Though a democratic government is in place, Iraq remains a difficult and dangerous place to work or do business.
The Republic of Iraq (Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah), widely known as Iraq (Al Iraq), covers an area of approximately 435 000 km².
The country is situated in the area known in ancient times as Mesopotamia, also reputedly the location of the Garden of Eden, and an area which gave birth to some of the worlds greatest ancient civilisations. Iraq is bordered on the north by Turkey; on the West by Syria and Jordan; on the South by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait; and on the East by Iran and the Persian Gulf. Mountains in the east and north rise to over 3000 m (The highest point is Haji Ibrahim, at 3,600 m) overlooking the fertile valley of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers, which flow into the Persian Gulf near Kuwait. The country has a 58 km coastline.
The capital of Iraq is Baghdad. Other major cities include Basra (Al Basrah) and Mosul. Basra (Al Basrah), Khawr az Zubayr and Umm Qasr are ports, which have, however, limited functionality. There are international airports at Baghdad and Basra (Al Basrah).
The population is around 25 million. Arabs comprise over 75% and Kurdish people between 15% and 20% of the population. Various nomadic Arab tribes have never been fully integrated into mainstream Iraq society, and the Kurds in the north, descendants of the ancient Medes, have long sought their independence. In the south, Shiite Muslims with links to Iran, predominate, and Sunni Muslims are in the majority around Baghdad, the capital. At one time, there was a substantial, well-integrated Jewish community, but it was driven out on the creation of the State of Israel.
The official language of Iraq, understood by most people, is Arabic. Kurdish is the official language in As Sulaymaniyah, Dahuk, and Irbil governorates. Minority groups speak Turkic, Armenian, and Persian. The predominant religion is Muslim (Shia around 60%, Sunni around 37%).
The local currency is the Iraqi Dinar. The international time zone for Iraq is GMT + 3 and the international dialing code is + 964.
Iraq has historically been the second largest oil producing country in the world, after Saudi Arabia, with over 112 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. Iraq’s true resource potential may be greater than expected, as deeper oil-bearing formations located mainly in the Western Desert region could yield additional resources, but have not been fully explored. Iraq also has around 110 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources. Oil terminals are situated at Mina al Bakr, Khawr al Amayah, and Al Faw and there are oil pipelines linking the country with Turkey and Syria.
As a result of the wars in the latter part of the 20th Century and the early years of the 21st Century, coupled with over a decade of economic sanctions, Iraqs economy, infrastructure and society have deteriorated significantly. The collapse of the ruling regime and the disappearance of Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Iraq led to the complete breakdown of government of Iraqi by Iraqis. The country has a heavy debt burden, no real taxation system and, in the absence of government, no fiscal and monetary policies. Coalition forces remained in Iraq, with the stated intention of helping to restore degraded infrastructure and facilitating the establishment of a freely elected government.
Common diseases in the country include trachoma, influenza, measles, whooping cough, and tuberculosis. Progress has been made in the control of malaria. There is an ongoing shortage of modern trained medical and paramedical personnel, especially in rural areas and in the northern Kurdish areas. It is recommended to contact ones embassys advice and to seek medical assistance and vaccinations prior to entering Iraq.
Iraqis history is characterized by violence and wars, which, in recent times, have destroyed its infrastructure and crippled its economy:
- Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered the area in 539 BC.
- Alexander the Great followed suit in 331 BC.
- Greek and then Persian dominion followed until the area was overrun by Muslim Arabs in the 7th Century.
- Mongol invasions were followed by Persian and Turkish rulers.
- The Ottomans established dominion in the area in the 17th Century.
- After WWI, when the importance of oil in the Middle East became evident, the area was declared a Kingdom, with the crown being placed on the head of Prince Feisal, the son of the Grand Sharif of Mecca, a major ally of Britain in the war.
- In 1958, Feisal II, the reigning King, was beheaded in a coup led by Colonel Kassim, who was backed by Egypt.
- In 1968 it was Colonel Kassim’s turn to be overthrown in a coup that brought the Ba’athists to power.
- In 1974, heavy fighting broke out between government forces and Kurdish separatists, who were being backed by Iran. The dispute was settled when Iran withdrew its support as a quid pro quo for the resolution of a long-standing boundary dispute.
- The Iran-Iraq War, which started in 1980 after the fall of the Shah, lasted for eight years. The United States and the Soviets backed Iraq financially and technologically during this period.
- In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. The UN Security Council condemned the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, demanding a complete withdrawal. When this did not occur, America invaded the country, thus initiating the Gulf War. Iraq was required to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN inspectors to do verification inspections.
- In 2003, American and British troops, led by the United States, invaded Iraq, ostensibly because of continued Iraqi non-compliance with United Nations Security Council resolutions during the previous 12 years.
International Finance Corporation
Iraq Stock Exchange
Abu Ghurab, Ayn Zalah, Az Zubair, Baiji North, Basra, Buzurgan, Daura, East Baghdad, Jabal Fauqi, Khabbaz, Khanakin, Kirkuk, Luhais, Majnoon, Muftiah, Nasiriyah, North Rumaila, Qayarah Mosul, Saddam, South Rumaila
|Transport related:||Port Umm Qasr|