Iraq

Iraq FlagMuch of early history centers itself around an area known as the "Fertile Crescent," referring to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in present-day Iraq. Many ancient kingdoms were borne out of this region, including the Assyrians, Sumerians, and Babylonians--whose legendary King Hammurabi penned the enormously important Code of Hammurabi, one of the most significant legal doctrines of all time. Much later this region was part of the Ottoman Empire, until 1932 when Iraq became an independent kingdom. Traveling to Iraq has not been appealing to most people in recent years; the country has been part of a series of wars dating back decades--first with their neighbor and foe, Iran; then with the United States after a failed attempt to gain control over another neighbor, Kuwait. Currently, the U.S. government and the governments of several other nations are extremely focussed on removing the despotic dictator Saddam Hussein and his regime. This has led to large-scale military action between Iraq and much of the outside world. Economic sanctions and internal mismanagement have essentially ruined the Iraqi economy, food shortages have reached devastating levels, and the threat of war has all but guaranteed that Iraq won't develop into a tourist destination in the foreseeable future. For the present, it is our contention that--barring extreme circumstances--traveling to Iraq should be avoided at all costs. Particularly for Westerners, it is considered very unsafe. Traveling in Iraq Iraq MapFor those brave enough to travel to this war-torn and tumultuous nation, getting in is the hardest part. Due to war-related restrictions, there are no commercial air carriers running flights to Baghdad's international airport. By road, borders with Turkey and Jordan are heavily guarded. Internal and cross-border struggles with the Kurdish population make many outlying regions dangerous. And internal violence between allied Western troops and local Iraqi militia pose a threat to just about everyone. Weather in Iraq The weather in Iraq is very arid and the country gets little rainfall. The hottest season in Iraq is between May and September. In Bagbdad the temperature in summer can reach 123°F (51°C), but averages about 95°F (35°C). In the winter it gets down to a temperature average of 50°F (10°C). Iraq Information Population: 24,001,816 (2002 est.) Government: Republic Square Miles: 169,235 sq mi (438,317 sq km) Capitol: Baghdad (pop. 5 million) Official Language: Arabic (official), Kurdish People: 79% Arabs, 16% Kurds, 3% Persians, 2% Turks Religion: Shia Muslim (65%), Sunni Muslim (30%), Christian (3%) Major products/industries: Oil, natural gas, agriculture, fishing