Photo of the Day
Available Photo Albums
More About PhotoGlobe
Arctis, Antarctis and Oceans
Australia and Oceania
Central America and Caribbean
Middle East
Gaza Strip
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
West Bank
North America
South America
South East Asia



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. The Coalition plans to return sovereignty to the Iraqi people by July 2004.
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 - as described in UNCLOS 1982 (see Notes and Definitions):
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: not specified
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
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
25,374,691 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 40.3% (male 5,198,966; female 5,039,173)
15-64 years: 56.7% (male 7,280,167; female 7,094,688)
65 years and over: 3% (male 357,651; female 404,046) (2004 est.)
Median age:
total: 19.2 years
male: 19.1 years
female: 19.3 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.74% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
33.09 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
5.66 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 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: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 52.71 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 46.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
male: 58.58 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 68.26 years
male: 67.09 years
female: 69.48 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
4.4 children born/woman (2004 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 short form: Al Iraq
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
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
note: the current Iraqi Governing Council has formed a committee to design a new flag for Iraq that is broadly acceptable to all parties and ethnic/sectarian groups
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 that 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. 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 pre-1991 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, but with the loss of a comparatively small amount of capital plant. The rebuilding of oil, electricity, and other production is proceeding steadily at the start of 2004 with foreign support and despite the continuation of severe internal strife. A joint UN and World Bank report released in the fall of 2003 estimated that Iraq's key reconstruction needs through 2007 would cost $55 billion. In October 2003, international donors pledged assistance worth more than $33 billion toward this rebuilding effort.
purchasing power parity - $38.79 billion (2003 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-20% (2003 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,600 (2003 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):
27.5% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
7.8 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%
Unemployment rate:
NA% (2003 est.)
revenues: $12.8 billion $NA
expenditures: $13.4 billion $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA (2004 budget)
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:
2.2 million bbl/day; note - prewar production was 2.8 million bbl/day (January 2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
460,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
1.7 million bbl/day (January 2004)
Oil - imports:
Oil - proved reserves:
113.8 billion bbl (1 January 2002)
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 (1 January 2002)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton; cattle, sheep
$7.542 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil
Exports - partners:
US 37.4%, Taiwan 7.7%, Canada 7.5%, France 7.5%, Jordan 6.9%, Netherlands 5.8%, Italy 4.9%, Morocco 4.3%, Spain 4.1% (2002)
$6.521 billion f.o.b. (2003 est.)
Imports - commodities:
food, medicine, manufactures
Imports - partners:
Jordan 10.4%, France 8.4%, China 7.9%, Vietnam 7.9%, Germany 7.2%, Russia 6.9%, Australia 6.8%, Italy 6.1%, Japan 5.3% (2002)
Debt - external:
$120 billion (2003 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
more than $33 billion in foreign aid pledged for 2004-07 (2004)
New Iraqi dinar (NID) as of 22 January 2004
Currency code:
NID, IQD prior to 22 January 2004
Exchange rates:
New Iraqi dinars per US dollar - 1,890 (second half, 2003)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Iraq
Telephones - main lines in use:
675,000; note - an unknown number of telephone lines were damaged or destroyed during the March-April 2003 war (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
20,000 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: the 2003 war severely disrupted telecommunications throughout Iraq including international connections; USAID is overseeing the repair of switching capability and the contruction of mobile and satellite communications facilities
domestic: repairs to switches and lines destroyed in the recent fighting continue but sabotage remains a problem; cellular service is expected to be in place within two years
international: country code - 964; 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:
25,000 (2002)
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: 13 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 83,221 GRT/125,255 DWT
by type: cargo 6, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 5, roll on/roll off 1
registered in other countries: 3 (2003 est.)
111; note - unknown number were damaged during the March-April 2003 war (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 79
over 3,047 m: 21
2,438 to 3,047 m: 36
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 10 (2003 est.)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 32
under 914 m: 9 (2003 est.)
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 12
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
6 (2003 est.)
Military Iraq
Military branches:
note: the US and UK Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) dissolved the former Iraqi Armed Forces, together with the Ministry of Defense and other security institutions, and is implementing plans to create a new Iraqi Army with a purely defensive mission and capability; recruiting and training began in July 2003, with strength projected to be 3 divisions comprising approximately 36,000 personnel by July 2004; there are also plans to reconstitute an Iraqi Army Aviation Corps and Navy in the future but, as of early 2004, there are no plans to reconstitute an Iraqi Air Force (January 2004)
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age; note - US-led coalition is planning to create a new Iraqi military force of men aged 18 to 40 to defend Iraqi territory from external threats (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 6,547,762 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 3,654,947 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 304,527 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$1.3 billion (FY00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Transnational Issues Iraq
Disputes - international:
coalition forces assist Iraqis in monitoring boundary security, but resolution of disputes and creation of maritime boundaries with neighboring states will remain in hiatus until full sovereignty is restored in Iraq; Turkey has expressed concern over the status of Kurds in Iraq