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. 

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Source: Al Jazeera