Republic of Iraq
and largest city
(Religion in Iraq)
|Government||Federal parliamentary republic|
|Legislature||Council of Representatives|
from the United Kingdom
|3 October 1932|
|14 July 1958|
|15 October 2005|
|438,317 km2 (169,235 sq mi) (58th)|
• Water (%)
|4.62 (as of 2015)|
• 2022 estimate
|82.7/km2 (214.2/sq mi) (125th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2022 estimate|
|$512.926 billion (48th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2022 estimate|
|$297.341 billion (47th)|
• Per capita
|$7,038  (111th)|
|HDI (2019)|| 0.674|
medium · 123rd
|Currency||Iraqi dinar (IQD)|
|Time zone||UTC+3 (AST)|
|ISO 3166 code||IQ|
Iraq (Arabic: الْعِرَاق, romanized: al-ʿIrāq; Kurdish: عێراق, romanized: Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق Jumhūriīyet al-ʿIrāq; Kurdish: کۆماری عێراق, romanized: Komarî Êraq), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, the Persian Gulf and Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital and largest city is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Iraqi Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Assyrians, Armenians, Yazidis, Mandaeans, Persians and Shabakis with similarly diverse geography and wildlife. The vast majority of the country's 44 million residents are Muslims – the notable other faiths are Christianity, Yazidism, Mandaeism, Yarsanism and Zoroastrianism. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish; others also recognised in specific regions are Neo-Aramaic, Turkish and Armenian.
Starting as early as the 6th millennium BC, the fertile alluvial plains between Iraq's Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, referred to as Mesopotamia, gave rise to some of the world's earliest cities, civilisations, and empires, including those of Akkad, Babylon, Assyria and Sumer. Mesopotamia was a "Cradle of Civilisation" that saw the independent development of a writing system, mathematics, timekeeping, a calendar, astrology, and a law code. Following the Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia, Baghdad became the capital and the largest city of the Abbasid Caliphate, and during the Islamic Golden Age, the city evolved into a significant cultural and intellectual center, and garnered it a worldwide reputation for its academic institutions, including House of Wisdom. The city was largely destroyed at the hands of the Mongol Empire in 1258 during the Siege of Baghdad, resulting in a decline that would linger through many centuries due to frequent plagues and multiple successive empires.
Modern Iraq dates back to 1920, when the British Mandate for Mesopotamia, joining three Ottoman vilayets, was created under the authority of the League of Nations. A British-backed Kingdom was established in 1921 under Faisal I of Iraq. The Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from the UK in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic created. Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party from 1968 until 2003. In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, sparking a protracted war which would last for almost eight years, and end in a stalemate with devastating losses for both countries. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party was removed from power, and multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005. The US presence in Iraq ended in 2011.
Iraq is a federal parliamentary republic. The president is the head of state, the prime minister is the head of government, and the constitution provides for two deliberative bodies, the Council of Representatives and the Council of Union. The judiciary is free and independent of the executive and the legislature.
Iraq is considered an emerging middle power with a strategic location and a founding member of the United Nations, the OPEC as well as of the Arab League, OIC, Non-Aligned Movement and the IMF. From 1920 to 2005 Iraq experienced spells of significant economic and military growth and briefer instability including wars. The present era has seen further growth and steadier international investment under the multipartite system incepted in 2005 then a major decline in factional domestic, almost randomised, attacks besetting Iraq during and around the time of the US military presence, however recurrent failure to agree working government between members of parliament has been accompanied by politically motivated violence against government institutions, and sometimes beyond.
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The constitution establishes Islam as the official religion and states no law may be enacted contradicting the “established provisions of Islam.” It provides for freedom of religious belief and practice for all individuals, including Muslims, Christians, Yezidis, and Sabean-Mandeans, but does not explicitly mention followers of other religions or atheists.