Iraq: Country profile

Iraq is home to several ethnicities and sects. The Arab Muslim majority accounts for around 77.1% of the whole population. Kurds constitute 19% and the rest represents other minorities including Assyrians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis and Turkmen.

    The country is home to several ethnicities and sects

    General facts:

    Official name: Republic of Iraq

    Form of government: republic with one legislative house (National Assembly – 220 seats)

    Term of citizens: Iraqis

    Monetary unit: Iraqi Dinar = 1000 fils

    Capital: Baghdad

    Official religion: Islam

    Official language: Arabic. Kurdish is a formal language in the Kurdish autonomous region.

    Administrative divisions: 18 governorates; Al Anbar, Al Basra, Al Muthanna, Al-Qadissiya, Al Najaf, Irbil, Al Sulaimaniya, Al Amim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Thee Qar, Diyala, Karbala, Maysan, Ninawa, Salah al-Deen, Wasit.

    Demography and vital statistics:


    Population: 24.001.816 (2002 est.)

    Age categorisation:

    0-14 years: 41.1%

    - 15-64 years: 55.9%

    - 65 years and over: 3% (2002 est.)

    Doubling time: 29 years

    Natural increase rate per 1,000 population: (1994): 24.3 (world average 16.8).

    Major causes of death: Prior to the UN sanctions 1990: circulatory diseases, cancer, and congenital anomalies. Since 1990 additional death reasons appeared because of lack of medical care and malnutrition resulting from UN-imposed sanctions.


    Ethnic structure: 

    - Arabs: 77.1%  

    - Kurd: 19%

    - Assyrian: 0.8%

    - Other: 3.1%



    Religious composition: 

    - Muslims: 97%, divided almost equally between Sunnis and Shias.

    - Christians: 2.7%

    - Jews, Yazidi and others: 0.3%

    Major cities: Baghdad, Mosul, and Al Basra




    Location: Middle East

    Bordering countries: Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey.

    Total area: 437.072 sq. km.

    Land area: 432.162 sq. km.

    Water area: 4.910 sq. km.

    Climate: Desert, with cool winters and hot, dry summers.

    Terrain: Alluvial plains, mountains and deserts.

    Note: Iraq has a strategic location in the Middle East and at the head of the Arab Gulf.



    Iraq’s economy is dominated by the oil sector.

    - GDP: $ 59 billion (2001 est.)

    - Agriculture: 6%

    - Industry: 13%

    - Services: 81%

    Annual growth rate: 5.7% (2001 est.)

    Inflation rate: 60% (2001 est.)

    Labour force: 6.5 million (2002 est.)

    Unemployment rate: Not Available


    - Industries: Petroleum, chemicals, textiles, electronics and construction materials.

    - Agriculture: Wheat, barley, rice, cotton, dates, poultry and vegetables.

    Natural resources: Oil, natural gas, phosphates and sulphur

    Exports: $15.8 billion (2001 est.)

    Imports: $11 billion (2001 est.)   




    Total active duty personnel (1997) 387,500 (army 90.3%, navy 0.7%, air force 9.0%). Estimated military expenditure as percentage of gross domestic product (1994) 18%.  




    Telephones: 675.000 (1997 est.)

    Radios: 4.85 million (1997 est.)

    Televisions: 1.75 million (1997 est.)

    Internet service providers: 1 




    - In the Middle Ages, Iraq was the centre of an Islamic Empire.

    - The modern Kingdom of Iraq achieved full independence from the British Mandate in 1932.

    - In 1958 the monarchy was abolished and Iraq was proclaimed a republic with Abd al-Karim Qassim as Iraq’s first president.

    - In 1979 Saddam Hussein became President.

    - In 1980 Iraq was plunged into an eight-year, bloody war with Iran.

    - In 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait, to be expelled in 1991 by a coalition of 33 countries.Subsequently sanctions were imposed on Iraq.

    - In April 2003, the fall of the ruling Ba’ath Party by US-led forces after a 21-day US-led war to topple Saddam Hussein. 

    Go back:

    Special Report

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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