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  • Counter :
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  • Date :
  • 7/9/2003


Formerly part of theOttoman Empire, Iraq became an independent kingdom in 1932. A "republic" was proclaimed in 1958, but in actuality a series of military strongmen have ruled the country since then, the latest being 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. FollowingKuwait'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 during the past 12 years resulted in the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime. Coalition forces remain in Iraq, helping to restore degraded infrastructure and facilitating the establishment of a freely elected government.



Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait

Geographic coordinates

: 33 00 N, 44 00 E

Area: Total: 437,072 sq km; water: 4,910 sq km;land: 432,162 sq 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


:58 km



: 24,001,816 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure

: 0-14 years: 41.1% (male 5,003,755; female 4,849,238)
15-64 years: 55.9% (male 6,794,265; female 6,624,662)
65 years and over: 3% (male 341,520; female 388,376) (2002 est.)

Nationality: Noun: Iraqi(s); adjective: Iraqi

Ethnic groups

: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%

Languages: Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian


Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. In the 1980s financial problems caused by massive expenditures in the eight-year war with Iran and damage to oil export facilities by Iran led the government to implement austerity measures, borrow heavily, and later reschedule foreign debt payments; Iraq suffered economic losses from the war of at least $100 billion. After hostilities ended in 1988, oil exports gradually increased with the construction of new pipelines and restoration of damaged facilities.Iraq's seizure of Kuwait in August 1990, subsequent international economic sanctions, and damage from military action by an international coalition beginning in January 1991 drastically reduced economic activity. Although government policies supporting large military and internal security forces and allocating resources to key supporters of the regime have hurt the economy, implementation of the UN's oil-for-food program beginning in December 1996 helped improve conditions for the average Iraqi citizen. The military victory of the US-led coalition in March-April 2003 resulted in the shutdown of much of the central economic administrative structure and the loss of a comparatively small amount of capital plant.


: Petroleum, chemicals, textiles, construction materials, food processing


Country name

: Conventional long form: Republic of Iraq; conventional short form: Iraq;
local short form: Al Iraq; local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Iraqiyah

Government type: in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition

Administrative divisions:18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah, An Najaf, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, At Ta'mim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit

Capital: Baghdad


3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration)

Legal system:

in transition following April 2003 defeat of SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led coalition


Telephones - main lines in use:

675,000 (1997)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 19 (5 are inactive), FM 51, shortwave 4 (1998)


4.85 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:

13 (1997)


1.75 million (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):

1 (2000)

Internet users :

12,500 (2001)



total: 2,339 km;standard gauge: 2,339 km 1.435-m gauge (2001)


total: 45,550 km;paved: 38,400 km;unpaved: 7,150 km (1996 est.)


1,015 km


Shatt al Arab is usually navigable by maritime traffic for about 130 km; channel has been dredged to 3 m and is in use;Tigris and Euphrates Rivers have navigable sections for shallow-draft boats; Shatt al Basrah canal was navigable by shallow-draft craft before closing in 1991 because of the Gulf war


150 (2002); note - unknown number were damaged during the March-April 2003 war


There are two large peoples in Iraq,Arabs andKurds. 97% areMuslims, of which more than50% areShi'is, the rest areSunnis. Arabs peoples constitute about 80% of the population. Kurds make up about 15% of the population. Other small groups are Iranian peoples living along the border toIran. There are other religious groups in Iraq, whereChristians of various sects make up about 3%. Small, but important in the understanding of history of religions, areMandeans with about 20,000 adherents. There are also about 2,500 Jews living in Baghdad.



The Cradle of Civilization

In ancient times the land area now known as modern Iraq was almost equivalent to Mesopotamia, the land between the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates (in Arabic, the Dijla and Furat, respectively), the Mesopotamian plain was called the Fertile Crescent. This region is known as the Cradle of Civilization; was the birthplace of the varied civilizations that moved us from prehistory to history. Banking originated in Mesopotamia (Babylonia) out of the activities of temples and palaces, which provided safe places for the storage of valuables. Initially deposits of grain were accepted and later other goods including cattle, agricultural implements, and precious metals.

The Arab conquest and the coming of Islam

Various invaders conquered the land after Nebuchadnezzar's death, including Cyrus the Great in 539BC and Alexander the Great in 331BC, who died there in 323 BC,Babylon declined after the founding of Seleucia, the New Greek capital. In the second century BC, it became part of the Persian Empire, remaining thus until the 7th century AD, when Arab Muslims captured it. In 634AD, an army of 18,000 Arab Muslims, under the leadership of Khalid ibn al Walied, reached the perimeter of the Euphrates delta. Although the occupying Persian force was vastly superior in techniques and numbers, its soldiers were exhausted from their unremitting campaigns against the Byzantines. The Sassanid troops fought ineffectually, lacking sufficient reinforcement to do more.

The Muslims continued the Sassanid office of the divan (Arabic form diwan). Essentially an institution to control income and expenditure through record keeping and the centralization of administration, the divan would be used henceforth throughout the lands of the Islamic conquest. Arabic replaced Persian as the official language and it slowly filtered into common language usage. Iraqis intermarried with Arabs and converted to Islam.


Saddam Hussein & Various Wars

In July 1979 the president, Ahmed Hasan Al-Bakr, was replaced by Saddam Hussein, his vice president, chosen successor, and the true ruler ofIraq. Saddam then assumed both of the vacated offices and purged political rivals in order to assure his position. Once more the political situation flared into hostilities withIran. On September 17, 1980 Saddam declares the Iraqi/Iranian borders agreement (Algiers Agreement) null and void, claiming the whole of Shatt el-Arab back to Iraq. The Iran-Iraq War, which began 5 days later on September 22, 1980, lasted for eight years and had a crippling effect on the economy of both countries; in which after eight years of war no territory had been gained by either side but an estimated one million lives had been lost.

The Iran-Iraq War was then in its eighth year, when on Wednesday 16th March 1988, Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, who led the campaigns against the Iraqi Kurds in the late eighties, orchestrated a genocide, by attacking Halabja, a predominantly Iraqi Kurdish village in northeastern Iraq near the front lines with Iran, with mustard gas and nerve agents. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against his own people. Attempts by the United States Congress in 1988 to impose sanctions onIraq were stifled by the Reagan and Bush Administrations.

In July 1988,Iran accepted the terms of UN Resolution 598, and the cease-fire came into force on20th August 1988. BeforeIraq had a chance to recover economically, it was once more plunged into war, this time with its invasion ofKuwait in 1990.

Attack on Iraq

In his first State of the Union address onJanuary 29, 2002, George W. Bush says thatIraq -- as well asIran andNorth Korea -- are part of an "axis of evil." The comments signal an increase in rhetoric from the White House against Saddam Hussein and in support of U.S. action inIraq.

On 17th of March 2003, Bush gave Saddam Hussein and his sons 48 hours to leave Iraq, threatening that their refusal to do so will result in military conflict commenced at a time of his choosing.

Saddam has rejected President Bush's ultimatum that he and his sons leaveIraq before early Thursday the 20th of March, or face military action. A statement from the Revolutionary Command Council was broadcast on Iraqi television, saying the Iraqi regime "denounced the reckless ultimatum directed by American President George Bush." It saidIraq is ready to confront a U.S.-led attack.

It was 5:45 in the morning inBaghdad on Thursday 20th ofMarch 23, 2003 (Wednesday9:45 PM EST) when more than 40 satellite-guided Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from U.S. warships in theRed Sea andPersian Gulf at a "target of opportunity" as described byU.S. military sources. U.S. President George W. Bush announced Wednesday night he had ordered the coalition attack onIraq to begin with what the Pentagon called a "decapitation attack."

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