OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Iraq
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Single-Party Republic
AREA: 434,925 Sq Km (167,925 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 24,237,600
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Iraq is located in the Middle East.
It is bound by Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria
to the northwest, Jordan to the west, Saudi Arabia to the
southwest and south as well as Kuwait and the Persian Gulf
to the southeast. The country can be divided into four main
topographical regions. (1.) The northeastern highlands which
include the Zagros Mountains. (2.) The upland between the
Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which is mostly desert. (3.)
A marshland region just above the convergence of the two
rivers and (4.) the extensive barren, rock and sand desert
region in the south and west which constitute part of the
Great Arabian and Syrian Deserts. Around 38% of the total
land area is desert while the principal rivers are the Tigris
and Euphrates. Major Cities (pop. est.); Baghdad 4,044,000,
Diyala 961,100, as-Sulaymaniyah 951,700, Irbil 770,400,
Mosul 664,200 (1987). Land Use; forested 0.5%, pastures
9%, agricultural-cultivated 12.5%, other 78% (1993).
CLIMATE: Iraq has an arid climate with hot dry summers from May
to October and cold winters from December to March with most of the rainfall
occurring between December to March. In Baghdad the average annual precipitation
is 140 mm (6 inches) whilst in the northeast where it is highest, it varies
from 400 to 600 mm (16 to 23 inches) annually. Elsewhere, rainfall is low
and unreliable. The prevailing winds are the Sharqi or Sirocco, a southeasterly
dry dust laden wind and the Shamal, a northwesterly dry cool wind. Average
temperature ranges in Baghdad are from 4 to 16 degrees Celsius (39 to 61
degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 24 to 50 degrees Celsius (75 to 122 degrees
Fahrenheit) in July or August.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Arabs who constitute
77% of the population and there are two relatively unassimilated ethnic
groups. The Bedouins who are the desert nomads and the Madans who are the
sedentary Marsh Arabs of the lower Tigris and Euphrates Deltas. The largest
ethnic minority are the Kurds who account for 19% of the population and
live in the northeastern highlands. Other small ethnic groups include the
Turks, Persians, Lurs, Assyrians, Armenians, Yazidis, Shabaks, Mandaeans
and Sarliyahs, which together constitute less than 5% of the population.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 42 persons per sq km (109
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 70.4% urban, 29.6% rural (1991).
Sex Distribution; 50.3% male, 49.7% female (1991). Life Expectancy at Birth;
46.0 years male, 57.0 years female (1991). Age Breakdown; 45% under 15,
29% 15 to 29, 14% 30 to 44, 7% 45 to 59, 4% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1991).
Birth Rate; 46.0 per 1,000 (1991). Death Rate; 7.0 per 1,000 (1991). Increase
Rate; 39.0 per 1,000 (1991). Infant Mortality Rate; 80.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: The official religion is Islam with the Shiite Muslims
accounting for 52% of the population while the Sunni Muslims, which dominate
the government and the bureaucracy, account for around 42% of the population.
The remainder are small Christian and Jewish minorities.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Arabic which is spoken by
over 80% of the population, although English, Kurdish, Turkish and Assyrian
are minority languages.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: N/A. Literacy;
literate population aged 15 or over 6,030,000 or 59.7% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: During the 1950's the Iraqi government
signed an agreement with foreign petroleum companies allowing them to produce
oil in Iraq. In July 1958 army officers overthrew the Iraqi government,
killed King Faisal and Prince Abdullah as well as Prime Minister Nuri al-Said
and declared the country a republic. In Feb. 1963 the Nationalists and
the Baathists, who represented Arab unity, overthrew the government and
assassinated Brig. Abd al-Karim al-Qasim. The next five years resulted
in a bitter civil war with the Kurds of the northeast and on July 17, 1968
Baathist officers led by Ahmed Hasan al-Bakr overthrew the government in
another coup. In 1970 al-Bakr signed an agreement to end almost a decade
of fighting with the Kurds, although fighting erupted again four years
later and in Mar. 1975 another ceasefire was declared. In July 1979 al-Bakr
resigned and Saddam Hussein Takriti, a Baathist leader, succeeded him.
In Sept. 1980 Iraq invaded Iran and the eight year war over territorial
disputes and other disagreements began. On July 18, 1988 Iran reluctantly
accepted the UN negotiated ceasefire, although permanent peace did not
come until Iraq was engaged in another war, the "Gulf War". During
1988 to mid 1990 Pres. Hussein embarked on an enormous arms buying spree
and became technically, the region's premier military power. On Aug. 2
1990 one hundred thousand Iraqi troops and tanks invaded Kuwait and then
proceeded to take up positions on the Saudi-Kuwait border. On Aug. 8 Iraq
announced that it had annexed Kuwait and three weeks later that the territory
was its 19th province which would never be surrendered. As a result the
UN Security Council approved trade and financial sanctions, which involved
the immediate freezing of all Iraq's overseas assets. US Pres. George Bush
gained support for a US-led military solution and at Saudi Arabia's, King
Fahd, invitation a build up of ground troops and air forces began which
was also accompanied by a naval embargo. On Nov. 29, 1990 the UN Security
Council, at the request of the US, authorized the use of "all necessary
means" to remove Iraq if it had not withdrawn by Jan. 15, 1991. On
Jan. 17, 1991 "Operation Desert Storm" began and by Feb. 27,
1991 Pres. Bush announced that Kuwait had been liberated and that there
would be a cease-fire effective Feb. 28. As part of the cease-fire conditions
imposed on Iraq, it was to provide full disclosure, inspection and ultimate
destruction of all its biological, ballistic and nuclear weapons stockpiles
or development facilities. Immediately after the cease-fire Iraq launched
a large scale military offensive against the Kurds resulting in the UN
imposing a "No Fly Zone" in the northeast. On March 1, 1991 there
was an uprising by Shiite Muslims in Basra that was later quelled. On April
8, 1991 a UK initiative resulted in the creation of safe havens around
Amadiyah which were policed in principal by 10,000 US and 4,500 British
troops. On July 19, 1991 Iraq admitted to the UN that it had been carrying
out tests of a super gun in the Jabal Hamrin mountains. On Aug. 2, 1991
the US Congress ratified plans to destroy Iraq's nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons capability with the "use of all necessary means".
On Sept. 3, 1991 Pres. Hussein proclaimed a new law that allowed for the
limited freedom of opposition political parties. On Sept. 13, 1991 Pres.
Hussein dismissed Prime Minister Saadun Hammadi due to the government's
inability to rectify the country's worsening economic conditions. In 1992
Iraq launched another campaign against the sedentary Marsh Arabs of the
south which resulted the imposition of another "No Fly Zone"
in the south in Aug. 1992 while trade sanctions also remained in force
throughout the year. On Jan. 7, 1992 Iraq detained two Kuwaiti policemen
who strayed into Iraqi territory while during the year Iraq also sentenced
four westerners to seven years imprisonment for allegedly entering the
country illegally. On March 11, 1992 the Deputy Prime Minister, Tariq Aziz
told the UN Security Council that Iraq was ready to make a complete disclosure
of all its weapons programs. However, UN inspectors in Iraq wishing to
gain entry into the Agricultural Ministry building were denied access for
several weeks. On April 16, 1992 a UN Iraq-Kuwait border commission awarded
six oil wells and part of the Umm Qasr port to Kuwait, which Iraq disputed.
On July 17, 1992, the 24th anniversary of the Baath revolution, Pres. Hussein
announced to his people that they shouldn't expect an early end to economic
sanctions imposed as a result of the Gulf War. Also during 1992 Iraq began
work on Leader's River an 11km (7 mi) manmade canal designed to drain the
lowland marshes where the bases of Shiite rebels were located. Work was
completed in December 1992 and on Dec. 27, 1992 the US shot down a Iraqi
MiG fighter that entered the UN imposed "No Fly Zone" in the
south. In Jan. 1993 the US presented an ultimatum to Iraq to remove six
police posts close to the Kuwaiti border and later fired Tomahawk cruise
missiles at targets in Baghdad thought to be involved in the government's
nuclear weapon program. In April 1993 an Iraq gunboat seized and Iranian
ship in the Shatt al-Arab waterway while in July 1993 Iraqi troops opened
fire on Saudi border positions. In June 1993 US warships fired a further
23 missiles in an attempt to destroy Iraq's intelligence-service headquarters,
although by Nov. 14, 1993 Baghdad had claimed they had rebuilt their headquarters.
On Nov. 15, 1993 the UK released photographs of Shiite villages destroyed
in the lowland marshes that resulted in thousands of Shiite Muslims fleeing
to neighboring Iran.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Dinar (ID) divided into
20 Dirhams and 1,000 Fils.
ECONOMY: Gross Domestic Product; USD $12,640,000,000 (1991).
Public Debt; USD $20,000,000,000 (1994). Imports; USD $5,100,000,000 (1993
est.). Exports; USD $9,500,000,000 (1993 est.). Tourism Receipts; USD $59,000,000
(1989). Balance of Trade; USD $4,400,000,000 (1993 est.). Economically
Active Population; 4,127,294 or 24.7% of total population (1988). Unemployed;
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are France,
Brazil and Japan.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Camels, Cattle, Cereals, Cotton, Crude Oil
and Natural Gas, Goats, Sheep, Tomatoes, Watermelons.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Brick Manufacturing, Cement, Chemicals,
Food Processing, Leather, Oil and Gas Production and Refining, Textiles.
MAIN EXPORTS: Cement, Cotton, Crude Oil and Refined Products, Dates,
Hides, and Wool.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 2,457 km (1,527 mi) (1988),
passenger-km 1,570,000,000 (976,000,000 passenger-mi) (1988), cargo ton-km
2,079,000,000 (1,424,000,000 short ton-mi) (1988). Roads; length 45,554
km (28,306 mi) (1989). Vehicles; cars 672,205 (1989), trucks and buses
368,525 (1989). Merchant Marine; vessels 143 (1990), deadweight tonnage
1,795,510 (1990). Air Transport; N/A.
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 6 with a total circulation
of 660,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 3,700,000 (1994). Television; receivers
1,000,000 (1994). Telephones; units 675,000 (1993).
MILITARY: 382,000 (1993) total active duty personnel with 91.5%
army, 0.7% navy and 7.8% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 74.9% (1991) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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