Middle East :: Iraq
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Iraq
Location of Iraq
Map of Iraq
Introduction ::Iraq
Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen years, Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of strongmen ruled the country until 2003. The last was SADDAM Husayn. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. Following Kuwait's liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime. US forces remained in Iraq under a UNSC mandate until 31 December 2008 and under a bilateral Security Agreement thereafter, helping to provide security and to support the freely elected government. In October 2005, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum and, pursuant to this document, elected a 275-member Council of Representatives (CoR) in December 2005. After the election, Ibrahim al-JAAFARI was selected as prime minister; he was replaced by Nuri al-MALIKI in May 2006. The CoR approved most cabinet ministers in May 2006, marking the transition to Iraq's first constitutional government in nearly a half century. On 31 January 2009, Iraq held elections for provincial councils in all provinces except for the three provinces comprising the Kurdistan Regional Government and at-Ta'mim (Kirkuk) province.
Geography ::Iraq
Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
33 00 N, 44 00 E
total: 438,317 sq km
country comparison to the world: 58
land: 437,367 sq km
water: 950 sq km
slightly more than twice the size of Idaho
total: 3,650 km
border countries: Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 240 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 352 km
58 km
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: not specified
mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq
mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: unnamed peak; 3,611 m; note - this peak is neither Gundah Zhur 3,607 m nor Kuh-e Hajji-Ebrahim 3,595 m
petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
arable land: 13.12%
permanent crops: 0.61%
other: 86.27% (2005)
35,250 sq km (2003)
96.4 cu km (1997)
total: 42.7 cu km/yr (3%/5%/92%)
per capita: 1,482 cu m/yr (2000)
dust storms; sandstorms; floods
government water control projects have drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Marsh Arabs, who inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area's wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; development of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers system contingent upon agreements with upstream riparian Turkey; air and water pollution; soil degradation (salination) and erosion; desertification
party to: Biodiversity, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf
People ::Iraq
28,945,657 (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
0-14 years: 38.8% (male 5,709,688/female 5,531,359)
15-64 years: 58.2% (male 8,529,956/female 8,310,164)
65 years and over: 3% (male 408,266/female 456,224) (2009 est.)
total: 20.4 years
male: 20.3 years
female: 20.5 years (2009 est.)
2.507% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
30.1 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
5.03 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 188
NA (2009 est.)
urban population: 67% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
total: 43.82 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 60
male: 49.38 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 37.98 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
total population: 69.94 years
country comparison to the world: 144
male: 68.6 years
female: 71.34 years (2009 est.)
3.86 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 48
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 154
fewer than 500 (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
degree of risk: intermediate
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)
noun: Iraqi(s)
adjective: Iraqi
Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian, or other 5%
Muslim 97% (Shia 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%
Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Turkoman (a Turkish dialect), Assyrian (Neo-Aramaic), Armenian
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74.1%
male: 84.1%
female: 64.2% (2000 est.)
total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 8 years (2005)
Government ::Iraq
conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
conventional short form: Iraq
local long form: Jumhuriyat al-Iraq
local short form: Al Iraq
parliamentary democracy
name: Baghdad
geographic coordinates: 33 20 N, 44 23 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah) and 1 region*; Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah, An Najaf, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, At Ta'mim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Kurdistan Regional Government*, Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit
3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration); note - on 28 June 2004 the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi-controlled Government
Republic Day, July 14 (1958); note - the Government of Iraq has yet to declare an official national holiday but still observes Republic Day
ratified on 15 October 2005 (subject to review by the Constitutional Review Committee and a possible public referendum )
based on European civil and Islamic law under the framework outlined in the Iraqi Constitution; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
chief of state: President Jalal TALABANI (since 6 April 2005); Vice Presidents Adil ABD AL-MAHDI and Tariq al-HASHIMI (since 22 April 2006); note - the president and vice presidents comprise the Presidency Council)
head of government: Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI (since 20 May 2006); Rafi al-ISSAWI (since 19 July 2008)
cabinet: 36 ministers appointed by the Presidency Council, plus Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI and Deputy Prime Ministers Barham SALIH and Rafi al-ISSAWI
elections: held 15 December 2005 to elect a 275-member Council of Representatives
unicameral Council of Representatives (consisting of 275 members elected by a closed-list, proportional representation system)
elections: last held 15 December 2005 to elect a 275-member Council of Representatives (next to be held on 16 January 2010); the Council of Representatives elected the Presidency Council and approved the prime minister and two deputy prime ministers
election results: Council of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Unified Iraqi Alliance 41%, Kurdistan Alliance 22%, Tawafuq Coalition 15%, Iraqi National List 8%, Iraqi Front for National Dialogue 4%, other 10%; number of seats by party (as of November 2007) - Unified Iraqi Alliance (including the Sadrist bloc with 30 and Fadilah with 15) 130, Kurdistan Alliance 53, Tawafuq Front 44, Iraqi National List 25, Fadilah 15, Iraqi Front for National Dialogue 11, other 12
the Iraq Constitution calls for the federal judicial power to be comprised of the Higher Judicial Council, Federal Supreme Court, Federal Court of Cassation, Public Prosecution Department, Judiciary Oversight Commission and other federal courts that are regulated in accordance with the law
Assyrian Democratic Movement [Yunadim KANNA]; Badr Organization [Hadi al-AMIRI]; Constitutional Monarchy Movement or CMM [Sharif Ali Bin al-HUSAYN]; Da'wa al-Islamiya Party [Nuri al-MALIKI]; General Conference of Iraqi People [Adnan al-DULAYMI]; Independent Iraqi Alliance or IIA [Falah al-NAQIB]; Iraqi Communist Party [Hamid MAJID]; Iraqi Front for National Dialogue [Salih al-MUTLAQ]; Iraqi Hizballah [Karim Mahmud al-MUHAMMADAWI]; Iraqi Independent Democrats or IID [Adnan PACHACHI, Mahdi al-HAFIZ]; Iraqi Islamic Party or IIP [Tariq al-HASHIMI]; Iraqi National Accord or INA [Ayad ALLAWI]; Iraqi National Congress or INC [Ahmad CHALABI]; Iraqi National Council for Dialogue or INCD [Khalaf Ulayan al-Khalifawi al-DULAYMI]; Iraqi National Unity Movement or INUM [Ahmad al-KUBAYSI]; Islamic Action Organization or IAO [Ayatollah Muhammad al-MUDARRISI]; Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or ISCI [Abd al-Aziz al-HAKIM]; Jama'at al Fadilah or JAF [Muhammad Ali al-YAQUBI]; Kurdistan Democratic Party or KDP [Masud BARZANI]; Kurdistan Islamic Union [Salah ad-Din Muhammad BAHA al-DIN]; Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK [Jalal TALABANI]; Sadrist Trend [Muqtada al-SADR] (not an organized political party, but it fields independent candidates affiliated with Muqtada al-SADR); Sahawa al-Iraq [Ahmad al-RISHAWI]
note: the Kurdistan Alliance, Iraqi National List, Tawafuq Front, Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, and Unified Iraqi Alliance were only electoral slates consisting of the representatives from the various Iraqi political parties
Sunni militias; Shia militias, some associated with political parties
chief of mission: Ambassador Samir Shakir al-SUMAYDI
chancery: 3421 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20007
telephone: [1] (202) 742-1600
FAX: [1] (202) 333-1129
chief of mission: Ambassador Christopher R. HILL
embassy: Baghdad
mailing address: APO AE 09316
telephone: 1-240-553-0589 ext. 5340 or 5635; note - Consular Section
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great") in green Arabic script is centered in the white band; similar to the flag of Syria, which has two stars but no script, Yemen, which has a plain white band, and that of Egypt, which has a gold Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band; design is based upon the Arab Liberation colors; Council of Representatives approved this flag as a compromise temporary replacement for Ba'athist Saddam-era flag
Economy ::Iraq
Decreasing insurgent attacks and an improving security environment in many parts of the country are helping to spur economic activity. Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided over 90% of foreign exchange earnings. Oil exports are around levels seen before Operation Iraqi Freedom. Total government revenues have benefited from high oil prices in recent years; however, revenues have declined significantly since the oil price drop in fall 2008. Iraq is making some progress in building the institutions needed to implement economic policy. In March 2009 Iraq concluded a Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF that details economic reforms. The SBA allows an 80% reduction of the debt owed to Paris Club creditor nations. The International Compact with Iraq was established in May 2007 to integrate Iraq into the regional and global economy, and the Iraqi government is seeking to pass laws to strengthen its economy. This legislation includes a hydrocarbon law to establish a modern legal framework to allow Iraq to develop its resources and a revenue sharing law to equitably divide oil revenues within the nation, although both are still under contentious political negotiation. Some foreign entities have expressed interest in reinvigorating Iraq's industrial sector. The government of Iraq is pursuing a strategy to gain foreign participation in joint ventures with State-owned enterprises. Provincial Councils are also using their own budgets to promote and facilitate investment at the local level. The Central Bank has been successful in controlling inflation through appreciation of the dinar against the US dollar. However, Iraq's challenge will be to use macroeconomic gains to improve the lives of ordinary Iraqis. Reducing corruption and implementing structural reforms, such as bank restructuring and developing the private sector, will be key to Iraq's economic success.
$103.9 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 66
$96.39 billion (2007 est.)
$94.97 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
$90.91 billion (2008 est.)
7.8% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
1.5% (2007 est.)
6.2% (2006 est.)
$3,700 (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
$3,500 (2007 est.)
$3,500 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
agriculture: 5%
industry: 68%
services: 27% (2006 est.)
7.74 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 56
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
18.2% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
18% (2006 est.)
note: official data; unofficial estimates as high as 30%
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
revenues: $42.4 billion
expenditures: $49.9 billion (FY08 est.)
6.8% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 114
4.7% (2007 est.)
NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 6
20% (31 December 2007)
NA% (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 16
19.74% (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 42
$18.81 billion (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 90
$3.67 billion (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2008)
$NA (31 December 2007)
$1.878 billion (31 March 2008)
$NA (31 December 2007)
$NA (31 December 2006)
wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton; cattle, sheep, poultry
petroleum, chemicals, textiles, leather, construction materials, food processing, fertilizer, metal fabrication/processing
10.5% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
36.92 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
39.88 billion kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 51
0 kWh (2008 est.)
2.95 billion kWh (2008 est.)
2.385 million bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 14
638,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
1.83 million bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 13
116,900 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 62
115 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
1.88 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 57
9.454 billion cu m
country comparison to the world: 48
note: 1.48 billion cu m were flared (2008 est.)
0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 167
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
3.17 trillion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 10
$14.05 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 24
$4.909 billion (2007 est.)
$66.1 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
$36.08 billion (2007 est.)
crude oil 84%, crude materials excluding fuels 8%, food and live animals 5%
US 43.5%, Italy 11%, South Korea 7.3%, Canada 4.5%, France 4.1% (2008)
$43.5 billion (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 53
$25.67 billion (2007 est.)
food, medicine, manufactures
Syria 27.6%, Turkey 20.6%, US 11.2%, China 6.2%, Jordan 4.7% (2008)
$45.06 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
$30.66 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
$67.74 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
$100.9 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
New Iraqi dinars (NID) per US dollar - 1,176 (2008), 1,255 (2007), 1,466 (2006), 1,475 (2005), 1,890 (second half, 2003)
Communications ::Iraq
1.082 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 76
17.529 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 40
general assessment: the 2003 liberation of Iraq severely disrupted telecommunications throughout Iraq including international connections; widespread government efforts to rebuild domestic and international communications through fiber optic links are in progress; the mobile cellular market has expanded rapidly and its subscribership base approached 18 million in 2008
domestic: repairs to switches and lines destroyed during 2003 continue; additional switching capacity is improving access; cellular service is available and centered on 3 GSM networks which are being expanded beyond their regional roots, improving country-wide connectivity; wireless local loop licenses have been issued with the hope of overcoming the lack of fixed-line infrastructure
international: country code - 964; satellite earth stations - 4 (2 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean, 1 Intersputnik - Atlantic Ocean region, and 1 Arabsat (inoperative)); local microwave radio relay connects border regions to Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey; planned international fiber-optic connections to Iran (terrestrial) with a link to the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) submarine fiber-optic cable (2008)
52 (station frequency types NA) (2008)
47 (2008)
11 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 219
300,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 126
Transportation ::Iraq
104 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 57
total: 75
over 3,047 m: 19
2,438 to 3,047 m: 37
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 8 (2009)
total: 29
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 6 (2009)
21 (2009)
gas 2,501 km; liquid petroleum gas 918 km; oil 5,418 km; refined products 1,637 km (2008)
total: 2,272 km
country comparison to the world: 68
standard gauge: 2,272 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)
total: 44,900 km
country comparison to the world: 81
paved: 37,851 km
unpaved: 7,049 km (2002)
5,279 km
country comparison to the world: 23
note: Euphrates River (2,815 km), Tigris River (1,899 km), and Third River (565 km) are principal waterways (2008)
total: 14
country comparison to the world: 107
by type: cargo 10, petroleum tanker 4 (2008)
Al Basrah, Khawr az Zubayr, Umm Qasr
Military ::Iraq
Iraqi Armed Forces: Iraqi Army (includes Iraqi Special Operations Force, Iraqi Intervention Force), Iraqi Navy (former Iraqi Coastal Defense Force), Iraqi Air Force (former Iraqi Army Air Corps) (2005)
18-49 years of age for voluntary military service (2008)
males age 16-49: 7,086,200
females age 16-49: 6,808,954 (2008 est.)
males age 16-49: 6,203,425
females age 16-49: 6,065,009 (2009 est.)
male: 313,500
female: 304,923 (2009 est.)
8.6% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 4
Transnational Issues ::Iraq
coalition forces assist Iraqis in monitoring internal and cross-border security; approximately two million Iraqis have fled the conflict in Iraq, with the majority taking refuge in Syria and Jordan, and lesser numbers to Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, and Turkey; Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Turkey has expressed concern over the autonomous status of Kurds in Iraq
refugees (country of origin): 10,000-15,000 (Palestinian Territories); 11,773 (Iran); 16,832 (Turkey)
IDPs: 2.4 million (ongoing US-led war and ethno-sectarian violence) (2007)