Middle East :: Iraq
page last updated on August 3, 2010
Flag 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 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-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
Geographic coordinates:
33 00 N, 44 00 E
Map references:
Middle East
total: 438,317 sq km
country comparison to the world: 58
land: 437,367 sq km
water: 950 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly more than twice the size of Idaho
Land boundaries:
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
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Current Weather
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
Elevation extremes:
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
Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
Land use:
arable land: 13.12%
permanent crops: 0.61%
other: 86.27% (2005)
Irrigated land:
35,250 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources:
96.4 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 42.7 cu km/yr (3%/5%/92%)
per capita: 1,482 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards:
dust storms; sandstorms; floods
Environment - current issues:
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
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note:
strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf
People ::Iraq
29,671,605 (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
Age structure:
0-14 years: 38.4% (male 5,800,105/female 5,599,906)
15-64 years: 58.5% (male 8,801,778/female 8,561,790)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 423,847/female 484,179) (2010 est.)
Median age:
total: 20.6 years
male: 20.5 years
female: 20.8 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.449% (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 32
Birth rate:
29.41 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 46
Death rate:
4.92 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 190
Net migration rate:
urban population: 67% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.7% annual rate of change (2005-10 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 (2010 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 43.16 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 63
male: 47.47 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 38.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.25 years
country comparison to the world: 147
male: 68.88 years
female: 71.69 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.76 children born/woman (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 45
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
country comparison to the world: 151
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
fewer than 500 (2003 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Major infectious diseases:
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
Ethnic groups:
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.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 8 years (2005)
Education expenditures:
Government ::Iraq
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
conventional short form: Iraq
local long form: Jumhuriyat al-Iraq
local short form: Al Iraq
Government type:
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)
Administrative divisions:
18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah) and 1 region*; Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah (Ad Diwaniyah), An Najaf, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Kirkuk, 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
National holiday:
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)
Legal system:
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
Executive branch:
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); Deputy Prime Ministers Rafi al-ISSAWI (since 19 July 2008) and Rowsch Nuri SHAWAYS (since 11 January 2010)
cabinet: 36 ministers are appointed by the Presidency Council, plus Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI and Deputy Prime Ministers Rafi al-ISSAWI and Rowsch Nuri SHAWAYS
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
Legislative branch:
unicameral Council of Representatives (325 seats; consisting of 317 members elected by a closed-list, proportional representation system and 8 reserved for minorities; members serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 7 March 2010 for an enlarged 325-seat parliament; next election to be held in 2014
election results: Council of Representatives - percent of vote by party - Iraqi National Movement 25.9%, State of Law Coalition 25.8%, Iraqi National Alliance 19.4%, Kurdistan Alliance 15.3%, Movement for Change 4.4%, Tawafuq Front 2.7%, Iraqi Unity Alliance 2.9%, Kurdiatan Islamic Union 2.3%, Kurdistan Islamic Group 1.4%, number of seats by party - Iraqi National Movement 91, State of Law Coalition 89, Iraqi National Alliance 70, Kurdistan Alliance 43, Movement for Change 8, Tawafuq Front 6, Iraqi Unity Alliance 4, Kurdistan Islamic Union 4, Kurdistan Islamic Group 2, seats reserved for minorities 8; note - election results are preliminary
Judicial branch:
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
Political parties and leaders:
Badr Organization [Hadi al-AMARI]; Da'wa al-Islamiya Party [Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI]; Da'wa Tanzim [Hashim al-MUSAWI branch]; Da-wa Tanzim [Abd al-Karim al-ANZI branch]; Fadila Party [Hashim al-HASHIMI]; Future; Hadba Gathering [Athil al-NUJAYFI]; Iraqi Charter Assembly [Ahmad Abd al-Ghafur al-SAMARRI]; Iraqi Constitutional Party [Interior Minister Jawad al-BULANI]; Iraqi Front for National Dialogue [Salih al-MUTLAQ]; Iraqi Islamic Party or IIP [Usama al-TIKRITI]; Iraqi Justice and Reform Movement [Shaykh Abdallah al-YAWR]; Iraqi National Congress or INC [Ahmad CHALABI]; Iraqi National Movement or INM [former Prime Minister Ayad ALLAWI]; Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or ISCI [Ammar al-HAKIM]; Kurdistan Democratic Party or KDP [Kurdistan Regional Government President Masud BARZANI]; National Gathering [Deputy Prime Minister Rafi al-ISSAWI]; National Reform Trend [former Prime Minister Ibrahim al-JAFARI]; Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK [Jalal TALABANI]; Renewal List [Vice President Tariq al-HASHIMI]; Sadrist Trend [Muqtada al-SADR]; Sahawa al-Iraq [Ahmad al-RISHAWI]; Solidarity Bloc [Qasim DAUD]; Tawafuq Front
note: numerous smaller local, tribal, and minority parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Sunni militias; Shia militias, some associated with political parties
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
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
Diplomatic representation from the US:
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
Flag description:
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; design is based upon the Arab Liberation colors; the Council of Representatives approved this flag in 2008 as a compromise temporary replacement for the Ba'athist Saddam-era flag
note: 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
Economy ::Iraq
Economy - overview:
Decreased insurgent attacks and an improved security environment are helping to spur economic activity, particularly in the retail sector. Broader economic improvement, long-term fiscal health, and sustained increases in standard of living still depend on the government passing major policy reforms and developing Iraq's massive oil reserves. Potential foreign investors viewed Iraq with much more interest in 2009, but are still hampered by difficulties in acquiring land for projects and other regulatory impediments. Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which provides over 90% of government revenue and 80% of foreign exchange earnings. Oil exports have returned to levels seen before Operation Iraqi Freedom and government revenues have rebounded along with global oil prices since mid-2009. Iraq is making modest progress in building the institutions needed to implement economic policy. Iraq has held serious discussions with both the IMF and World Bank for new programs that would help further strengthen Iraq's economic institutions. Some reform-minded leaders within the Iraqi government are seeking to pass laws to strengthen the economy. This legislation includes a package of laws to establish a modern legal framework for the oil sector and a mechanism to equitably divide oil revenues within the nation, although these and other important reforms are still under contentious and sporadic negotiation. Iraq's recent contracts with major oil companies have the potential to greatly expand oil revenues, but Iraq will need to upgrade its refinery and export infrastructure to enable these deals to reach their potential. The Government of Iraq is pursuing a strategy to gain foreign investment in Iraq's economy. This includes an amendment to the National Investment Law, multiple international trade and investment events, as well as potential participation in joint ventures with state-owned enterprises. Provincial Councils also are using their own budgets to promote and facilitate investment at the local level. The Central Bank has successfully held the exchange rate at approximately 1170 Iraqi dinar/US dollar since January 2009. Inflation has decreased consistently since 2006 as the security situation has improved. However, Iraqi leaders remain hard pressed to translate macroeconomic gains into improved lives for ordinary Iraqis. Unemployment remains a problem throughout the country. Reducing corruption and implementing structural reforms, such as bank restructuring and developing the private sector, would be important steps in this direction.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$112 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 64
$105.7 billion (2008 est.)
$94.5 billion (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate):
$70.93 billion (2009 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.3% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 35
9.5% (2008 est.)
1.5% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$3,600 (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 159
$3,500 (2008 est.)
$3,200 (2007 est.)
note: data are in 2009 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 9.6%
industry: 62.8%
services: 27.6% (2009 est.)
Labor force:
8.175 million (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 54
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 21.6% NA%
industry: 18.7% NA%
services: 59.8% NA%
Unemployment rate:
15.2% (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 152
18% (2006 est.)
note: official data; unofficial estimates as high as 30%
Population below poverty line:
25% (2008)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
revenues: $52.8 billion
expenditures: $72.4 billion (2010 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
6.8% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 164
2.8% (2008 est.)
Central bank discount rate:
7% (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 8
20% (31 December 2007)
Commercial bank prime lending rate:
9% (31 December 2009)
country comparison to the world: 34
17% (31 December 2008)
Stock of money:
$26.1 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 37
$18.81 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money:
$5.415 billion (31 December 2008)
country comparison to the world: 83
$3.67 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit:
Market value of publicly traded shares:
$2 billion (31 July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 97
$1.878 billion (31 March 2008)
$NA (31 December 2006)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton; cattle, sheep, poultry
petroleum, chemicals, textiles, leather, construction materials, food processing, fertilizer, metal fabrication/processing
Industrial production growth rate:
3.1% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 40
Electricity - production:
46.39 billion kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 49
Electricity - consumption:
52 billion kWh (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 44
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2009 est.)
Electricity - imports:
5.6 billion kWh (2009 est.)
Oil - production:
2.399 million bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 12
Oil - consumption:
687,000 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 25
Oil - exports:
1.91 million bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
Oil - imports:
116,900 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 61
Oil - proved reserves:
115 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 4
Natural gas - production:
1.88 billion cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 58
Natural gas - consumption:
9.454 billion cu m
country comparison to the world: 48
note: 1.48 billion cu m were flared (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 170
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 161
Natural gas - proved reserves:
3.17 trillion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 11
Current account balance:
-$19.9 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
$12.2 billion (2008 est.)
$40.86 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 52
$58.81 billion (2008 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil 84%, crude materials excluding fuels, food and live animals
Exports - partners:
US 27.62%, India 14.45%, Italy 10.14%, South Korea 8.62%, Taiwan 5.61%, China 4.23%, Netherlands 4.13%, Japan 3.99% (2009)
$55.4 billion (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
$50 billion (2008 est.)
Imports - commodities:
food, medicine, manufactures
Imports - partners:
Turkey 24.99%, Syria 17.36%, US 8.66%, China 6.79%, Jordan 4.17%, Italy 3.98%, Germany 3.97% (2009)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$44.38 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 34
$49.8 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt - external:
$50.29 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 50
$67.74 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Exchange rates:
Iraqi dinars (IQD) per US dollar - 1,170 (2009), 1,176 (2008), 1,255 (2007), 1,466 (2006), 1,475 (2005)
Communications ::Iraq
Telephones - main lines in use:
1.082 million (2008)
country comparison to the world: 76
Telephones - mobile cellular:
20 million (2009)
country comparison to the world: 39
Telephone system:
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 is expected to continue increasing rapidly
domestic: repairs to switches and lines destroyed during 2003 continue; additional switching capacity is improving access; mobile-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 is available in some metropolitan areas and additional 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; international terrestrial fiber-optic connections have been established with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Kuwait with planned connections to Iran and Jordan; a link to the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) submarine fiber-optic cable is planned (2009)
Radio broadcast stations:
55 (station frequency types NA) (2009)
Television broadcast stations:
28 (2009)
Internet country code:
Internet hosts:
11 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 219
Internet users:
300,000 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 126
Transportation ::Iraq
104 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 57
Airports - with paved runways:
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)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
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 5,032 km; refined products 1,637 km (2009)
total: 2,272 km
country comparison to the world: 69
standard gauge: 2,272 km 1.435-m gauge (2008)
total: 44,900 km
country comparison to the world: 83
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)
Merchant marine:
total: 14
country comparison to the world: 107
by type: cargo 10, petroleum tanker 4 (2008)
Ports and terminals:
Al Basrah, Khawr az Zubayr, Umm Qasr
Military ::Iraq
Military branches:
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)
Military service age and obligation:
18-49 years of age for voluntary military service (2008)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 7,541,723
females age 16-49: 7,238,553 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 6,402,171
females age 16-49: 6,232,674 (2010 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 323,328
female: 313,360 (2010 est.)
Military expenditures:
8.6% of GDP (2006)
country comparison to the world: 4
Transnational Issues ::Iraq
Disputes - international:
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 and internally displaced persons:
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)

Source: The World Factbook (CIA)