Iraq is located in Western Asia and shares it borders with Syria and Turkey to north, Iran to the east and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south. It also has a narrow coastline along the Persian Gulf. Iraq is home to approximately 30 million people and about 7 million of those reside in the capital city of Baghdad. The total area of the country is 438,317 km2 (169,234 sq mi.). Iraq means “the fertile” or “the deep-rooted land” in Arabic. This name may have come from the two large rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, that run through the country.
Interesting facts about Iraq
- The official name of Iraq is the Republic of Iraq.
- The motto of Iraq is “God is the Greatest”.
- Iraq is the modern name for the area known as ‘Mesopotamia’.
- It is one of the oldest civilizations on Earth with history dating back to the 6th Millennium BC. It is considered to be the birthplace of writing, law and the wheel.
- The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.
- 75- 80% of the population of Iraq are Arab, 15-20% are Kurdish, and the other five percent is a mixture of Turkoman, Assyrian and others.
- From 1920 to 1932 Iraq was ruled by United Kingdom and was known as the Kingdom of Iraq. It gained independence from the U.K in 1932. The monarchy was overthrown in 1958 and the Republic of Iraq was established.
- In 1968 the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party gained control of Iraq, which ultimately led to a war known as the Iraq War which began in 2003 and ended in 2010. The Gulf War was also initiated by Iraq when it invaded neighboring Kuwait. Iraq was invaded by the United States in 2003, with the resulting war lasting until 2011 when the US withdrew their troops.
- Iraq is mostly desert with fertile agricultural land along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
The Highest Point in the country is 3,611 m (11,847 ft) and is known locally as Cheekah Dar, which means Black tent.
- Iraq has a hot, arid climate with mild to cool winters and long, dry summers. The mountainous areas in the north of the country do experience heavy snow at times. The average temperature in Iraq during summer is 40 °C (104 °F), and it is not uncommon to have experience in excess of 48 °C (118.4°F). The winter temperature does not often exceed 21 °C (69 °F) and night time temperatures can drop to 2-5 °C (35 – 41 °F).
- Iraq ranks second in the world for oil reserves and has 143.1 billion barrels of proved oil reserves.
- The main religion of Iraq is Muslim with 97% of the population practicing this religion.
- The most popular sport in Iraq is soccer. The Iraqi Football Association was formed in 1948 and has been a member of FIFA since 1950. The Iraqi national team won the 2007 AFC Asian Cup. The Iraqi also enjoy basketball, swimming, weightlifting, bodybuilding, boxing, kick boxing and tennis.
- Iraq is home to the first known cookbook. Some of these recipes date back over 10,000 years. Chicken and lamb are the most favored meats and nearly all meals are served with basmati rice. Bulgur Wheat is also a staple food of the country.
- Kebab , Shawarma (grilled meat sandwich wrap), Bamia (lamb, okra and tomato stew), Quzi (lamb with rice, almonds, raisins and spices), Falafel (fried chickpea patties served with amba and salad in pita), Kibbeh (minced meat ground with bulgur or rice and spices), Masgouf (grilled fish with pepper and tamarind), and Maqluba (a rice, lamb, tomato and aubergine dish) are authentic ethic meals of this region.