country profile - IRAQ
Background: Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by Britain during the course of World War I; in 1920, it was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration. In stages over the next dozen years, Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of strongmen ruled the country until 2003. The last was SADDAM Husayn. 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. 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. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions over a period of 12 years led to the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime. US forces remained in Iraq under a UNSC mandate through 2009 and under a bilateral security agreement thereafter, helping to provide security and to train and mentor Iraqi security forces.
In October 2005, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum and, pursuant to 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. Nearly nine years after the start of the Second Gulf War in Iraq, US military operations there ended in mid-December 2011. In January 2009 and April 2013, Iraq held elections for provincial councils in all governorates except for the three comprising the Kurdistan Regional Government and Kirkuk Governorate. Iraq held a national legislative election in March 2010 - choosing 325 legislators in an expanded COR - and, after nine months of deadlock the COR approved the new government in December 2010. In April 2014, Iraq held a national legislative election and expanded the COR to 328 legislators. Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI dropped his bid for a third term in office, enabling new Prime Minister Haydar al-ABADI, a Shia from Baghdad, to win parliamentary approval of his new cabinet in September 2014. Since early 2015, Iraq has been engaged in a military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to recapture territory lost in the western and northern portion of the country.
geography  
Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait
Area: total: 438,317 sq km
land: 437,367 sq km
water: 950 sq km
Land boundaries: total: 3,809 km
border countries (6): Iran 1,599 km, Jordan 179 km, Kuwait 254 km, Saudi Arabia 811 km, Syria 599 km, Turkey 367 km
Coastline: 58 km
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
Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur
people  
Population: 37,056,169 (July 2015 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 40.25% (male 7,615,835/female 7,300,957)
15-24 years: 18.98% (male 3,576,740/female 3,454,768)
25-54 years: 33.49% (male 6,276,669/female 6,132,968)
55-64 years: 3.95% (male 693,629/female 771,624)
65 years and over: 3.33% (male 549,034/female 683,945) (2015 est.)
Median age: total: 19.7 years
male: 19.4 years
female: 20 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.93% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 31.45 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate: 3.77 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Net migration rate 1.62 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Nationality: noun: Iraqi(s)
adjective: Iraqi
Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian, or other 5%
Religions: Muslim (official) 99% (Shia 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian 0.8%, Hindu <.1, Buddhist <.1, Jewish <.1, folk religion <.1, unafilliated .1, other <.1
note: while there has been voluntary relocation of many Christian families to northern Iraq, recent reporting indicates that the overall Christian population may have dropped by as much as 50 percent since the fall of the Saddam HUSSEIN regime in 2003, with many fleeing to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon (2010 est.)
Languages: Arabic (official), Kurdish (official), Turkmen (a Turkish dialect) and Assyrian (Neo-Aramaic) are official in areas where they constitute a majority of the population), Armenian
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.7%
male: 85.7%
female: 73.7% (2015 est.)
government  
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Iraq
conventional short form: Iraq
local long form: Jumhuriyat al-Iraq/Komar-i Eraq
local short form: Al Iraq/Eraq
Government type: parliamentary democracy
Capital: name: Baghdad
geographic coordinates: 33 20 N, 44 23 E
time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions: 18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah) and 1 region*; Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah, An Najaf, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, At Ta'mim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Kurdistan Regional Government*, Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit
Independence: 3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration); note - on 28 June 2004 the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi-controlled Government
National holiday: Republic Day, July 14 (1958); note - the Government of Iraq has yet to declare an official national holiday but still observes Republic Day
Legal system: mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Fuad MASUM (since 24 July 2014); Vice Presidents Ayad ALLAWI (since 9 September 2014), Nuri MALIKI (since 9 September 2014), Usama al-NUJAYFI (since 9 September 2014)
head of government: Prime Minister Haydar al-ABADI (since 8 September 2014); Deputy Prime Ministers Baha al-ARAJI (since 8 September 2014), Salih al-MUTLAQ (since 8 September 2014), Rowsch SHAWAYS (since 18 October 2014)
cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, approved by Council of Representatives
elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by Council of Representatives to serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 30 April 2014 (next to be held in 2018); prime minister nominated by the president, approved by Council of Representatives
election results: Fuad MASUM elected president; Council of Representatives vote count in second round - Fuad MASUM (PUK) 211, Barham SALIH (PUK) 17; Haydar al-ABADI (Da'wa Party) approved as prime minister
Legislative branch: unicameral Council of Representatives or Majlis an-Nuwwab al-Iraqiyy (328 seats; 320 members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote and 8 seats reserved for minorities; members serve 4-year terms); note - Iraq's constitution calls for the establishment of an upper house, the Federation Council, but it has not been instituted
elections: last held on 30 April 2014 (next to be held in 2018)
election results: Council of Representatives - percent of vote by coalition - NA; seats by coalition/party – State of Law Coalition 95, Sadrist Movement 34, ISCI 30, KDP 25, United for Reform Coalition/Muttahidun 23, PUK) 21, Nationalism Coalition/Al-Wataniyah 19, other Sunni coalitions/parties 15, Al-Arabiyah Coalition 10, Goran 9, other Shia coalitions/parties 9, Fadilah 6, National Reform Trend 6, Iraq Coalition 5,Kurdistan Islamic Union 4, other 17
Judicial branch: highest court(s): Federal Supreme Court or FSC (consists of 9 judges); note - court jurisdiction limited to constitutional issues); Court of Cassation (consists of a court president, 5 vice-presidents, and at least 24 judges)
judge selection and term of office: Federal Supreme Court and Court of Cassation judges appointed by the Higher Juridical Council, a 26-member independent committee of judicial officials; FSC members appointed for life; Court of Cassation judges appointed for 1-year probationary period and upon satisfactory performance may be confirmed for permanent tenure until retirement at age 63
subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal (governorate level); courts of first instance; personal status, labor, criminal, juvenile, and religious courts
Political parties and leaders: Anbar Loyalty Party [Qasim al-FAHADAWI]
Awakening Conference [Ahmad al-RISHAWI]
Badr Organization [Hadi al-AMIRI]
Civil Democratic Alliance
Da'wa Party (Islamic) [Vice President Nuri al-MALIKI]
Da'wa Tanzim [Hashim al-MUSAWI branch]
Fadilah Party [Ammar TUAMA]
Goran (Change) List (also known as the Movement for Change) [Nushirwan MUSTAFA]
Iraq Coalition [Abd al-Salam al-HAMMUDI]
Iraqi Front for National Dialogue [Deputy Prime Minister Salih al-MUTLAQ]
Iraqi Islamic Party or IIP [Ayad al-SAMARRA’I]
Iraqi Justice and Reform Movement [Shaykh Abdallah al-YAWR]
Iraqi National Congress or INC [Ahmad CHALABI]
Iraqi Turkoman Front [Arshad al-SALIHI]
Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq or ISCI [Ammar al-HAKIM]
Kurdistan Democratic Party or KDP [Kurdistan Regional Government President Masud BARZANI]
Kurdistan Islamic Group (also called Islamic Group of Kurdistan) [Ali BAPIR]
Kurdish Islamic Union [ Mohammed FARAI]
Nationalism Coalition/Al Wataniyah [Vice President Ayad ALLAWI]
National Future Gathering [Dhafir al-ANI]
National Movement for Reform and Development [Muhammad al-KARBULI]
National Reform Trend [Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-JAFARI]
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK [former President Jalal TALABANI]
Sadrist Trend [Muqtada al-SADR]
Shia Independents [Higher Education Minister Husayn al-SHAHRISTANI]
United for Iraq/Muttahidun Party [Vice President Usama al-NUJAYFI]
Coalitions and Leaders: Al Ahrar Coalition/Sadrist Trend [Muqtada al-SADR]
Al-Arabiyah Coalition [Deputy Prime Minister Salih al-MUTLAQ]
Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) Coalition/Muwatin [Ammar al-HAKIM]
Kurdistan Alliance [Muhsin al-SADUN]
Nationalism Coalition/Al Wataniyah [Vice President Ayad ALLAWI]
State of Law Coalition [Vice President Nouri al MALIKI]
United for Reform Coalition/Muttahidun Party [Vice President Usama al-NUJAYFI]
note: numerous smaller local, tribal, and minority parties
Political pressure groups and leaders: Sunni militias
International organization participation: ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, CICA, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great") in green Arabic script is centered in the white band; similar to the flag of Syria, which has two stars but no script, Yemen, which has a plain white band, and that of Egypt, which has a gold Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band; design is based upon the Arab Liberation colors; Council of Representatives approved this flag as a compromise temporary replacement for Ba'athist Saddam-era flag
communications  
Telephones - fixed lines: total subscriptions: 1.95 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 5 (2014 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular: total: 33 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 92 (2014 est.)
Telephone system: general assessment: the 2003 liberation of Iraq severely disrupted telecommunications throughout Iraq including international connections; widespread government efforts to rebuild domestic and international communications through fiber optic links are in progress; the mobile cellular market has expanded rapidly to some 27 million subscribers by the end of 2012
domestic: repairs to switches and lines destroyed during 2003 continue; additional switching capacity is improving access; 3 GSM operators since 2007 have expanded beyond their regional roots and offer near country-wide access to second-generation services; third-generation mobile services are not available nationwide; wireless local loop is available in some metropolitan areas and additional licenses have been issued with the hope of overcoming the lack of fixed-line infrastructure
international: country code - 964; satellite earth stations - 4 (2 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean, 1 Intersputnik - Atlantic Ocean region, and 1 Arabsat (inoperative)); local microwave radio relay connects border regions to Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey; international terrestrial fiber-optic connections have been established with Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Kuwait, Jordan, and Iran; links to the Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) and the Gulf Bridge International (GBI) submarine fiber-optic cables have been established (2011)
Broadcast media: the number of private radio and TV stations has increased rapidly since 2003; government-owned TV and radio stations are operated by the publicly funded Iraqi Media Network; private broadcast media are mostly linked to political, ethnic, or religious groups; satellite TV is available to an estimated 70% of viewers and many of the broadcasters are based abroad; transmissions of multiple international radio broadcasters are accessible (2015)
Internet country code: .iq
Internet hosts: 26 (2012)
Internet users: total: 2.8 million
percent of population: 7.8% (2014 est.)
transportation  
Airports: 102 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 72
over 3,047 m: 20
2,438 to 3,047 m: 34
1,524 to 2,437 m: 4
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 7 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 30
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 5
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 6 (2013)
Heliports: 16 (2013)
Pipelines: gas 2,455 km; liquid petroleum gas 913 km; oil 5,432 km; refined products 1,637 km (2013)
Railways: total: 2,272 km
standard gauge: 2,272 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)
Roadways: total: 59,623 km
paved: 59,623 km (includes Kurdistan Region) (2012)
Waterways: 5,279 km
note: Euphrates River (2,815 km), Tigris River (1,899 km), and Third River (565 km) are principal waterways (2012)
Merchant marine: total: 2
by type: petroleum tanker 2
registered in other countries: 2 (Marshall Islands 2) (2010)
Ports and terminals: river port(s): Al Basrah (Shatt al-'Arab); Khawr az Zubayr, Umm Qasr (Khawr az Zubayr waterway)
transnational issues  
Disputes - international: Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Turkey has expressed concern over the autonomous status of Kurds in Iraq
Refugees and internally displaced persons: refugees (country of origin): 16,637 (Turkey); 11,053 (Iran); 9,246 (West Bank and Gaza Strip) (2014); 245,585 (Syria) (2015)
IDPs: 4,160,864 (since 2006 from ethno-sectarian violence; includes 3,206,736 displaced in central and northern Iraq since January 2014) (2015)
stateless persons: 120,000 (2014); note - in the 1970s and 1980s under SADDAM Husayn's administration, thousands of Iraq's Faili Kurds, followers of Shia Islam, were stripped of their Iraqi citizenship, had their property seized by the government, and many were deported; some Faili Kurds had their citizenship reinstated under the 2006 Iraqi Nationality Law, but others lack the documentation to prove their Iraqi origins; some Palestinian refugees, who were also persecuted under the SADDAM Husayn regime, still remain stateless in Iraq
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html