Iraq Country Profile

Iraq, Republic of Southwest Asia; limited to the north by Turkey, to the east by Iran, to the south by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Persian Gulf, and to the west by Jordan and Syria. According to, it has a surface area of ​​434,924 km². Some of the greatest civilizations of antiquity developed in the territory of present-day Iraq (see Assyria, Babylon, Mesopotamia and Sumeria). Baghdad is the capital.


The northern part of Iraq, known as al-Jazirah (a word that means “the island”), is mountainous. On the border with Turkey there are peaks such as Haji-Ibrahim, the highest in Iraq, at 3,600 meters. In the south, the terrain loses altitude until it forms a large alluvial plain, occupied by the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The extreme southwest is an area of ​​lowland and swampy land, close to the Persian Gulf, where Iraq has 40 km of coastline. To the east of the Euphrates, the terrain rises gradually to the Syrian desert.


Most of Iraq has a very strong continental climate. The mountainous area has cool summers and cold winters, often accompanied by snow. In central Iraq, summers are long and hot, and winters short and cool; in January, the temperature in Baghdad reaches an average of 9.4 °, while in July and August it reaches 33.3 ° and, on some occasions, up to 50.6 °. The south, near the Persian Gulf, has the highest temperatures in the world and the humidity is very high. In the highlands of the northwest, heavy rains fall between October and May, but in the south, on the alluvial plain, rainfall is scarce, as in the Syrian desert.


In Iraq, mineral resources are especially important. In addition to small deposits of coal, plaster and sulfur, the country has oil. The fertile soils are of two types: the large alluvial deposits, rich in humus and clay, suitable for the construction of buildings; and light soils, whose components have been deposited by the wind. The high salt content affects the natural fertility of the soils, but the work done to allow irrigation and prevent possible growths of the Tigris and Euphrates is important.


About 75% of the population is Arab; northern Kurds make up about 20% of the workforce. Other less numerous groups are Turkmen, Jews and Yazidis. In the rural areas of the country many people still live in tribal communities, with a nomadic or semi-nomadic existence, dedicated to the herding of camels, horses and sheep. With a density of 44 inhabitants / km², the total population, in 1993, was 19,161,956 inhabitants. The most populated centers are found next to the river systems. 70% of the population is urban. The main cities are: Baghdad (3,844,608 inhabitants, in 1987); Basra (616,700 inhabitants), the largest port in the country; and Mosul (570,900 inhabitants, in 1985), an important oil center.


Approximately 95% of the inhabitants practice the Muslim religion and 65% of these are Shiites, who live mainly in central and southern Iraq; the rest, in the north, Sunnis. There are also Christian groups, such as the Nestorians (see Nestorianism) and the Jacobites or Copts. There are also Chaldean and Syrian Catholics. Yazidis live in the hills north of Mosul; the mandate Baptists in Baghdad and Amara. There is a small Jewish community in Baghdad.


Arabic is the official language and Kurdish is the language of the largest minority group. Education in Iraq is free. Primary education is compulsory for six years, although many children in rural areas do not, in practice, go to school for lack of facilities. Classes are taught in Arabic; in the north, Kurdish is also used in the primary school. Iraq has seven universities: three in Baghdad, one in Basra, one in Arbil, one in Mosul and one in Tikrit. The country also has 20 technical institutes. Iraq’s cultural tradition is mainly Arab, although it was the center of Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations in Mesopotamia, before the arrival of the Arabs. Important monuments are the Kadhmain mosque, the Abbasid palace and the Samarra sanctuary. Iraqi handicrafts are especially famous for carpets. The main libraries in Iraq are the Central University of Basra, the Central University of Mosul and, in Baghdad, the Library of the Iraqi Museum, the National Library and the Central University of Baghdad. Among the museums, we highlight the Iraqi, which preserves objects from the first Mesopotamian cultures, the Iraqi Natural History and the Iraqi Military, all in Baghdad. The Museum of Babylon displays models, paintings and paintings from ancient Babylon, while in the Museum of Mosul there are Assyrian pieces. everyone in Baghdad. The Museum of Babylon displays models, paintings and paintings from ancient Babylon, while in the Museum of Mosul there are Assyrian pieces. everyone in Baghdad. The Museum of Babylon displays models, paintings and paintings from ancient Babylon, while in the Museum of Mosul there are Assyrian pieces.

Iraq Country Profile