Map Iraq
Maps copyright Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Flag of Iraq


Background: 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 through 2009 and under a bilateral security agreement thereafter, helping to provide security and to train and mentor Iraqi security forces. 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-JAFARI 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 Kirkuk province. Iraq held a national legislative election in March 2010, and after nine months of deadlock the CoR approved the new government in December.
Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
Area land: 437,367 sq km
Area water: 950 sq km
Coastline: 58 km
Country name conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
Country name conventional short form: Iraq
Country name former: Republic of Iraq
Population: 30,399,572 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 38% (male 5,882,682/female 5,678,741); 15-64 years: 58.9% (male 9,076,558/female 8,826,545); 65 years and over: 3.1% (male 435,908/female 499,138) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 2.399% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 28.81 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 4.82 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female; total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 41.68 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 45.93 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 37.21 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 70.55 years; male: 69.15 years; female: 72.02 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 3.67 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2001 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: fewer than 500 (2003 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA;
Nationality: noun: Iraqi(s); adjective: Iraqi;
Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian, or other 5%;
Religions: Muslim 97% (Shia 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%;

note: while there has been voluntary relocation of many Christian families to northern Iraq, recent reporting indicates that the overall Christian population may have dropped by as much as 50 percent since the fall of the Saddam HUSSEIN regime in 2003, with many fleeing to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon

Languages: Arabic (official), Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Turkoman (a Turkish dialect), Assyrian (Neo-Aramaic), Armenian;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 74.1%; male: 84.1%; female: 64.2% (2000 est.);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $117.7 billion (2010 est.); $111.5 billion (2009 est.); $106.7 billion (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate): $84.14 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 5.5% (2010 est.); 4.5% (2009 est.); 7.8% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $3,600 (2010 est.); $3,600 (2009 est.); $3,500 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 9.7%; industry: 63%; services: 27.3% (2010 est.);
Population below poverty line: 25% (2008 est.);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 8.5 million (2009 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 21.6%; industry: 18.7%; services: 59.8% (2008 est.);
Unemployment rate: 15.3% (2009 est.); 15.2% (2008 est.);
Budget: revenues: $52.8 billion; expenditures: $72.4 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: petroleum, chemicals, textiles, leather, construction materials, food processing, fertilizer, metal fabrication/processing;
Industrial production growth rate: 4.8% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 46.39 billion kWh (2009 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 52 billion kWh (2009 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2009 est.);
Electricity - imports: 5.6 billion kWh (2009 est.);

Statistics: CIA World Factbook.



(Arab nationalist), Baghdad

(Independent), Baghdad

Iraq in the News

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Displaying 29 to 32 of 197 items.

Ethnic Tensions Mount in Kirkuk

There are fears that Iraq's northern city of Kirkuk will be a hot spot for increased violence following a mass influx of Kurds into the city.

Slow Reconstruction Blamed on Corruption

Endemic corruption has led to a dire lack of funds for a reconstruction process in a country that has some of the world's richest oil reserves.

Sharp Increase in Rents Hurting Displaced Families

In a Kurdish province of northern Iraq, a sharp increase in housing costs is causing severe distress among the many displaced persons fleeing unsafe areas of the country.

Background Resources: Iraq
(Grades 9-12)

Student exercises to correspond with the cover story, "Closing Time: Is the Case Against Saddam Hussein a Case for War?" in the April 2003 issue of World Press Review (VOL. 50, No. 3)