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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 military strongmen have ruled the country since then, the latest being 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 resulted in the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime. Coalition forces remain in Iraq, helping to restore degraded infrastructure and facilitating the establishment of a freely elected government.
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: 437,072 sq km
water: 4,910 sq km
land: 432,162 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:
continental shelf: not specified
territorial sea: 12 NM
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: unamed peak 3,611 m; note - this peak is not Gundah Zhur 3,607 m or Kuh-e Hajji-Ebrahim 3,595 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
Land use:
arable land: 11.89%
permanent crops: 0.78%
other: 87.33% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
35,250 sq km (1998 est.)
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: Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban
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
24,683,313 (July 2003 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 40.7% (male 5,103,669; female 4,946,443)
15-64 years: 56.3% (male 7,033,268; female 6,855,644)
65 years and over: 3% (male 348,790; female 395,499) (2003 est.)
Median age:
total: 19 years
male: 18.9 years
female: 19.1 years (2002)
Population growth rate:
2.78% (2003 est.)
Birth rate:
33.66 births/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Death rate:
5.84 deaths/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2003 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2003 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 55.16 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 48.95 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 61.09 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.81 years
male: 66.7 years
female: 68.99 years (2003 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.52 children born/woman (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
less than 1,000
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Iraqi(s)
adjective: Iraqi
Ethnic groups:
Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%
Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%
Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 40.4%
male: 55.9%
female: 24.4% (2003 est.)
Government Iraq
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
conventional short form: Iraq
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
local short form: Al Iraq
Government type:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
Administrative divisions:
18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah, An Najaf, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, At Ta'mim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit
3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)
National holiday:
Revolution Day, 17 July (1968)
in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
Legal system:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
formerly 18 years of age; universal; note - in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
Executive branch:
chief of state: in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
Legislative branch:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
Judicial branch:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
Political parties and leaders:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
Political pressure groups and leaders:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
Diplomatic representation from the US:
in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with three green five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in 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; similar to the flag of Syria which has two stars but no script and the flag of Yemen, which has a plain white band; also similar to the flag of Egypt which has a symbolic eagle centered in the white band
Economy Iraq
Economy - overview:
Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. In the 1980s financial problems caused by massive expenditures in the eight-year war with Iran and damage to oil export facilities by Iran led the government to implement austerity measures, borrow heavily, and later reschedule foreign debt payments; Iraq suffered economic losses from the war of at least $100 billion. After hostilities ended in 1988, oil exports gradually increased with the construction of new pipelines and restoration of damaged facilities. Iraq's seizure of Kuwait in August 1990, subsequent international economic sanctions, and damage from military action by an international coalition beginning in January 1991 drastically reduced economic activity. Although government policies supporting large military and internal security forces and allocating resources to key supporters of the regime have hurt the economy, implementation of the UN's oil-for-food program beginning in December 1996 helped improve conditions for the average Iraqi citizen. Iraq was allowed to export limited amounts of oil in exchange for food, medicine, and some infrastructure spare parts. In December 1999 the UN Security Council authorized Iraq to export under the program as much oil as required to meet humanitarian needs. Oil exports have recently been more than three-quarters prewar level. However, 28% of Iraq's export revenues under the program have been deducted to meet UN Compensation Fund and UN administrative expenses. The drop in GDP in 2001-02 was largely the result of the global economic slowdown and lower oil prices. Per capita food imports increased significantly, while medical supplies and health care services steadily improved. Per capita output and living standards were still well below the prewar level, but any estimates have a wide range of error. The military victory of the US-led coalition in March-April 2003 resulted in the shutdown of much of the central economic administrative structure and the loss of a comparatively small amount of capital plant.
purchasing power parity - $58 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-3% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $2,400 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 13%
services: 81% (1993 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
70% (2002 est.)
Labor force:
6.5 million (2002 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
petroleum, chemicals, textiles, construction materials, food processing
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
36.01 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 98.4%
hydro: 1.6%
other: 0% (2001)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
33.49 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
2.452 million bbl/day (2001 est.); note - production was disrupted as a result of the March-April 2003 war (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
460,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
NA (2001)
Oil - proved reserves:
113.8 billion bbl (37257)
Natural gas - production:
2.76 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
2.76 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
3.149 trillion cu m (37257)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton; cattle, sheep
$13 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil
Exports - partners:
US 40.9%, Canada 8.2%, France 8.2%, Jordan 7.5%, Netherlands 6.4%, Italy 5.4%, Morocco 4.7%, Spain 4.4% (2002)
$7.8 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
food, medicine, manufactures
Imports - partners:
Jordan 11%, France 8.8%, China 8.4%, Germany 7.6%, Russia 7.3%, Australia 7.2%, Vietnam 6.6%, Italy 6.4%, Japan 5.6% (2002)
Debt - external:
$120 billion (2002 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$327.5 million (1995)
Iraqi dinar (IQD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Iraqi dinars per US dollar - 0.31 (2002), 0.31 (2001), 0.31 (2000), 0.31 (1999), 0.31 (1998), note: fixed official rate since 1982; market rate subject to wide fluctuations
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Iraq
Telephones - main lines in use:
675,000 (1997); note - an unknown number of telephone lines were damaged or destroyed during the March-April war
Telephones - mobile cellular:
NA; service available in northern Iraq (2001)
Telephone system:
general assessment: an unknown number of telecommunication facilities were damaged during the March-April 2003 war
domestic: the network consists of coaxial cables and microwave radio relay links
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 1 Arabsat (inoperative); coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey; Kuwait line is probably nonoperational
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 19 (5 are inactive), FM 51, shortwave 4 (1998)
4.85 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
13 (1997); note - unknown number were destroyed during the March-April 2003 war
1.75 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
12,500 (2001)
Transportation Iraq
total: 1,963 km
standard gauge: 1,963 km 1.435-m gauge (2003)
total: 45,550 km
paved: 38,399 km
unpaved: 7,151 km (2000 est.)
1,015 km
note: Shatt al Arab is usually navigable by maritime traffic for about 130 km; channel has been dredged to 3 m and is in use; Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have navigable sections for shallow-draft boats; Shatt al Basrah canal was navigable by shallow-draft craft before closing in 1991 because of the Gulf war
gas 1,739 km; oil 5,418 km; refined products 1,343 km (2003)
Ports and harbors:
Umm Qasr, Khawr az Zubayr, and Al Basrah have limited functionality
Merchant marine:
total: 18 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 119,433 GRT/170,221 DWT
ships by type: cargo 9, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 6, roll on/roll off 1 (2002 est.)
150 (2002); note - unknown number were damaged during the March-April 2003 war
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 77
over 3,047 m: 21
2,438 to 3,047 m: 36
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 9 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 73
under 914 m: 11 (2002)
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 28
1,524 to 2,437 m: 24
5 (2002)
Military Iraq
Military branches:
Army, Republican Guard, Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, Border Guard Force, Fedayeen Saddam; note - with the defeat of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, the data listed in the following entries for Iraq is invalid, but is retained here for historical purposes and until replaced by valid information related to the future Iraqi Government (April 2003)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2003 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 6,339,458 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 3,541,467 (2003 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 292,930 (2003 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$1.3 billion (FY00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Transnational Issues Iraq
Disputes - international:
despite restored diplomatic relations in 1990, disputes with Iran over maritime and land boundaries, navigation channel, and other issues from eight-year war persist; land and Shatt al Arab boundary demarcation put an end to claims to Kuwait and to Bubiyan and Warbah islands, but no maritime boundary exists with Kuwait in the Persian Gulf; Iraq protests Turkey's hydrological projects to regulate the Tigris and Euphrates rivers upstream