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Official Name (Republic of Iraq) al Jumhoriya al 'Iraqia'
Capital Baghdad
Population 23.6 million
Area 43,446 sq km or 16,774 sq mi
Currency New Iraqi Dinar
Religion Islam
Literacy 58%
Languages Arabic (official) and Kurdish
Major Cities Baghdad, Barsa, Mosul
Climate Mainly continental climate

About Iraq
Iraq or Republic of Iraq, covering an area of 437,072 square kilometers, is rated in the world as the 58th biggest country.
Iraq is located in Southwest Asia, surrounded by the north western part of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern side of Syrian Desert and a large section of earstwhile Mesopotamia.
Iraq Map
Its neighboring countries are Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran. It has the second highest oil reserves in the world with 112 billion barrels after Saudi Arabia. The capital city of Iraq is Baghdad.

During 1968-2003 the Baath Party ruled Iraq with Saddam Hussein taking control as the President of Iraq in 1979. In 2003 he was overthrown when the US invaded Iraq. Following the invasion Saddam Hussein was imprisoned and the United States set up a Coalition Provisional Authority to run the Iraqi government. However in 2004 the authority was handed over to an Iraqi Interim Government with the culmination of a stable elected government being set up in October, 2005.

Though much of Iraq consists of sandy deserts, it is blessed by two rivers namely Euphrates and Tigris which deposits large amount of silt in the delta. Its summers are scorching hot and dry and winters are cool.The northern mountains face severe winters accompanied by heavy snowfall. It is estimated by the United States Department of Energy that the remaining 90 percent of the country which is yet to be explored can produce an extra 100 billion barrels of oil. Most of Iraq has a continental climate with extremes of heat and cold. The mountainous northern portion has cool summers and cold winters, often accompanied by snow. In the lowlands, the summers are long and hot, and the winters short and cool.

In the northeastern highlands, rainfall is considerable from October to May, ranging from 305 to 559 mm. However, farther south, on the central alluvial plain and near the Persian Gulf, rainfall is less. The Syrian Desert gets little or no precipitation.

Iraq Location Map
Location of Iraq
Nearly a landlocked country, Iraq is situated at the northern tip of the Persian Gulf. Its coastline along the gulf is only 30 km long. The country is bound by Turkey on the north; by Iran on the east; by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Persian Gulf on the south; and on the west by Jordan and Syria.

Iraq's two largest ethnic groups are Arabs and Kurds. Other distinct groups are Turkomans, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Iranians, Lurs, and Armenians. While Arabic is the most commonly spoken language, Kurdish is spoken in the north, and English is the most commonly spoken Western language. About 75% of Iraq's population lives in the flat, alluvial plain stretching southeast toward Baghdad and Basrah to the Persian Gulf. Most Iraqi Muslims are members of the Shi'a sect, but there is a large

Sunni population as well, made up of both Arabs and Kurds. Small communities of Christians, Jews, Bahais, Mandaeans, and Yezidis also exist. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslim but differ from their Arab neighbors in language, dress, and customs.

Physical Map of Iraq
The northern portion of Iraq, known as Al Jazira, is mountainous and borders with Iran and Turkey. Then it slopes down to sea level towards the southeast. The mountains in the northeast are an extension of the alpine system that runs eastward from the Balkans into southern Turkey, northern Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, terminating in the Himalayas. Farther south, the country slopes downward to form a broad, central alluvial plain, which encompasses the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the two main rivers of Iraq.

Iraq Flag
Flag of Iraq
The flag of Iraq has three equal horizontal bands - red at the top, white in the middle and black at the bottom. Three green five-pointed stars in a horizontal line lie in the center of the white band. The phrase Allahu Akbar(God is Great) in green Arabic script - Allahu to the right of the middle star and Akbar to the left of the middle star - was added in January 1991 during the Persian Gulf crisis.

Flora And Fauna of Iraq
Vegetation is scarce throughout Iraq as the southern, southwestern, and western parts of the country are enveloped in deserts. The country has few trees, except for the cultivated date, palm and the poplar. The fauna in Iraq includes the cheetah, gazelle, antelope, wild ass, hyena, wolf, jackal, wild pig, hare, jerboa, and bat.

Numerous birds of prey are found in Iraq, including the vulture, buzzard, raven, owl, and various species of hawk; other birds include the duck, goose, partridge, and sand grouse. Lizards are fairly common.

Arts, Culture and Music of Iraq
Iraq is where the Mesopotamia Civilization that went on to influence the European and Asian civilizations grew. So as far as culture is concerned, Iraq has a rich heritage. The country is known for its poets and its painters and sculptors are among the best in the Arab world, some of them being world-class. Besides this, Iraq is also known for producing fine handicrafts, including rugs and carpets. The architecture of Iraq is best seen in the sprawling metropolis of Baghdad, where the construction is almost entirely new, with some islands of exquisite old buildings and compounds.

Economy of Iraq
Historically, Iraq's economy was characterized by a heavy dependence on oil exports and an emphasis on development through central planning. Prior to the outbreak of the war with Iran in September 1980, Iraq's economic prospects were bright. Oil production had reached a level of 3.5 million barrels per day, and oil revenues were $21 billion in 1979 and $27 billion in 1980. At the outbreak of the war, Iraq had amassed an estimated $35 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

The Iran-Iraq war depleted Iraq's foreign exchange reserves, devastated its economy, and left the country saddled with a foreign debt of more than $40 billion. After hostilities ceased, oil exports gradually increased with the construction of new pipelines and the restoration of damaged facilities. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, subsequent international sanctions, damage from military action by an international coalition beginning in January 1991, and neglect of infrastructure drastically reduced economic activity. Government policies of diverting income to key supporters of the regime while sustaining a large military and internal security force further impaired finances, leaving the average Iraqi citizen facing desperate hardships. Implementation of a UN oil-for-food program in December 1996 has improved conditions for the average Iraqi citizen. In 1999, Iraq was authorized to export unlimited quantities of oil to finance essential civilian needs including, among other things, food, medicine, and infrastructure repair parts. The process of introducing a modern free market system to Iraq has begun. In September 2003, the Interim Finance Minister and the Governing Council announced significant economic and financial reforms issued by the CPA, particularly dealing with foreign direct investment, the banking sector, and the tax and tariff regimes.