(July 2001 est.)
Independence: 3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate
under British administration)
Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%,
Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%
per cent Arabic, 15 per cent Kurdish. Assyrian
and Armenian may also be spoken.
Currency: : Iraqi
Dinar (ID) = 20 dirhams = 1000 fils. Notes are
in denominations of ID1000, 500, 250 and 100.
Coins are now seldom used in view of rampant inflation
in Iraq, but denominations of ID1 and a variety
of fils exist. A large number of commemorative
coins have also been minted, some for everyday
circulation, others for collectors.
per cent Sunni Muslim, 60-65 per cent Shia Muslim,
with Druze and Christian minorities.
Time: GMT + 3
GMT + 4 during the summer.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Various two- and three-pin
plugs are in use. Electricity supplies were severely
affected in the recent conflict.
Iraq shares borders with Turkey, Iran, the Gulf
of Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria.
There is also a neutral zone between Iraq and
Saudi Arabia administered jointly by the two countries.
Iraq’s portion covers 3522 sq km (1360 sq
miles). The country’s main topographical
features are the two rivers, the Tigris and the
Euphrates, which flow from the Turkish and Syrian
borders in the north to the Gulf in the south.
The northeast is mountainous, while in the west
the country is arid desert. The land surrounding
the two rivers is fertile plain, but the lack
of effective irrigation has resulted in flooding
and areas of marshland.
mainly continental climate brings a wide range
of temperature, with hot summers, particularly
in the south, and cold winters, especially on
the higher ground.
In the mountainous region of the north, summers
can be a little cooler and humidity is lower than
in the south. During the winter months (October
to April) snow often falls on the mountains.
In the central areas of Iraq, summers are much
hotter, with temperatures in Baghdad rising to
about 33.3°C (92°F) in July and August.
It is not unknown for temperatures to soar as
high as 50.6°C (123°F) in this region.
Winter in Baghdad brings a mean temperature of
about 9.4°C (49°F). Temperatures in Basra
range from 37°C (98.6°F) in summer to
14°C (57.2°F) in winter. Dust storms are
an unpleasant feature of the central plains region.
The southern area around the Gulf has extremely
high humidity and some of the highest temperatures
recorded anywhere in the world.
Rainfall is heaviest in the north-east and falls
mostly between October and May. On the central
plain, however, less than 152mm (about 6 inches)
falls annually. Desert areas receive virtually
has four distinct geographic regions.
The northeastern, mountainous region is known
as al-Jazira, rising to nearly 2135m (7000 feet)
near the Turkish border. Iraq's two highest points
are, which rises to 3600m (11,811 feet) and
Mount (3,728m; 12,230 feet). The land area
between the Tigris and the Euphrates is an alluvial
plain and is Iraq's most fertile region.
In the southeast, adjacent to the Persian Gulf,
is a low-lying swampy area, containing marshes,
lakes and reedy waterways.
To the west of the Euphrates is the desert region,
where the land gradually rises to join the Syrian
Desert. This desert area constitutes about 35%
of Iraq's total land area.
Iraq's two main rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates,
flow from northwest to south-east. They converge
near Baghdad, then diverge and meet once again
about 160km (100 miles) north of the Persian Gulf,
to form the Shatt al-Arab River. This river flows
through Basra and drains into the Gulf. Richly
alluvial soil characterizes the Tigris-Euphrates
basin; elsewhere, soils are very light and not
service was available, but services have been
severely disrupted in the conflict and much of
the network destroyed. Country code: 964. Outgoing
international code: 00.
Mobile telephone: There are
no networks available at present.
Telegram/Fax: There are facilities
in Baghdad. Telegrams can be sent from the telegraph
office next to the post office in Rashid Street.
Services are also available at major hotels.
Internet: There are no ISPs
in Iraq at present. However, there is at least
one Internet cafe in Baghdad centre.
Post: Airmail between Western
Europe and Iraq used to take 5 to 10 days, but
now takes much longer. Visitors should avoid using
Press: Newspapers published
in Arabic include Ath-Thawra, Al-Iraq and Al-Baath
ar-Riyadhi. Periodicals are also published. The
main English-language daily is the Baghdad Observer.
Radio: BBC World Service (website:
www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice) and Voice of America
(website: www.voa.gov) can be received. From time
to time the frequencies change and the most up-to-date
can be found online.