FACTS ABOUT IRAQ
Here are some important details about this beautiful country.
Iraq (/ɪˈræk/, i/ɪˈrɑːk/, or /aɪˈræk/; Arabic: العراق al-‘Irāq, Kurdish: Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: جمهورية العراق (help·info) Jumhūrīyat al-‘Irāq; Kurdish: كۆماری عێراق Komar-i ‘Êraq), is a country in Western Asia. The country borders Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest, and Syria to the west. The southern part of Iraq is within the Arabian Peninsula. The capital, Baghdad, is in the centre of the country and its largest city. The largest ethnic groups in Iraq are Arabs and Kurds. Other ethnic groups include Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians, and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 36 million citizens are Shia or Sunni Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism, and Mandeanism also present.
As heir to the emblematic civilisations of Mesopotamia and Assyria, Iraq can rightly be considered one of the cradles of humanity and culture, through the long succession of Sumerians, Akkadians, Elamites, Babylonians, Assyrians, Medes, Persians, Greeks, Sassanids and Abbassids. Even today, the patchwork of populations shows that the land you will be visiting, in spite of everything, remains faithful to the longstanding tradition of the cultural melting pot. Well-planned visits to the country will enable you to visit some of the world's most important prehistoric sites and archaeological remains.
These lands have a history of particular significance for Muslims:
In about 762 A.D., the Abbasid dynasty became the rulers of the vast Muslim world and moved the capital to the newly-founded city of Baghdad. Over the next five centuries, the city would become the world's centre of education and culture. This period of glory has become known as the "Golden Age" of Islamic civilization, when scholars of the Muslim world made important contributions to both the sciences and humanities: medicine, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, literature, and more. Under Abbasid rule, Baghdad became a city of museums, hospitals, libraries, and mosques. (see the links to the right for the Baghdad Photo Gallery, which has pictures of some of these great monuments.)
Most of the famous Muslim scholars from the 9th to 13th centuries had their educational roots in Baghdad. One of the most famous centres of learning was Bayt al-Hikmah (the House of Wisdom), which attracted scholars from all over the world, from many cultures and religions. Here, teachers and students worked together to translate Greek manuscripts, preserving them for all time. They studied the works of Aristotle, Plato, Hippocrates, Euclid, and Pythagoras. The House of Wisdom was home to, among others, the most famous mathematician of the time: Al-Khawarizmi, the "father" of algebra (which is named after his book "Kitab al-Jabr").
Islam is the main religion of Iraq, although comprising both Sunni and Shia groups, and the major pilgrimage destinations with their holy sanctuaries attract vast numbers of pilgrims every year.
Iraq is also one of the cradles of Christianity and many dynamic communities of Christians of various confessions live their faith in complete freedom and in accordance with the ancient traditions. With regard to the authentic Christian communities, most of them still speak a language very close to that of Christ, or use Aramaic in their liturgy. The Christians form what is often referred to in Iraq as the religious minorities (with other religions such as the Sabeans, Yezidi, etc.).
Arabic is the official language of Iraq. However, the majority of Iraqi Arabs speak one of the two national varieties of Iraqi Arabic (Northern and Southern). The Northern variety known as Qeltu Iraqi is spoken in areas such as Mosul, Dohuk, and Kirkuk while the Southern variety known as Gilit Iraqi is spoken in Baghdad, Karbala, and Amarah. The varieties are named after the term for "I said" in each respective dialect ("Qeltu" in Northern Mesopotamian and "Gilit" in Southern Mesopotamian). The Muslim Baghdadi dialect however, is the most prestigious Arabic dialect of the country. The Mesopotamian varieties form a periphery with the Levantine group in the far northwest, the Gulf group in the far southeast, and Khuzestani on the Iraqi-Iranian border.
The number of speakers of English is on the rise. English is so commonly spoken that most travellers will be able to get by in the various shops, markets and cafes. The downside is that speaking English will immediately identify you as an outsider. This is dangerous because of the strong underground network of Iraqis who inform attackers of possible target opportunities.
Kurdish is spoken in the Kurdistan region, in one of two varieties: Kurmanji and Sorani. Kurmanji is spoken in and around Dohuk, while Sorani is spoken in and around Arbil (Hewlar) and Sulaymaniyah. These two varieties are mutually unintelligible. However, Maslawi Arabic is also widely spoken.
The government of Iraq has evolved over millennia, with thousands of years of tyranny turning into a newly formed federal parliamentary representative democratic republic.
It is a multi-party system whereby the executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister of the Council of Ministers as the head of government, as well as the President of Iraq, and legislative power is vested in the Council of Representatives and the Federation Council.
The current Prime Minister of Iraq is Haider al-Abadi, who holds most of the executive authority and appoints the Council of Ministers, which acts as a cabinet and/or government.
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.
The legislative branch is composed of the Council of Representatives and a Federation Council. The executive branch is composed of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Council of Ministers. The federal judiciary is composed of the Higher Judicial Council, the Supreme Court, the Court of Cassation, the Public Prosecution Department, the Judiciary Oversight Commission, and other federal courts that are regulated by law. One such court is the Central Criminal Court.
High Commissions and Council of Representatives
The Independent High Commission for Human Rights, the Independent High Electoral Commission, and the Commission on Integrity are independent commissions subject to monitoring by the Council of Representatives. The Central Bank of Iraq, the Board of Supreme Audit, the Communications and Media Commission, and the Endowment Commission are financially and administratively independent institutions. The Foundation of Martyrs is attached to the Council of Ministers. The Federal Public Service Council regulates the affairs of the federal public service, including appointment and promotion.
You are discovering 7000 years of history, the magic of the east, the glories of the ancient history…Babylon, Akad, Ashoor, Baghdad, Najaf, Mousel, Basrah and a lot of great places you have to visit…Babylon city, it is the earliest civilization in the world,
Iraq's history is full of unsettling changes. In the past 15 years alone, it has witnessed two major wars, international sanctions, occupation by a foreign government, revolts, and terrorism. But Iraq is a land where several ancient cultures left stamps of greatness on the country, the region, and the world.
Iraq is nicknamed the "cradle of civilization." Thousands of years ago, on the plains that make up about a third of Iraq, powerful empires rose and fell while people in Europe and the Americas were still hunting and gathering and living more primitive lives.
The Sumerians had the first civilization in Iraq around 3000 B.C. The first type of writing, called cuneiform, came out of Uruk, a Sumerian city-state. Around 2000 B.C., the Babylonians came into power in southern Mesopotamia. Their king, Hammurabi, established the first known system of laws.
Babylonian rule ended in 539 B.C. when the Persians took over. In A.D. 646, Arabs overthrew the Persians and introduced Islam to Iraq. Baghdad was soon established as the leading city of the Islamic world. In 1534, the Ottomans from Turkey conquered Iraq and ruled until the British took over almost 400 years later.
Iraq became an independent country in 1932, although the British still had a big influence. In 1979, Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party took control of Iraq and promoted the idea that it should be ruled by Arabs. Hussein ruled as a ruthless dictator. In 1980, he started a long war with Iran, and in 1991, he invaded Kuwait, triggering the first Gulf War.
In 2003, after years of sanctions against Iraq, the United States invaded again out of concern that Saddam Hussein was making dangerous weapons. U.S. military forces quickly reached Baghdad and threw the Baathists from power. Saddam Hussein was captured, tried for crimes against humanity, and executed.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Iraq is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the Middle East. Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Assyrians, Mandaeans, and Armenians, among others, speak their own languages and retain their cultural and religious identities.
Iraqis once had some of the best schools and colleges in the Arab world. That changed after the Gulf War in 1991 and the United Nations sanctions that followed. Today only about 40 percent of Iraqis can read or write.
Although the elevation and terrain varies, Iraq generally has a hot arid climate. In the summer temperate averages above 104°F - 40°C. Winter temperatures rarely top 70°F - 21°C and occasionally dip below freezing. Rain and snow precipitation is low in the low and highlands. Most areas have less than 10 inches per year of rainfall (mostly during the winter). Rainfall during the summer is rare.
Iraqi accommodations are improving, with more hotels achieving Western standards of excellence. There is still much room for growth in the Iraqi Tourism sector. Many cities in Iraq are still without a Five Star Hotel. Click here for list of hotels by city.
Iraq has a narrow section of coastline measuring 58 km (36 mi) on the northern Persian Gulf and its territory encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert. Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run south through the centre of Iraq and flow into the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf. These rivers provide Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land.
The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, historically known as Mesopotamia, is most often referred to as humanity's cradle of civilisation. It was here that mankind first began to read, write, create laws, and live in cities under an organised government—notably Uruk, from which Iraq was derived. The area has been home to continuous successive civilisations since the 6th millennium BC. At different periods in its history, Iraq was the centre of the indigenous Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires. It was also part of the Median, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, Roman, Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, Mongol, Safavid, Afsharid, and Ottoman empires, and under British control as a League of Nations mandate.
Iraq's modern borders were mostly demarcated in 1920 by the League of Nations when the Ottoman Empire was divided by the Treaty of Sèvres. Iraq was placed under the authority of the United Kingdom as the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. A monarchy was established in 1921 and the Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from Britain in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Republic of Iraq was created. Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party was removed from power and multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005. The American presence in Iraq ended in 2011, but the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified as fighters from the Syrian Civil War spilled into the country.
Safeguarding Iraq's wildlife is a big job. There are essentially no protected natural areas in the country. And with an ongoing war, the government is, understandably, more concerned with protecting people and property than plants and animals.
Before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, several species were considered at risk, including cheetahs, wild goats, and dugongs. Scientists have not been able to assess the condition of these animals since the war started.
Iraq's rivers and marshes are home to many fish, including carp that can grow up to 300 pounds (135 kilograms) and sharks that swim up from the Persian Gulf.
In Iraq, public holidays are referred to as national holidays. In addition to national holidays, several regional observances are honored based on Islamic religious tradition and culture. National holidays include New Year’s Day; the Prophet’s Birthday; Army Day and Republic Day. In addition, an extra holiday is granted in mid-July commemorating the beginning of the country’s annual heat wave. Iraq honors Eid-al-Fitr commemorating the end of Ramadan. This holiday typically lasts for three days, but time off is at the discretion of the employer. Eid-al-Adha, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice also lasts a total of four days. Additional national holidays include Iraqi Independence Day and the Islamic New Year. New Year’s Eve is designated as an observance rather than a national holiday. The majority of regional holidays are designated as working days. Employers may allow paid time off for certain holidays, depending on the significance of the observance and the religious affiliation of workers.
According to current Iraqi labor laws, all workers are entitled to 20 paid holidays per year after one year of continuous employment. After increments of five years of employment, workers are granted two additional paid holidays per year. Employees are paid full wages for time off for national holidays.
LABOR LAWS IN IRAQ
Labor laws in Iraq are regulated by the Arab Labor Organisation. The labor laws are in effect to oversee trade union and employment contracts, which are required of every worker in the country. According to the Ministry of Labor, all workers employed in both private and public sectors are entitled to an annual salary increase after each year of employment.
Employees in Iraq are not permitted to work more than eight hours per day without overtime compensation. The amount of overtime is typically specified in respective labor contracts or union agreements. The Iraqi Labor Codestipulates that all workers are entitled to one paid rest day per week. If an employee is required to work on the designated rest day, compensation is paid at 100 percent in addition to normal wages, amounting to double-time. If an employee works on a designated rest day, a compensatory paid day off may be taken in lieu of financial compensation.
PUBLIC HOLIDAYS 2016
Date Day Holiday
1 Jan Fri New Year's Day
6 Jan Wed Armed Forces Day
9 Apr Sat Liberation Day
1 May Sun Labour Day
14 Jul Thu Republic Day
7 Jul Thu Eid Al Fitr
8 Jul Fri Eid Al Fitr
9 Jul Sat Eid Al Fitr
8 Aug Mon Ceasefire Day
12 Sep Mon Eid Al Adha
13 Sep Tue Eid Al Adha
14 Sep Wed Eid Al Adha
15 Sep Thu Eid Al Adha
3 Oct Mon National Day/Independence Day
12 Oct Wed Ashura
12 Dec Mon Milad Un Nabi(Prophet's Birthday)
25 Dec Sun Christmas Day
Doing business in Iraq
Formal courtesies are expected and traditional whenever you meet in Iraq for personal or business reasons. Business cards are routinely exchanged and these are often printed in Arabic and English or in Kurdish and English if you are in Iraqi Kurdistan (the majority of Iraqi Kurds do not read or speak Arabic). Directness and brevity in business meetings can be considered rude; meetings usually begin with a general conversation and many pleasantries which also serve the purpose to assess character of everyone concerned.
Sat-Thurs 0800-1400. Friday is the weekly day of rest when offices tend to be closed. During the month of Ramadan, hours are reduced.
Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided over 90% of foreign exchange earnings. The military victory of the US-led coalition in March/April 2003 resulted in the shutdown of much of the economic administrative structure.
Although a comparatively small amount of capital was damaged during the hostilities, looting, insurgent attacks, and sabotage have undermined efforts to rebuild the economy. These have also prevented Iraq from reaching projected export volumes, but total government revenues have been higher than anticipated due to inflated oil prices.
In 2005, unemployment stood at 27%. Iraq's economic prospects will depend on the government's ability to control inflation, to implement structural reforms, and to develop the private sector.
GDP - US$112.8billion (2008).
Crude oil, crude materials (excluding fuel), food, and live animals.
Food, medicine and manufactured goods.
Main trading partners
USA, Turkey, Syria, Italy and Spain.
Keeping in Touch in Iraq
Roaming agreements with several international mobile phone companies exist. There is good coverage in major cities.
Internet cafés are springing up across Iraq, especially in Baghdad.
All mail may take several weeks to process and is inadvisable.
There has been a surge of media outlets since the downfall of Saddam Hussein. Hundreds of publications and dozens of radio and TV stations are now available. Newspapers printed in Iraq include Al-Sabah, sponsored by state-run Iraqi Media Network. During Saddam's dictatorship, satellite TV was banned in Iraq, but now is extremely popular especially Al-Aribiya, Al-Jazeera and BBC Arabic Television.