(Republic of Iraq, جمهورية العـراق, Jumhūriyyat al-‘Irāq)
- Location: Western Asia
- Capital: Baghdad
- Language(s): Arabic, Kurdish
- Population: 31,546,332
- Total Area: 438,317 sq km
- Currency: Iraqi Dinar
- Curious Alcohol Fact: There is an alcoholic drink called arak and usually contains unique flavorings.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 2.40 liters
- Most Popular Drink(s): Coffee (national drink), wines
In the ancient times, the land that is now Iraq was known as Mesopotamia, which means the ‘Land between the Rivers’. This area was the site of the Babylonians and the Sumerians. Iraq has some of the largest reserves of crude oil in the world, and only the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has more petroleum. Iraq shares borders with Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (which it invaded during the First Gulf War). The area that is now Iraq has been continuously inhabited for millennia. The republic was once under the control of the Ottoman Empire and later, it was the turn of the British. The country finally became independent in 1932.
More than three-fourths of the citizens are Arabs, and that means that to an extent, the country can be said to be homogenous. The other large ethnic groups are the Kurds, who account for around one-fifth of the population, Turkmen and Assyrians. There is also a small population of Armenians and Circassians. The official languages in the country are Arabic and Kurdish. Other languages spoken are Persian, Azeri, English and Armenian. A large chunk of the population are Muslims and most follow the Shia branch of the religion. Other Muslims are Sunnis and were in control during the regime of Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim himself.
Iraq has many fine places and sites that you must visit. One spectacular location is the Great Ziggurat of Ur located at Nasiriyah. Other places that you must visit include the National Museum of Iraq and the conservatory in Baghdad. If you appreciate natural features, the country has two of the greatest rivers in the world –Tigris and Euphrates. If you are lucky enough, you can sail down these rivers in the traditional Arab boats called dhows. For the mountain hikers, the Taurus and Zagros mountains are there for your exploration, and if you feel like racing across the desert, Iraq has vast expanses of desert, especially in the western part of the country.
When it comes to quality and delicious foods, very few countries can be compared to Iraq. You need to taste some of these foods before you can really appreciate what is being discussed here. For starters, there is a special salad called tabuleh. As you munch the tomatoes, herbs and parsley, you will know that the tabuleh is no ordinary salad. Another tasty delicacy that you must eat is called shawarma. This dish is consumed in almost all the countries of North Africa and the Middle East. Shawarma is made using chicken, goat, beef, mutton and turkey. It is usually consumed as a casual snack and once you take a bite, you will find it difficult to stop.
The most popular drink in the country is coffee, and is considered the national drink. The taste is quite strong and there is virtually no bar or pub where you will not be offered a steaming cup of coffee. Tea and arak, a local liquor are widely consumed.
Like in many other nations in the region, Iraqis are ardent followers of the game of football. In addition to football, other sports in the country include boxing, tennis, basketball and swimming.
- The area that is now Iraq was once referred to as Mesopotamia.
- The ancient rivers of Tigris and Euphrates are in the country.
- The capital city of Baghdad was once home to one of the largest libraries in the world.
- Iraq was once ruled by the United Kingdom.
- Some of the largest crude oil reserves are located in the country.
Story By World By Shotglass
©2013 World By Shotglass. All Rights Reserved
Special thanks to our contributors:
Adebayo Ahmed Adebola (Ilorin, Nigeria).
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