Iraq is a country in Western Asia.
The official name of the country is the Republic of Iraq.
Iraq is bordered by six countries: Jordan to the west, Syria to the northwest, Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south.
Arabic and Kurdish are the official languages of Iraq.
As of 1 January 2016, the population of Iraq was estimated to be 37,032,056 people.
Iraq has an area of 437,072 square kilometers (168,754 square miles) of land.
Baghdad is the capital and largest city of Iraq. Located along the Tigris River, the city was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate.
Iraq mainly consists of desert, but near the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) are fertile alluvial plains, as the rivers carry about 60,000,000 cubic meters (78,477,037 cu yd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains.
Cheekha Dar mountain elevates to 3,611 metes (11,834 feet) above sea level and is the highest peak in Iraq.
Iraq has a short coastline (58 kilometers / 36 miles) on the Persian (Arabian) Gulf between Iran and Kuwait.
Iraq has 5 UNESCO world heritage sites.
Hatra was an ancient city in the Ninawa Governorate and al-Jazira region of Iraq. It was known as al-Hadr, a name which appears once in ancient inscriptions, and it was in the ancient Persian province of Khvarvaran. Hatra was used as the setting for the opening scene in the 1973 film The Exorcist and since 1985 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located south of Baghdad, the ancient site of Babylon dates back to 2300 BC and was considered the political and religious epicenter of many ancient empires. It is known for its fortified walls, temples and palaces, but especially for its celebrated Hanging Gardens, which were built by King Nebuchadnezzar II for his wife, Amytas.
Al ‘Askarī Shrine is a Shī‘ah Muslim holy site. It is one of the most important Shī‘ah Shrines in the world, built in 944. Adjacent to the shrine is a mosque, which is called Al-Askari Mosque. The dome of the Shrine was destroyed in a bombing by extremists in February 2006 and its two remaining minarets were destroyed in another bombing in June 2007, causing widespread anger amongst Shī‘ah Muslims. The remaining clock tower was also destroyed in July 2007. The dome and minarets were repaired and the mosque reopened in April 2009.
The Erbil Citadel is a tell or occupied mound, and the historical city center of Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The citadel has been inscribed on the World Heritage List since 21 June 2014.
The Ziggurat of Dur-Kurigalzu was built around 1400 BC by King Kurigalzu of the Kassite Dynasty and is currently located (30 kilometers) 19 miles west of Baghdad. The ziggurat was built in honor of the god Enlil, and served as an important landmark for travelers nearing Baghdad. In modern times, the ziggurat stands at 57 meters (187 feet) tall, and has been a popular site where Baghdadi families go to leisure.
From earliest times Iraq was known as Mesopotamia — the land between the rivers — for it embraces a large part of the alluvial plains of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Iraq became an independent country in 1932.
Iraq is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the Middle East. Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians, Mandaeans, and Armenians, among others, speak their own languages and retain their cultural and religious identities.
Iraqi cuisine has a long history going back some 10,000 years to the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Ancient Persians and Arabs. Masqouf or Masgouf [photo below] is Iraq’s national dish. This is grilled Carp and is prepared in an unique way. The fish is cut in two identical halves from the belly up while leaving the back intact, opening up the fish.
Archeologist Leonard Woolley asserts that the fear of black cats, measuring time into 12 hours for each day and each night, and reading our fortunes in the constellation were all invented in Iraq.
According to the Bible, Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq. Isaac’s wife, Rebekah was from Nahor, which is also in Iraq. Additionally, according to legend, Iraq is the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden.
Traditionally, marriages in Iraq are arranged, though more and more Iraqis are choosing their own spouses, especially in larger cities.
Traditionally in Iraq, more than half of all brides and grooms marry their first or second cousin.
Iraqi families are usually large and family relationships are close. Most families live in one house, which is expanded when the family grows.