurisdiction over various matters as defined by law.
View over Green Zone, which contains governmental headquarters and the army, in addition to containing the headquarters of the American embassy
and the headquarters of foreign organizations and agencies for other countries.
In 2008, according to the
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[update].
In 2004, the CPA chief executive 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 2005 the United States had relented, allowing a role for sharia in the constitution to help end a stalemate on the draft constitution.
The current Iraqi armed forces was rebuilt on American foundations and with huge amounts of American military aid at all levels. The army consists of 14 divisions, all of them infantry, except for the ninth division, which is motorized infantry. Each division consists of four brigades and comprises 14,000 soldiers. Before 2003, Iraq was mostly equipped with Soviet-made military equipment, but since then the country has turned to Western suppliers.
The 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. The air force currently has 5,000 personnel. It was planned to increase to 18,000 personnel, with 550 aircraft by 2018, but that did not happen as planned.
As of February 2011, the navy had approximately 5,000 sailors including 800
. The navy consists of an operational headquarters, five afloat squadrons, and two marine battalions, designed to protect shorelines and inland waterways from insurgent infiltration.
On 4 November 2019, more than 100
Iraqi Security Forces are trained. However, Australia's contribution was reduced from 250 to 120 ADF personnel, which along with New Zealand had trained over 45,000 ISF members before that.
This agreement states that "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. Because of their late accession, Iraq is the only State Party exempt from the existing timeline for destruction of their chemical weapons. Specific criteria are 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 Iraq accused Iran of seizing an oil well on the border.
a US drone strike that killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, commander of the Quds Force. The resolution specifically calls for ending of a 2014 agreement allowing Washington to help Iraq against Islamic State groups by sending troops. This resolution will also signify ending an agreement with Washington to station troops in Iraq as Iran vows to retaliate after the killing. On 28 September 2020, Washington made preparations to withdraw diplomats from Iraq, as a result of Iranian-backed militias firing rockets at the American Embassy in Baghdad. The officials said that the move was seen as an escalation of American confrontation with Iran.
According to experts, it is not within the parliament's power to issue political decisions, but rather its task is to issue legislation and laws, and therefore the decision issued was more of a recommendation or a proposal. Moreover, the government was a caretaker government, which means that its mission is to run the day-to-day affairs of the country and not to take decisions to cancel the security agreement with the United States of America or any counterparts. An Iraqi legal expert, Tariq Harb, stated that the parliament's decision has no legal effect because it did not restrict its implementation in time and left the matter to the government, which according to him is like a farce in order to absorb anger. He added that "the Speaker of Parliament did not clarify the number of voters, the number of those who said yes and the number of those who said no", and that "a law should have been issued and not a decision".
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).
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 per capita GDP of $4,812. 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 force.
On 20 November 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 was to be implemented in three stages: two of 30% each and one of 20%.
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.
In 2022, and after more than 30 years after the UN Compensation Commission (UNCC) was created to ensure restitution for Kuwait following the Iraqi invasion of 1990, the reparations body announced that Iraq has paid a total of $52.4 billion in war reparations to Kuwait.
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.
Iraq was an important tourist destination for many years but that changed dramatically during the war with Iran and after the 2003 invasion by US and allies. As Iraq continues to develop and stabilises, the tourism in Iraq is still facing many challenges, little has been made by the government to meet its tremendous potential as a global tourist destination, and gain the associated economic benefits, mainly due to conflicts. However, in recent years the
With its 143.1 billion barrels (2.275×1010 m3) of proved oil reserves, 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 Texas alone. 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 Iraq from 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 conflict.
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 months.
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 persist.
In June 2008, the
Total and BP—once partners in the Iraq 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 14 March 2014, the 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 had not pumped that much oil since 1979, when Saddam Hussein rose to power. However, on 14 July 2014, as sectarian strife had taken hold, Kurdistan Regional Government forces seized control of the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oilfields in the north of the country, taking them from Iraq's control. Baghdad condemned the seizure and threatened "dire consequences" if the fields were not returned.
On 2018, the UN estimated that oil accounts for 99% of Iraq's revenue. As of 2021, the oil sector provided about 92% of foreign exchange earnings.
water resources management system for several major cities. This prompted widespread water supply and sanitation shortfalls thus poor water and service quality.
This is combined with few businesses and households who are fully environmentally aware and legally compliant however the large lakes, as pictured, alleviate supply relative to many comparators in Western Asia beset by more regular drought. Access to potable water diverges among governorates and between urban and rural areas.
91% of the population has access to potable water. Forming this figure: in rural areas, 77% of people have access to improved (treated or fully naturally filtered) drinking water sources; and 98% in urban areas. Much water is discarded during treatment, due to much outmoded equipment, raising energy burden and reducing supply.
Although many infrastructure projects had already begun, at the end of 2013 Iraq had a housing crisis. The then very war-ravaged country was set to complete 5 percent of the 2.5 million homes it needs to build by 2016 to keep up with demand, confirmed the Minister for Construction and Housing. Much building has followed but there remains strong demand for larger, and usually ideally single-family, homes in most parts of Iraq.
In 2009, the Iraq Britain Business Council formed. Its key impetus was House of Lords member and trade expert Lady Nicholson.
In August 2009, two American firms reached a deal with the
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.
In mid 2013, South Korean firm Daewoo reached a deal to build Bismayah New City of about 600,000 residents in 100,000 homes.
In December 2020, the Prime Minister launched the second phase of the Grand Faw Port via winning bid of project manager/head contractor Daewood at $2.7 billion. A strategic national project for Iraq, it will become the largest sea port in the Middle East, as such strengthening Iraq's geopolitical position.
The 2021 estimate of the total Iraqi population is 43,533,592. Iraq's population was estimated to be 2 million in 1878. In 2013 Iraq's population reached 35 million amid a post-war population boom.
Map of all majority-group clusters of the country's ethnic groups in large, deliberately grouped, census output areas as at the 2006 to 2008 study.
Roma, Circassians, Mandaeans, and Persians. However, the International Crisis Group points out that figures from the 1987 census, as well as the 1967, 1977, and 1997 censuses, "are all considered highly problematic, due to suspicions of regime manipulation" because Iraqi citizens were only allowed to indicate belonging to either the Arab or Kurdish ethnic groups; consequently, this skewed the number of other ethnic minorities, such as Iraq's third largest ethnic group – the Turkmens.
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.
The 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, Syriac, and Armenian shall be guaranteed in government educational institutions in accordance with educational guidelines, or in any other language in private educational institutions.
Religions in Iraq are dominantly Abrahamic religions with the CIA World Factbook (2021) stating; that 95% were Muslim (Shia 64–69%, Sunni 29–34%), Christian, Yazidi, Mandaean, Baháʼí, Zoroastrian, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, folk religion, unaffiliated, other 5%  It has a mixed Shia and Sunni population. An older 2011 Pew Research Center estimates that 47~51% of Muslims in Iraq see themselves as Shia, 42% are Sunni, while 5% identify themselves as "Just a Muslim".
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.
The dispersion of native Iraqis to other countries is known as the
UN High Commission for Refugees has estimated that nearly two million Iraqis fled the country after the multinational invasion of Iraq in 2003. The UN Refugee agency estimated in 2021 that an 1.1 million were displaced within the country.
In 2007, the UN said that about 40% of Iraq's middle class was believed to have fled and that most had fled systematic persecution and had no desire to return. Refugees are mired in poverty as they are generally barred from working in their host countries.
Subsequently, the diaspora seemed to be returning, as security improved; the Iraqi government claimed that 46,000 refugees returned to their homes in October 2007 alone.
In 2011, nearly 3 million Iraqis had been displaced, with 1.3 million within Iraq and 1.6 million in neighbouring countries, mainly Jordan and Syria. More than half of Iraqi Christians had fled the country since the 2003 US-led invasion. According to official United States Citizenship and Immigration Services statistics, 58,811 Iraqis had been granted refugee-status citizenship as of 25 May 2011[update].
After the start of the
Syrian Civil War in 2011, numerous Iraqis in Syria returned to their native country. To escape the Syrian civil war, over 252,000 Syrian refugees of varying ethnicities have fled to Iraq since 2012.
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 Westernised 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.
Before Iraq faced economic sanctions from the UN, it already had an advanced and successful education system. However, it has now been “de-developing” in its educational success. Some say that the sanctions, whether intentionally or not, hurt the education system because of how it affected the children. Whether or not this is true, UNICEF's statistics and numbers show how Iraq's education system has room for improvement.
promoting women's literacy and education in the 1970s
In general, the education of Iraq has been improving since the MDGs were implemented. For example, enrollment numbers nearly doubled from 2000 to 2012. It went from 3.6 million to six million. The latest statistic from 2015 to 2016 showed that almost 9.2 million children were in school. Enrollment rates continue to be on a steady increase at about 4.1% each year. The sheer increase in numbers shows that there are clearly improvements of children in Iraq having access to education.
However, the dramatic increase of the number of students in primary education has had some negative and straining effects for the education system. The budget for education makes up about only 5.7% of government spending and continues to stay at or below this percentage. Investments for schools has also been on the decline. As a result, the country now ranks at the bottom of Middle East countries in terms of education. The little funding for education makes it more difficult to improve the quality and resources for education.
At the same time, UNICEF investigated portions of spending for education and found that some of the money has gone to waste. They found that dropout rates are increasing as well as repetition rates for children. In both Iraq Centre and KRI, the rates for dropouts are about 1.5% to 2.5%. Within these dropout rates, there is also an uneven number among boys and girls who dropout. While the rate for dropouts for boys was around 16.5%, girls were at 20.1% where it could be due to economic or family reasons. For repetition rates, percentages have almost reached 17% among all students. To put the money loss in perspective, about $1,100 is spent on each student. For each student who drops out or repeats a grade, $1,100 is lost. As a result, almost 20% of the funding for education was lost to dropouts and repetition for the year 2014–2015.
Many of those people who dropout or have to repeat a grade do not see the economic cost for long term results. UNICEF takes note of how staying in school can in fact, increase wealth for the person and their family. While it may put a strain on the education system, it will also hinder the chances of a person receiving higher earnings in whatever career they go into.
Other statistics show that regional differences can attribute to lower or higher enrollment rates for children in primary education. For example, UNICEF found that areas with conflict like Saladin had “more than 90% of school-age children” not in the education system. In addition, some schools were converted into refugee shelters or military bases in 2014 as conflict began to increase. The resources for education become more strained and make it harder for children to go to school and finish receiving their education. However, in 2017, there were efforts being made to open up 47 schools that had previously been closed. There has been more success in Mosul where over 380,000 are going to school again. Depending on where children live, they may or may not have the same access to education as other children.
There are also the differing enrollment rates between boys and girls. UNICEF found that in 2013–2014, enrollment numbers for boys was at about five million while girls were at about 4.2 million. While the out-of-school rate for girls is at about 11%, boys are at less than half of that. There is still a gap between boys and girls in terms of educational opportunities. However, the rate of enrollments for girls has been increasing at a higher rate than for boys. In 2015–2016, the enrollment numbers for girls increased by 400,000 from the previous year where a large number of them were located in Iraq Centre. Not only that, UNICEF found that the increase of girls going to school was across all levels of education. Therefore, the unequal enrollment numbers between boys and girls could potentially change so that universal education can be achieved by all at equal rates.
University students in Iraq, 2016
Although the numbers suggest a dramatic increase of enrollment rates for primary education in total, a large number of children still remain out of the education system. Many of these children fall under the category of internally displaced children due to the conflict in Syria and the takeover by ISIL. This causes a disruption for children who are attempting to go to school and holds them back from completing their education, no matter what level they are at. Internally displaced children are specifically recorded to track children who have been forced to move within their country due to these types of conflicts. About 355,000 of internally displaced children are not in the education system. 330,000 of those children live in Iraq Centre. The rates among internally displaced children continue to remain higher in Iraq Centre than other areas such as the KRI.
With the overall increase of enrollment rates, there continues to be a large strain on the resources for education. UNICEF notes that without an increase on expenditures for education, the quality of education will continue to decrease. Early in the 2000s, the UNESCO International Bureau of Education found that the education system in Iraq had issues with standard-built school buildings, having enough teachers, implementing a standardized curricula, textbooks and technologies that are needed to help reach its educational goals. Teachers are important resources that are starting to become more and more strained with the rising number of students. Iraq Centre has a faster enrollment growth rate than teacher growth. Teachers begin to have to take in more and more students which can produce a bigger strain on the teacher and quality of education the children receive. Another large resource for education is libraries that can increase literacy and create a reading culture. However, this can only be improved through a restructuring of the education system.
, much of his work has been translated into over 20 languages worldwide
Iraq's culture has a deep heritage that extends back in time to ancient Mesopotamian culture. Iraq has one of the longest written traditions in the world including
among many other things.
For centuries, the capital, Baghdad was the Medieval centre of the literary and artistic Arab world, but its artistic traditions suffered at the hands of the Mongol invaders in the 13th century. Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center of the Muslim world. This, in addition to housing several key academic institutions, including the House of Wisdom, as well as hosting a multiethnic and multireligious environment, garnered the city a worldwide reputation as the "Centre of Learning".
Wasiti's illustrations served as an inspiration for the modern Baghdad art movement in the 20th-century.
There were several interconnected traditions of art in ancient Iraq. The
Abbasid Dynasty developed in the Abbasid Caliphate between 750 and 945, primarily in its heartland of Mesopotamia. The Abbasids were influenced mainly by Mesopotamian art traditions and later influenced Persian as well as Central Asian styles. Between the 8th and 13th-centuries during the Abbasid period, pottery achieved a high level of sophistication, calligraphy began to be used to decorate the surface of decorative objects and illuminated manuscripts, particularly Q'ranic texts became more complex and stylised. Iraq's first art school was established during this period, allowing artisans and crafts to flourish.
At the height of the Abbasid period, in the late 12th century, a stylistic movement of manuscript illustration and calligraphy emerged. Now known as the Baghdad School, this movement of Islamic art was characterised by representations of everyday life and the use of highly expressive faces rather than the stereotypical characters that had been used in the past. The school consisted of calligraphers, illustrators, transcribers and translators, who collaborated to produce illuminated manuscripts derived from non-Arabic sources. The works were primarily scientific, philosophical, social commentary or humorous entertainments.
Important cultural institutions in the capital include 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
Occupation of Iraq. On 2021, it was announced that Iraq had reclaimed about 17,000 looted artifacts, which was considered to be the biggest repatriation.
The capital, Ninus or
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.
The literature in Iraq is often referred to as "Mesopotamian literature" due to the flourishing of various civilisations as a result of the mixture of these cultures and has been called Mesopotamian or Babylonian literature in allusion to the geographical territory that such cultures occupied in the Middle East between the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The Sumerian literature was unique because it does not belong to any known linguistic root. Its appearance began with symbols of the things denoting it, then it turned with time to the cuneiform line on tablets. The literature during this time were mainly about mythical and epic texts dealing with creation issues, the emergence of the world, the gods, descriptions of the heavens, and the lives of heroes in the wars that broke out between the nomads and the urbanites. They also deal with religious teachings, moral advice, astrology, legislation, and history. One of which was the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is regarded as the earliest surviving notable literature. During the Abbasid Caliphate, the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, which was a public academy and intellectual center hosted numerous scholars and writers. A number of stories in One Thousand and One Nights feature famous Abbasid figures.
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 Iraqi maqam 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 humanity".
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 Jew Salima 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 brothels.
The most famous early composer from Iraq was Ezra Aharon, an oud player, while the most prominent instrumentalist was Yusuf Za'arur. Za'arus formed the official ensemble for the Iraqi radio station and were responsible for introducing the cello and ney into the traditional ensemble.
Iraq was home to the second television station in the Middle East, which began during the 1950s. As part of a plan to help Iraq modernise, English telecommunications company
Pye Limited built and commissioned a television broadcast station in the capital city of Baghdad.
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
^"Iraqi religions". www.state.gov. OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. 12 May 2021. The constitution establishes Islam as the official religion and states no law may be enacted contradicting the “established provisions of Islam.” It provides for freedom of religious belief and practice for all individuals, including Muslims, Christians, Yezidis, and Sabean-Mandeans, but does not explicitly mention followers of other religions or atheists.
^Halloran, John A. (2000). "Sumerian Lexicon". The name of the very ancient city of URUK- City of Gilgamesh is made up from the UR-city and UK- thought to mean existence (a-ku, a-Ki & a-ko. The Aramaic and Arabic root of IRQ and URQ denotes rivers or tributaries at the same times referring to condensation (of water).
^Wilhelm Eilers (1983). "Iran and Mesopotamia". In E. Yarshater, The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 3, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
^"Akkad". World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
^Zettler (2003), pp. 24–25. "Moreover, the Dynasty of Akkade's fall did not lead to social collapse, but the re-emergence of the normative political organization. The southern cities reasserted their independence, and if we know little about the period between the death of Sharkalisharri and the accession of Urnamma, it may be due more to accidents of discovery than because of widespread 'collapse.' The extensive French excavations at Tello produced relevant remains dating right through the period."
^Kraus, Nicholas. "The Weapon of Blood: Politics and Intrigue at the Decline of Akkad" Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 108, no. 1, 2018, pp. 1-9.
. The exploits of T.E. Lawrence as British liaison officer in the Arab Revolt, recounted in his work Seven Pillars of Wisdom, made him one of the most famous Englishmen of his generation. This biography explores his life and career including his correspondence with writers, artists and politicians.
^Manasseh, Sara (February 2004). "An Iraqi samai of Salim Al-Nur"(PDF). Newsletter. No. 3. London: Arts and Humanities Research Board Research Centre for Cross-Cultural Music and Dance Performance. p. 7. Archived from the original(PDF) on 2 December 2005. Retrieved 9 September 2007.
A Dweller in Mesopotamia, being the adventures of an official artist in the garden of Eden, by Donald Maxwell, 1921. (a searchable facsimile at the University of Georgia Libraries; DjVu & layered PDF format)
By Desert Ways to Baghdad, by Louisa Jebb (Mrs. Roland Wilkins) With illustrations and a map, 1908 (1909 ed). (a searchable facsimile at the University of Georgia Libraries; DjVu & layered PDF format)
"Iraqi Constitution"(PDF). Ministry of Interior – General Directorate For Nationality. 30 January 2006. Archived from the original(PDF) on 28 November 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
Benjamin Busch, "'Today is Better than Tomorrow'. A Marine returns to a divided Iraq", Harper's Magazine, October 2014, pp. 29–44.