Iraq – Country Profile
Official Name : Republic of Iraq
Currency : Iraqi Dinar
Official Language(s) : Arabic, Kurdish
Government : Parliamentary Republic
Area: 437,072 sq. km.
Cities: Capital–Baghdad (5.7 million, 2004 estimate). Other cities–Basrah, Mosul, Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah, Erbil.
Terrain: Alluvial plains, mountains, and desert.
Climate: Mostly hot and dry.
Iraq is bordered by Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. The country slopes from mountains over 3,000 meters (10,000 ft.) above sea level along the border with Iran and Turkey to the remnants of sea-level marshes in the southeast. Much of the land is desert or wasteland. The mountains in the northeast are an extension of the alpine system that runs eastward from the Balkans into southern Turkey, northern Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, terminating in the Himalayas. Average temperatures range from higher than 48°C (120°F) in July and August to below freezing in January. Most of the rainfall occurs from December through April and averages between 10 and 18 centimeters (4-7 in.) annually. The mountainous region of northern Iraq receives appreciably more precipitation than the central or southern desert region.
Nationality: Noun and adjective–Iraqi(s).
Population (2012 est.): 31,129,225
Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurd 15%-20%, Turcoman, Chaldean, Assyrian, or others approximately 5%.
Religions: Muslim 97%, Christian and others approximately 3%.
Languages: Arabic (official), Kurdish (official), Turcoman (a Turkish dialect), Assyrian, Armenian.
Education: Years compulsory–primary school (age 6 through grade 6). Literacy (2006 UNESCO est.)–74.1%.
Health: Infant mortality rate–43.82 deaths/1,000 live births. Life expectancy–69.94 yrs. (2009 est.).
Almost 75% of Iraq’s population lives in the flat, alluvial plain stretching southeast from Baghdad and Basrah to the Persian Gulf. The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers carry about 70 million cubic meters of silt annually to the delta. Known in ancient times as Mesopotamia, the region is the legendary locale of the Garden of Eden. The ruins of Ur, Babylon, and other ancient cities are located in Iraq.
Iraq’s two largest ethnic groups are Arabs and Kurds. Other distinct groups include Turcoman, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and Armenians. Arabic is the most commonly spoken language. Kurdish is spoken in the north, and English is the most commonly spoken Western language.
The majority (60-65%) of Iraqi Muslims are members of the Shi’a sect, but there is a large (32-37%) Sunni population as well, made up of both Arabs and Kurds. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslim but differ from their Arab neighbors in language and customs. Communities of Christians, Mandaeans, and Yezidis also exist. Iraq’s once-substantial Jewish community has almost completely disappeared from the country.
Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Constitution: October 15, 2005.
Independence: On October 3, 1932, Iraq gained independence from the League of Nations Mandate under British Administration.
GDP (2009 est., PPP): $112.0 billion.
GDP per capita (2009 est., PPP): $4,000.
GDP real growth rate (2009 est.): 4.3%.
Rate of inflation (2009 est.): 6.8%.
Unemployment rate (2008 official): 12% to 18%.
Budget (FY 2010): Revenues–$52.8 billion; expenditures–$72.4 billion.
Public debt (Dec. 2008 est.): $46 billion to $87 billion.
Natural resources: Oil, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur.
Agriculture: Products–wheat, barley, rice, corn, chickpeas, beans, dates, cotton, sunflowers, cattle, sheep, and chickens.
Industry: Types–petroleum, chemicals, textiles, construction materials, food processing, fertilizer, metal fabrication/processing.
Trade: Exports (2008 est.)–$58.8 billion f.o.b. Export commodities (2008 est.)–crude oil (84%), crude materials excluding fuels (8%), food and live animals (5%). Export partners (2007)–U.S. 36.8%, Italy 12.6%, South Korea 9.5%, Taiwan 6.3%, Spain 5.2%, Canada 4.7%, France 4.4%, Netherlands 4.2%. Imports (2008 est.)–$37.2 billion f.o.b. Import commodities–food, medicine, manufactured goods. Import partners (2007)–Syria 30.5%, Turkey 19.8%, U.S. 11.1%, Jordan 5%, China 4.8%.
Iraq’s Oil Fields
Iraq’s proven reserves are approximately 143 billion barrels, the third largest in the world. Proven reserves are found in 80 fields, of which only 18 have been developed significantly. There are 18 named oil fields in the country. These include the Rumaila fields in the south (Basrah), which have reserves of 15 billion barrels; the Kirkuk fields in the north (11 billion barrels of reserves) and East Baghdad (18 billion barrels of reserves). Rumaila and Kirkuk jointly produced 72% of Iraqi oil in 2004.
Iraq’s proven natural gas reserves are over 110 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). An estimated 70 percent of these lie in Basra governorate in the south of Iraq. Probable Iraqi reserves have been estimated at 275-300 Tcf, holding one of the principal hydrocarbon reserves in the world with proven reserves estimated at 115 billion barrels.
Iraq’s proven gas reserves are the tenth largest in the world, and two-thirds of resources are associated with oil fields including, Kirkuk, as well as the southern part of the country. Just fewer than 20 percent of known gas reserves are non-associated; around 10 percent is salt “dome” gas.