Last updated: February 12, 2020

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. In the southeast, Iraq also has a narrow access to the sea. Iraq is a little less than one and a half times the size of Germany. With around 39 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 around 15 to 20 percent of the total population. The remaining inhabitants of Iraq are very predominantly Arab (75-80%). The majority of the population professes Shiite Islam (64-69%). Sunnis make up between 29 and 34 percent of the population. The capital of the country is Baghdad, the second largest Arab city.

The Kurdistan region enjoys extensive constitutional autonomy. In September 2017, however, an overwhelming majority of Kurds voted in a referendum that was not recognized by the central government in Baghdad for an independent Kurdistan. The subsequent dispute between central power and the region ultimately led to the Kurdish sphere of influence being curtailed.

Iraq is a democratically constituted federal state. Since his election by parliament in 2018, the country has been headed by President Barham Salih, who appointed Mohammed Tawfik Allawi as Prime Minister in February 2020.

The country has the fifth largest oil reserves in the world and, after Saudi Arabia, the second largest of all Arab countries. The natural gas reserves are also among the largest in the world. Germany obtains almost exclusively oil from Iraq and mainly exports machinery, electrical engineering and pharmaceuticals there. Thanks to its natural resources, the location in the fertile area of ​​the Euphrates and Tigris and the large population, Iraq has the potential to be one of the richest Arab countries. There is an urgent need for investment in the areas of health care, electricity and water supply, and in the oil industry.

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