Iraq (GPS: 33 00 N, 44 00 E) is located in the Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait. The country’s area measurements are total: 438,317 sq km; land: 437,367 sq km, water: 950 sq km. This sovereign state is slightly more than three times the size of New York state. The total irrigated land is 35,250 sq km (2012).
One of Iraq’s critical features is the Shatt al Arab waterway’s strategic location and at the head of the Persian Gulf.
It’s significant, and at the same time, the principal city, Baghdad’s GPS coordinates are 33 20 N 44 24 E. Baghdad’s local time is 8 hours ahead of Washington DC during Standard Time. The capital’s time difference: UTC+3.
Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by the United Kingdom during World War I and was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration in 1920. Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. It was proclaimed a “republic” in 1958 after a coup overthrew the monarchy, but in actuality, a series of strongmen ruled the country until 2003. The last was SADDAM Husayn from 1979 to 2003. 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 the Gulf War of January-February 1991. After Iraq’s expulsion, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all mass destruction weapons and long-range missiles and allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions led to the Second Gulf War in March 2003 and the SADDAM Husayn regime’s ouster by US-led forces. In October 2005, Iraqis approved a national referendum constitution and, under this document, elected a 275-member Council of Representatives (COR) in December 2005.
The COR approved most cabinet ministers in May 2006, marking the transition to Iraq’s first constitutional government in nearly a half-century. Iraq held elections for provincial councils in all governorates in January 2009 and April 2013 and postponed the next regional elections, initially planned for April 2017, until 2019. Iraq had held three national legislative elections since 2005, most recently in May 2018, when 329 legislators were elected to the COR. Adil ABD AL-MAHDI assumed the premiership in October 2018 as a consensus and independent candidate – the first prime minister who is not an active member of a significant political bloc. However, widespread protests that began in October 2019 demanding more employment opportunities and an end to corruption prompted ABD AL-MAHDI to announce his resignation on 20 November 2019.
Between 2014 and 2017, Iraq was engaged in a military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) to recapture territory lost in its western and northern portions. Iraqi and allied forces recaptured Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, in 2017 and drove ISIS out of its other urban strongholds. In December 2017, then-Prime Minister Haydar al-ABADI publicly declared victory against ISIS while continuing operations against its residual presence in rural areas. In late 2017, ABADI responded to an independence referendum held by the Kurdistan Regional Government by ordering Iraqi forces to control disputed territories across central and northern Iraq that were previously occupied and governed by Kurdish forces.
Iraq’s names conventional long form: The Republic of Iraq, traditional short form: Iraq, local long form: Jumhuriyat al-Iraq/Komar-i Eraq, local short state: Al Iraq/Eraq, etymology: the name probably derives from “Uruk” (Biblical “Erech”), the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian city on the Euphrates River. The name probably derives from “Uruk” (Biblical “Erech”), the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian city on the Euphrates River.
Iraq’s terrain is typically mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along the Iranian border in the south with large flooded areas; mountains, and Iran and Turkey borders. The country’s mean elevation: 312 m, elevation extremes; lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m, highest point: Cheekha Dar 3,611 m.
The country’s general climate is mostly desert: mild to cold 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.
The total number of border countries is 6, Iran 1,599 km, Jordan 179 km, Kuwait 254 km, Saudi Arabia 811 km, Syria 599 km, Turkey 367 km are the neighboring nations with the indicated border lengths. Iraq’s coastline is 58 km, while its marital claims are: territorial sea: 12 nautical miles, continental shelf: not specified. Waterways: 5,279 km (the Euphrates River (2,815 km), Tigris River (1,899 km), and Third River (565 km) are the principal waterways) (2012). Land use: agricultural land: 18.1%; arable land 8.4%; permanent crops 0.5%; permanent pasture 9.2%; forest: 1.9%; other: 80% (2011 estimate).
The population in Iraq 40,194,216 (July 2018 estimate), urban population: 69.5% of total population (2015), major urban area’s population: BAGHDAD (capital) 6.643 million; Mosul 1.694 million; Erbil 1.166 million; Basra 1.019 million; As Sulaymaniyah 1.004 million; Najaf 889,000 (2015), while Iraq has a population is concentrated in the north, center, and eastern parts of the country, with many of the larger agglomerations found along with extensive parts of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers; much of the western and southern areas are either lightly populated or uninhabited. Their spoken languages are: Arabic (official language), Kurdish (official language), Turkmen (a Turkish dialect) and Assyrian (Neo-Aramaic) are official language in areas where they constitute a majority of the population), Armenian. Main religions in Iraq are Muslim (official) 99% (Shia 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian 0.8%, Hindu. The nation uses a mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law. It is a(n) federal parliamentary republic, National holiday(s) Republic Day, July 14 (1958).
Economic overview for the country: Iraq’s GDP growth slowed to 1.1% in 2017, a marked decline compared to the previous two years as domestic consumption and investment fell because of civil violence and a sluggish oil market. The Iraqi Government received its third tranche of funding from its 2016 Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF in August 2017, which is intended to stabilize its finances by encouraging improved fiscal management, needed economic reform, and expenditure reduction. Additionally, in late 2017 Iraq received more than $1.4 billion in financing from international lenders, part of which was generated by issuing a $1 billion bond for reconstruction and rehabilitation in areas liberated from ISIL. Investment and key sector diversification are crucial components to Iraq’s long-term economic development. They require a strengthened business climate with enhanced legal and regulatory oversight to bolster private-sector engagement.
The overall standard of living depends on global oil prices, the central government passage of major policy reforms, a stable security environment post-ISIS, and civil discord resolution with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Iraq’s largely state-run economy is dominated by the oil sector, which provides roughly 85% of government revenue and 80% foreign exchange earnings. It is a significant determinant of the economy’s fortunes. Iraq’s contracts with major oil companies have the potential to expand oil exports and revenues further. Still, Iraq will need to make significant upgrades to its oil processing, pipeline, and export infrastructure to enable these deals to reach their economic potential. In 2017, Iraqi oil exports from northern fields were disrupted following a KRG referendum that resulted in the Iraqi Government reasserting federal control over disputed oil fields and energy infrastructure in Kirkuk. The Iraqi government and the KRG dispute national and regional authorities’ role in developing and exporting natural resources. In 2007, the KRG passed an oil law to develop IKR oil and gas reserves independent of the federal government. The KRG has signed about 50 contracts with foreign energy companies to build its resources, some of which lie in territories taken by Baghdad in October 2017. The KRG can unilaterally export oil from the fields it retains control of through its pipeline to Turkey, which Baghdad claims is illegal. In the absence of a national hydrocarbons law, the two sides have entered into five provisional oil- and revenue-sharing deals since 2009, all of which collapsed. Iraq is making slow progress in enacting laws and developing the institutions needed to implement economic policy. Political reforms are still required to assuage investors’ concerns regarding the uncertain business climate.
The Government of Iraq is eager to attract additional foreign direct investment. Still, it faces several obstacles, including a tenuous political system and concerns about security and societal stability. Rampant corruption, outdated infrastructure, insufficient essential services, skilled labor shortages, and antiquated commercial laws stifle investment and constrain private, nonoil sectors’ growth. Under the Iraqi constitution, some competencies relevant to the overall investment climate are shared by the federal government and the regions or are devolved entirely to local governments. Investment in the IKR operates within the Kurdistan Region Investment Law (Law 4 of 2006) and the Kurdistan Board of Investment, which is designed to provide incentives to help economic development in areas under the authority of the KRG. Inflation has remained under control since 2006. However, Iraqi leaders remain hard-pressed to translate macroeconomic gains into an improved standard of living for the Iraqi populace. Unemployment remains a problem throughout the country despite a bloated public sector. Overregulation has made it difficult for Iraqi citizens and foreign investors to start new businesses. Corruption and lack of economic reforms – such as restructuring banks and developing the private sector have inhibited the private sector’s growth.
Natural resources of Iraq: petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur.
Main export partners for Iraq, Middle East are China 22.6%, India 21.1%, South Korea 11.2%, US 7.8%, Italy 6.7%, Greece 6% (2015) for crude oil 99%, coarse materials excluding fuels, food, live animals, while the main import partners for the country are: Turkey 20.7%, Syria 19.6%, China 19.2%, US 4.8%, Russia 4.4% (2015) for food, medicine, manufactures.
When you visit this country in the Middle East, consider the natural hazards in Iraq: Dust storms, sandstorms, floods, while infectious diseases are a degree of risk: intermediate food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever (2016). Also, note that Iraq faces the following environmental issues: Government water control projects 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 Marsh Arabs, who inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced. Furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses severe threats to the area’s wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water, Soil degradation (salination) and erosion, Desertification, Military, and industrial infrastructure has released heavy metals and other hazardous substances into the air, soil, and groundwater, Major sources of environmental damage are effluents from oil refineries, factory. Sewage discharges into rivers, fertilizer and chemical contamination of the ground, and industrial air pollution in urban areas.