Today's Iraq is located in an area with an
ancient history. Between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers
in central and southern Iraq lay Mesopotamia ("the land
between two rivers" in Greek), which is one of the
world's oldest cultural areas. The cuneiform and the
famous poem poem Gilgamesh, which were created during
the Sumerian empire (3200-2000 BC), were followed in
future cultures by other high-level literature and
During the Abbasid caliphate (750–1258 AD), which had
Baghdad as its central location, Iraq became a center of
Islamic culture for a long time. This period was the
golden age of Islam and the Islamic culture spread far
beyond the Arab world, which in turn received influences
from Persia, the Mongol Kingdom and China. The
inspiration for the fairy tales in Thousand and One
Nights comes from Iraq during this time.
Latest population statistics of Iraq, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
By the mid-20th century, Iraqi poetry was breaking
new ground in the Arab world. The traditional, richly
ornate and elaborate forms allowed for a new type of
poetry, with poets such as Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi, Abd
al-Wahhab al-Bayati and Badr Shakir al-Sayyab. Nazik al-Malaika
(1923–2007) became known as one of the foremost female
poets and one of the first to use free verses, but like
many other intellectuals, she was forced to flee Iraq
under the long rule of the Baath Party (1968–2003). The
Iraqi-American poet and author Sinan Antoon has become
internationally known in recent years.
The classic Kurdish literature has roots in oral
tradition with fairy tales, heroic poems and the like.
The national poem Mam u Zin, a love story, was written
in the 17th century by Ahmad-i Khani.
Songaah: List and lyrics of songs related to the country name of Iraq. Artists and albums are also included.
An important role in traditional Kurdish music has
long, partly improvised narrative songs, performed by
wandering bards, dengbej, for their own lute
accompaniment. This tradition has been taken up by
contemporary singers, who sing daily political texts in
Iraqi musicians have also made an impression in
modern pop culture through, for example, Kazim al-Sahir,
one of the largest stars in the Arab world.
Architecture is one of the great Arabic art forms. In
Iraq, there are a small number of buildings preserved
from the Abbasids, including the al-Mutawakkil mosque in
Samarra, on the river Tigris, which was once the
Babylon on the Euphrates River, which was the capital
of the Mesopotamian Empire some 4,000 years ago, was
first put on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019. The
city has become best known for its hanging gardens, the
Tower of Babel and the Ishtar Gate. Although much of the
finds have been carried abroad and can be seen in
museums in Europe, a large area is still available that
has not yet been the subject of archaeological
Iraq's rich heritage of archaeological finds is
partially collected at Baghdad's National Museum. In the
confusion that ensued after the 2003 US-led invasion,
many ancient statues were vandalized and around 15,000
items were stolen. Looters also went on excavations
during the war and the UN cultural body UNESCO found
that the excavations of Babylon were damaged by an
American military base established on the site. Efforts
are being made in many places to trace the theft. Eight
antique finds seized from a trader in the United Kingdom
in 2003, including wedges, were returned to Iraq in
2018. With archaeological detective work, it has been
clear from where the finds are coming from. According to
data in 2019, the United States has returned some 3,000
ancient finds to Iraq since 2005. Many of the objects
have been found in military operations in conflict
The wars of recent years have also left deep traces
in the cultural heritage. The extremist movement IS
caused great havoc, among other things, by using Hatra,
from the time before Christ's birth, as a military
exercise area. Numerous sites have been intentionally
damaged, including the ancient Nimrud. In Mosul, IS
blasted the well-known al-Nuri mosque with a famous
leaning minaret and a mosque dedicated to the figure
known to Jonah as Christianity, but also the protracted
battles when IS was driven out of Mosul went hard to the
The opposition ahead in Kurdish elections
The Kurdistan regional parliamentary election will be a huge success for the
opposition party Gorran (Movement for Change), which will be the second largest
party after the KDP, while President Talabani's party PUK comes only in third
place. The KDP gets 38 of Parliament's 111 seats, Gorran 24 and PUK 18. The
Kurdistan Islamic Union, which is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, gets 10
seats, while the remaining 21 seats are distributed among small parties and
independent candidates. Eleven of the places are reserved for ethnic minorities.
HD tears up the law on mandate periods
The Supreme Court is tearing up the law passed by Parliament (see
January 2013) that the country's highest political leaders should only
hold their positions for a maximum of two terms of office. According to the
court, the law violated the constitution because the proposal came from
Parliament, not from the government.
The Kurdish leaders may sit longer
Parliament in autonomous Kurdistan extends the two-year term of local
president and KDP leader Massoud Barzani.
Terrorists change names
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, appears in a
recorded speech and declares that the group will fight in both Syria and Iraq
under the name Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (Isis, see Political system).
Political deadlock after elections
The results of the local elections show that Prime Minister al-Maliki's
Shiite electoral list The rule of law got the most seats in seven of the
provinces where elections were held. However, no partial alliance gets its own
majority in any province and the result is interpreted as the polarization
between the ethnic or religious groups has increased. The turnout was around 51
Most casualties in almost five years
Throughout April, according to UN estimates, political violence requires 712
lives, of which 211 are in Baghdad alone. The death toll is the highest since
Violent election campaign
The days before the local elections on April 20, violence is increasing.
During the week before the elections, at least 80 people are killed and over 300
injured in blast attacks around the country. Despite the worsening violence,
local elections are being carried out as planned, but only in 12 of the
country's 18 provinces.
Sunni ministers resign
Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi and Minister of Agriculture Izz al-Din
al-Dawla, both Sunni Muslims, resign in protest of the Shiite domination of the
government and the killing of Sunni protesters.
Office hours are limited
Parliament adopts a law that the President, the Prime Minister and the
President may not hold their positions for more than two terms of office; The
law appears to be primarily directed at Prime Minister al-Maliki, whose term of
office expires in connection with the 2014 parliamentary elections.
Calling for continued protests
One of Saddam Hussein's closest men, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, calls on a video
from his hiding place Sunni Muslims to continue their protests against the
government until Prime Minister al-Maliki has overthrown.
Sunni Muslim and Kurdish ministers boycott solidarity government meeting with
those demonstrating against Prime Minister al-Maliki. In southern Iraq, Shia
Muslims are participating in counter-demonstrations in support of the Prime