Last Updated: February 23, 2023
The Republic of Iraq is located on the northeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula. It borders Iran to the east, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan and Syria to the west, and Turkey to the north. Iraq also has narrow access to the sea in the southeast. Iraq is slightly less than one and a half times the size of Germany. With about 40 million inhabitants, Iraq is the fourth largest Arab country after Egypt, Sudan and Algeria.
Its population is very diverse. In the north live mainly Kurds, who make up about 15 to 20 percent of the total population. The remaining inhabitants of Iraq are predominantly Arab (75-80%). The majority of the population professes Shiite Islam (61-64%). Sunni Muslims make up between 29 and 34 percent of the population. The country’s capital is Baghdad, the second-largest Arab city. The Kurdistan Region enjoys extensive constitutional autonomy. However, an overwhelming majority of Kurds voted for an independent Kurdistan in September 2017 in a referendum not recognized by the central government in Baghdad. The ensuing dispute between central power and the region ultimately led to the curtailment of the Kurdish sphere of power.
Iraq is a democratically constituted federal state. Since his election by parliament in 2022, the country has been headed by President Abdul Latif Rashid, who appointed Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as prime minister in October 2022. In January 2023, the latter visited Germany to discuss bilateral issues with Chancellor Scholz. Among the topics discussed were closer cooperation and gas supplies. German companies are to improve the poor infrastructural situation in Iraq with investments in the future.
The country has the fifth-largest oil reserves in the world and the second-largest of all Arab countries after Saudi Arabia. Its natural gas reserves are also among the largest in the world. Germany sources almost exclusively oil from Iraq and exports mainly machinery, electrical engineering and pharmaceuticals there. Thanks to its natural resources, its location in the fertile area on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and its large population, Iraq has the potential to be one of the richest Arab countries. Urgent investment is needed in health care, electricity and water supply, and the oil industry.

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