Mesopotamia is located to the north-west of the Persian Gulf and is bound by Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the northwest, Jordan to the west, Saudi Arabia to the southwest and south as well as Kuwait and the Persian Gulf to the southeast. The country is divided into 18 governorates. The leader is President Jalal TALABANI, the capitol is the City of Baghdad.
The Republic can be divided into four main topographical regions. (1.) The northeastern highlands which include the Zagros Mountains. (2.) The upland between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which is mostly desert. (3.) A marshland region just above the convergence of the two rivers and (4.) the extensive barren, rock and sand desert region in the south and west which constitute part of the Great Arabian and Syrian Deserts. Around 38% of the total land area is desert while the principal rivers are the Tigris and Euphrates.
Al Anbar, Al Basrah, Al Muthanna, Al Qadisiyah, An Najaf, Arbil, As Sulaymaniyah, At Ta'mim, Babil, Baghdad, Dahuk, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Karbala', Maysan, Ninawa, Salah ad Din, Wasit
Al-‘Iraq , or Al-Jumhuriyah al-‘Iraqiyah is the easternmost country of the Arab world, located at about the same latitude as the southern United States. Total land area is 167,975 square miles (435,052 square kilometres), excluding the neutral zone that has been administered jointly with Saudi Arabia since 1922. A 1981 agreement to partition the neutral zone has not been implemented. The country has 12 miles (19 kilometres) of coastline along the northern end of the Persian Gulf, giving it 357 square miles of territorial sea, equivalent to 0.2 percent of the land area; it is thus the least favoured Middle Eastern state for access to the sea and offshore sovereignty. The capital is Baghdad.
Called Mesopotamia (“Land Between the Rivers”) in classical times, the region's extensive alluvial plains gave rise to the world's earliest civilizations. Modern country was created in the aftermath of World War I and gained independence in 1932.
Mesopotamia is situated between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and was mankind's earliest civilization. The first form of writing known as cuniform was invented sometime back beyond 3500 B.C. Inventions such as irrigation and the wheel were invented in the region as well as the smelting of iron, astronomy and mathmatics.
The earliest known inhabitants were the Sumerians. The country was conquered successively by the Amurru, the Akkadians, the Kossites, the Hittites, the Babylonians and the Assyrians. Later came the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Parthians and the Sassanids, the last of which ruled from 226 to 637 A.D. when the Arabs conquered the country.
The capital Baghdad was founded in 762 and became the world's chief center of learning and art. In 1259, the Mongolian prince Gengis Khan utterly destroyed Baghdad and ruined the canal system. The country lay a desert for nearly 700 years.
The region is one of the world's leading petroleum producers. In recent decades oil revenues have been used for ambitious projects and development programs and to build one of the most powerful armed forces in the Arab world; its strength was demonstrated during the Iran War (1980–88) and in the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. The republic has experienced some political instability since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958. Internal dissent has been vigorously suppressed, particularly among the Kurdish minority in the north. The government is keen to encourage strong patriotic consciousness and to play an effective role as a regional power in the area.
Babylon The Great
The city of Babylon is mentioned in documents of the late third millennium BC and became the centre of an Amorite dynasty in the early second millennium BC. The sixth Amorite ruler, Hammurabi, created an empire across Mesopotamia. It was the royal city of the Kassites and during the Second Dynasty of Isin (1157-1026 BC) it became the capital of southern Mesopotamia and its patron deity Marduk became the primary diety.
Nebuchadnezzar II rebuilt Babylon in the sixth century BC and it became the largest ancient settlement in Mesopotamia. There were two sets of fortified walls and massive palaces and religious buildings, including the central ziggurat tower. Nebuchadnezzar is also credited with the construction of the famous 'Hanging Gardens'.
Babylon remained an important centre until the third century BC, when Seleucia-on-the-Tigris was founded about ninety kilometres to the north-east. Under Antiochus I (281-261 BC) the new settlement became the official Royal City and the civilian population was ordered to move there. Nonetheless a village existed on the old city site until the eleventh century AD. Babylon was excavated by Robert Koldeway between 1899 and 1917 on behalf of the Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft. Since 1958 the Directorate-General of Antiquities has carried out further investigations. Unfortunately, the earlier levels are inaccessible beneath the high water table.
Nineveh - City that Asshur Built
The site of Nineveh lies on the east bank of the River Tigris. The ancient tell, now known as Tell Kuyunjik, was occupied from the seventh millennium BC. A deep excavation at the site, carried out by Max Mallowan, established a chronology against which many of the other sites in north Mesopotamia are compared.
In the later second millennium BC, Nineveh was an important city with a prestigious temple of the goddess Ishtar. Sennacherib chose it as his capital and laid out a city surrounded by walls approximately twelve kilometres (seven and a half miles) in circumference. The old tell formed the main citadel and was where, at the beginning of the seventh century BC, Sennacherib built the so-called Southwest Palace, decorating it with carved stone reliefs. As at Nimrud and Khorsabad, there was also an arsenal. This was situated on the river wall south of the citadel mound at Tell Nebi Yunus (so-called because later legend claimed this was the tomb of the prophet Jonah). Ashurbanipal built a second palace on Tell Kuyunjik, the North Palace, which contained the famous lion hunt reliefs. In the summer of 612 BC, Nineveh fell to the combined forces of the Medes and Babylonians. Occupation continued, however, for a further 1000 years before Nineveh was eclipsed by the city of Mosul, on the other side of the river.
OFFICIAL NAME(S) Al-Jumhuriyah al-'Iraqiyah CAPITAL: Baghdad FORM OF GOVERNMENT: transitional democracy EXECUTIVE BRANCH: chief of state: President Jalal TALABANI; Deputy Presidents Adil ABD AL-MAHDI and Tariq al-HASHIMI; Head of government: Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI; Deputy Prime Ministers Barham SALIH and Salam al-ZUBAI cabinet: 37 ministers appointed by the Presidency Council, plus Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI, and Deputy Prime Ministers Barham SALIH and Salam al-ZUBAI elections: held 15 December 2005 to elect a 275-member Council of Representatives LEGISLATIVE BRANCH: Unicameral Council of Representatives or Mejlis Watani MONETARY UNIT: 1 Dinar (ID) = 20 dirhams = 1,000 fils; valuation 1 U.S.$ = 1,500 ID; 1 £ = 2,550 ID. OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Arabic POPULATION : 28,221,181 RELIGIOUS AFFILIATION : Muslim 97% (Shi'a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3% ETHNIC COMPOSITION : Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5% LIFE EXPECTANCY AT BIRTH : male 57.3 yrs; female 60.4
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