Last updated: July 2nd, 2021

The Republic of Iraq is located on the north-eastern 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 narrow access to the sea. Iraq is slightly less than one and a half times the size of Germany. With a population of around 39.7 million, Iraq is the fourth largest Arab country after Egypt, Sudan and Algeria.

Its population is very diverse. In the north, mainly Kurds live, who make up about 15 to 20 percent of the total population. The remaining inhabitants of Iraq are very predominantly Arabs (75-80%). The majority of the population professes Shiite Islam (64-69%). Sunni Muslims make up between 29 and 34 per cent of the population. The capital of the country is Baghdad, the second largest Arab city.

The Kurdistan Region enjoys extensive autonomy enshrined in the constitution. However, an overwhelming majority of Kurds voted for an independent Kurdistan in September 2017 in a referendum not recognised by the central government in Baghdad. The subsequent 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 2018, the country has been headed by President Barham Salih, who appointed Mustafa Al-Kadhimi as prime minister in April 2020.

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. There is an urgent need for investment in health care, electricity and water supply, as well as in the oil industry.

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