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Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: Template:Lang), is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert.[1] It shares borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the west, Syria to the northwest, Turkey to the north, and Iran to the east. It has a very narrow section of coastline at Umm Qasr on the Persian Gulf. There are two major flowing rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates. These provide Iraq with agriculturally capable land and contrast with the desert landscape that covers most of Western Asia.

The capital city, Baghdad, is in the center-east. Iraq's rich history dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is identified as the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of writing. During its long history, Iraq has been the center of the Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Abbasid empires, and part of the Achaemenid, Macedonian, Parthian, Sassanid, Umayyad, Mongol, Ottoman, and British empires.[2]

Since an invasion in 2003, a multinational coalition of forces, mainly American and British, has occupied Iraq. The invasion has had wide-reaching consequences: increased civil violence, establishment of a parliamentary democracy, the removal and execution of former authoritarian President Saddam Hussein, official recognition and widespread political participation of Iraq's Kurdish minority and Shi'ite Arab majority, significant economic growth, building of new infrastructure, and use of the country's huge reserves of oil. According to the 2007 Failed States Index, produced by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace, Iraq has recently emerged as the world's second most unstable country,[3] after Sudan,[4] and the United States has recently referred to it in court proceedings as "an active theater of combat."[5] Iraq is developing a parliamentary democracy composed of 18 governorates (known as muhafadhat).

Iraq first participated at the Olympic Games in 1948. Iraqis missed the 1952 and boycotted the 1956 games over opposition to Operation Musketeer (Suez Crisis). Following this absence, Iraq returned to win a Bronze medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. They participated in the next three games but once again did not appear in the 1972 and 76 games to boycott Apartheid South Africa. In joining the 1976 Boycott, Iraq became only the second non-African state to participate in the boycott(the other being Guyana). Since 1980, Iraq has appeared in every game despite the Iraq Wars. On April 9th, 2003 the National Committee of Iraq building in Bagdhad was nearly badly damaged in looting and fires from looters.[6] Iraq's Olympic program recovered in time to compete in the Athens Olympics the following year. Iraq has never competed at the Winter Olympic Games.

Iraq has only won one medal since they have entered the games. They won the medal in Weight lifting.

They have been represented by National Olympic Committee of Iraq since entering. This committe was however abolished in May 2008.


Medal Name Games Sport Event
Template:Bronze medal Template:Sortname 1960 Rome Weightlifting Men's Lightweight

Medal tables[]

Template:See also

Medals by Games[]

1956 London 0 0 0 0
1960 Helsinki did not participate'
1956 Melbourne did not participate'
1960 Rome 0 0 1 1
1964 Tokyo 0 0 0 0
1968 Mexico City 0 0 0 0
1972 Munich did not participate'
1976 Montreal did not participate
1980 Moscow 0 0 0 0
1984 Los Angeles 0 0 0 0
1988 Seoul 0 0 0 0
1992 Barcelona 0 0 0 0
1996 Atlanta 0 0 0 0
2000 Sydney 0 0 0 0
2004 Athens 0 0 0 0
Total 0 0 1 1

Medals by sport[]

Weightlifting 0 0 1 1
Total 0 0 0 1


The origin of the name Iraq (Arabic: العراق Template:ArabDIN, Turkish: Irak, Assyrian: ܥܪܐܩ, Kurdish: عيَراق) is disputed. There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the Sumerian city of Uruk (or Erech)[7] ; another maintains according to Professor Wilhelm Eilers, The name al-‘Irāq, for all its Arabic appearance, is derived from Middle Persian erāq "lowlands".[8]

Under the Persian Sassanid dynasty, there was a region called "Erak Arabi," referring to the part of the south western region of the Persian Empire that is now part of southern Iraq. The name Al-Iraq was used by the Arabs themselves, from the 6th century, for the land Iraq covers.

The Arabic pronunciation is Template:IPA. In English, the name is pronounced as either Template:IPA ( the only pronunciation listed in the Oxford English Dictionary) or Template:IPA] (listed first by MQD).


Main article: Geography of Iraq

Topography of Iraq

A scaled map of Iraq showing major cities, the Euphrates & the Tigris, the unnamed peak, and the surrounding area.

Iraq is located at Template:Coor dm. Spanning 437,072 km² (168,743 sq mi), it is the 58th-largest country in the world. It is comparable in size to the US state of California, and somewhat larger than Paraguay.

Iraq mainly consists of desert, but between the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) the area is fertile, the rivers carrying about 60 million cubic metres (78 million cu. yd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains; the highest point being at 3,611 metres (11,847 ft) point, unnamed on the map opposite, but known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a small coastline along the Persian Gulf. Close to the coast and along the Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrūd: اروندرود among Iranians) there used to be marshlands, but many were drained in the 1990s.

The local climate is mostly desert, with mild to cool winters and dry, hot, cloudless summers. The northern mountainous regions have cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive flooding.

Comprising Template:Convert of proven oil, Iraq ranks second in the world behind Saudi Arabia in the amount of Oil reserves; the United States Department of Energy estimates that up to 90% of the country remains unexplored. These regions could yield an additional Template:Convert. Iraq's oil production costs are among the lowest in the world, but only about 2,000 oil wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared with about 1 million wells in Texas alone.[9]

Government and politics[]


"You can't walk around unless you've got flak jackets, helmets on all the time, no matter where you are. It's always struck me it's almost like a Fellini movie, kind of unreal. The American people are told things are stable and secure, and violence is down. No American would walk outside there without a convoy!" -- Chuck Hagel, upon returning from Baghdad in 2008


Main article: Federal government of Iraq

The federal government of Iraq is defined under the current Constitution as an Islamic, democratic, federal parliamentary republic. The federal government is composed of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as numerous independent commissions. Aside from the federal government, there are regions (made of one or more governorates), governorates, and districts within Iraq with jurisdiction over various matters as defined by law.

Regions, governorates and districts[]

Main article: Regions of Iraq

Currently, Kurdistan is the only legally defined region within Iraq, with its own government and quasi-official militia, the Peshmerga. Iraq itself is divided into eighteen governorates (or provinces) (Arabic: muhafadhat, singular - muhafadhah, Kurdish: پاریزگه Pârizgah). The governorates are subdivided into districts (or qadhas).

Iraqi Governorates (numbered).png

Template:Multi-column numbered list

The following governorates are within the region Iraqi Kurdistan:

  • Dahuk
  • Arbil
  • Sulaymaniyah


    Jalal Talabani, the sanctioned President of Iraq.

    Main article: Politics of Iraq

    Iraq was under Baath Party rule from 1968 to 2003; in 1979 Saddam Hussein took control and remained president until 2003 after which he was unseated by a US-led invasion.

    On October 15, 2005, more than 63% of eligible Iraqis came out across the country to vote on whether to accept or reject the new constitution. On October 25, the vote was certified and the constitution passed with a 78% overall majority, with the percentage of support varying widely between the country's territories.[10] The new constitution had overwhelming backing among the Shia and Ķurdish communities, but was overwhelmingly rejected by Arab Sunnis. Three majority Arab Sunni provinces rejected it (Salah ad Din with 82% against, Ninawa with 55% against, and Al Anbar with 97% against).

    Under the terms of the constitution, the country conducted fresh nationwide parliamentary elections on December 15 to elect a new government. The overwhelming majority of all three major ethnic groups in Iraq voted along ethnic lines, turning this vote into more of an ethnic census than a competitive election, and setting the stage for the division of the country along ethnic lines.

    Iraqi politicians have been under significant threat by the various factions that have promoted violence as a political weapon. The ongoing violence in Iraq has been incited by an amalgam of religious extremists that believe an Islamic Caliphate should rule, old sectarian regime members that had ruled under Saddam that want back the power they had, and Iraqi nationalists that are fighting the U.S. military presence.

    Iraq has number of ethnic minority groups in Iraq: Kurds, Assyrians, Mandeans, Iraqi Turkmen, Shabaks and Roma. These groups have not enjoyed equal status with the majority Arab populations throughout Iraq's eighty-five year history. Since the establishment of the "no-fly zones" following the Gulf War of 1990–1991, the situation of the Kurds has changed as they have established their own autonomous region. The remainder of these ethnic groups continue to suffer discrimination on religious or ethnic grounds.

    In 2008, the U.S. pressured Iraq to enter an alliance with imposing conditions. If Iraq enters this alliance, the U.S. plans to establish 50 military bases in Iraq that will be stationed with U.S. troops. U.S. personnel will also enjoy full legal immunity and the U.S. won't be required to notify the Iraqi government when ot how many of its troops enter or leave the country.[11]


    Main article: Economy of Iraq
    File:Iraq 50 dinars Rewers.JPG

    An old 50 dinar bill

    Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. In the 1980s financial problems caused by massive expenditures in the eight-year war with Iran and damage to oil export facilities by Iran led the government to implement austerity measures, borrow heavily, and later reschedule foreign debt payments. Iraq suffered economic losses from the war of at least US$100 billion. After hostilities ended in 1988, oil exports gradually increased with the construction of new pipelines and restoration of damaged facilities. A combination of low oil prices, repayment of war debts (estimated at around US$3 billion a year) and the costs of reconstruction resulted in a serious financial crisis which was the main short term motivation for the invasion of Kuwait.

    On November 20, 2004, the Paris Club of creditor nations agreed to write off 80% ($33 billion) of Iraq's $42 billion debt to Club members. Iraq's total external debt was around $120 billion at the time of the 2003 invasion, and had grown by $5 billion by 2004. The debt relief will be implemented in three stages: two of 30% each and one of 20%.[12]

    At the end of 2005, and in the first half of 2006, Iraq implemented a restructuring of about $20 billion of commercial debt claims on terms comparable to that of its November 2004 Paris Club agreement (i.e. with an 80% writeoff). Iraq offered to its larger claimants a U.S. dollar denominated bond maturing in 2028. Smaller commercial claimants received a cash settlement of comparable value.


    Main article: Reconstruction of Iraq


    Main article: Demography of Iraq

    An April 2008 estimate of the total Iraqi population is 28,221,181.[13]

    Seventy-five to eighty percent of Iraq's population are Arabs; the other major ethnic groups are the Kurds at 15-20%,[14] Assyrians, Iraqi Turkmen and others (5%),[15] who mostly live in the north and northeast of the country. Other distinct groups are Persians and Armenians. About 20,000 [16] Marsh Arabs live in southern Iraq.

    Arabic and Kurdish are official languages. Assyrian and Turkmen are official languages in areas where the Assyrians and Iraqi Turkmen are located respectively. Armenian and Persian are also spoken but to a lesser extent. English is the most commonly spoken Western language.

    Religious composition includes:

    • Muslim, 97%; Christian or other, 3%.[17]

    There are no official figures available, mainly due to the highly politically charged nature of the subject. Two estimates of the Muslim proportions of the population are:

    • Shi'a as much as 60%, Sunni about 40% (source: Britannica, Religion section of Iraq article).

    Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37% (source: CIA World Fact Book).

    The Shi'a are mostly Arabs, some are Turkmen and Faili Kurds, and almost all are Twelver school. Sunnis are composed of Arabs, Turkmen who are Hanafi school and Kurds who are Shafi school.

    According to most western sources the majority of Iraqis are Shi'ite Arab Muslims (around 60%), and Sunnis represent about 40% of the population made up of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen. Sunnis hotly dispute these figures, including an ex-Iraqi Ambassador,[18] referring to American sources.[19] They claim that many reports or sources only include Arab Sunnis as 'Sunni', missing out the Kurdish and Turkmen Sunnis.

    Ethnic Assyrians (most of whom are adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East) account for most of Iraq's Christian population, along with Armenians. Bahá'ís, Estimates for the numbers of Christians suggest a decline from 8-10% 60 years ago to 5% at the turn of the century to 3% in 2008. About 600,000 have fled to Syria, Iraq or other countries or relocated to Kurdish controlled areas. Mandaeans, Shabaks, and Yezidis also exist. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, although the Faili (Feyli) Kurds are largely Shi'a.

    As of November 4, 2006, the UNHCR estimated that 1.8 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighboring countries, and 1.6 million were displaced internally, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month.[20] A May 25 2007 article notes that in the past seven months only 69 people from Iraq have been granted refugee status in the United States.[21]


    Main article: Culture of Iraq

    In the most recent millennium, what is now Iraq has been made up of five cultural areas: Kurdish in the north centered on Arbil, Sunni Islamic Arabs in the center around Baghdad, Shi'a Islamic Arabs in the south centered on Basra, the Assyrians, a Christian people, living in various cities in the north, and the Marsh Arabs, a nomadic people, who live on the marshlands of the central river. There are also the Bedouin tribes primarily in southern and western Iraq, with smaller groups scattered throughout the country. Markets and bartering are the common form of trade.


    Kathem Al Saher, a well known Iraqi born pop singer, songwriter, and musician.

    Main article: Music of Iraq

    Iraq is known primarily for an instrument called the oud (similar to a lute) and a rebab (similar to a fiddle); its stars include Ahmed Mukhtar and the Assyrian Munir Bashir. Until the fall of Saddam Hussein, the most popular radio station was the Voice of Youth. It played a mix of western rock, hip hop and pop music, all of which had to be imported via Jordan due to international economic sanctions. Iraq has also produced a major pan-Arab pop star-in-exile in Kathem Al Saher, whose songs include Ladghat E-Hayya, which was banned for its racy lyrics.


    File:Iraqi masgouf.jpg

    Stuffed Masgouf ready for roasting in the oven

    Main article Cuisine of Iraq

    The Iraqi cuisine is generally a heavy cuisine with more spices than most Arab cuisines. Iraq's main food crops include wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, and dates. Vegetables include eggplant, okra, potatoes, and tomatoes. Beans such as chickpeas and lentils are also quite common. Common meats in Iraqi cooking are lamb and beef; fish and poultry are also used. Soups and stews are often prepared and served with rice and vegetables. Although Iraq is not a coastal area, the population is used to consuming fish, however, freshwater fish is more common than saltwater fish. Masgouf is one of the most popular dishes. Biryani although influenced by the Indian cuisine, is much milder with a different mixture of spices and a wider variety of vegetables including potatoes, peas, carrots and onions among others. Dolma is also one of the popular dishes. The Iraqi cuisine is famous for its extremely tender kabab as well as its tikka. A wide verity of spices pickles and Amba are also extensively used.


    Main article: Sport in Iraq


    • LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) -- The International Olympic Committee ruled Tuesday that Iraq could participate in the Beijing games, reversing itself after the government pledged to ensure the independence of its national Olympics panel.

    The decision followed last-minute talks between Iraqi officials and the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland, before a Wednesday deadline to submit competitors' names for the athletics events and 10 days before the opening ceremony in Beijing.

    Iraq's National Olympic Committee was dissolved by the Baghdad government in May 2008, prompting the IOC to suspend the Mideast country from the Olympics for political interference.

    The IOC had insisted the old committee be reinstated even though four members were kidnapped two years ago. Their fates remain unknown.

    A compromise was worked out after mediators from Germany and China became involved in talks.

    Iraq is expected to send two athletes to Beijing. Five other hopefuls in archery, judo, rowing and weightlifting lost their chance to compete when a deadline to select teams for other sports passed with no break in the stalemate.

    • As of June 2008, it is unclear if any Iraqi athletes would be able to compete in the Beijing Olympics Games.
      • The IOC won't recognize the interim committee appointed by the Iraqi government.


      • The Iraqi government's recent dissolution of the national body. The International Olympic Committee says the move was political interference and a clear breach of the national body's autonomy.

    It called on the government to analyze the situation and find "appropriate solutions."

    The IOC said it will look for ways to help Iraqi athletes, but the task will be "very difficult."

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    • Flag: Flag of Iraq.svg
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    Goalkeeper elected to head Iraqi Olympic committee 04/04/09 - Sports officials in Iraq (also known as IRQ) Flag of Iraq.svg elected a retired goalkeeper to head the country's new National Olympic Committee in April 2009, bringing an end to a drama that nearly prevented the country from competing in last summer's Beijing Games.

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    Beijing 2008 Olympics[]

    "We called the IOC and asked if we could have the rowers back and the answer just came through. We're very happy," said Matt Smith, the rowing federation's executive director. "No one is kicked out."

    The two rowers, Haidar Nozad and Hamzah Hussein Jebur, were allowed back in the men's double sculls because their places had not been given to competitors from other countries, Smith said.

    "We were overwhelmed with pleasure over the news," Jebur said.

    Dezso Dobor, a spokesman for the International Weightlifting Federation, said an Iraqi competitor might be placed on standby should an athlete from another country drop out.

    Ali Adnan, an Iraqi athlete in archery, might compete.

    "If someone withdraws from the competition for whatever reason, then Ali will be the first person to get the place," said Tom Dielen, secretary-general of the International Archery Federation.

    Iraq has only one bronze medal since its first appearance at the Summer Olympics in 1948.

    But in a country where violence has claimed the lives athletes, coaches and staff, the IOC's rescinding of the ban amounted to an invaluable gift.

    "Yesterday's decision is an upbeat one. ... It brought Iraq back to the international sports gathering," said Dr. Talib Faisal, head of the Iraqi Track and Field Association. "We are looking forward to take part in the Olympics."

    "We hope that there will be no more black days for the Iraqi sports," said Samir Sadiq al-Moussawi, head of the Iraqi Judo Association in July 2008.

    Pere Miro, head of the IOC's department for relations with national Olympic committees, said in July that Iraq's national Olympic Committee will hold "fair elections" before the end of November, 2008. Until then, Iraq's Olympic organization will be run by an interim committee proposed by its national sports federations and approved by the IOC, Miro said.


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    1. Template:Cite web
    2. Top 10 Battles for the Control of Iraq
    3. Template:Cite web
    4. Template:Cite web
    5. Munaf v. Geren, 06-1666, pg. 5 of Syllabus
    6. 1
    7. Online Etymology Dictionary
    8. W. Eilers (1983), "Iran and Mesopotamia" in E. Yarshater, The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 3, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
    9. Template:Cite web
    10. Wagner, Thomas, (October 25 2005), "Iraq's Constitution Adopted by Voters", ABC News, Accessed 17 September 2006
    11. Template:Cite web
    12. Bohsem, Guido & Somerville, Glen, (November 20 2004), "G7, Paris Club Agree on Iraq Debt Relief", Reuters, Accessed 17 September 2006
    13. Template:Cite web
    14. Template:Cite web
    15. Template:Cite web
    16. Template:Cite web
    17. Template:Cite web
    18. "Iraqis By the Numbers" by FARUQ ZIADA [1]
    19. Map on the distribution of religious groups, from the Baker--Hamilton Committee report, page 102
    20. U.N.: 100,000 Iraq refugees flee monthly. Alexander G. Higgins, Boston Globe, November 3, 2006
    21. Ann McFeatters: Iraq refugees find no refuge in America. Seattle Post-Intelligencer May 25 2007

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