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Geography of Iraq

An Geographic Overview of Iraq

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Iraq Flag

The Iraq flag has 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.

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2012
Updated January 16, 2012
Capital: Baghdad
Population: 30,399,572 (July 2011 estimate)
Area: 169,235 square miles (438,317 sq km)
Coastline: 36 miles (58 km)
Border Countries: Turkey, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria
Highest Point: Cheekha Dar, 11,847 feet (3,611 m) on the Iranian border

Iraq is a country that is located in western Asia and shares borders with Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Syria (map). It has a very small coastline of just 36 miles (58 km) along the Persian Gulf. Iraq's capital and largest city is Baghdad and it has a population of 30,399,572 (July 2011 estimate). Other large cities in Iraq include Mosul, Basra, Irbil and Kirkuk and the country's population density is 179.6 people per square mile or 69.3 people per square kilometer.

History of Iraq

Iraq's modern history began in the 1500s when it was controlled by the Ottoman Turks. This control lasted until the end of World War I when it fell under the control of a British Mandate (U.S. Department of State). This lasted until 1932 when Iraq gained its independence and became ruled as a constitutional monarchy. Throughout its early independence Iraq joined a number of international organizations such as the United Nations and the Arab League but it also experienced political instability as there were numerous coups and shifts in governmental power.

From 1980 to 1988 Iraq was involved in the Iran-Iraq war which devastated its economy. The war also left Iraq as one of the largest military establishments in the Persian Gulf region (U.S. Department of State). In 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait but it was forced out in early 1991 by a United States-led U.N. coalition. Following these events social instability continued as the country's northern Kurdish people and its southern Shi'a Muslims rebelled against Saddam Hussein's government. As a result, the Iraq's government used force to suppress the rebellion, killed thousands of citizens and severely damaged the environment of the regions involved.

Because of the instability in Iraq at the time, the U.S. and several other countries established no-fly zones over the country and the U.N. Security Council enacted several sanctions against Iraq after its government refused to surrender weapons and submit to U.N. inspections (U.S. Department of State). Instability remained in the country throughout the rest of the 1990s and into the 2000's.

In March-April 2003 a U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq after it was claimed the country failed to comply with further U.N. inspections. This act began the Iraq War between Iraq and the U.S. Shortly the U.S.'s invasion, Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein was overthrown and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was established to handle Iraq's governmental functions as the country worked to establish a new government. In June 2004 the CPA disbanded and the Iraqi Interim Government took over. In January 2005 the country held elections and the Iraqi Transitional Government (ITG) took power. In May 2005 the ITG appointed a committee to draft a constitution and in September 2005 that constitution was completed. In December 2005 another election was held which established a new 4 year constitutional government that took power in March 2006.

Despite its new government however, Iraq was still highly unstable during this time and violence was widespread throughout the country. As a result, the U.S. increased its presence in Iraq which caused a decrease in violence. In January 2009 Iraq and the U.S. came up with plans to remove U.S. troops from the country and in June 2009 they began leaving Iraq's urban areas. Further removal of U.S. troops continued into 2010 and 2011. On December 15, 2011 the Iraq War officially ended.

Government of Iraq

Iraq's government is considered a parliamentary democracy with an executive branch consisting of a chief of state (the President) and a head of government (the Prime Minister). Iraq's legislative branch is made up of a unicameral Council of Representatives. Iraq currently does not have a judicial branch of government but according to the CIA World Factbook, its constitution calls for federal judicial power to come from the Higher Judicial Council, the Federal Supreme Court Federal Court of Cassation, Public Prosecution Department, Judiciary Oversight Commission and other federal courts "that are regulated in accordance with the law."

Economics and Land Use in Iraq

Iraq's economy is currently growing and is dependent on the development of its oil reserves. The main industries in the country today are petroleum, chemicals, textiles, leather, construction materials, food processing, fertilizer and metal fabrication and processing. Agriculture also plays a role in Iraq's economy and the major products of that industry are wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton, cattle, sheep and poultry.

Geography and Climate of Iraq

Iraq is located in the Middle East along the Persian Gulf and between Iran and Kuwait. It has an area of 169,235 square miles (438,317 sq km). The topography of Iraq varies and consists of large desert plains as well as rugged mountainous regions along its northern borders with Turkey and Iran and low elevation marshes along its southern borders. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers also run through the center of Iraq and flow from the northwest to the southeast.

The climate of Iraq is mostly desert and as such it has mild winters and hot summers. The country's mountainous regions however have very cold winters and mild summers. Baghdad, the capital and largest city in Iraq has a January average low temperature of 39ºF (4ºC) and a July average high temperature of 111ºF (44ºC).

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