Much of the sediment clouding the water in this image of the Persian Gulf is from the Shatt al Arab River, which enters the Gulf in the north along the Iran-Iraq border. The river drains the combined waters of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers of Iraq, and the Karun River of Iran. Though other rivers empty into the Persian Gulf, most of its fresh water comes from the Shatt al Arab. On the right edge of the image is the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which connects the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea, part of the northern Indian Ocean. The Persian Gulf is flanked to the west by wedge-shaped Kuwait and by Saudi Arabia with its vast tan-, pink-, and white-sand deserts; to the south by Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman; and to the east by the dry mountains of Iran. The wetlands and rivers of Mesopotamia border the Gulf on the north. The red dots mark gas flares in oil fields of Iran and Iraq. Image courtesy of NASA.
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Introduction

Background

Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq was occupied by the United Kingdom during World War I and was declared a League of Nations mandate under UK administration in 1920. Iraq attained its independence as a kingdom in 1932. It was proclaimed a "republic" in 1958 after a coup overthrew the monarchy, but in actuality, a series of strongmen ruled the country until 2003. The last was SADDAM Husayn from 1979 to 2003. Territorial disputes with Iran led to an inconclusive and costly eight-year war (1980-88). In August 1990, Iraq seized Kuwait but was expelled by US-led UN coalition forces during the Gulf War of January-February 1991. After Iraq's expulsion, the UN Security Council (UNSC) required Iraq to scrap all weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles and to allow UN verification inspections. Continued Iraqi noncompliance with UNSC resolutions led to the Second Gulf War in March 2003 and the ouster of the SADDAM Husayn regime by US-led forces.

In October 2005, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum and, pursuant to this document, elected a 275-member Council of Representatives (COR) in December 2005. The COR approved most cabinet ministers in May 2006, marking the transition to Iraq's first constitutional government in nearly a half century. Iraq held elections for provincial councils in all governorates - except for Iraq's Kurdistan Region and Kirkuk - in January 2009 and in April and June 2013, and has repeatedly postponed the next provincial elections, originally planned for April 2017. Iraq has held four national legislative elections since 2006, most recently in October 2021 when 329 legislators were elected to the COR. The acting Iraqi National Intelligence Service Director General Mustafa al-KADHIMI became prime minister in May 2020 after the previous prime minister resigned in late 2019 because of widespread protests demanding more employment opportunities and an end to corruption. His mandate as prime minister was to guide Iraq toward an early national legislative election, which was held in October 2021.

Between 2014 and 2017, Iraq was engaged in a military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) to recapture territory lost in the western and northern portion of the country. Iraqi and allied forces recaptured Mosul, the country's second-largest city, in 2017 and drove ISIS out of its other urban strongholds. In December 2017, then-Prime Minister Haydar al-ABADI publicly declared victory against ISIS while continuing operations against the group's residual presence in rural areas. Also in late 2017, ABADI responded to an independence referendum held by the Kurdistan Regional Government by ordering Iraqi forces to take control of disputed territories across central and northern Iraq that were previously occupied and governed by Kurdish forces.

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

Location

Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait

Geographic coordinates

33 00 N, 44 00 E

Map references

Middle East

Area

total: 438,317 sq km

land: 437,367 sq km

water: 950 sq km

country comparison to the world: 60

Area - comparative

slightly more than three times the size of New York state

<p>slightly more than three times the size of New York state</p>

Land boundaries

total: 3,809 km

border countries (6): Iran 1,599 km; Jordan 179 km; Kuwait 254 km; Saudi Arabia 811 km; Syria 599 km; Turkey 367 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

continental shelf: not specified

Climate

mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq

Terrain

mostly broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey

Elevation

highest point: Cheekha Dar (Kurdish for "Black Tent") 3,611 m

lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m

mean elevation: 312 m

Natural resources

petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur

Land use

agricultural land: 18.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 8.4% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 9.2% (2018 est.)

forest: 1.9% (2018 est.)

other: 80% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

35,250 sq km (2012)

Major lakes (area sq km)

Fresh water lake(s): Lake Hammar - 1,940 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Euphrates river mouth (shared with Turkey[s], Syria, and Iran) - 3,596 km; Tigris river mouth (shared with Turkey[s], Syria, and Iran) - 1,950 km; the Tigris and Euphrates join to form the Shatt al Arab
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Persian Gulf) Tigris and Euphrates (918,044 sq km)

Major aquifers

Arabian Aquifer System

Population distribution

population is concentrated in the north, center, and eastern parts of the country, with many of the larger urban agglomerations found along extensive parts of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers; much of the western and southern areas are either lightly populated or uninhabited

Natural hazards

dust storms; sandstorms; floods

Geography - note

strategic location on Shatt al Arab waterway and at the head of the Persian Gulf

Map description

Iraq map showing major cities as well as parts of surrounding countries and the Persian Gulf.

People and Society

Nationality

noun: Iraqi(s)

adjective: Iraqi

Ethnic groups

Arab 75-80%, Kurdish 15-20%, other 5% (includes Turkmen, Yezidi, Shabak, Kaka'i, Bedouin, Romani, Assyrian, Circassian, Sabaean-Mandaean, Persian)

note: data is a 1987 government estimate; no more recent reliable numbers are available

Languages

Arabic (official), Kurdish (official), Turkmen (a Turkish dialect), Syriac (Neo-Aramaic), and Armenian are official in areas where native speakers of these languages constitute a majority of the population

major-language sample(s):
كتاب حقائق العالم، أحسن مصدر للمعلومات الأساسية (Arabic)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Arabic audio sample:

Religions

Muslim (official) 95-98% (Shia 61-64%, Sunni 29-34%), Christian 1% (includes Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Assyrian Church of the East), other 1-4% (2015 est.)

note: the last census in Iraq was in 1997; while there has been voluntary relocation of many Christian families to northern Iraq, the overall Christian population has decreased at least 50% and perhaps as high as 90% since the fall of the SADDAM Husayn regime in 2003, according to US Embassy estimates, with many fleeing to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon

Age structure

0-14 years: 37.02% (male 7,349,868/female 7,041,405)

15-24 years: 19.83% (male 3,918,433/female 3,788,157)

25-54 years: 35.59% (male 6,919,569/female 6,914,856)

55-64 years: 4.23% (male 805,397/female 839,137)

65 years and over: 3.33% (2020 est.) (male 576,593/female 719,240)

This is the population pyramid for Iraq. A population pyramid illustrates the age and sex structure of a country's population and may provide insights about political and social stability, as well as economic development. The population is distributed along the horizontal axis, with males shown on the left and females on the right. The male and female populations are broken down into 5-year age groups represented as horizontal bars along the vertical axis, with the youngest age groups at the bottom and the oldest at the top. The shape of the population pyramid gradually evolves over time based on fertility, mortality, and international migration trends. <br/><br/>For additional information, please see the entry for Population pyramid on the Definitions and Notes page.

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 69.9

youth dependency ratio: 64.1

elderly dependency ratio: 5.9

potential support ratio: 17.1 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 21.2 years

male: 20.8 years

female: 21.6 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 185

Birth rate

24.7 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 46

Death rate

3.9 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 217

Net migration rate

-0.83 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 140

Population distribution

population is concentrated in the north, center, and eastern parts of the country, with many of the larger urban agglomerations found along extensive parts of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers; much of the western and southern areas are either lightly populated or uninhabited

Urbanization

urban population: 71.4% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 2.91% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

7.512 million BAGHDAD (capital), 1.737 million Mosul, 1.414 million Basra, 1.052 million Kirkuk, 930,000 Najaf, 878,000 Erbil (2022)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.65 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2022 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

79 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 80

Infant mortality rate

total: 19.62 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 21.34 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 17.83 deaths/1,000 live births (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 83

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.18 years

male: 71.3 years

female: 75.15 years (2022 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 97.4% of population

total: 99.3% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 2.6% of population

total: 0.7% of population (2020 est.)

Physicians density

0.71 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

1.3 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 100% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 0% of population

total: 0% of population (2020 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

note: widespread ongoing transmission of a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is occurring throughout Iraq; as of 30 March 2022, Iraq has reported a total of 2,318,865 cases of COVID-19 or 5,765.09 cumulative cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population with a total of 25,160 cumulative deaths or a rate of 62.55 cumulative deaths per 100,000 population; as of 29 March 2022, 24.93% of the population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Child marriage

women married by age 15: 7.2% (2018)

women married by age 18: 27.9% (2018 est.)

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 85.6%

male: 91.2%

female: 79.9% (2017)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 25.6%

male: 22%

female: 63.3% (2017)

Environment

Environment - current issues

government water control projects drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Marsh Arabs, who inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area's wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation (salination) and erosion; desertification; military and industrial infrastructure has released heavy metals and other hazardous substances into the air, soil, and groundwater; major sources of environmental damage are effluents from oil refineries, factory and sewage discharges into rivers, fertilizer and chemical contamination of the soil, and industrial air pollution in urban areas

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Environmental Modification

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 57.73 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 190.06 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 17.44 megatons (2020 est.)

Climate

mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq

Land use

agricultural land: 18.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 8.4% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 9.2% (2018 est.)

forest: 1.9% (2018 est.)

other: 80% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 71.4% of total population (2022)

rate of urbanization: 2.91% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 114

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

note: widespread ongoing transmission of a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is occurring throughout Iraq; as of 30 March 2022, Iraq has reported a total of 2,318,865 cases of COVID-19 or 5,765.09 cumulative cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population with a total of 25,160 cumulative deaths or a rate of 62.55 cumulative deaths per 100,000 population; as of 29 March 2022, 24.93% of the population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Food insecurity

severe localized food insecurity: due to civil conflict, low oil prices, and economic slowdown - the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) for Iraq identified 4.1 million people in need, of which 2.4 million have acute humanitarian needs; while the number of people in need remained similar to the previous year, the severity of those needs increased, largely due to the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on top of an existing humanitarian crisis, leading to a 35% increase in the number of people in acute need; more than half of these are concentrated in the governorates of Nineveh and Anbar; the number of severely food insecure people is estimated at about 435,000, while 731,000 are vulnerable to food insecurity (2021)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 13.14 million tons (2015 est.)

Major lakes (area sq km)

Fresh water lake(s): Lake Hammar - 1,940 sq km

Major rivers (by length in km)

Euphrates river mouth (shared with Turkey[s], Syria, and Iran) - 3,596 km; Tigris river mouth (shared with Turkey[s], Syria, and Iran) - 1,950 km; the Tigris and Euphrates join to form the Shatt al Arab
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Persian Gulf) Tigris and Euphrates (918,044 sq km)

Major aquifers

Arabian Aquifer System

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 1.23 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 2.05 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 35.27 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

89.86 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Government

Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Iraq

conventional short form: Iraq

local long form: Jumhuriyat al-Iraq/Komar-i Eraq

local short form: Al Iraq/Eraq

former: Mesopotamia, Mandatory Iraq, Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq

etymology: the name probably derives from "Uruk" (Biblical "Erech"), the ancient Sumerian and Babylonian city on the Euphrates River

Government type

federal parliamentary republic

Capital

name: Baghdad

geographic coordinates: 33 20 N, 44 24 E

time difference: UTC+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: although the origin of the name is disputed, it likely has compound Persian roots with "bagh" and "dad" meaning "god" and "given" respectively to create the meaning of "bestowed by God"

Administrative divisions

18 governorates (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah (Arabic); parezgakan, singular - parezga (Kurdish)) and 1 region*; 'Al Anbar; Al Basrah; Al Muthanna; Al Qadisiyah (Ad Diwaniyah); An Najaf; Arbil (Erbil) (Arabic), Hewler (Kurdish); As Sulaymaniyah (Arabic), Slemani (Kurdish); Babil; Baghdad; Dahuk (Arabic), Dihok (Kurdish); Dhi Qar; Diyala; Karbala'; Kirkuk; Maysan; Ninawa; Salah ad Din; Wasit

Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government administers Dahuk, Erbil, and As Sulaymaniyah

Independence

3 October 1932 (from League of Nations mandate under British administration); note - on 28 June 2004 the Coalition Provisional Authority transferred sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government

National holiday

Independence Day, 3 October (1932); Republic Day, 14 July (1958)

Constitution

history: several previous; latest adopted by referendum 15 October 2005

amendments: proposed by the president of the republic and the Council of Minsters collectively, or by one fifth of the Council of Representatives members; passage requires at least two-thirds majority vote by the Council of Representatives, approval by referendum, and ratification by the president; passage of amendments to articles on citizen rights and liberties requires two-thirds majority vote of Council of Representatives members after two successive electoral terms, approval in a referendum, and ratification by the president

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt

Citizenship

citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Iraq

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years

Suffrage

18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Barham SALIH (since 2 October 2018); vice presidents (vacant)

head of government: Prime Minister Mustafa al-KADHIMI (since 7 May 2020)

cabinet: Council of Ministers proposed by the prime minister, approved by Council of Representatives

elections/appointments: president indirectly elected by Council of Representatives (COR) to serve a 4-year term (eligible for a second term); COR election last held on 10 October 2021 (next to be held in 2025)

election results:

2018: COR vote in first round - Barham SALIH (PUK) 165, Fuad HUSAYN (KDP) 90; Barham SALIH elected president in second round - Barham SALIH 219, Fuad HUSAYN 22; note - the COR vote on 1 October 2018 failed due to a lack of quorum, and a new session was held on 2 October

2014: Fuad MASUM elected president; Council of Representatives vote - Fuad MASUM (PUK) 211, Barham SALIH (PUK) 17; Haydar al-ABADI (Da'wa Party) approved as prime minister

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Council of Representatives of Iraq (COR) or Majlis an-Nuwwab al-Iraqiyy (329 seats; 320 members directly elected in 83 multi-seat constituencies by single nontransferable vote, 9 seats reserved for minorities - 5 for Christians, 1 each for Sabaean-Mandaeans, Yazidis, Shabaks, Fayli Kurds, and 25% of seats allocated to women; members serve 4-year terms); note - in late 2020, the COR approved an electoral law, replacing the proportional representation voting system with the single non-transferable system

elections: last held on 10 October 2021 (next to be held in October 2025)

election results: percent of vote by party/coalition - NA; seats by party/coalition - Sadrist Bloc 73, National Progress Alliance 37, State of Law Coalition 33, Kurdish Democratic Party 31, Al Fatah Alliance 17, Kurdistan Alliance 17, Al Iraq Alliance 14, New Generation Movement 14, Ishraqet Konoon 6, Tasmin Alliance 5, Babylon Movement 4, National Contract Alliance 4, National State Forces Alliance 4, other 22, independent 43; composition - men 234, women 95, percent of women 28.9%

Judicial branch

highest courts: Federal Supreme Court or FSC (consists of 9 judges); note - court jurisdiction limited to constitutional issues, application of federal laws, ratification of election results for the COR, judicial competency disputes, and disputes between regions or governorates and the central government; Court of Cassation (consists of a court president, 5 vice presidents, and at least 24 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Federal Supreme Court judges nominated by the HJC President, the FSC Chief Justice, the Public Prosecutor's Office chief, and the head of the Judicial Oversight Commission; FSC members required to retire at age 72; Court of Cassation judges appointed by the HJC and confirmed by the Council of Representatives to serve until retirement nominally at age 63, but can be extended to age 66 by the HJC

subordinate courts: Courts of Appeal (governorate level); civil courts, including first instance, personal status, labor, and customs; criminal courts including felony, misdemeanor, investigative, major crimes, juvenile, and traffic courts

Political parties and leaders

Al Fatah Alliance [Hadi al-AMIRI]
Azm Alliance [Khamis al-KHANJAR]
Babylon Movement [Rayan al-KILDANI]
Imtidad [Ala al-RIKABI]
Ishraqet Konoon [Jaafar AZIZ]
Kurdistan Democratic Party or KDP [Masoud BARZANI]
National Contract Alliance Falih al-FAYYADH]
National State Forces Alliance [Ammar al-HAKIM]
National Wisdom Trend [Ammar al-HAKIM]
New Generation Movement [SHASWAR Abd al-Wahid Qadir]
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK [Bafel TALABANI]
State of Law Coalition [Nuri al MALIKI]
The Sadrist Bloc [Muqtada al-SADR]
Taqadum [Muhammad al-HALBUSI]
Tasmin Alliance [Sarah al-SALIHI]
numerous smaller independent, religious, local, tribal, and minority parties

International organization participation

ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, CICA, EITI (compliant country), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, OPEC, PCA, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Fareed Mustafa Kamil YASSEEN (since 18 January 2017)

chancery: 3421 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007

telephone: [1] (202) 742-1600

FAX: [1] (202) 333-1129

email address and website:
http://www.iraqiembassy.us/

consulate(s) general: Detroit, Los Angeles

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Matthew TUELLER (since 9 June 2019)

embassy: Al-Kindi Street, International Zone, Baghdad; note - consulate in Al Basrah closed as of 28 September 2018

mailing address: 6060 Baghdad Place, Washington DC  20521-6060

telephone: 0760-030-3000

email address and website:
BaghdadACS@state.gov

https://iq.usembassy.gov/

Flag description

three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; the Takbir (Arabic expression meaning "God is great") in green Arabic script is centered in the white band; the band colors derive from the Arab Liberation flag and represent oppression (black), overcome through bloody struggle (red), to be replaced by a bright future (white); the Council of Representatives approved this flag in 2008 as a compromise replacement for the Ba'thist SADDAM-era flag

note: similar to the flag of Syria, which has two stars but no script; Yemen, which has a plain white band; and that of Egypt, which has a golden Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band

National symbol(s)

golden eagle; national colors: red, white, black

National anthem

name: "Mawtini" (My Homeland)

lyrics/music: Ibrahim TOUQAN/Mohammad FLAYFEL

note: adopted 2004; following the ouster of SADDAM Husayn, Iraq adopted "Mawtini," a popular folk song throughout the Arab world; also serves as an unofficial anthem of the Palestinian people

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 6 (5 cultural, 1 mixed)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat) (c), Babylon (c), Erbil Citadel (c), Hatra (c), Samarra Archaeological City (c), The Ahwar (Marshland) of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities (m)

Economy

Economic overview

Iraq's GDP growth slowed to 1.1% in 2017, a marked decline compared to the previous two years as domestic consumption and investment fell because of civil violence and a sluggish oil market. The Iraqi Government received its third tranche of funding from its 2016 Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) with the IMF in August 2017, which is intended to stabilize its finances by encouraging improved fiscal management, needed economic reform, and expenditure reduction. Additionally, in late 2017 Iraq received more than $1.4 billion in financing from international lenders, part of which was generated by issuing a $1 billion bond for reconstruction and rehabilitation in areas liberated from ISIL. Investment and key sector diversification are crucial components to Iraq’s long-term economic development and require a strengthened business climate with enhanced legal and regulatory oversight to bolster private-sector engagement. The overall standard of living depends on global oil prices, the central government passage of major policy reforms, a stable security environment post-ISIS, and the resolution of civil discord with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

 

Iraq's largely state-run economy is dominated by the oil sector, which provides roughly 85% of government revenue and 80% of foreign exchange earnings, and is a major determinant of the economy's fortunes. Iraq's contracts with major oil companies have the potential to further expand oil exports and revenues, but Iraq will need to make significant upgrades to its oil processing, pipeline, and export infrastructure to enable these deals to reach their economic potential.

 

In 2017, Iraqi oil exports from northern fields were disrupted following a KRG referendum that resulted in the Iraqi Government reasserting federal control over disputed oil fields and energy infrastructure in Kirkuk. The Iraqi government and the KRG dispute the role of federal and regional authorities in the development and export of natural resources. In 2007, the KRG passed an oil law to develop IKR oil and gas reserves independent of the federal government. The KRG has signed about 50 contracts with foreign energy companies to develop its reserves, some of which lie in territories taken by Baghdad in October 2017. The KRG is able to unilaterally export oil from the fields it retains control of through its own pipeline to Turkey, which Baghdad claims is illegal. In the absence of a national hydrocarbons law, the two sides have entered into five provisional oil- and revenue-sharing deals since 2009, all of which collapsed.

 

Iraq is making slow progress enacting laws and developing the institutions needed to implement economic policy, and political reforms are still needed to assuage investors' concerns regarding the uncertain business climate. The Government of Iraq is eager to attract additional foreign direct investment, but it faces a number of obstacles, including a tenuous political system and concerns about security and societal stability. Rampant corruption, outdated infrastructure, insufficient essential services, skilled labor shortages, and antiquated commercial laws stifle investment and continue to constrain growth of private, nonoil sectors. Under the Iraqi constitution, some competencies relevant to the overall investment climate are either shared by the federal government and the regions or are devolved entirely to local governments. Investment in the IKR operates within the framework of the Kurdistan Region Investment Law (Law 4 of 2006) and the Kurdistan Board of Investment, which is designed to provide incentives to help economic development in areas under the authority of the KRG.

 

Inflation has remained under control since 2006. However, Iraqi leaders remain hard-pressed to translate macroeconomic gains into an improved standard of living for the Iraqi populace. Unemployment remains a problem throughout the country despite a bloated public sector. Overregulation has made it difficult for Iraqi citizens and foreign investors to start new businesses. Corruption and lack of economic reforms - such as restructuring banks and developing the private sector – have inhibited the growth of the private sector.

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$372.27 billion (2020 est.)

$415.32 billion (2019 est.)

$397.64 billion (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 48

Real GDP growth rate

-2.1% (2017 est.)

13.1% (2016 est.)

2.5% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 205

Real GDP per capita

$9,300 (2020 est.)

$10,600 (2019 est.)

$10,300 (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

country comparison to the world: 144

GDP (official exchange rate)

$231.994 billion (2019 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

-0.1% (2019 est.)

0.3% (2018 est.)

0.2% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 17

Credit ratings

Fitch rating: B- (2015)

Moody's rating: Caa1 (2017)

Standard & Poors rating: B- (2015)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 3.3% (2017 est.)

industry: 51% (2017 est.)

services: 45.8% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 50.4% (2013 est.)

government consumption: 22.9% (2016 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 20.6% (2016 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2016 est.)

exports of goods and services: 32.5% (2016 est.)

imports of goods and services: -40.9% (2016 est.)

Agricultural products

wheat, barley, dates, tomatoes, rice, maize, grapes, potatoes, rice, watermelons

Industries

petroleum, chemicals, textiles, leather, construction materials, food processing, fertilizer, metal fabrication/processing

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 21.6%

industry: 18.7%

services: 59.8% (2008 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.6%

highest 10%: 25.7% (2007 est.)

Budget

revenues: 68.71 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 76.82 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

59.7% of GDP (2017 est.)

66% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 74

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

$4.344 billion (2017 est.)

-$13.38 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 31

Exports

$50.61 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$88.9 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$91.93 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 56

Exports - partners

China 26%, India 24%, South Korea 9%, United States 8%, Italy 6%, Greece 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

crude petroleum, refined petroleum, gold, dates, petroleum coke (2019)

Imports

$54.72 billion (2020 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$72.28 billion (2019 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

$56.88 billion (2018 est.) note: data are in current year dollars

country comparison to the world: 55

Imports - partners

United Arab Emirates 28%, Turkey 21%, China 19% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, broadcasting equipment, cars, jewelry, cigarettes (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$48.88 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$45.36 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 41

Debt - external

$73.02 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$64.16 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 61

Exchange rates

Iraqi dinars (IQD) per US dollar -

1,184 (2017 est.)

1,182 (2016 est.)

1,182 (2015 est.)

1,167.63 (2014 est.)

1,213.72 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,699,758 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 7 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 47

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 34,946,600 (2020)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 91.86 (2020)

country comparison to the world: 42

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the 2003 liberation of Iraq severely disrupted telecommunications throughout the country; widespread government efforts to rebuild domestic and international communications have slowed due to political unrest; recent efforts create stability and developments in 4G and 5G technologies; operators focus on installations of new fiber-optic cables and growth in mobile broadband subscribers; the most popular plans are pre-paid; operators focused on fixing and replacing networks (2020)

domestic: 3G services offered by three major mobile operators; 4G offered by one operator in Iraqi; conflict has destroyed infrastructure in areas; about 10 per 100 for fixed-line and 92 per 100 for mobile-cellular subscriptions (2020)

international: country code - 964; landing points for FALCON, and GBICS/MENA submarine cables providing connections to the Middle East, Africa and India; satellite earth stations - 4 (2 Intelsat - 1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean, 1 Intersputnik - Atlantic Ocean region, and 1 Arabsat (inoperative)); local microwave radio relay connects border regions to Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, and Turkey (2019)

note: the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally; since 2020, some aspects of the telecom sector have experienced downturn, particularly in mobile device production; many network operators delayed upgrades to infrastructure; progress towards 5G implementation was postponed or slowed in some countries; consumer spending on telecom services and devices was affected by large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes; the crucial nature of telecom services as a tool for work and school from home became evident, and received some support from governments

Broadcast media

the number of private radio and TV stations has increased rapidly since 2003; government-owned TV and radio stations are operated by the publicly funded Iraqi Media Network; private broadcast media are mostly linked to political, ethnic, or religious groups; satellite TV is available to an estimated 70% of viewers and many of the broadcasters are based abroad; transmissions of multiple international radio broadcasters are accessible (2019)

Internet users

total: 24,133,502 (2020 est.)

percent of population: 60% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 36

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 6,254,099 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 16 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 30

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 4 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 34

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 2,075,065 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 16.2 million (2018) mt-km

Airports - with paved runways

total: 72

over 3,047 m: 20

2,438 to 3,047 m: 34

1,524 to 2,437 m: 4

914 to 1,523 m: 7

under 914 m: 7 (2021)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 30

over 3,047 m: 3

2,438 to 3,047 m: 5

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3

914 to 1,523 m: 13

under 914 m: 6 (2021)

Heliports

16 (2021)

Pipelines

2455 km gas, 913 km liquid petroleum gas, 5432 km oil, 1637 km refined products (2013)

Railways

total: 2,272 km (2014)

standard gauge: 2,272 km (2014) 1.435-m gauge

country comparison to the world: 69

Roadways

total: 59,623 km (2012)

paved: 59,623 km (2012) (includes Kurdistan region)

country comparison to the world: 77

Waterways

5,279 km (2012) (the Euphrates River (2,815 km), Tigris River (1,899 km), and Third River (565 km) are the principal waterways)

country comparison to the world: 22

Merchant marine

total: 68

by type: general cargo 1, oil tanker 6, other 61 (2021)

country comparison to the world: 107

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Al Basrah (Shatt al Arab); Khawr az Zubayr, Umm Qasr (Khawr az Zubayr waterway)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Ministry of Defense: Iraqi Army, Army Aviation Command, Iraqi Navy, Iraqi Air Force, Iraqi Air Defense Command, Special Forces Command, Special Security Division (Green Zone protection)

National-Level Security Forces: Iraqi Counterterrorism Service (CTS; a Special Forces Division aka the "Golden Division"), Prime Minister's Special Forces Division, Presidential Brigades

Ministry of Interior: Federal Police Forces Command, Border Guard Forces Command, Federal Intelligence and Investigations Agency, Emergency Response Division, Facilities Protection Directorate, and Provincial Police

Ministry of Oil: Energy Police Directorate

Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Peshmerga: Regional Guard Brigades, Unit (or Division) 70 Forces, Unit (or Division) 80 Forces, special operations/counter-terrorism forces (Counter Terrorism Group, CTG and Counter Terrorism Directorate, CTD); note - Unit 70 and the CTG are associated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) political party, while Unit 80 and the CTD are associated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP); Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Interior: Zeravani and Emergency Response Forces (paramilitary internal security forces)

Popular Mobilization Committee (PMC): Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Tribal Mobilization Forces (TMF); the PMF and TMF are a collection of approximately 60 militias of widely varied sizes and political interests (2021)

Military expenditures

3.7% of GDP (2021 est.)

4.1% of GDP (2020 est.)

3.8% of GDP (2019 est.) (approximately $14.6 billion)

4.5% of GDP (2018 est.) (approximately $16 billion)

6% of GDP (2017 est.) (approximately $20.4 billion)

country comparison to the world: 22

Military and security service personnel strengths

information varies; approximately 200,000 personnel under the Ministry of Defense (190,000 Army/Aviation Command/Special Forces; 5,000 Navy; 5,000 Air/Air Defense Forces); approximately 25,000 National-Level Security Forces (10,000 Iraqi Counterterrorism Service; 10,000 Presidential Brigades; 5,000 Prime Minister’s Special Forces Division); Ministry of Peshmerga: approximately 150,000-plus (45-50,000 Regional Guard Brigades; 40-45,000 Unit 70 Forces; 65-70,000 Unit 80 Forces); estimated 100-160,000 Popular Mobilization Forces (2021)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the Iraqi military inventory is comprised of a mix of equipment from a wide variety of sources, including Europe, South Africa, South Korea, Russia, and the US; since 2010, Russia and the US are the leading suppliers of military hardware to Iraq (2021)

Military service age and obligation

18-40 years of age for voluntary military service; no conscription (abolished 2003) (2021)

note - in late 2021, the Iraqi Government approved a draft conscription law for the Council of Representatives to debate

Military - note

as of early 2022, Iraqi security forces (ISF) continued to conduct counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS) terrorist group, particularly in northern and western Iraq; Kurdish Security Forces (KSF, aka Peshmerga) also conducted operations against ISIS

the KSF are formally recognized as a legitimate Iraqi military force under the country’s constitution and have operated jointly with the Iraqi military against ISIS militants, but they also operate outside of Iraqi military command structure; in late 2021, the ISF and the KSF signed an agreement to establish a Joint Force Brigade that would provide security in a disputed area known as the Kurdish Coordination Line (KCL); the KSF/Peshmerga report to the Kurdistan Regional Government or Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan parties instead of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense

Popular Mobilization Commission and Affiliated Forces (PMF or PMC), also known as Popular Mobilization Units (PMU, or al-Hashd al-Sha’abi in Arabic), tribal militia units have fought alongside the Iraqi military against ISIS since 2014, but the majority of these forces continue to largely ignore the 2016 Law of the Popular Mobilization Authority, which mandated that armed militias must be regulated in a fashion similar to Iraq’s other security forces and act under the Iraqi Government’s direct control; the Iraqi prime minister legally commands the PMF, but most of the militia brigades take orders from associated political parties and/or other government officials, including some with ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and two that have been designated as terrorist organizations by the US; the PMF/PMU is an umbrella organization comprised of many different militias, the majority of which are Shia; there are typically three types of Shia militia:

--militias backed by Iran, particularly the IRGC; they are considered the most active and capable, and include such groups as the Badr Organization, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and Kataib Hizballah

--militias affiliated with Shia political parties, but not aligned with Iran, such as Moqtada al-SADR's Saray al-Salam (Peace Brigades)

--militias not connected with political parties, but affiliated with the Najaf-based Grand Ayatollah Ali al-SISTANI (Iraq’s supreme Shia cleric), such as the Hawza militias

other PMF/PMU militias include Tribal Mobilization militias, or Hashd al-Asha’iri, which are composed of fighters from Sunni tribes; some of these militias take orders from the ISF and local authorities while others respond to orders from the larger Shia PMU militias; still other militias include Yazidi and Christian militias and the Turkmen brigades; the links of these forces to the PMU is not always clear-cut and may be loosely based on financial, legal, or political incentives

at the request of the Iraqi government, NATO agreed to establish an advisory, training and capacity-building mission in Iraq in October 2018 to help Iraqi forces in their fight against ISIS; NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) currently has about 500 troops, but in February 2021 NATO announced it would increase the presence to about 4,000, although no timeframe was given

(2021)

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Ansar al-Islam; Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq; Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps/Qods Force; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS); Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al-Naqshabandi; Kata'ib Hizballah; Kurdistan Workers' Party

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Turkey has expressed concern over the autonomous status of Kurds in Iraq

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 15,272 (Turkey), 7,881 (West Bank and Gaza Strip) (mid-year 2021); 257,974 (Syria) (2022)

IDPs: 1,198,940 (displacement in central and northern Iraq since January 2014) (2021)

stateless persons: 47,253 (mid-year 2021); note - in the 1970s and 1980s under SADDAM Husayn's regime, thousands of Iraq's Faili Kurds, followers of Shia Islam, were stripped of their Iraqi citizenship, had their property seized by the government, and many were deported; some Faili Kurds had their citizenship reinstated under the 2,006 Iraqi Nationality Law, but others lack the documentation to prove their Iraqi origins; some Palestinian refugees persecuted by the SADDAM regime remain stateless

note: estimate revised to reflect the reduction of statelessness in line with Law 26 of 2006, which allows stateless persons to apply for nationality in certain circumstances; more accurate studies of statelessness in Iraq are pending (2015)