Iraq Overview

Geographic Overview

The Republic of Iraq has a land area of 437,072 sq km. Iraq is distinguished by the variety of its geographic landforms, including level sedimentary plains and mountains. The country is divided into a mountainous northern area, a desert area in the west, and a large fertile plain in the middle and south of the country that is watered by the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. Iraq has a population of 36M, most of whom live in towns and cities.

The Tigris River, originating in Turkey, is 1,718 km long. The Euphrates reaches 2,700 km and also springs from Turkey. The two rivers meet at the town of Qurna to form the river known as the Shatt al-Arab, which flows for another 185 km until it reaches the Arabian Gulf. Iraq is bordered by Turkey to the North; Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Arab Gulf to the South; Iran to the East; and Syria and Jordan to the West.

Iraq is divided into 18 provinces. The capital city is Baghdad; in addition to Baghdad, major cities include Mosul, Basrah, and Erbil. Iraq's major resources consist of oil, natural gas, sulphur, phosphate, iron, kaoline, bauxite, limestone, gravel, and sand.

Population

Iraq has about 36M citizens, with a yearly population growth rate of 2.6%. The population is young, with 20% less than 20 years old. Over two-thirds of the population lives in urban areas.

The Economy

Iraq has the capacity to be a thriving, middle class country. With a long trading history, deep commercial traditions, and vast natural resources - including the world's second largest proven oil reserves; Iraq, at the crossroad of culture and commerce, has enormous potential.

Moreover, as Iraq reintegrates into the world community, a growing number of agreements will help restart the Iraqi economy. Among key successes:

  • The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed in December 2004 to open membership talks with Iraq. Iraq has been a WTO observer since February 2004. A working party to examine the application of Iraq was established to continue work.
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