Country Profile: Iraq
Other CitiesMosul, Al Basrah, Samarra, Karbala, Kirkuk, Arbil, An Najaf
Official languagesArabic, Kurdish
AreaTotal 438,317 km2
Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq 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. 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 two very important rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates.
The nation of Iraq has greatly depended on oil for its wealth, perhaps more than any other nation. In Iraq, oil exports account for nearly 90% of GDP. Due to several conflicts that Iraq has been involved in over the past two decades, there has been much strain placed on their oil industry, but this has begun to change, as there is a more stable government in place now that is working hard to turn the economy around and have it prosper as it once did.
Iraq has a vast variety of cultural backgrounds that include, the 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.
Food and Cuisine
Iraq has a very diverse and ancient cuisine, it 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. The Iraqi cuisine is famous for its extremely tender kabab as well as its tikka.
Looking towards the future, Iraq looks to develop its economy and continue to reform its government to a more progressive business approach. The strength of their oil industry will no doubt help Iraq in terms of their GDP and national exports. Furthermore, Iraq has also undergone extensive research into developing renewable forms of energy, such as wind, solar and hydroelectric, in an attempt to secure their energy needs for the future as well.
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