Iraq

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Iraq

geographical name

Country, Middle East, southwestern Asia, northwest of the Persian Gulf. Area: 167,618 sq mi (434,128 sq km). Population: (2009 est.) 30,747,000. Capital: Baghdad. The population consists mainly of an Arab majority and a Kurdish minority. Languages: Arabic, Kurdish (both official). Religions: Islam (official; mostly Shi'ite); also Christianity. Currency: dinar. The country can be divided into four major regions: the Tigris-Euphrates alluvial plains in central and southeastern Iraq; Al-Jazirah, an upland region in the north between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; deserts in the west and south, covering about two-fifths of the country; and highlands in the northeast. Iraq has the world's second largest proven reserves of petroleum, and it has substantial reserves of natural gas. Agriculture is also a major component of the economy. Iraq is a multiparty republic with one legislative house; its head of state is the president, and its head of government is the prime minister. Called Mesopotamia in Classical times, the region gave rise to the world's earliest civilizations, including those of Sumer, Akkad, and Babylon. Conquered by Alexander the Great in 331 BCE, the area later became a battleground between Romans and Parthians, then between Sasanians and Byzantines. Arab Muslims conquered it in the 7th century CE, and various Muslim dynasties ruled until the Mongols took over in 1258. The Ottoman Empire took control in the 16th century and ruled until the British occupied the country during World War I (1914–18). The British created the kingdom of Iraq in 1921 and occupied Iraq again during World War II (1939–45). The monarchy was restored following the war, but a revolution caused its downfall in 1958. Following a series of military coups, the socialist Ba'th Party, eventually led by Saddam Hussein, took control and established totalitarian rule in 1968. The Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s and the Persian Gulf War in 1990–91 caused extensive death and destruction. The economy languished under a UN economic embargo imposed on Iraq in the 1990s. The embargo began to erode by the early 21st century, and in 2003, during the Iraq War, the Ba'th Party was driven from power.

Variants of IRAQ

Iraq officially Republic of Iraq

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on Iraq, visit Britannica.com.

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