Created: 4/1/1950

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Table of Contents for Section 41


and geographical-1


Historical- 2

Vital- 3


List of Figures

1 Chart Comparative Near East7

2 Table Area, population, and density per square mile by

.hod's and territories,73 Table Sex distribution in74 Map Distribution ot cities, towns and villages in Iraq,

prior to World War n



Section was prepared for the NIS by the Office of intelligence Research, Department of State.

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41. Population

Iraqnique position among Arab countries inasmuch as It has ample supplies both of potentially fertile land and of water iorBecause of these features Iraq coulda much Larger population than thefire mill kin that it now has. On the other hand, the growth potential of the Iraqi population is large. Both birth and death rates are high at present, but the death rate could be substantially lowered by comparatively inexpensive health measures.

and geographical distribution

Iraq has an areaquare milesopulation, according to7 census,ensity ofersons per square mile.

The country is slightly larger than California, but two-fifths of its total area is taken up by the Al Baoiya ash Shirnallya and Al Badiya al Junu-biya (desertand suitable for cultivation is officially estimated (Source0 square miles, orittle more than one-fifth of the total

Of this fifth, it is estimated that about half is located in the north where rainfall is reasonably adequate and half in tho south, where irrigation is necessary for agriculture. This estimate is based on Sir Ernest Dowson's report2ore recent authority (Source C) estimates the amount of cultivable land In the rainfall andzones to be00 square miles respectively. The remainder of the country, consisting for the most part of rugged hills and semldesert,astoral economy.

The first census of Iraq was taken ino help toompleteurfew was imposed in the major cities; it is not known whether this measure was extended to smaller towns and villages. In any event, the sex ratio (Subsection C) suggests that completewas not achieved.

Fig1 compares graphically theof Iraq with that of other countries in the Near East. The figure for Saudi Arabia is that claimed by its government and is almost certainly an overestimate. It Is entirely possible that Iraq actually outranks it and has the second largest population among the Arab countries.

The density ofersons per square mile is based on the total area, including deserts and otherIf only the area suitable for cultivation is considered, the densityersons per square mile. The corresponding figure for Egypt iser square mile of settled area.

Iraq is administratively divided intowd's (provinces) which vary widely In area andIn addition, there are two territories, Al Badiya ash Shim&liya and Al Badiya al JunQbiya, which arc both virtually uninhabited. The varying density of population from Iticd' to Uwd' is due mainly to the unevenof cultivated land. Dense settlement isfound along the rivers and canals of the alluvial plain and in the more fertile valleys of the northern mountains. The distribution of towns and villages follows this pattern, as shown by the accompanying map,

7 census did nol divide the population into urban and rural segments, nor did it give population data for minor administrative divisions from whichistribution could be assembled. Any dividing line between urban and ruralbased on the size of the community in which they reside would be unrealistic, since in the smallerarge part of the populationof peasants. However, it Is assumed that at








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figure? In this and other tables do not add to tola! because of rounding.

C. Population structure

According to the census7 there werealesemales in Iraq. Thisighly improbable sex ratio which could be explained only by major war losses or large-scale emigration. Since Iraq had not actively participatedajor war and since there had been no large-scaleit appears that males were grossly under-enumerated. It Is probable that some males were not counted because they were out tending their flocks. It Is even more likely that many others evaded the enumeration because they suspected it toegistration for military service.

As shown inhe reported ratio of males to females Is highest In the large cities and lowest in the rural communities. This pattern has also been observed In other Asiatic countries, where men tend to migrate to the city in search of employment, leaving their families behind in the village.

Nothing Is known about the age distribution of the population of Iraq. In those countries of the Near East for which statistics are available, the proportion of children underears of age is generally high, amountingr more of the total population. The proportion of personsn the other hand, is small, rarely overt Is believed that this pattern of agewhich resultsombination of high fertility and high mortality, applies to Iraq.

one-fifth, and perhaps as much as one-fourth, of the population of Iraq could be classified asif this category is defined to include theof towns of less0 inhabitants. -

The four major cities of Iraq are Baghdadosul (Alasra (Alnd Klrkilk (see. Population figures, which are from7 census, probably include only small percentages of rural population. Bagn* dad Is the capital; Mosul and, especially, Kirkuk are important as centers of the petroleum industry; and Basra, on the Shatt al Arab (Shaft als the only major port.

The combined population of these four cities7,f the total population.

Data for smaller cities are very scanty and are based entirely on estimates made by local officials at various times during the pastears. There are probably (Sourceozen cities00 inhabitants: 'Amara, An Najaf, An Naslriya, Broil, Hilla, Karbalfi, Sulaimaniya, Suq ash Shiryukh, Tall 'Afar,ew others. Of these, the holy cities of An Najaf and KarbalA are said to be larger than the res'..



The earliest population estimate for modern Iraqhis estimate Implies anrate of growth07ppreciably more than has been observed over comparable periods In) andince Iraq is less developed than either of these countries and Its mortality is presumably higher, with little difference in birth rate, it would seem that0 estimate was too low.

ital statistics

Vital statistics are virtually nonexistent.of births and deaths for health department areas, inf the population live,


have recently been publishedutis woefully inadequate, and vital ratesfrom these figures do not represent actual conditions. No factual information is available for the remainder of the country. Birth and death rates therefore can only be estimated on the basis of known rates In comparable countries in the Near East and elsewhere.

Fertility and mortality are probably very high. The birth rate is estimated to be at leaster thousand population and may be higherhe annual death rate is probably between SO ander thousand, reflecting the poor healthgenerally prevailing in the country.


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Quantitative information on internal migration is entirely lacking, although the population is known to include several hundred thousandand semlnomads. Historically, nomadism has varied inversely with control over the Tigris and Euphrates rivers for Irrigation purposes. The first effective Irrigation systems were Instituted in the third. Since that time strong governments have built up such systems, while weak governments, lacking the ability to defend and maintain them, have been unable to prevent their destruction. In periods of decay, increased nomadism has been Inevitable. In their search for grass and water, the Bedouin of Iraq follow the pastures from season to season, each tribeits movement to lands assigned it by mutual agreement. In the course of their annualthey often cross international boundaries, and the tribes from Syria and Saudi Arabiaoften cross Into Iraq. In the northern and northeastern regions of Iraq the Kurds graze their flocks in the valleys of the Iraqi bills in winter and in the hill country on both sides of the Iranian border In summer. The Iraqi Statistical Abstract gives data on the volume of frontier traffic, but no conclusions can be drawn from these figures as departures are registered far less completely than entries.

Both the Iraqi and Iranian Governments have occasionally taken action to limit seasonal tribal migration across their frontiers, but suchhave been difllcult because of geographical features. Following World War II Iraqi police were unable to control the movement of KurdsIraq and the province of Azerbaijan in Iran during the period of the revolt in Azerbaijan, against Iranian rule. The delimitation2 of the southern boundary with Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, was not meant to interfere with

9 the government took its first stepsrogram of tribal resettlement on newly irrigated lands. This program has already reducedconsiderably, although exact figures are not available. Economic necessity and governmental decrees backed by air power are gradually forcing the predatory Bedouin toore settledcultivating the land or working for the oil companies.

Throughout the year Iraqis of the Shiah sect undertake religious pilgrimages to Iheir holy shrines at Samarra, Al Kidhunain, Karhni* and An Najaf in Iraq; the number of such pilgrims is not known In addition,0ranians visit these shrines each year. Other Shiah pUgrirns come from Afghanistan, India, and Syria. Large numbers of Iraqis of both the Shiah


and Sunn! sects participate in the annualto Mecca.

Immigration to and emigration from Iraq in the present century have been largely by minorityArmenians, and Jews.World0 Assyrians entered Iraq from Turkey and Iran.0 most of these had been settled in the northern provinces.the Assyrian revolt1 against the Baghdadf these Assyrians crossed into Syria and were settled there. The remainder are reported to be discontented under Iraqi rule; asajority of them desired to emigrate.

The Armenian minority, numbering-

largely of refugees from Turkeyto Iraq during and after World War Lthey were Invited byo beto Soviet Armenia, and in Octoberyear the first group of several hundredMosul and Baghdad areas. At that timeof the Armenians in Iraq consideredprospective emigrants, but adversethe first contingent dampened theirand no further emigration appears tomigration to and from Iraq has involved

political as won as economic and religiousDuring World War II the Iraqiwas opposed to large-scale Jewishand the Jewish community Itself, composed ofrosperous cityand others, was not in favor of makingaven for immigrant Jews. After the Arab-Israeli fighting in Palestine beganhe Baghdad Government took action to prevent the departure of Iraqi Jews and to deny transit toJews. However, following continuedemigration of Iraqi Jews, the Iraqion March0aw permitting Iraqi Jews to emigrate to Israel on the condition that they surrender their Iraqi nationality, it is expected that this law will eventually resultonsiderable reduction In the glue of the Jewish community in Iraq. As ofnlyrab refugees from Palestine had settled in Iraq, where the able-bodied among them arcgainful work.


Iraq possesses ample resources of potentially fertile land and of water, but neither are fully or efficiently used. Great areas capable ofthrough irrigation are still barren, while land actually irrigated Is wastofully and inefficiently exploited Although about three-


of the cultivated land of Iraq is Irrigated, yields per acre are low, generally lower than In other countries of the Near East and much lower than in Egypt. This low productivity is primarily attributed to the prevailing system of landand land use. which leaves the peasant with Little ambition and little capital to Improve his methods of cultivation. With proper irrigation and drainage and improved agricultural practices, the crop area could be greatly expanded and higher yields per acre could be obtained, thus enabling Iraq touch larger population.

Public health work in Iraq is in itsoderate expansion at low cost could quickly leadignificant reduction in mortality. Since the birth rate is high and voluntary control is likely to remaininimum lor several decades, an acceleration of population growth may be expected.




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