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Meshed Ali, Najaf, Iraq. Author US Navy K Abrahamson. No Copyright
Meshed Ali, Najaf, Iraq. Author US Navy K Abrahamson

Iraq: the ancient Mesopotamia

Iraq (Al-Jumhoorīyah al-‘Irāqīyah) is a parliamentary republic in the Middle East with capital Baghdad, the country is bordered to the north by Turkey, on the east by Iran, on the south-east by Kuwait, to the south-west by Saudi Arabia, in the west with Jordan and Syria, and then for a short stretch in the south-east is washed from the Persian Gulf. Iraq is divided into 18 governorates (Baghdād, Salāh ad-Dīn, Diyālā, Wāsit, Maysān, Al-Basrah, Dhī Qār, Al-Muthannā, Al-Qādisiyyah, Bābil, Al-Karbalā ‘, An-Najaf, Al – Anbar, Nīnawā, Dahūk, Arbīl, Kirkuk (or At-Ta’mima), As-Sulaymāniyyah), three of which (Dahūk, Arbīl, As-Sulaymāniyyah) form an autonomous Kurdish region (Iraqi Kurdistan). Baghdad is the capital and main city of the country, other cities are Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk, Nasiriya.

A large part of Iraqi territory consists of a vast desert plateau, part of Syriac and Nafud deserts, which extends west and south of the Euphrates. The central area and more densely inhabited land is the Iraqi Mesopotamia, the fertile region between the Tigris and the Euphrates. The two rivers originate in the Armenian Plateau in Turkey and cross the country from north-west to south-east, up to the confluence, in the south, forming the Shatt-al-Arab, which flows into the Persian Gulf.

Iraq Map

Iraq Map

The Euphrates (2,780 km long, 765,000 sq km of the basin) is the longest of the two rivers, but its average discharge is less than that of the Tigris (1,900 km long, 375,000 sq km of the basin). The north-eastern section of Iraq, Kurdistan, along the borders with Iran and Turkey is characterized by the presence of the chain of Zagros Mountains, which hosts the highest mountain in the country, Cheekha Dar (3,611 metres).

The Iraqi economy has been on its knees by the recent events of war. The country is rich in oil and natural gas, important is also agriculture (barley, wheat, rice, dates, fruit, tobacco, cotton, sesame). Among the industry sectors that are more developed are textile, chemical, petrochemical and processing of agricultural products.

  • Area: 438,317 sqkm. (Arable 13%, Pastures 9%, Forests and Woodlands 1%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 77%).
  • Population: 27,500,000 (2007 data) (Arabs 74%, Kurds 20%, Assyrians, Turks).
  • State Capital: Baghdad.
  • Languages: The official languages are Arabic and Kurdish.
  • Religion: Muslim 97% (Shi’a 65%, Sunni 32%), Christian 3%.
  • Currency: Iraqi Dinar (IQD)
  • Time: UTC +3 hours (Summer UTC +4 hours).

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