Geography of Iraq

The geography of Iraq is diverse and falls into five main regions: the desert (west of the Euphrates), Upper Mesopotamia (between the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers), the northern highlands of Iraq, Lower Mesopotamia, and the alluvial plain extending from around Tikrit to the Persian Gulf.

The mountains in the northeast are an extension of the alpine system that runs eastward from the Balkans through southern Turkey, northern Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan, eventually reaching the Himalayas. The desert is in the southwest and central provinces along the borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan and geographically belongs with the Arabian Peninsula.

Iraq 2004 CIA map
Overview map of Iraq.
Iraq Topography
Topography of Iraq.

Major geographical features

Most geographers, including those of the Iraqi government, discuss the country's geography in terms of four main zones or regions: the desert in the west and southwest; the rolling upland between the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers (in Arabic the Dijla and Furat, respectively); the highlands in the north and northeast; and the alluvial plain through which the Tigris and Euphrates flow. Iraq's official statistical reports give the total land area as 438,446 km2 (169,285 sq mi), whereas a United States Department of State publication gives the area as 434,934 km2 (167,929 sq mi).

Upper Mesopotamia

The uplands region, between the Tigris north of Samarra and the Euphrates north of Hit, is known as Al Jazira (the island) and is part of a larger area that extends westward into Syria between the two rivers and into Turkey. Water in the area flows in deeply cut valleys, and irrigation is much more difficult than it is in the lower plain. The southwest areas of this zone are classified as desert or semi-desert. The northern parts, which include such places like the Nineveh Plains, Duhok and Zakho, mainly consist of Mediterranean vegetation. The vegetation cyclically dries out and appear brown in the virtually arid summer and flourish in the wet winter

Lower Mesopotamia

An Alluvial plain begins north of Baghdad and extends to the Persian Gulf. Here the Tigris and Euphrates rivers lie above the level of the plain in many places, and the whole area is a river delta interlaced by the channels of the two rivers and by irrigation canals. Intermittent lakes, fed by the rivers in flood, also characterize southeastern Iraq. A fairly large area (15,000 km2 or 5,800 sq mi) just above the confluence of the two rivers at Al Qurnah and extending east of the Tigris beyond the Iranian border is marshland, known as Hawr al Hammar, the result of centuries of flooding and inadequate drainage. Much of it is permanent marsh, but some parts dry out in early winter, and other parts become marshland only in years of great flood.

Because the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates above their confluence are heavily silt- laden, irrigation and fairly frequent flooding deposit large quantities of silty loam in much of the delta area. Windborne silt contributes to the total deposit of sediments. It has been estimated that the delta plains are built up at the rate of nearly twenty centimeters in a century. In some areas, major floods lead to the deposit in temporary lakes of as much as thirty centimeters of mud.

The Tigris and Euphrates also carry large quantities of salts. These, too, are spread on the land by sometimes excessive irrigation and flooding. A high water table and poor surface and subsurface drainage tend to concentrate the salts near the surface of the soil. In general, the salinity of the soil increases from Baghdad south to the Persian Gulf and severely limits productivity in the region south of Al Amarah. The salinity is reflected in the large lake in central Iraq, southwest of Baghdad, known as Bahr al Milh (Sea of Salt). There are two other major lakes in the country to the north of Bahr al Milh: Buhayrat ath Tharthar and Buhayrat al Habbaniyah.

Baghdad area

Between Upper and Lower Mesopotamia is the urban area surrounding Baghdad. These "Baghdad Belts" can be described as the provinces adjacent to the Iraqi capital and can be divided into four quadrants: Northeast, Southeast, Southwest, and Northwest. Beginning in the north, the belts include the province of Salah ad Din, clockwise to Baghdad province, Diyala in the North-east, Babil and Wasit in the south east and around to Al Anbar in the west.

Highlands

The northeastern highlands begin just south of a line drawn from Mosul to Kirkuk and extend to the borders with Turkey and Iran. High ground, separated by broad, undulating steppes, gives way to mountains ranging from 1,000 to 4,000 meters (3,281 to 13,123 ft) near the Iranian and Turkish borders. Except for a few valleys, the mountain area proper is suitable only for grazing in the foothills and steppes; adequate soil and rainfall, however, make cultivation possible. Here, too, are the great oil fields near Mosul and Kirkuk. The northeast is the homeland of most Iraqi Kurds.

Desert

The desert zone, an area lying west and southwest of the Euphrates River, is a part of the Syrian Desert and Arabian Desert, which covers sections of Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia and most of the Arabian Peninsula. The region, sparsely inhabited by pastoral bedouins, consists of a wide stony plain interspersed with rare sandy stretches. A widely ramified pattern of wadis–watercourses that are dry most of the year–runs from the border to the Euphrates. Some wadis are over 400 km (250 mi) long and carry brief but torrential floods during the winter rains.

Western and southern Iraq is a vast desert region covering some 64,900 square miles (168,000 square km), almost two-fifths of the country. The western desert, an extension of the Syrian Desert, rises to elevations above 1,600 feet (490 metres). The southern desert is known as Al-Hajarah in the western part and as Al-Dibdibah in the east. Both deserts are part of the Arabian Desert. Al Hajarah has a complex topography of rocky desert, wadis, ridges, and depressions. Al-Dibdibah is a more sandy region with a covering of scrub vegetation. Elevation in the southern desert averages between 1,000 and 2,700 feet (300 to 800 metres). A height of 3,119 feet (951 metres) is reached at Mount 'Unayzah at the intersection of the borders of Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The deep Wadi Al-Batin runs 45 miles (75 km) in a northeast-southwest direction through Al-Dibdibah. It has been recognized since 1913 as the boundary between western Kuwait and Iraq.

Tigris–Euphrates river system

The Euphrates originates in Turkey, is augmented by the Balikh and Khabur rivers in Syria, and enters Iraq in the northwest. Here it is fed only by the wadis of the western desert during the winter rains. It then winds through a gorge, which varies from two to 16 kilometers in width, until it flows out on the plain at Ar Ramadi. Beyond there the Euphrates continues to the Hindiya Barrage, which was constructed in 1914 to divert the river into the Hindiyah Channel; the present day Shatt al Hillah had been the main channel of the Euphrates before 1914. Below Al Kifl, the river follows two channels to As-Samawah, where it reappears as a single channel to join the Tigris at Al Qurnah. The Tigris also rises in Turkey but is significantly augmented by several rivers in Iraq, the most important of which are the Khabur, the Great Zab, the Little Zab, and the Adhaim, all of which join the Tigris above Baghdad, and the Diyala, which joins it about thirty-six kilometers below the city. At the Kut Barrage much of the water is diverted into the Shatt al-Hayy, which was once the main channel of the Tigris. Water from the Tigris thus enters the Euphrates through the Shatt al-Hayy well above the confluence of the two main channels at Al Qurnah.

Both the Tigris and the Euphrates break into a number of channels in the marshland area, and the flow of the rivers is substantially reduced by the time they come together at Al Qurnah. Moreover. the swamps act as silt traps, and the Shatt al Arab is relatively silt free as it flows south. Below Basra, however, the Karun River enters the Shatt al Arab from Iran, carrying large quantities of silt that present a continuous dredging problem in maintaining a channel for ocean-going vessels to reach the port at Basra. This problem has been superseded by a greater obstacle to river traffic, however, namely the presence of several sunken hulls that have been rusting in the Shatt al Arab since early in the Iran-Iraq war.

The waters of the Tigris and Euphrates are essential to the life of the country, but they sometimes threaten it. The rivers are at their lowest level in September and October and at flood in March, April, and May when they may carry forty times as much water as at low mark. Moreover, one season's flood may be ten or more times as great as that in another year. In 1954, for example, Baghdad was seriously threatened, and dikes protecting it were nearly topped by the flooding Tigris. Since Syria built a dam on the Euphrates, the flow of water has been considerably diminished and flooding was no longer a problem in the mid-1980s. In 1988 Turkey was also constructing a dam on the Euphrates that would further restrict the water flow.

Until the mid-twentieth century, most efforts to control the waters were primarily concerned with irrigation. Some attention was given to problems of flood control and drainage before the revolution of July 14, 1958, but development plans in the 1960s and 1970s were increasingly devoted to these matters, as well as to irrigation projects on the upper reaches of the Tigris and Euphrates and the tributaries of the Tigris in the northeast. During the war, government officials stressed to foreign visitors that, with the conclusion of a peace settlement, problems of irrigation and flooding would receive top priority from the government.

Coral reef

Iraqi coastal waters boast a living coral reef, covering an area of 28 km2 in the Persian Gulf, at the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab river (29°37′00″N 48°48′00″E / 29.61667°N 48.80000°E).[1] The coral reef was discovered by joint Iraqi–German expeditions of scientific scuba divers carried out in September 2012 and in May 2013.[1] Prior to its discovery, it was believed that Iraq lacks coral reefs as the local turbid waters prevented the detection of the potential presence of local coral reefs. Iraqi corals were found to be adapted to one of the most extreme coral-bearing environments in the world, as the seawater temperature in this area ranges between 14 and 34 °C.[1] The reef harbors several living stone corals, octocorals, ophiuroids and bivalves.[1] There are also silica-containing demo-sponges.[1]

Settlement patterns

In the rural areas of the alluvial plain and in the lower Diyala region, settlement almost invariably clusters near the rivers, streams, and irrigation canals. The bases of the relationship between watercourse and settlement have been summarized by Robert McCormick Adams, director of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. He notes that the levees laid down by streams and canals provide advantages for both settlement and agriculture. Surface water drains more easily on the levees' back-slope, and the coarse soils of the levees are easier to cultivate and permit better subsurface drainage. The height of the levees gives some protection against floods and the frost that often affect low-lying areas and may kill and/or damage winter crops. Above all, those living or cultivating on the crest of a levee have easy access to water for irrigation and household use in a dry, hot country.

Although there are some isolated homesteads, most rural communities are nucleated settlements rather than dispersed farmsteads; that is, the farmer leaves his village to cultivate the fields outside it. The pattern holds for farming communities in the Kurdish highlands of the northeast as well as for those in the alluvial plain. The size of the settlement varies, generally with the volume of water available for household use and with the amount of land accessible to village dwellers. Sometimes, particularly in the lower Tigris and Euphrates valleys, soil salinity restricts the area of arable land and limits the size of the community dependent on it, and it also usually results in large unsettled and uncultivated stretches between the villages.

Fragmentary information suggests that most farmers in the alluvial plain tend to live in villages of over 100 persons. For example, in the mid-1970s a substantial number of the residents of Baqubah, the administrative center and major city of Diyala Governorate, were employed in agriculture.

The Marsh Arabs of the south usually live in small clusters of two or three houses kept above water by rushes that are constantly being replenished. Such clusters often are close together, but access from one to another is possible only by small boat. Here and there a few natural islands permit slightly larger clusters. Some of these people are primarily water buffalo herders and lead a semi-nomadic life. In the winter, when the waters are at a low point, they build fairly large temporary villages. In the summer they move their herds out of the marshes to the river banks.

The war has had its effect on the lives of these denizens of the marshes. With much of the fighting concentrated in their areas, they have either migrated to settled communities away from the marshes or have been forced by government decree to relocate within the marshes. Also, in early 1988, the marshes had become the refuge of deserters from the Iraqi army who attempted to maintain life in the fastness of the overgrown, desolate areas while hiding out from the authorities. These deserters in many instances have formed into large gangs that raid the marsh communities; this also has induced many of the marsh dwellers to abandon their villages.

The war has also affected settlement patterns in the northern Kurdish areas. There, the struggle for a Kurdish state by guerrillas was rejected by the government as it steadily escalated violence against the local communities. Starting in 1984, the government launched a scorched-earth campaign to drive a wedge between the villagers and the guerrillas in the remote areas of two provinces of Kurdistan in which Kurdish guerrillas were active. In the process whole villages were torched and subsequently bulldozed, which resulted in the Kurds flocking into the regional centers of Irbil and As Sulaymaniyah. Also as a "military precaution", the government has cleared a broad strip of territory in the Kurdish region along the Iranian border of all its inhabitants, hoping in this way to interdict the movement of Kurdish guerrillas back and forth between Iran and Iraq. The majority of Kurdish villages, however, remained intact in early 1988.

In the arid areas of Iraq to the west and south, cities and large towns are almost invariably situated on watercourses, usually on the major rivers or their larger tributaries. In the south this dependence has had its disadvantages. Until the recent development of flood control, Baghdad and other cities were subject to the threat of inundation. Moreover, the dikes needed for protection have effectively prevented the expansion of the urban areas in some directions. The growth of Baghdad, for example, was restricted by dikes on its eastern edge. The diversion of water to the Milhat ath Tharthar and the construction of a canal transferring water from the Tigris north of Baghdad to the Diyala River have permitted the irrigation of land outside the limits of the dikes and the expansion of settlement.

Climate

Iraq map of Köppen climate classification
Iraq map of Köppen climate classification.
Iraq.A2003060.0750.500m
Snow-capped mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Dust Storm over Iraq
Dust storms in Iraq, on July 30, 2009.

The climate of Iraq is mainly a hot desert climate or a hot semi-arid climate to the northernmost part. Averages high temperatures are generally above 40 °C (104 °F) at low elevations during summer months (June, July and August) while averages low temperatures can drop to below 0 °C (32 °F) during the coldest month of the year during winter[2] The all-time record high temperature in Iraq of 52 °C (126 °F) was recorded near An Nasiriyah on 2 August 2011.[3] Most of the rainfall occurs from December through April and averages between 100 and 180 millimeters (3.9 and 7.1 in) annually. The mountainous region of northern Iraq receives appreciably more precipitation than the central or southern desert region, where they tend to have a Mediterranean climate.

Roughly 90% of the annual rainfall occurs between November and April, most of it in the winter months from December through March. The remaining six months, particularly the hottest ones of June, July, and August, are extremely dry.

Except in the north and northeast, mean annual rainfall ranges between 100 and 190 millimeters (3.9 and 7.5 in). Data available from stations in the foothills and steppes south and southwest of the mountains suggest mean annual rainfall between 320 and 570 millimeters (12.6 and 22.4 in) for that area. Rainfall in the mountains is more abundant and may reach 1,000 millimeters (39.4 in) a year in some places, but the terrain precludes extensive cultivation. Cultivation on nonirrigated land is limited essentially to the mountain valleys, foothills, and steppes, which have 300 millimeters (11.8 in) or more of rainfall annually. Even in this zone, however, only one crop a year can be grown, and shortages of rain have often led to crop failures.

Mean minimum temperatures in the winter range from near freezing (just before dawn) in the northern and northeastern foothills and the western desert to 2 to 3 °C (35.6 to 37.4 °F) and 4 to 5 °C (39.2 to 41.0 °F) in the alluvial plains of southern Iraq. They rise to a mean maximum of about 16 °C (60.8 °F) in the western desert and the northeast, and 17 °C (62.6 °F) in the south. In the summer mean minimum temperatures range from about 27 to 31 °C (80.6 to 87.8 °F) and rise to maxima between roughly 41 and 45 °C (105.8 and 113.0 °F). Temperatures sometimes fall below freezing and have fallen as low as −14 °C (6.8 °F) at Ar Rutbah in the western desert. A such summer heat, even in a hot desert, is high and this can be easily explained by the very low elevations of deserts regions which experience these exceptionally searing high temperatures. In fact, the elevations of cities such as Baghdad or Basra are near the sea level (0 m) because deserts are located predominantly along the Persian Gulf. That's why some Gulf's countries like Iraq, Iran and Kuwait experience extreme heat during summer, even more extreme than the normal level. The searing summer heat only exists in low elevations in these countries while mountains and higher elevations know much more moderated summer temperatures.

The summer months are marked by two kinds of wind phenomena. The southern and southeasterly sharqi, a dry, dusty wind with occasional gusts of 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph), occurs from April to early June and again from late September through November. It may last for a day at the beginning and end of the season but for several days at other times. This wind is often accompanied by violent duststorms that may rise to heights of several thousand meters and close airports for brief periods. From mid-June to mid-September the prevailing wind, called the shamal, is from the north and northwest. It is a steady wind, absent only occasionally during this period. The very dry air brought by this shamal permits intensive sun heating of the land surface, but the breeze has some cooling effect.

The combination of rain shortage and extreme heat makes much of Iraq a desert. Because of very high rates of evaporation, soil and plants rapidly lose the little moisture obtained from the rain, and vegetation could not survive without extensive irrigation. Some areas, however, although arid, do have natural vegetation in contrast to the desert. For example, in the Zagros Mountains in northeastern Iraq there is permanent vegetation, such as oak trees, and date palms are found in the south.

Area and Boundaries

In 1922 British officials concluded the Treaty of Mohammara with Abd al Aziz ibn Abd ar Rahman Al Saud, who in 1932 formed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The treaty provided the basic agreement for the boundary between the eventually independent nations. Also in 1922 the two parties agreed to the creation of the diamond-shaped Neutral Zone of approximately 7,500 km2 (2,900 sq mi) adjacent to the western tip of Kuwait in which neither Iraq nor Saudi Arabia would build dwellings or installations. Bedouins from either country could utilize the limited water and seasonal grazing resources of the zone. In April 1975, an agreement signed in Baghdad fixed the borders of the countries.

Through Algerian mediation, Iran and Iraq agreed in March 1975 to normalize their relations, and three months later they signed a treaty known as the Algiers Accord. The document defined the common border all along the Khawr Abd Allah (Shatt) River estuary as the thalweg. To compensate Iraq for the loss of what formerly had been regarded as its territory, pockets of territory along the mountain border in the central sector of its common boundary with Iran were assigned to it. Nonetheless, in September 1980 Iraq went to war with Iran, citing among other complaints the fact that Iran had not turned over to it the land specified in the Algiers Accord. This problem has subsequently proved to be a stumbling block to a negotiated settlement of the ongoing conflict.

In 1988 the boundary with Kuwait was another outstanding problem. It was fixed in a 1913 treaty between the Ottoman Empire and British officials acting on behalf of Kuwait's ruling family, which in 1899 had ceded control over foreign affairs to Britain. The boundary was accepted by Iraq when it became independent in 1932, but in the 1960s and again in the mid-1970s, the Iraqi government advanced a claim to parts of Kuwait. Kuwait made several representations to the Iraqis during the war to fix the border once and for all but Baghdad repeatedly demurred, claiming that the issue is a potentially divisive one that could inflame nationalist sentiment inside Iraq. Hence in 1988 it was likely that a solution would have to wait until the war ended.

Area:
total: 438,317 km2 (169,235 sq mi)
land: 437,367 km2 (168,868 sq mi)
water: 950 km2 (370 sq mi)

Land boundaries:
total: 3,809 km (2,367 mi)
border countries: Iran 1,599 km (994 mi), Saudi Arabia 811 km (504 mi), Syria 599 km (372 mi), Turkey 367 km (228 mi), Kuwait 254 km (158 mi), Jordan 179 km (111 mi)

Coastline: 58 km (36 mi)

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nmi (22.2 km; 13.8 mi) continental shelf: not specified

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

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Persian Gulf 0 m
highest point: Cheekah Dar 3,611 m (11,847 ft)

Resources and land use

Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur

Land use:
arable land: 7.89%
permanent crops: 0.53%
other: 91.58% (2012)

Irrigated land: 35,250 km2 or 13,610 sq mi (2003)

Total renewable water resources: 89.86 km3 or 21.56 cu mi (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 66 km3/yr (7%/15%/79%)
per capita: 2,616 m3/yr (2000)

While its proven oil reserves of 112 billion barrels (17.8×109 m3) ranks Iraq second in the world behind Saudi Arabia, the United States Department of Energy estimates that up to 90 percent of the country remains unexplored. Unexplored regions of Iraq could yield an additional 100 billion barrels (16×109 m3). Iraq's oil production costs are among the lowest in the world. However, only about 2,000 oil wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared to about 1 million wells in Texas alone.[4]

Environmental concerns

Natural hazards: dust storms, sandstorms, floods

Environment - current issues: government water control projects have drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Kshatriya by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Shi'a Muslims, who have 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; development of Tigris-Euphrates Rivers system contingent upon agreements with upstream riparian Turkey; air and water pollution; soil degradation (desalination) and erosion; and desertification.

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification

Major regressions:
  • Arabian Desert and East Sahero-Arabian xeric shrublands (PA1303)
  • Mesopotamian shrub desert (PA1320)
Minor ecoregions:

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e Thomas Pohl; Sameh W. Al-Muqdadi; Malik H. Ali; Nadia Al-Mudaffar Fawzi; Hermann Ehrlich; Broder Merkel (6 March 2014). "Discovery of a living coral reef in the coastal waters of Iraq". Scientific Reports. doi:10.1038/srep04250. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  2. ^ "Weather longterm historical data Baghdad, Iraq". The Washington Post. 1999. Archived from the original on 29 June 2014.
  3. ^ Brugge, Roger. "World weather news, August 2011". Department of Meteorology, University of Reading. Archived from the original on 29 June 2014.
  4. ^ US Department of Energy Information - Assessment of Iraqi Petroleum Assets Archived November 9, 2010, at the Wayback Machine

Coordinates: 33°00′N 44°00′E / 33.000°N 44.000°E

Al-Qaeda Kurdish Battalions

al-Qaeda in the Kurdish Battalions (AQKB) is a militant Islamist organization, primarily active in the northern Iran–Iraq border. It is the Kurdish branch of al-Qaeda that has launched several attacks on the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq. The group was classified as a terrorist organization by the US State Department on January 1, 2012.

Al Hujayl

Al Hujayl is a town in Iraq. It is located east of River Tigris and north east of Al-Shirqat on the western banks of the river. It was captured by ISIL in the 2014 Northern Iraq Offensive and was recaptured by the Iraqi government forces during the Hawija offensive in September, 2017.

Al Khadraniyah

Al Khadraniyah is a village in Iraq. It is located west of River Tigris and north of Al-Shirqat. From 2014 until November 2016, it was under control of ISIL.

Assyrian homeland

The Assyrian homeland or Assyria (Syriac: ܐܬܘܪ‎) refers to a geographic and cultural region situated in Northern Mesopotamia that has been traditionally inhabited by Assyrian people. The areas that form the Assyrian homeland are parts of present-day northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran and, more recently, northeastern Syria. Moreover, the area that had the greatest concentration of Assyrians in the world until recently is located in the Assyrian Triangle, a region which comprises the Nineveh plains, southern Hakkari and the Barwari regions. This is where some Assyrian groups seek to create an independent nation state.The Assyrian homeland roughly mirrors the boundaries of ancient Assyria proper, and the later Achaemenid, Seleucid, Parthian, Roman and Sassanid provinces of Assyria (Athura/Assuristan) that was extant between the 25th century BC and 7th century AD. The region was dissolved as a geo-political entity following the Arab Islamic conquest of Iraq in the late 7th century AD. Since the fall of the Iraqi Baath Party in 2003, and in the face of violence against the indigenous Assyrian Christian community, there has been a growing movement for Assyrian independence or autonomy.Assyrian-populated cities in Iraq include those in the Nineveh Governorate region in northern Iraq such as Alqosh, Tel Keppe, Batnaya, Bartella, Tesqopa, Karemlash, Bakhdida and, up until 2014, Mosul. There is an Assyrian minority in the Dohuk Governorate cities of Zakho and Duhok in Iraqi Kurdistan, which are also located within the Assyrian triangle. In Turkey, the Tur Abdin region is the traditional cultural heartland for Assyrians and is the only remaining rural region in Turkey with a major Christian presence. However, today the majority of Assyrians in Turkey live in Istanbul. Northeastern Syria has in the latest century become a center for Assyrians, with much of the Assyrian population descending from refugees from Turkey that fled during the Assyrian Genocide and during later pogroms in Iraq. Major Assyrian population centras are Qamishli, al-Hasakah, Ras al-Ayn, Al-Malikiyah, Al-Qahtaniyah and the villages along the Khabur River in the Tell Tamer area.

The Assyrians, an indigenous pre-Arab, pre-Kurdish and pre-Turkic people of upper Mesopotamia, are predominantly Christian, adherents of the Church of the East, an East Syrian rite sect as well as; the Chaldean Catholic Church and Ancient Church of the East, or the Syriac Orthodox Church, Syriac Catholic Church, Assyrian Pentecostal Church and Assyrian Evangelical Church. They speak Neo-Aramaic languages, most common being; Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Chaldean Neo-Aramaic and Turoyo.

Disputed territories of Northern Iraq

The disputed territories of Northern Iraq are regions defined by article 140 of the Constitution of Iraq as being Arabised during Baath Party rule in Iraq. Most of these regions are inhabited by non-Arabs, most notably by Assyrians, Yazidis, Turkmens/Turkomans, Shabaks and Kurds.

The disputed areas have been a core concern for Arabs and Kurds, especially since the US invasion and political restructuring in 2003. Kurds gained territory to the south of Iraqi Kurdistan after the US-led invasion in 2003 to regain land they considered historically theirs.Currently, in addition to the four existing governorates within Iraqi Kurdistan (Erbil, Dahuk, Halabja and Sulaymaniyah), Kurds control parts of Nineveh Governorate, Kirkuk Governorate, Salah ad Din Governorate and Diyala Governorate; on the other hand, Iraqi government controls other parts of those four provinces, some parts of which are also claimed by the Kurds. However, during the 2014 ISIL offensive, Iraqi Kurdistan's forces also took over much of the disputed territories. During the 2017 Iraq-Kurdish conflict, The Iraqi Government recaptured much of this territory after the referendum thus pushing KRG forces back to pre-2003 borders.

Hanna defile

The Hanna Defile (Umm El-Hanna defile) is a narrow strip of dry land between the River Tigris and the Suwaikiya Marshes.

Hawraman

Hawrāmān (also Húrāmān) (Kurdish: هه‌ورامان or Hewraman‎) or Ūrāmān (Persian: اورامان‎) or Avroman is a mountainous region located within the provinces of Kurdistan and Kermanshah in western Iran and in north-eastern Iraq within Iraq's Kurdistan Region. In Iran, the region includes the cities of Paveh and Mariwan and in Iraq, Halabja.

Hawraman has many springs and rivers that most their water mainly flows into Sirwan River. Bil spring (or Kani Bil) is one of these springs which has a discharge about 3000-4000 liters per second. The river which is made of Bil spring is the shortest river in the world with a total length of 15 meters.

Construction of Darian Dam on the Sirwan River between 2009 and 2015 initiated The Darian Dam Archaeological Salvage Program that led to discovery a large number of archaeological sites before flooding of the reservoir.

Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan, officially called the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (Kurdish: هه‌رێمی کوردستان‎, translit. Herêmî Kurdistan) by the Iraqi constitution, is an autonomous region located in northern Iraq. It is also referred to as Southern Kurdistan (Kurdish: باشووری کوردستان‎, translit. Başûrê Kurdistanê), as Kurds generally consider it to be one of the four parts of Greater Kurdistan, which also includes parts of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan), and northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan).The region is officially governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), with the capital being Erbil. Kurdistan is a parliamentary democracy with its own regional Parliament that consists of 111 seats. Masoud Barzani, who was initially elected as president in 2005, was re-elected in 2009. In August 2013 the parliament extended his presidency for another two years. His presidency concluded on 19 August 2015 after the political parties failed to reach an agreement over extending his term.

The new Constitution of Iraq defines the Kurdistan Region as a federal entity of Iraq, and establishes Kurdish and Arabic as Iraq's joint official languages. The four governorates of Duhok, Erbil, Silemani, and Halabja comprise around 46,861 square kilometres (18,093 sq mi) and have a population of 5.8 million (2017 estimate). In 2014, during the 2014 Iraq Crisis, Iraqi Kurdistan's forces also took over much of the disputed territories of Northern Iraq; the total area under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government contains some 8 million inhabitants.

The establishment of the Kurdistan Region dates back to the March 1970 autonomy agreement between the Kurdish opposition and the Iraqi government after years of heavy fighting. However, that agreement failed to be implemented and by 1974 Northern Iraq plunged into the Second Iraqi–Kurdish War, another part of the Iraqi–Kurdish conflict between the Kurds and the Arab-dominated government of Iraq. Further, the 1980–88 Iran–Iraq War, especially the Iraqi Army's Al-Anfal Campaign, devastated the population and environment of Iraqi Kurdistan. Following the 1991 uprising of Kurds in the north and Shia Arabs in the south against Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Kurdistan's military forces, the Peshmerga, succeeded in pushing out the main Iraqi forces from the north.

Despite significant casualties and the crisis of Kurdish refugees in bordering regions of Iran and Turkey, the Peshmerga success and the Western establishment of the northern Iraqi no-fly zone following the First Gulf War in 1991 created the basis for Kurdish self-rule and facilitated the return of refugees. As Kurds continued to fight government troops, Iraqi forces finally left Kurdistan in October 1991, leaving the region with de facto autonomy. In 1992, the major political parties in the region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, established the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government. The 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent political changes led to the ratification of a new constitution in 2005.

Kan'us

Kan'us is a village in Iraq. It is located southeast of River Tigris, north of Al-Shirqat, which lies on the western banks of the river, and west of Makhmur. By 2016, Kan'us was under control of ISIL.

Khujut Rabu

Khujut Rabu' (Arabic: خوجوت رابه‎) is a local area to the South-East of Baghdad, Iraq, near the town of the present-day Salman Pak. Also Khujut Rabua. In ancient times this was the location of Ctesiphon and Seleucia on the Tigris. This area was the capital city of the Parthian Civilization. Modern excavations of these two ancient cities have provided many artifacts from ancient times, including the alleged Baghdad Battery. Modern tourists can still visit the Arch of Ctesiphon.

Lake Tharthar

Lake Tharthar (also Therthar), and known in Iraq as Buhayrat ath-Tharthar (Arabic: بحيرة الثرثار‎), is an artificial lake opened in 1956, situated 100 kilometers northwest of Baghdad between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers.

List of islands of Iraq

The following is an incomplete list of islands of Iraq.

Aloos Island, Euphrates (Al Anbar Governorate)

Hajjam Island

Jubbah Island, Euphrates (Al Anbar Governorate)

Om al-Babi Island, Shatt al-Arab

Om al-Khanazeer Island (Mother of Pigs Island), Baghdad

Majnoon Island

Sindbad Island, Shatt al-Arab

Om Al-Rasas Island (Mother of Lead Island), Shatt al-Arab

List of places in Iraq

This is a list of places in Iraq. Governorates of Iraq lists the governorates, and Districts of Iraq lists the subdivisions of those governorates.

Lower Mesopotamia

Lower Mesopotamia is a historical region of Iraq. Also known as the Sawad and al-'Irāq al-'Arabi ("Arabian Irāq") in the Middle Ages. Lower Mesopotamia was home to ancient Sumerian and Babylonian civilisations.

Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia is a historical region in Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, parts of Northern Saudi Arabia, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders.The Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians and Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history (c. 3100 BC) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, and after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.

Around 150 BC, Mesopotamia was under the control of the Parthian Empire. Mesopotamia became a battleground between the Romans and Parthians, with western parts of Mesopotamia coming under ephemeral Roman control. In AD 226, the eastern regions of Mesopotamia fell to the Sassanid Persians. The division of Mesopotamia between Roman (Byzantine from AD 395) and Sassanid Empires lasted until the 7th century Muslim conquest of Persia of the Sasanian Empire and Muslim conquest of the Levant from Byzantines. A number of primarily neo-Assyrian and Christian native Mesopotamian states existed between the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, including Adiabene, Osroene, and Hatra.

Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC. It has been identified as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture".

Outline of Iraq

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Iraq:

Iraq – sovereign country located in Western Asia. Iraq spans 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. 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.

Sawa Lake

Sawa Lake (Arabic: بحيرة ساوة‎) is an Endorheic basin located in the Iraqi governorate of Muthanna near to the Euphrates River, some 23 kilometres (14 mi) to the west of Al-Samawa city. This lake has no inlet or outlet, but it draws water from the Euphrates through a system of joint cracks and fissures which transport water to aquifers beneath it. The water's level fluctuates during dry and wet seasons but does not dry up because of the equilibrium state between water feed and evaporation.

Sunni Triangle

The Sunni Triangle is a densely populated region of Iraq to the northwest of Baghdad that is inhabited mostly by Sunni Muslim Arabs.The roughly triangular area's corners are usually said to lie near Baqubah (on the east side of the triangle), Baghdad (on the South side), Ramadi (on the west side) and Tikrit (on the north side). Each side is approximately 125 kilometers (80 miles) long. The area also contains the cities of Samarra and Fallujah.

The area was a center of strong support for former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's government; starting in the 1970s many government workers, politicians, and military leaders came from the area. Saddam himself was born just outside Tikrit.

After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the area became a focus of armed Sunni opposition to Coalition rule. It was widely predicted in the Western press that Saddam would seek shelter from Sunni supporters and on December 13, 2003, he was captured in a raid on the village of ad-Dawr about 15 km south of Tikrit.

The term "Sunni triangle" was used intermittently from the 1970s among academic Iraq specialists, usually to differentiate it from the northern and southern parts of the country. An early use in mainstream media is a San Francisco Chronicle article of September 14, 2002 in which former United Nations weapons inspector Scott Ritter says: "We may be able to generate support for an invasion among some of the Shiites and some of the Kurds, but to get to Baghdad you must penetrate the Sunni Triangle." However, it did not achieve widespread use until a New York Times article of June 10, 2003 popularised the term in a report on "a new U.S. effort to quell nascent armed resistance in Sunni Muslim-dominated areas north and west of Baghdad [in an] area known as the 'Sunni triangle'." It became commonplace in reports on the US-led coalition's efforts to control the region.

The "Sunni Triangle" should not be confused with the Triangle of Death, an area south of Baghdad inhabited by Sunni majority which was the focus of major combat activity in November and December 2004.

Turkmeneli

Turkmeneli, also known as Turkmenland, and historically as Turcomania, (Turkish: Türkmeneli, lit. 'Land of the Turkmens') is a political term used by the Iraqi Turkmen/Turkoman minority in Iraq to define the vast swath of territory in which they have historically had a dominant population. The term incorporates the Iraqi Turkmen/Turkoman homelands running from Iraq's border with Turkey and Syria and diagonally down the country to the border with Iran.In particular, the Turkmen/Turkoman consider the capital of Turkmeneli to be Kirkuk and its boundaries also include Tel Afar, Mosul, Erbil (a part of Iraqi Kurdistan), Mandali, and Tuz Khurmato. According to Liam Anderson and Gareth Stansfield, the Turkmen/Turkoman note that the term "Turcomania" – an Anglicized version of "Turkmeneli" – appears on a map of the region published by William Guthrie in 1785, however, there is no clear reference to Turkmeneli until the end of the twentieth century.

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