Iraq is located in western Asia, bordered by Syria, Iran, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Iraq is divided into three distinct zones: the desert in the west and southwest, the plains, and the highlands in the northeast. The water supply comes from wells and wadis that at times carry torrential winter rains.
Iraq is an oil rich country and has the 5th largest oil reserves in the world. However, declining global oil prices and security threats from terrorist organizations have been detrimental to Iraq’s economy.
In this blog, we will cover some brief facts about the country of Iraq.
- The population is over 37 million (2015).
- 71% of the population live in urban areas.
- 50% of the population is younger than 19 years old.
- The GDP is estimated at $168.61 billion USD (2015).
- Unemployment rate is 11%.
- The capital and the largest city in Iraq is Baghdad.
- The official language is Arabic.
- Iraqi Arabic, also known as Mesopotamian Arabic, is a dialect of Arabic spoken in the Mesopotamian basin of Iraq south of Baghdad as well as in neighboring Iran and eastern Syria.
- Many other languages are spoken by a variety of ethnic groups, most notably Kurdish.
- Kurdish is spoken by approximately 15-20% of the population.
- The language with the longest recorded period of use in Iraq is Aramaic.
- The earliest recorded languages of Iraq were Sumerian and Akkadian.
- The population consists of Arabs (75-80%), Kurds (15-20%) Turkoman, Assyrian and others (5%).
- 99% of the population are Muslim, .8% are Christian.
- The government is a parliamentary democracy.
- Wheat, barley, rice, and dates are staple foods in Iraq.
- Hospitality is a tradition deeply engrained in the culture. Visitors are treated like kings and there is a tradition that someone is allowed to stay in your home for three days before you can question why they are staying or when they will leave.
- The official currency is the Iraqi Dinar.
- The current exchange rate between (LRD) and (USD) is 1170.85 of one US dollar.
- Only 9.2% of Iraq’s population use the internet.
- In 2015, Iraq rolled out 3G services by three major mobile operators: Zain Iraq, Asiacell and Korek Telecom.
- Iraq has the world’s 5th largest oil reserves, and is set to increase oil production 400% by 2017.
- However, the sharp decline in global oil prices caused oil export revenues to decline by $40 billion USD.
- Iraq’s other natural resources include natural gas, phosphates and sulphur.
- U.S. foreign direct investment in Iraq is $1.2 billion.
- Inflation rate is 2.5%.
- The government is facing challenges navigating the unstable oil market and rebuilding core infrastucture in areas liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Doing business in Iraq is not without risks. Declining oil prices and the financing needs associated with the ISIS insurgency will continue to negatively impact Iraq’s economy. The poverty levels have increased to 22.5% and there are 3.2 million displaced Iraqis.
Until global oil prices increase, ISIS controlled areas are liberated and secured and core infrastructure is rebuilt, Iraq will continue to be a volatile country with an unstable economy.