FOCUS: IRAQ - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports


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 (1980-1988). 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.


  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
land:432,162 sq km
water:4,910 sq km

Area - comparative
  slightly more than twice the size of Idaho

Land boundaries
  total:3,631 km
border countries:Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 242 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 331 km

  58 km

Maritime claims  continental shelf:not specified
territorial sea:12 nm

Climate  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

Terrain  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:12%
permanent crops:0%
permanent pastures:9%
forests and woodland:0%
other:79% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land  25,500 sq km (1993 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


Population  22,675,617 (July 2000 est.)
Age structure
  0-14 years:42% (male 4,860,795; female 4,708,453)
15-64 years:55% (male 6,272,842; female 6,123,188)
65 years and over:3% (male 331,840; female 378,499) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate  2.86% (2000 est.)

Birth rate  35.04 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate  6.4 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate  0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio  at birth:1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years:1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years:1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over:0.88 male(s)/female
total population:1.02 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate  62.49 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth  total population:66.53 years
male:65.54 years
female:67.56 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate  4.87 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Nationality  noun:Iraqi(s)

Ethnic groups  Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%

Religions  Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%

Languages  Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian

Literacy  definition:age 15 and over can read and write
total population:58%
female:45% (1995 est.)


Country name
  conventional long form:Republic of Iraq
conventional short form:Iraq
local long form:Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah
local short form:Al Iraq

Data code  IZ

Government type  republic

Capital  Baghdad

Administrative divisions  18 provinces (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

Independence  3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)

National holiday  Anniversary of the Revolution, 17 July (1968)

Constitution  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

Suffrage  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch  chief of state:President SADDAM Husayn (since 16 July 1979); Vice President Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF (since 21 April 1974); Vice President Taha Yasin RAMADAN (since 23 March 1991)
head of government:Prime Minister SADDAM Husayn (since 29 May 1994); Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Mikhail AZIZ (since NA 1979); Deputy Prime Minister Taha Yasin RAMADAN (since NA May 1994); Deputy Prime Minister Muhammad Hamza al-ZUBAYDI (since NA May 1994)
cabinet:Council of Ministers
note:there is also a Revolutionary Command Council or RCC (Chairman SADDAM Husayn, Vice Chairman Izzat IBRAHIM al-Duri) which controls the ruling Ba'th Party, and is the most powerful political entity in the country
elections:president and vice presidents elected by a two-thirds majority of the Revolutionary Command Council; election last held 17 October 1995 (next to be held NA 2002)
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

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 24 March 1996 (next to be held NA March 2000)
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  ABEDA, ACC, AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-19, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO

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


Military branches
  Army, Republican Guard, Navy, Air Force, Air Defense Force, Border Guard Force, Fedayeen Saddam

Military manpower - military age  18 years of age

Military manpower - availability  males age 15-49:5,674,990 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service  males age 15-49:3,176,826 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually  males:266,736 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure  $NA

Military expenditures - percent of GDP  NA%

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