Iraq: Country profile

Iraq is home to several ethnicities and sects. The Arab Muslim majority accounts for around 77.1% of the whole population. Kurds constitute 19% and the rest represents other minorities including Assyrians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis and Turkmen.

The country is home to several ethnicities and sects
The country is home to several ethnicities and sects

General facts:

Official name: Republic of Iraq
Form of government: republic with one legislative house (National Assembly – 220 seats)
Term of citizens: Iraqis
Monetary unit: Iraqi Dinar = 1000 fils
Capital: Baghdad
Official religion: Islam
Official language: Arabic. Kurdish is a formal language in the Kurdish autonomous region.
Administrative divisions: 18 governorates; Al Anbar, Al Basra, Al Muthanna, Al-Qadissiya, Al Najaf, Irbil, Al Sulaimaniya, Al Amim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Thee Qar, Diyala, Karbala, Maysan, Ninawa, Salah al-Deen, Wasit.

Demography and vital statistics:


Population: 24.001.816 (2002 est.)

Age categorisation:

–  0-14 years: 41.1%

15-64 years: 55.9%

65 years and over: 3% (2002 est.)

Doubling time: 29 years

Natural increase rate per 1,000 population: (1994): 24.3 (world average 16.8).

Major causes of death: Prior to the UN sanctions 1990: circulatory diseases, cancer, and congenital anomalies. Since 1990 additional death reasons appeared because of lack of medical care and malnutrition resulting from UN-imposed sanctions.


Ethnic structure: 

– Arabs: 77.1%  

– Kurd: 19%

– Assyrian: 0.8%

– Other: 3.1%



Religious composition: 

– Muslims: 97%, divided almost equally between Sunnis and Shias.

– Christians: 2.7%

– Jews, Yazidi and others: 0.3%

Major cities: Baghdad, Mosul, and Al Basra




Location: Middle East

Bordering countries: Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Turkey.

Total area: 437.072 sq. km.

Land area: 432.162 sq. km.

Water area: 4.910 sq. km.

Climate: Desert, with cool winters and hot, dry summers.

Terrain: Alluvial plains, mountains and deserts.

Note: Iraq has a strategic location in the Middle East and at the head of the Arab Gulf.



Iraq’s economy is dominated by the oil sector.

– GDP: $ 59 billion (2001 est.)

– Agriculture: 6%

– Industry: 13%

– Services: 81%

Annual growth rate: 5.7% (2001 est.)

Inflation rate: 60% (2001 est.)

Labour force: 6.5 million (2002 est.)

Unemployment rate: Not Available


– Industries: Petroleum, chemicals, textiles, electronics and construction materials.

– Agriculture: Wheat, barley, rice, cotton, dates, poultry and vegetables.

Natural resources: Oil, natural gas, phosphates and sulphur

Exports: $15.8 billion (2001 est.)

Imports: $11 billion (2001 est.)   




Total active duty personnel (1997) 387,500 (army 90.3%, navy 0.7%, air force 9.0%). Estimated military expenditure as percentage of gross domestic product (1994) 18%.  




Telephones: 675.000 (1997 est.)

Radios: 4.85 million (1997 est.)

Televisions: 1.75 million (1997 est.)

Internet service providers: 1 




– In the Middle Ages, Iraq was the centre of an Islamic Empire.

– The modern Kingdom of Iraq achieved full independence from the British Mandate in 1932.

– In 1958 the monarchy was abolished and Iraq was proclaimed a republic with Abd al-Karim Qassim as Iraq’s first president.

– In 1979 Saddam Hussein became President.

– In 1980 Iraq was plunged into an eight-year, bloody war with Iran.

– In 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait, to be expelled in 1991 by a coalition of 33 countries.Subsequently sanctions were imposed on Iraq.

– In April 2003, the fall of the ruling Ba’ath Party by US-led forces after a 21-day US-led war to topple Saddam Hussein. 

Go back: Special Report

Source: Al Jazeera

More from News
Most Read