General information: In the past, Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire; became an independent kingdom in 1932. A republic was proclaimed in 1958, but in reality the country has since been ruled by a series of military dictators; today it is SADDAM Husayn. Territorial disputes with Iran led to a devastating and fruitless eight-year war (1980-1988). In August 1990, Iraq captured Kuwait, but in January-February 1991 it was expelled from the country by the US-led UN coalition forces. The victors, however, did not occupy Iraq, allowing the regime to remain in power. After the liberation of Kuwait, the UN Security Council demanded that Iraq destroy all weapons of mass destruction and long-range ballistic missiles and allow UN representatives to conduct an inspection to verify that this requirement was met.
Location: Middle East, Persian Gulf coast, between Iran and Kuwait.
Geographic coordinates: 33° 00′ N. latitude, 44° 00′ E
Reference map: Middle East.
Area: total: 437,072 km2; land surface area: 432,162 km2; water surface area: 4,910 km2
Comparative area: slightly larger than Idaho.
Land borders: total length: 3,631 km; with neighboring states: with Iran 1,458 km, with Jordan 181 km, with Kuwait 242 km, with Saudi Arabia 814 km, with Syria 605 km, with Turkey 331 km.
Coastline: 58 km.
Maritime claims: continental shelf: no data; territorial waters: 12 nautical miles.
Climate: mostly desert; mild, sometimes cool winters and dry, hot, cloudless summers; the northern mountainous regions along the borders with Iran and Turkey sometimes experience cold winters with heavy snowfalls; the snow melts in early spring, causing severe flooding in central and southern Iraq.
Relief: mostly vast plains; reedy swamps and extensive flooded areas in the south; mountains along the borders with Iran and Turkey.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m; highest point: Mount Haji Ibrahim 3,600 m.
Natural resources: oil, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur.
Land use: arable land: 12%; cultivated land: 0%; pastures: 9%; forests and plantations: 0%; others: 79% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 25,500 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: dust and sand storms, floods.
Current environmental issues: implemented government water control projects that drained much of the populated wetlands east of An-Nasiriyah by draining or diverting flooding streams and rivers; a significant number of Shiites who had inhabited these areas for several millennia were forced to migrate; moreover, the destruction of natural habitats threatens the survival of wildlife populations; insufficient supplies of drinking water; the development of the ‘Tigris-Euphrates system’ requires the consent of upstream Turkey; air and water pollution; soil degradation (salinization) and erosion; desertification.
International agreements on environmental protection: member: Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban; signed but not ratified: Environmental change.
Note to the section “Geography”:
Population: 23,331,985 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 41.64% (male 4,934,340; female 4,781,206); 15 to 64 years old: 55.28% (male 6,528,854; female 6,368,823); over 65: 3.08% (male 335,953; female 382,809) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 2.84% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 34.64 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 6.21 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; up to 15 years: 1.03 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 1.02 male/female; over 65: 0.88 male/female; for the general population: 1.02 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 60.05 deaths/1000 births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 66.95 years; men: 65.92 years; women: 68.03 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 4.75 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: less than 0.01% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: Iraqi; adjective: Iraqi.
Ethnic groups: Arabs 75-80%, Kurds 15-20%, Turks, Assyrians and other 5%.
Believers: Muslim 97% (Shia 60-65%, Sunni 32-37%), Christian and other 3%.
Languages): Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish areas), Assyrian, Armenian.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 58%; men: 70.7%; women: 45% (1995 est.).
conventional long form: Republic of Iraq;
conventional short form: Iraq; local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah; local short form: Al Iraq.
State structure: republic. See a2zgov.com to know more about Iraq government and politics.
Administrative division: 18 provinces (mu-hafaz): An-Najaf, As-Sulaymaniyah, At-Tamim, Babil, Baghdad, Wasit, Dahuk, Dikar, Diyala, Kar-bala, Maysan, Ninawa, Sala ad-Din, El -Anbar, Al-Basra, Al-Qadisiyah, Al-Mutanna, Erbil.
Independence: from 3 October 1932 (ruled by Britain under a League of Nations mandate until 1932).
National holiday: Anniversary of the Revolution, July 17 (since 1968).
Constitution: adopted 22 September 1968, entered into force 16 July 1970 (interim constitution); a draft of a new constitution was drawn up in 1990 but was not adopted.
Legal system: Islamic law for special religious courts; civil law system for all other courts; does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
chief of state: President SADDAM Hussein (since 16 July 1979) Vice President Taha Muhyi al-Din MARUF (since April 21, 1974); Vice President Taha Yasin RAMADAN (since March 23, 1991);
head of the government: Prime Minister SADDAM Hussein (since May 29, 1994); Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Mikhail AZIZ (since 1979); Deputy Prime Minister Hikmat Mizban Ibrahim al-AZZAWI (since 30 July 1999); Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Husayn al-KHUDAYIR (since July 2001); Deputy Prime Minister Abd al-Tawab Mullah al-HUWAYSH (since July 2001);
Government: Council of Ministers; note: there is also a Revolutionary Leading Council (JSC) (Chairman SADDAM Hussein, Vice Chairman Izzat IBRAHIM al-Duri) which controls the ruling Ba’ath Party and is the strongest political force in the country; elections: the president and vice presidents are elected by the Revolutionary Leading Council by a two-thirds majority; elections last held 17 October 1995 (next to be held in 2002); election results: SADDAM Hussein re-elected president; percentage of votes – 99%.
Legislature: unicameral National Assembly (Majlis al-Watani) (250 members, 30 of whom are appointed by the president as representatives of the three northern provinces of Dahuk, Erbil and Al-Sulaimaniyeh, 220 are elected by popular vote; all members serve a four-year term); elections: last held 27 March 2000 (next to be held in March 2004); election results: distribution of votes by parties – no data; distribution of seats by parties – no data.
Judiciary: Court of Cassation.
Political parties and leaders: Ba’ath Party (SADDAM Hussein, chief party leader).
Political influence groups and their leaders: any political activity must be authorized by the government; opposition to the government is made up of Kurdish factions and southern dissident Shiites.
Participation in international organizations: ABEDA, ACC, AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU, CCC, EARC, 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.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: no; note – the Algerian embassy has an Iraqi Interests Section headed by Akram AL DOURI; Address: Iraqi Interests Section, Algerian Embassy, 1801 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20008; tel.:  (202) 483-7500; fax:  (202) 462-5066.
US Diplomatic Mission: none; note – there is a US Interests Section at the Polish Embassy in Baghdad; Address: R.O. Box 2051 Hay Babel, Baghdad; tel.:  (1) 718-9267; fax:  (1) 718-9297.
Flag Description: three equal horizontal stripes of red (top), white and black with three green five-pointed stars placed horizontally in the center of the white stripe; the words ALLAH AKBAR (God is Great) written in Arabic in green (‘Allah’ to the right of the middle star, ‘akbar’ to the left of it) were added in January 1991 at the height of the Gulf crisis; similar to the flag of Syria, which has two stars, but no inscriptions, and the flag of Yemen, on which the white stripe is devoid of decorations; also similar to the flag of Egypt, which has a symbolic eagle in the center of the white stripe.