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History of Iraq

Latest War with Iraq News - The war begins
at approximately 5:32 am Baghdad time on March 20.
(In the United States, 9:32 pm, EST, March 19, 2003)

  • For continuing up-to-date coverage of the War in Iraq, we recommend these online news sources - BBC News, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times - Associates Press News Wire, Sydney Morning Herald, CNN News, MSNBC News, CBS News, International Herald Tribune.
  • First U.S. Allied Airplane lands in Baghdad LA Times - A hulking U.S. C-130 transport plane landed at the Baghdad international airport, carrying unknown cargo but weighted with symbolism and tactical importance...
  • US moves to encircle Baghdad - BBC News - American troops strengthen their positions around the Iraqi capital amid fierce fighting on the western outskirts...
  • UK troops storm Basra - BBC News - British troops bombard the local headquarters of Iraq's ruling party as commanders promise the “liberation of Basra”...
  • U.S. Forces Head Into Heart of Baghdad - Washington Post - U.S. Army troops and armored vehicles entered Baghdad in large numbers this morning for the first time, military officials said, probing toward the heart of an Iraqi capital now ringed by U.S. forces.
  • U.S. Seizes Iraqi Guard Division's HQ - LA Times - U.S. Army soldiers Saturday captured the headquarters of the Republican Guard's Medina Division in this town about 35 miles southeast of Baghdad. Two tank companies and an infantry company of the 3rd Infantry Division rolled through the headquarters unopposed and quickly took over the entire base. It appeared that the Republican Guard defenses had completely collapsed.
  • The airfield is secure - 2,500 Iraqi Guards Surrender - LA Times - U.S. armored units backed by warplanes ousted Iraqi forces from Baghdad's airport Friday while 2,500 Republican Guard soldiers south of the city surrendered to Marines, American officials said. "The airfield is secure and our forces are continuing to clear the areas in and around it," said Col. John Peabody, whose 3rd Infantry Division engineer brigade was at Saddam International Airport...
  • U.S. Forces Occupy Part of Baghdad Airport - LA Times - NEAR BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S. forces occupied part of Baghdad's airport before dawn Friday, putting them about nine miles from the capital after a fierce battle up a single-lane road with Iraqi fighters...
  • The ground war moved closer to Baghdad on Monday, with fierce skirmishes between US troops and Republican Guard units at Hindiya, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of the capital, the US military said. - BBC News - Coalition bombs and missiles have struck Iraqi presidential sites in central Baghdad and pounded Republican Guard divisions just south of the city in a round-the-clock bombardment...
  • First Relief Convoy Rolls Into Iraq - LA Times - SOUTHERN IRAQ - UMM QASR, Iraq (AP) - The first sizable relief convoy rolled into Iraq on Wednesday bringing water, tuna, crackers and other food to Iraqis, some of whom cheered as they swarmed allied troops handing out supplies...
  • US-led forces have been encountering pockets of stubborn resistance as they press ahead towards the Iraqi capital Baghdad. - BBC - In one of the longest-running challenges so far in the conflict, air strikes were called in on the southern port town of Umm Qasr to overcome about...
  • Attack Was 48 Hours Old When It Began - Washington Post - Under the official war plan, designated “OPLAN 1003 V” and approved by the president, the war with Iraq had already begun...
  • Anti-war protests span the globe - BBC - Tens of thousands of people worldwide have taken to the streets to stage the latest series of demonstrations against the conflict in Iraq...
  • Coalition Troops Barrel towards Baghdad - Washington Post - Swifly moving columns of U.S. tanks and armored vehicles pushed towards Baghdad today and allied warplanes and ships rained bombs and missiles on the Iraqi capital in a day-and-night pounding...
  • The Antiwar Movement - Washington Post - Its Roots, Major Protest Groups, Global Views...
  • Allied Forces Take Basra Airport, Bridge - LA Times - SOUTHERN IRAQ (AP) - U.S. and British forces moved in on Iraq's second-largest city Saturday, taking its airport and a bridge while Saddam Hussein's security forces resisted with artillery and heavy machine guns...
  • Entire Division of Iraqi Army Surrenders - LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - An entire division of the Iraqi army, numbering 8,000 soldiers, surrendered to coalition forces in southern Iraq Friday, Pentagon officials said...
  • Massive air raids rock Iraq - BBC - United States and British forces have launched massive aerial assaults on targets in Baghdad and beyond in a major escalation of the war...
  • Turkish Troops Will Enter Northern Iraq - Turk FM Washington Post - ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey said on Friday its troops would enter northern Iraq to prevent an influx of refugees across its borders, but gave no date for an incursion the United States says it opposes...
  • Desert Rats in fierce tank battle - The Scotsman - BRITAIN’S elite Desert Rats today came under heavy fire as they provided cover for a US thrust into the heart of Iraq. The British 7th Armoured Brigade, the Desert Rats, were engaged in fierce fighting with Iraqi forces as they flanked the main thrust towards Baghdad by the 7th US Cavalry in Abrams tanks...
  • Marines Take Strategic Port in S. Iraq - LA Times - KUWAIT CITY (AP) - U.S. Marines have captured the strategic port in the southern Iraqi city of Umm Qasr but are still encountering pockets of resistance, U.S. military sources said Friday. "We've taken most of the port, and at least a couple of hundred prisoners," a U.S. military official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We're not done securing it at this time."
  • THE AMERICAN 3rd infantry division was today 90 miles inside Iraq - The Scotsman - U.S. troops pushing forward towards the main road to Baghdad.
  • Battle for Iraq Not the Pushover It Appears - Reuters - AS SAYLIYA CAMP, Qatar (Reuters) - Television images of U.S. tanks tearing across desert sands make the invasion of Iraq look as easy as punching through a soggy paper bag, but the toughest battles of this war are yet to come...
  • Weather Forecast: Hot and furious dust storms predicted for battle zone - The Sydney Morning Herald - A powerful storm is likely to pummel military forces in and around Iraq with blinding sand and choking dust starting on Monday night, meteorologists predict. The dust storm would probably be nearly twice as strong as the one that grounded helicopters and limited troop movements in Kuwait on Wednesday, the forecasters said...
  • Iraq could release strategic floods: US - Indian Express - Iraq's military could deliberately cause flooding along the Tigris River between the capital Baghdad and the city of Al Kut by releasing water from upstream reservoirs, the US Defense Department said in a statement...
  • U.S. Forces Seize Western Iraqi Airfields - LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - American forces seized important airfields in western Iraq, and a U.S. Marine became the first combat death while fighting for control of a southern oil field. The airfields known as H-2 and H-3 in far western Iraq were taken without much resistance from Iraqi troops, defense officials said on condition of anonymity. But they called control of the installations "tentative."
  • Aussie anti-war protests intensify - News Interactive - PROTESTERS lit fires in Sydney and staged a "die in" in north Queensland as another wave of anti-war protests swept Australia today. As news of the push into Iraq by the United States and its British and Australian allies gathered pace, peace activists maintained their anger.
  • Mass protests in Switzerland against war - Swiss Info - Tens of thousands of students have taken to the streets of Switzerland to voice their opposition to the United States-led war against Iraq. Around 40,000 students joined protests in cities such as Zurich, Bern and Geneva to demand the withdrawal of US and coalition troops from the region.
  • U.S. Forces Seize Western Iraqi Airfields - LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - American forces seized important airfields in western Iraq, and a U.S. Marine became the first combat death while fighting for control of a southern oil field. The airfields known as H-2 and H-3 in far western Iraq were taken without much resistance from Iraqi troops, defense officials said on condition of anonymity. But they called control of the installations "tentative."
  • The capture of Iraqi oil fields by UK troops is a victory, says BBC's Clive Myrie. BBC - Royal Marine commandos made the successful sea and air assault on the strategically important al Faw peninsula in south-eastern Iraq, where they captured oil facilities...
  • Allies Suffer First Combat Deaths in Iraq - LA Times - IN THE KUWAIT-IRAQ DEMILITARIZED ZONE (AP) - One U.S. Marine died Friday in fighting as troops advanced on an oil field in southern Iraq, the military said. Separately, 12 coalition soldiers were killed as their helicopter crashed in the first hours of the ground war. U.S. Marines encountered mortar fire as they took control of the main highway leading to the key port city of Basra, at the heart of Iraq's southern oil facilities. The Marine was killed during the advance on the Rumeila oil field, the military said.
  • Forces may enter Baghdad within four days, British military says - Sky News - UK - Allied troops are driving deeper into the Iraqi desert, with commanders predicting arrival in Baghdad within four days...
  • Brits capture Faw; British forces secure Iraq's Faw Peninsula - CNN - INSIDE SOUTHERN IRAQ (CNN) -- U.S. and coalition forces swept across the Iraqi desert Friday, seizing key towns in the southern part of the country, U.S. and British officials said...lead element of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, raced unopposed toward Baghdad in what CNN Correspondent Walter Rodgers described as "a huge wave of steel."
  • US, Britain Race Into Iraq, See War Over Soon - SOUTHERN IRAQ (Reuters) - U.S. and British officers predicted a swift victory on Friday after American armored columns raced deep into Iraq and British marines seized vital oil facilities in the south. More...
  • U.S. Army, Marines Drive Deeper Into Iraq - LA Times - SOUTHERN IRAQ (AP) - The U.S. Marines and Army rolled into Iraq and engaged Saddam Hussein's forces in the desert on Thursday, joining British troops in launching the war's ground assault. As U.S. armor drove deeper into Iraq Friday morning, British troops conducted an assault on the strategic al-Faw peninsula, Iraq's access point to the Persian Gulf and the site of major oil facilities. British military officials said they hoped to seize the key port of Umm Qasr before the day's end.
  • Troops die in air crash - BBC - A US CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter has crashed in Kuwait, killing 12 British and four American troops. US defence officials said there appeared to have been no survivors in the crash...
  • Aerial Assault of Baghdad Continues Washington Post - Air raids resumed over Baghdad's night sky, as U.S. and British tanks and helicopters moved into southern Iraq, headed toward the strategic city of Basra, British military sources said...
  • U.S. Talks With Iraqis About Surrender LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. officials are communicating with Iraqis to surrender or attempt a coup that might topple Saddam Hussein's regime without a full-scale U.S. invasion, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday night. Rumsfeld said communications included talks with Iraq's elite Republican Guard, and he was optimistic about the outcome.
  • US, UK forces enter Iraq in Gulf War II - Daily Times, Pakistan - The United States launched cruise missile and air strikes on Baghdad while US and British troops invaded southern Iraq from Kuwait on Thursday, as the ...
  • U.S. Confirms Saddam Hussein in Video - LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. intelligence officials said Friday they have determined that it was almost certainly Saddam Hussein, not a look-alike, who appeared on a video recording that aired on Iraqi television a few hours after he was targeted by an American air strike. However, officials say it is unclear whether the message was recorded before or after the strike. They said some reports indicate Saddam pre-recorded several speeches to air during fighting.
  • Saddam Or Imposter? - CBS News - The look-alikes reportedly had plastic surgery and were trained in the dictator's mannerisms, including the way he walks, and even down to his facial tics. ...
  • Allied Forces Cross Into Southern Iraq - LA Times - SOUTHERN IRAQ (AP) -- Allied forces crossed into southern Iraq on Thursday after a thundering barrage of artillery that signaled the start of ground war. Infantrymen on the move, their weeks of waiting at an end, cheered as shells screamed overhead...
  • Mystery over vanished Iraqi general - BBC - Danish police are searching for firm leads in their hunt for a key missing Iraqi defector, as reports said he might have been snatched...
  • Officials: Saddam in Compound When Hit - LA Times - WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. intelligence believes Saddam Hussein and possibly two of his sons were present inside a suburban Baghdad compound when it was struck by U.S. missiles and bombs and that medical attention was summoned afterward, government officials said Thursday night. The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said intelligence agencies have not made any determination yet whether Hussein himself or his sons were injured or killed in the attacks and they were carefully analyzing videotapes purporting to show Hussein after the attack.
  • Antiwar protests circle the globe - MSNBC - A wave of sometimes violent protests circled the globe Thursday to protest the beginning of a U.S.-led war against Iraq. In the United States, anti-war demonstrators blocked morning rush-hour traffic in Washington and San Francisco and chanted “no blood for oil” outside the White House. Internationally, protests were mounted from Athens to Asia ...
  • UN readies Iraq food crisis plan - BBC - The United Nations food agency, believing that it may be facing the largest and most costly humanitarian crisis in history, is making contingency plans to feed the people of Iraq...
  • Worldwide protests denounce war in Iraq; 13 US missions close International Herald Tribune - Protests swelled around the world from Stockholm to Srinagar and San Francisco on Thursday as the United States and Britain launched military action in ...
  • Iraq Fires Missiles Toward U.S. Troops - LA Times - IN THE KUWAITI DESERT (AP) -- Iraq fired missiles across the Kuwaiti border toward U.S. troops Thursday, prompting soldiers to don gas masks and chemical protective gear. At least one of the rockets was intercepted by a Patriot missile, U.S. officials said.
  • President Bush Addresses the Nation - The Oval Office 10:16 P.M. EST - THE PRESIDENT: My fellow citizens, at this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger...
  • War on Iraq begins - BBC News - US President George W Bush has said he has launched a war on Baghdad, vowing to "disarm Iraq and to free its people". Mr Bush delivered a live television address shortly after explosions rocked the Iraqi capital, signalling the start of the US-led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein...
  • War begins with strike at Iraqi 'leadership targets' - Stars and Stripes - War erupted Wednesday night as the United States launched cruise missiles at Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and other "leadership targets" in Baghdad, officials said. The strike was aimed at crippling Hussein's regime and specifically targeted him, his sons and other senior leaders of the Baath Party and Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council, according to a senior Bush administration official. Ground forces poised at the Iraqi border did not appear to have been ordered into combat, however.
  • Air Raid Sirens, Planes Heard in Baghdad - Yahoo News
  • U.S. Begins Striking Iraq - Washington Post - U.S. Begins Striking Iraq “Military stages of Iraqi disarmament have begun,” said Ari Fleischer.

History of Iraq

Ancient Times

For most of historic time, the city and empire of Babylon occupied parts of the present time region of Iraq. There were many dynasties and kingdoms which ruled Babylon and other cities in the Tigris river basin. Hammurabi (1792 BC-1750 BC) was the sixth and best known of the Amorite dynasts.

Nebuchadrezzar I (Nabu-kudurri-usur; c. 1119 BC-c. 1098 BC) was the best known of the 2nd dynasty of Isin.

Once known as Mesopotamia, Iraq was the site of flourishing ancient civilizations, including the Sumerian, Babylonian, and Parthian cultures. Muslims conquered Iraq in the seventh century A.D. In the eighth century, the Abassid caliphate established its capital at Baghdad, which became a frontier outpost on the Ottoman Empire.

At the end of World War I, Iraq became a British-mandated territory. When it was declared independent in 1932, the Hashemite family, which also ruled Jordan, ruled as a constitutional monarchy. In 1945, Iraq joined the United Nations and became a founding member of the Arab League. In 1956, the Baghdad Pact allied Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom, and established its headquarters in Baghdad.

Gen. Abdul Karim Qasim took power in July 1958 coup, during which King Faysal II and Prime Minister Nuri as-Said were killed, and declared a republic. Qasim ended Iraq's membership in the Baghdad Pact in 1959. Qasim was assassinated in February 1963, when the Arab Socialist Renaissance Party (Ba'ath Party) took power under the leadership of Gen. Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr as prime minister and Col. Abdul Salam Arif as president.

Nine months later, Arif led a coup ousting the Ba'ath government. In April 1966, Arif was killed in a plane crash and was succeeded by his brother, Gen. Abdul Rahman Mohammad Arif. On July 17, 1968, a group of Ba'athists and military elements overthrew the Arif regime. Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr re-emerged as the President of Iraq and Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). In July 1979, Bakr resigned, and his chosen successor, Saddam Hussein, assumed both offices.

Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war, the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), eventually devastating the economy. Iraq declared victory in 1988 but actually achieved a weary return to the status quo antebellum. The war left Iraq with the largest military establishment in the Gulf region but with huge debts and an ongoing rebellion by Kurdish elements in the northern mountains. The government suppressed the rebellion by using weapons of mass destruction on civilian targets, including a mass chemical weapons attack on the city of Halabja that killed several thousand civilians.

In August 1990 Iraq seized Kuwait, but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during January-February 1991 (see Gulf War). The victors did not occupy Iraq, however, thus allowing the regime to stay in control. 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. UN trade sanctions remain in effect due to incomplete Iraqi compliance with relevant UNSC resolutions.

Iraq is allowed under the UN Oil-for-Food program to export unlimited quantities of oil with which to purchase food, medicine, and other humanitarian relief equipment and infrastructure support necessary to sustain the civilian population. The UN coalition enforces no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq to protect Iraqi citizens from attack by the regime and a no-drive zone in southern Iraq to prevent the regime from massing forces to threaten or again invade Kuwait.

Geography of Iraq

Iraq is bordered by Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The country slopes from mountains over 3,000 meters (10,000 ft.) above sea level along the border with Iran and Turkey to the remnants of sea-level, reedy marshes in the southeast. Much of the land is desert or wasteland.

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.

Average temperatures range from higher than 48 degrees C (120 degrees F) in July and August to below freezing in January. Most of the rainfall occurs from December through April and averages between 10 and 18 centimeters (4-7 in.) annually. The mountainous region of northern Iraq receives appreciably more precipitation than the central or southern desert region. Location: 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
land: 432,162 sq km
water: 4,910 sq km

Area - comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Idaho

Land boundaries: total: 3,631 km
border countries: Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 242 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 331 km

Coastline: 58 km

Maritime claims:
continental shelf: not specified
territorial sea: 12 nm

Climate: 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

Terrain: 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: Haji Ibrahim 3,600 m

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur

Land use:
arable land: 12%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 9%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 79% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 25,500 sq km (1993 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 Shi'a Muslims, who have 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 Tigris-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

Economy of 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 of at least $100 billion from the war. After the end of hostilities 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. The government's policies of supporting large military and internal security forces and of allocating resources to key supporters of the regime have exacerbated shortages. The implementation of the UN's oil-for-food program in December 1996 has helped improve economic conditions. For the first six six-month phases of the program, Iraq was allowed to export limited amounts of oil in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian goods. In December 1999, the UN Security Council authorized Iraq to export under the oil-for-food program as much oil as required to meet humanitarian needs. Oil exports are now about three-quarters their prewar level. Per capita food imports have increased significantly, while medical supplies and health care services are steadily improving. Per capita output and living standards are still well below the prewar level, but any estimates have a wide range of error.

Iraq's economy is 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, and damage from military action by an international coalition beginning in January 1991 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. Since 1999, Iraq was authorized to export unlimited quantities of oil to finance humanitarian needs including food, medicine, and infrastructure repair parts. Oil exports fluctuate as the regime alternately starts and stops exports, but, in general, oil exports have now reached three-quarters of their pre-Gulf War levels. Per capita output and living standards remain well below pre-Gulf War levels.


Despite its abundant land and water resources, Iraq is a net food importer. Under the UN oil-for-food program, Iraq imports large quantities of grains, meat, poultry, and dairy products. The government abolished its farm collectivization program in 1981, allowing a greater role for private enterprise in agriculture. The Agricultural Cooperative Bank, capitalized at nearly $1 billion by 1984, targets its low-interest, low-collateral loans to private farmers for mechanization, poultry projects, and orchard development. Large modern cattle, dairy, and poultry farms are under construction. Obstacles to agricultural development include labor shortages, inadequate management and maintenance, salinization, urban migration, and dislocations resulting from previous land reform and collectivization programs.

Importation of foreign workers and increased entry of women into traditionally male labor roles have helped compensate for agricultural and industrial labor shortages exacerbated by the way. A disastrous attempt to drain the southern marshes and introduce irrigated farming to this region merely destroyed a natural food producing area, while concentration of salts and minerals in the soil due to the draining left the land unsuitable for agriculture.


The United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. The Government of Iraq's refusal to allow weapons inspectors into the country to dismantle Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program has resulted in those sanctions remaining in place. Under the oil-for-food program, Iraq is allowed to export unlimited quantities of oil in exchange for humanitarian relief supplies, including food, medicine, and infrastructure spare parts. A robust illicit trade in oil with neighboring states and through the Persian Gulf earned almost $2 billion in illegal income for the regime in 2000.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $59.9 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 13% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,700 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 13%
services: 81% (1993 est.)
industry: 13%
services: 81% (1993 est.)

Politics of Iraq

The Ba'ath Party rules Iraq through a nine-member RCC, which enacts legislation by decree. The RCC's president (chief of state and supreme commander or the armed forces) is elected by a two-thirds majority of the RCC. A Council of Ministers (cabinet), appointed by the RCC, has administrative and some legislative responsibilities.

A 250-member National Assembly consisting of 220 elected by popular vote who serve a 4- year term, and 30 appointed by the president to represent the three northern provinces, was last elected in March 2000. Iraq is divided into 18 provinces, each headed by a governor with extensive administrative powers.

Iraq's judicial system is based on the French model introduced during Ottoman rule and has three types of lower courts--civil, religious, and special. Special courts try broadly defined national security cases. An appellate court system and the court of cassation (court of last recourse) complete the judicial structure.

The Ba'ath Party controls the government and is the only recognized political party in regime controlled territory. Recent elections allowed for only Ba'ath Party authorized candidates, resulting in the election, for example, of Uday Saddam Hussein to the National Assembly with 99.99% of the vote. The Kurdish Democratic Party led by Masoud Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan led by Jalal Talabani are opposition parties, each of which control portions of northern Iraq. Both allow multiple political parties to operate in their areas and have held contested elections within the last year that international observers termed "generally fair". The Iraqi regime does not tolerate opposition. Opposition parties either operate illegally, as exiles from neighboring countries or in areas of northern Iraq outside regime control.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
conventional short form: Iraq
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
local short form: Al Iraq

Data code: IZ

Government type: republic

Capital: Baghdad

Administrative divisions: 18 provinces (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

Independence: 3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)

National holiday: Anniversary of the Revolution, 17 July (1968)

Constitution: 22 September 1968, effective 16 July 1970 (provisional constitution); new constitution drafted in 1990 but not adopted

Legal system: based on Islamic law in special religious courts, civil law system elsewhere; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: President SADDAM Husayn (since 16 July 1979); Vice President Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF (since 21 April 1974); Vice President Taha Yasin RAMADAN (since 23 March 1991)
head of government: Prime Minister SADDAM Husayn (since 29 May 1994); Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Mikhail AZIZ (since NA 1979); Deputy Prime Minister Taha Yasin RAMADAN (since NA May 1994); Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Hamza al-ZUBAYDI (since NA May 1994)
cabinet: Council of Ministers
note: there is also a Revolutionary Command Council or RCC (Chairman SADDAM Husayn, Vice Chairman Izzat IBRAHIM al-Duri) which controls the ruling Ba'th Party, and is the most powerful political entity in the country
elections: president and vice presidents elected by a two-thirds majority of the Revolutionary Command Council; election last held 17 October 1995 (next to be held NA 2002)
election results: SADDAM Husayn reelected president; percent of vote - 99%; Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF and Taha Yasin RAMADAN elected vice presidents; percent of vote - NA

Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Watani (250 seats; 30 appointed by the president to represent the three northern provinces of Dahuk, Arbil, and As Sulaymaniyah; 220 elected by popular vote; members serve four-year terms) elections: last held 24 March 1996 (next to be held NA March 2000) election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA

Judicial branch: Court of Cassation

Political parties and leaders: Ba'th Party [SADDAM Husayn, central party leader]

Political pressure groups and leaders: any formal political activity must be sanctioned by the government; opposition to regime from Kurdish groups and southern Shi'a dissidents

International organization participation: ABEDA, ACC, AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-19, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation in the US: none; note - Iraq has an Interest Section in the Algerian Embassy headed by Mr. Akram AL DOURI; address: Iraqi Interests Section, Algerian Embassy, 2118 Kalorama Road NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone: [1] (202) 265-2800; FAX: [1] (202) 667-2174

Diplomatic representation from the US: none; note - the US has an Interests Section in the Polish Embassy in Baghdad; address: P. O. Box 2051 Hay Babel, Baghdad; telephone: [964] (1) 718-9267; FAX: [964] (1) 718-9297

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.

Demographics of Iraq

Almost 75% of Iraq's population live in the flat, alluvial plain stretching southeast toward Baghdad and Basrah to the Persian Gulf. The Tigris River and the Euphrates River carry about 70 million cubic meters of silt annually to the delta. Known in ancient times as Mesopotamia, the region is the legendary locale of the Garden of Eden. The ruins of Ur, Babylon, and other ancient cities are here.

Iraq's two largest ethnic groups are Arabs and Kurds. Other distinct groups are Turkomans, Assyrians, Iranians, Lurs, and Armenians. Arabic is the most commonly spoken language. Kurdish is spoken in the north, and English is the most commonly spoken Western language.

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.

Population: 22,675,617 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 42% (male 4,860,795; female 4,708,453)
15-64 years: 55% (male 6,272,842; female 6,123,188)
65 years and over: 3% (male 331,840; female 378,499) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 2.86% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 35.04 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 6.4 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 62.49 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 66.53 years
male: 65.54 years
female: 67.56 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 4.87 children born/woman (2000 est.) Nationality:
noun: Iraqi(s)
adjective: Iraqi

Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%

Religions: Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%

Languages: Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 58%
male: 70.7%
female: 45% (1995 est.)

Communications in Iraq

Telephones - main lines in use: 675,000 (1995)

Telephones - mobile cellular: NA

Telephone system: reconstitution of damaged telecommunication facilities began after the Gulf war; most damaged facilities have been rebuilt
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)

Radios: 4.85 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 13 (1997)

Televisions: 1.75 million (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (1999)

Internet Country code (Top-level domain): IQ

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