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Flag of Iraq
Map of Iraq
Introduction Iraq
Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq became an independent kingdom in 1932. A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of military strongmen have ruled the country since then, the latest being SADDAM Husayn. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990 Iraq seized Kuwait, but was expelled by US-led, UN coalition forces during January-February 1991. The victors did not occupy Iraq, however, thus allowing the regime to stay in control. Following Kuwait's liberation, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. UN trade sanctions remain in effect due to incomplete Iraqi compliance with relevant UNSC resolutions.
Geography Iraq
Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
Geographic coordinates:
33 00 N, 44 00 E
Map references:
Middle East
total: 437,072 sq km
water: 4,910 sq km
land: 432,162 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly more than twice the size of Idaho
Land boundaries:
total: 3,650 km
border countries: Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 240 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 352 km
58 km
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: not specified
territorial sea: 12 NM
mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq
mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Haji Ibrahim 3,600 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
Land use:
arable land: 11.89%
permanent crops: 0.78%
other: 87.33% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
35,250 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
dust storms, sandstorms, floods
Environment - current issues:
government water control projects have drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Shi'a Muslims, who have inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area's wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; development of Tigris-Euphrates Rivers system contingent upon agreements with upstream riparian Turkey; air and water pollution; soil degradation (salination) and erosion; desertification
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note:
strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf
People Iraq
24,001,816 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 41.1% (male 5,003,755; female 4,849,238)
15-64 years: 55.9% (male 6,794,265; female 6,624,662)
65 years and over: 3% (male 341,520; female 388,376) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.82% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
34.2 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
6.02 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
57.61 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.38 years
female: 68.5 years (2002 est.)
male: 66.31 years
Total fertility rate:
4.63 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.01% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Iraqi(s)
adjective: Iraqi
Ethnic groups:
Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%
Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%
Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 58%
male: 70.7%
female: 45% (1995 est.)
Government Iraq
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
conventional short form: Iraq
local short form: Al Iraq
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah, An Najaf, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, At Ta'mim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit
3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)
National holiday:
Revolution Day, 17 July (1968)
22 September 1968, effective 16 July 1970 (provisional constitution); new constitution drafted in 1990 but not adopted
Legal system:
based on Islamic law in special religious courts, civil law system elsewhere; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President SADDAM Husayn (since 16 July 1979); Vice Presidents Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF (since 21 April 1974) and Taha Yasin RAMADAN (since 23 March 1991)
elections: president and vice presidents elected by a two-thirds majority of the Revolutionary Command Council; regular election last held 17 October 1995 (next scheduled for 2002); note - in place of the 2002 election, a presidential referendum was held on 15 October 2002 in which the presidency of SADDAM Husayn was extended for a fifth consecutive seven-year term
election results: SADDAM Husayn reelected president; percent of vote - 99%; Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF and Taha Yasin RAMADAN elected vice presidents; percent of vote - NA%; note - in a presidential referendum held 15 October 2002, SADDAM Husayn's term was extended for another seven years
cabinet: Council of Ministers; note - there is also a Revolutionary Command Council or RCC with eight members as of 2001 (Chairman SADDAM Husayn, Vice Chairman Izzat IBRAHIM al-Duri) which controls the ruling Ba'th Party; the RCC is the highest executive and legislative body and the most powerful political entity in the country; new RCC members must come from the Regional Command Leadership of the Ba'th Party
head of government: Prime Minister SADDAM Husayn (since 29 May 1994); Deputy Prime Ministers Tariq Mikhail AZIZ (since NA 1979), Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim al-AZZAWI (since 30 July 1999), Ahmad Husayn al-KHUDAYIR (since NA July 2001), and Abd al-Tawab Mullah al-HUWAYSH (since NA July 2001)
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Majlis al-Watani (250 seats; 30 appointed by the president to represent the three northern provinces of Dahuk, Arbil, and As Sulaymaniyah; 220 elected by popular vote; members serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 27 March 2000 (next to be held NA March 2004)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - NA
Judicial branch:
Court of Cassation
Political parties and leaders:
Ba'th Party [SADDAM Husayn, central party leader]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
any formal political activity must be sanctioned by the government; opposition to regime from Kurdish groups and southern Shi'a dissidents
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none; note - Iraq has an Interest Section in the Algerian Embassy headed by Akram AL DOURI; address: Iraqi Interests Section, Algerian Embassy, 1801 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20036; telephone: [1] (202) 483-7500; FAX: [1] (202) 462-5066
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none; note - the US has an Interests Section in the Polish Embassy in Baghdad; address: P. O. Box 2051 Hay Babel, Baghdad; telephone: [964] (1) 718-9267; FAX: [964] (1) 718-9297
Flag description:
three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with three green five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; the phrase ALLAHU AKBAR (God is Great) in green Arabic script - Allahu to the right of the middle star and Akbar to the left of the middle star - was added in January 1991 during the Persian Gulf crisis; similar to the flag of Syria which has two stars but no script and the flag of Yemen which has a plain white band; also similar to the flag of Egypt which has a symbolic eagle centered in the white band
Economy Iraq
Economy - overview:
Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. In the 1980s financial problems caused by massive expenditures in the eight-year war with Iran and damage to oil export facilities by Iran led the government to implement austerity measures, borrow heavily, and later reschedule foreign debt payments; Iraq suffered economic losses from the war of at least $100 billion. After hostilities ended in 1988, oil exports gradually increased with the construction of new pipelines and restoration of damaged facilities. Iraq's seizure of Kuwait in August 1990, subsequent international economic sanctions, and damage from military action by an international coalition beginning in January 1991 drastically reduced economic activity. Although government policies supporting large military and internal security forces and allocating resources to key supporters of the regime have hurt the economy, implementation of the UN's oil-for-food program in December 1996 has helped improve conditions for the average Iraqi citizen. For the first six, six-month phases of the program, Iraq was allowed to export limited amounts of oil in exchange for food, medicine, and some infrastructure spare parts. In December 1999 the UN Security Council authorized Iraq to export under the program as much oil as required to meet humanitarian needs. Oil exports are now more than three-quarters prewar level. However, 28% of Iraq's export revenues under the program are deducted to meet UN Compensation Fund and UN administrative expenses. The drop in GDP in 2001 was largely the result of the global economic slowdown and lower oil prices. Per capita food imports have increased significantly, while medical supplies and health care services are steadily improving. Per capita output and living standards are still well below the prewar level, but any estimates have a wide range of error.
purchasing power parity - $59 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
-5.7% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $2,500 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 13%
services: 81% (1993 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
60% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
4.4 million (1989) (1989)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture NA%, industry NA%, services NA%
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
petroleum, chemicals, textiles, construction materials, food processing
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
27.3 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 98%
hydro: 2%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
25.389 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton; cattle, sheep
$15.8 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil
Exports - partners:
US 46.2%, Italy 12.2%, France 9.6%, Spain 8.6% (2000)
$11 billion f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
food, medicine, manufactures
Imports - partners:
France 22.5%, Australia 22%, China 5.8%, Russia 5.8% (2000)
Debt - external:
$62.2 billion (2001 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$327.5 million (1995) (1995)
Iraqi dinar (IQD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Iraqi dinars per US dollar - 0.3109 (fixed official rate since 1982); black market rate - Iraqi dinars per US dollar - 2,000 (December 2001), 1,910 (December 1999), 1,815 (December 1998), 1,530 (December 1997), 910 (December 1996); note - subject to wide fluctuations
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Iraq
Telephones - main lines in use:
675,000 (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
NA; service available in northern Iraq (2001)
Telephone system:
general assessment: reconstitution of damaged telecommunication facilities began after the Gulf war; most damaged facilities have been rebuilt
domestic: the network consists of coaxial cables and microwave radio relay links
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean), 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region), and 1 Arabsat (inoperative); coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey; Kuwait line is probably nonoperational
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 19 (5 are inactive), FM 51, shortwave 4 (1998)
4.85 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
13 (1997)
1.75 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
12,500 (2001)
Transportation Iraq
total: 2,339 km
standard gauge: 2,339 km 1.435-m gauge (2001)
total: 45,550 km
paved: 38,400 km
unpaved: 7,150 km (1996 est.)
1,015 km
note: Shatt al Arab is usually navigable by maritime traffic for about 130 km; channel has been dredged to 3 m and is in use; Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have navigable sections for shallow-draft boats; Shatt al Basrah canal was navigable by shallow-draft craft before closing in 1991 because of the Gulf war
crude oil 4,350 km; petroleum products 725 km; natural gas 1,360 km
Ports and harbors:
Umm Qasr, Khawr az Zubayr, and Al Basrah have limited functionality
Merchant marine:
total: 25 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 186,709 GRT/278,575 DWT
ships by type: cargo 14, passenger 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 8, roll on/roll off 1 (2002 est.)
108 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 77
over 3,047 m: 21
2,438 to 3,047 m: 36
914 to 1,523 m: 6
under 914 m: 9 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 73
under 914 m: 11 (2002)
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 28
1,524 to 2,437 m: 24
5 (2002)
Military Iraq
Military branches:
Army, Republican Guard, Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, Border Guard Force, Fedayeen Saddam
Military manpower - military age:
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 6,135,847 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 3,430,819 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 274,035 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$1.3 billion (FY00)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Transnational Issues Iraq
Disputes - international:
despite restored diplomatic relations in 1990, lacks maritime boundary with Iran and disputes land boundary, navigation channels, and other issues from eight-year war; in November 1994, Iraq formally accepted the UN-demarcated border with Kuwait which had been spelled out in Security Council Resolutions 687 (1991), 773 (1993), and 883 (1993); this formally ends earlier claims to Kuwait and to Bubiyan and Warbah islands although the government continues periodic rhetorical challenges; dispute over water development plans by Turkey for the Tigris and Euphrates rivers

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003