Thursday, September 7, 2023
Iraq travel guide - Travel S helper


travel guide

Iraq, formally known as the Republic of Iraq, is a nation in Western Asia. It is bordered to the north by Turkey, to the east by Iran, to the southeast by Kuwait, to the south by Saudi Arabia, to the southwest by Jordan, and to the west by Syria. Baghdad is the capital and biggest city. Arabs and Kurds are the two largest ethnic groups, although Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians, and Kawliya are also present. Around 95% of the country’s 36 million people are Shia or Sunni Muslims, with minorities of Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism, and Mandeanism.

Iraq’s 58-kilometer-long (36-mile-long) northern Persian Gulf coastline includes the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northern end of the Zagros mountain range, and the eastern portion of the Syrian Desert. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow south through Iraq, meeting at the Shatt al-Arab in the Persian Gulf. These rivers provide a large quantity of fertile land to Iraq.

Historically known as Mesopotamia, the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is often considered to be the birthplace of civilization. It was here that humanity first learned to read, write, establish laws, and live in towns governed by organized governments – most famously Uruk, from whence the name “Iraq” derives. Since the sixth millennium BC, the region has been inhabited by various civilisations. Iraq was the administrative center of the Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires. It was also a part of the Median, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, and Roman empires, as well as the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, Ayyubid, Mongol, Safavid, and Afsharid empires.

Iraq’s current boundaries were largely defined by the League of Nations in 1920, after the Ottoman Empire’s partition through the Treaty of Sèvres. Iraq was included into the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. In 1921, a monarchy was created, and the Kingdom of Iraq declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1932. The monarchy was deposed in 1958, and the Iraqi Republic was established. From 1968 until 2003, Iraq was ruled by the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party was deposed after an invasion by the US and its allies in 2003, and multi-party parliamentary elections were conducted in 2005. Although the United States withdrew from Iraq in 2011, the Iraqi insurgency persisted and escalated as jihadists from Syria’s civil war entered the nation.

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Iraq - Info Card




Iraqi dinar (IQD)

Time zone



438,317 km2 (169,235 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language

Arabic - Kurdish

Iraq | Introduction


Iraq is mostly desert, although the Euphrates and Tigris rivers bring 60,000,000m3 (78,477,037 cu yd) of sediment to the delta each year. The country’s north is mainly mountainous, with the highest peak reaching 3,611m (11,847 ft), unidentified on the map but locally known as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a 58km (36 mi) Persian Gulf coastline.


Iraq has a hot, dry climate. Most of the country’s summer temperatures surpass 40°C (104°F) and often reach 48°C (118°F). Winter highs are about 21°C (70°F), with nighttime lows sometimes below freezing. In most locations, the annual precipitation is less than 250mm (10 in), with greatest rainfall occurring from November to April. Summer rains are uncommon, especially in the far north.


It is estimated that Iraq has 31,234,000 people. In 1878, Iraq had a population of 2 million. Iraq’s population has risen to 35 million since the conflict.

Ethnic groups

Arabs make about 75–80% of the population. 15 % of Iraq’s population is Kurdish 5-10% of the population are Assyrians, Turkmens, Mandeans, Armenians, Circassians, Iranians, Shabakis, Yazidis, and Kawliya. Southern Iraq has 20,000 Marsh Arabs.

Iraq has 2,500 Chechens. Slavery in the Islamic Caliphate began before the Zanj Rebellion in the 9th century, and Basra’s position as a major port left a population of Iraqis of African ancestry in southern Iraq. It is the Arab Plate’s most populated nation.


Iraq is a Muslim-majority nation, with Muslims accounting for about 95% of the population and non-Muslims (mostly Assyrian Christians) accounting for just 5%. It is home to both Shia and Sunni Muslims. According to the CIA Factbook, Shia Muslims make up around 65 percent of Iraq’s Muslim population, while Sunni Muslims make up about 35 percent. According to a 2011 Pew Research Center study, 51 percent of Muslims in Iraq are Shia, 42 percent are Sunni, and 5% identify as “Just a Muslim.”

The Sunni community claims that the government discriminates against them in virtually every area of life. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, on the other hand, disputed it. Christians have resided in the region for almost 2,000 years, with many descended from pre-Arab Mesopotamians and Assyrians. They numbered over 1.4 million in 1987, accounting for 8% of the estimated 16.3 million population, and 550,000 in 1947, accounting for 12% of the population.

The majority of Christians are Neo Aramaic-speaking Assyrians who belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church, Assyrian Church of the East, Assyrian Pentecostal Church, and Syriac Orthodox Church. According to estimates, the number of Christians has decreased from 8–12% in the mid-twentieth century to 5% in 2008. Since the start of the conflict, more than half of Iraq’s Christians have fled to neighboring nations, and many have not returned, while others are returning to their historic Assyrian homeland in the Kurdish Autonomous Region.

Mandaeans, Shabaks, Yarsan, and Yezidis make up tiny ethno-religious minority groups. Iraq’s Jewish population, which numbered approximately 150,000 in 1941, has almost completely vanished.

Najaf and Karbala, two of the world’s holiest sites for Shias, are located in Iraq.

Diaspora and refugees

The Iraqi diaspora is the exodus of Iraqis to other nations. The UNHCR estimates that approximately two million Iraqis left the country following the 2003 multinational invasion, mainly to Syria and Jordan. The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre believes 1.9 million more are internally displaced.

In 2007, the UN estimated that about 40% of Iraq’s middle class had left, mainly to escape systematic persecution and had no desire to return. Refugees are poor because they cannot work in their host nations. With improved security, the diaspora appears to be returning; the Iraqi government claims 46,000 refugees came home in October 2007.

At the end of 2011, almost 3 million Iraqis had fled their homes, 1.3 million in Iraq and 1.6 million in neighboring countries, primarily Jordan and Syria. Since the 2003 US-led invasion, more than half of Iraqi Christians have left. As of May 25, 2011, 58,811 Iraqis have been given refugee status by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Since 2012, approximately 160,000 Syrians of various nationalities have migrated to Iraq. Increasing bloodshed in Syria’s civil conflict prompted many Iraqis to return home.


Although Arabic is the official language of Iraq, English is so widely spoken that most visitors will be able to get by in the many stores, marketplaces, and cafés. The disadvantage is that speaking English instantly marks you as a foreigner. Because of the extensive underground network of Iraqis who notify attackers of potential targets, this is hazardous.

In Kurdistan, Kurdish is spoken in one of two dialects: Kurmanji and Sorani. In and around Dohuk, Kurmanji is spoken, whereas Sorani is spoken in and around Arbil (Hewlar) and Sulaymaniyah. These two kinds are incomprehensible to one another. However, Arabic is widely spoken, and the number of English speakers is increasing.


The oil industry has historically supplied about 95% of Iraq’s foreign currency revenues. Lack of growth in other industries has led in 18%–30% unemployment and a $4000 per capita GDP. In 2011, the public sector employed almost 60% of full-time workers. Less than 1% of Iraqis work in the oil export sector. Women now make up a small proportion of the workforce (22% in 2011).

Imposing high tariffs to keep out foreign products was part of Iraq’s centrally controlled economy prior to US intervention. Post-invasion CPAI issued several binding directives privatizing Iraq’s economy, allowing international investment.

On November 20, 2004, Iraq’s $42 billion debt to the Paris Club was forgiven by 80% ($33 billion). Iraq’s overall foreign debt was approximately $120 billion in 2003 and had increased by $5 billion by 2004. The debt reduction will be delivered in three stages: 30% each and 20%.

According to Citigroup, Iraq is one of the “Global Development Generators” that will see substantial economic growth in the future.

Iraq’s official currency is the dinar. It produced new dinar coins and notes, with De La Rue printing them using contemporary anti-forgery methods. Jim Cramer’s support of the Iraqi Dinar on CNBC on October 20, 2009 has heightened interest.

Five years after the invasion, four million Iraqis were food insecure (a quarter of children were chronically malnourished) and just a third of Iraqi children had access to clean drinking water.

According to the Overseas Development Institute, foreign NGOs’ missions are hampered by insecurity, lack of coordinated financing, insufficient operational capability, and spotty information. 94 relief workers were murdered, 248 wounded, 24 imprisoned or detained, and 89 kidnapped or abducted in the first five years.

Oil and energy

Iraq has proven oil reserves of 143.1 billion barrels (2.275 1010 m3), second only to Saudi Arabia. By December 2012, oil output was 3.4 million barrels per day. Iraq plans to reach 5 million BPD by 2014. Iraq has 2,000 oil wells compared to 1 million in Texas alone. Iraq was an early member of OPEC.

Despite better security and billions in oil money, Iraq still produces about half the power consumers need, leading to summer demonstrations.

Submitted to the Iraqi Council of Representatives in May 2007 is the Iraq Oil Law. The Iraqi government has yet to pass a legislation.

According to a May 2007 US study, between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels per day (16,000-48,000 m3/d) of Iraq’s reported oil output may have been siphoned off via corruption or smuggling. As of 2008, Al Jazeera claimed that $13 billion in Iraqi oil profits was illegally accounted for in the US. Despite some claims that the government has decreased corruption in public oil procurement, bribes and kickbacks to government officials remain.

For the biggest fields, the Iraqi Oil Ministry stated in June 2008 that Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total, and BP — formerly partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — would be awarded modest one- or two-year no-bid contracts. According to Iraqi oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani, the plans were scrapped in September because talks had delayed for so long. Several US senators said the agreement was impeding attempts to approve the energy legislation.

International oil firms were granted servicing contracts for Iraq’s numerous oil fields on June 30th and December 11th, 2009. Oil fields contracted include the “super-giant” Majnoon and West Qurna oilfield. BP and CNPCC will jointly develop Iraq’s biggest oil field, Rumaila.

Iraq’s oil production increased by half a million barrels per day in February, the International Energy Agency said on March 14. That much oil hadn’t been produced since Saddam Hussein took control in 1979. In the midst of sectarian conflict, Kurdish Regional Government troops took control of the Bai Hassan and Kirkuk oilfields in northern Iraq on July 14, 2014. An angry Baghdad warned “dire repercussions” if the fields were not restituted.

Entry Requirements For Iraq

Visa restrictions
When landing at Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, or Najaf airports, Israeli residents and those with Israeli stamps and/or visas will be denied entry.

Visa & Passport

A visa is required for all travelers to Iraq. Contract and military employees working for the United States Department of Defense are currently excluded from the visa requirement if they show a valid Common Access Card (CAC) issued by the Department of Defense. This only applies if you’re flying into BIAP’s military side through Gryphon Air or a military flight. You will be deported if you travel into Baghdad International Airport without a valid entrance or working visa.

A visa may be bought for USD80 at most border checkpoints for individuals entering the country without one. For people, the total crossing duration is approximately 1 hour. If you want to get a visa at the port of entry, expect lengthy lines and carry lots of paperwork explaining who you are and what you’re doing in Iraq. It is preferable to send letters on business or government letterhead.

It is difficult and time consuming to get a travel visa to Iraq. An application may be obtained from the Iraqi Embassy in your area. All applications, however, are verified in Baghdad. Even if you have a visa, you may not be allowed to enter Iraq after you arrive. At the Iraqi embassies in London, Paris, and Washington, D.C., visas may be obtained in advance.

How To Travel To Iraq

Get In - By plane

Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) (IATA: BGW) is approximately 16 kilometers from the city center. After minor damage during the conflicts, the airport is now fully operational and expanding due to Iraq’s recovery.

Iraqi Airways, the national airline, has a fleet of 15 aircraft. Their primary business is domestic flights, although they also fly to London and Stockholm, as well as several airports in the Middle East and South Asia.

Austrian or Turkish Airlines are the best options for flights from Europe to Baghdad. Austrian Airlines operates four weekly flights from Vienna (IATA: VIE) to BIAP. Turkish Airlines flies from Istanbul (IATA: IST) to BIAP on a daily basis.

Royal Jordanian Airlines offers two daily roundtrip flights from Amman to the Middle East (IATA: AMM). Emirates and the low-cost airline flydubai come in Baghdad on a daily basis.

Erbil International Airport [www] is the best-connected and safest airport. Most European and Middle Eastern airlines, including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Royal Jordanian, and Etihad, operate flights into Iraqi Kurdistan. Because it is safer than the rest of Iraq and serves as a regional economic center, Iraqi Kurdistan has experienced tremendous development and investment since 2003.

Gryphon Airlines is available to diplomats, private military contractors, and intelligence operatives. Gryphon operates flights between BIAP’s military side and Kuwait City.

Turkish airlines fly to Van, Turkey from most western cities through Istanbul; from there, a cab will transport you to the border for the equivalent of USD35-200, depending on your negotiating abilities (Turkish drivers will only usually accept Lira, euros or pounds sterling)

There are two charter planes that fly into BIAP for people working for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Iraq. Skylink and AirServ provide regular service. Travel on any of these services needs sponsorship from your NGO in order to be included to each service’s authorized traveller list. Schedules and services may be erratic and often vary.

The airport is controlled by the Iraqi government. The Iraqi Ministry of Transportation oversees takeoffs and landings at BIAP. As a consequence of many key components of Air Traffic Control equipment not being switched on, BIAP can only handle Visual Flight Rule (VFR) landings, not instrument landings. As a result, the area’s regular sandstorms may impair sight and force aircraft to be diverted. Due to poor visibility on the runway, it is very uncommon for commercial aircraft to make it all the way to BIAP before turning around and returning to their origin. In order to avoid the high risk of ground-based assaults, arriving civilian aircraft descend in a tight spiral from cruising altitudes inside protected BIAP airspace.

Be prepared for lengthy, chaotic, and extremely sluggish queues wherever you go while leaving from BIAP. If you are not working on a government contract in Iraq, your entry to the airport grounds will require you and your car to wait in line to be checked approximately three or four miles from the airport terminal. These security checks may take two to three hours to complete. The ideal approach is to locate lodgings inside the BIAP area of control the day before your trip so that you are not exposed to the lengthy wait and miss your flight.

All airlines operating at BIAP have a strict luggage matching procedure. All baggage, whether carry-ons or checked luggage, are lined up close to the aircraft on the runway. Before a baggage handler and security officers can match it and put it into the hold, each passenger must personally touch and claim their luggage. Bags left on the tarmac after the boarding procedure is completed are not loaded and are transported from the terminal area to a secure location for disposal.

Get In - By train

A once-weekly passenger train has been restored into operation between Gaziantep in southern Turkey and Mosul, traversing a small stretch of Syrian land, after a twenty-year hiatus. It left Gaziantep at 21:00 every Thursday and landed in Mosul at 14:00 the following day, paying €25 per person. By train, this was the only route to get to Iraq. (Updated in August 2010.) The Gaziantep–Mosul service has been stopped until further notice due to a request from Iraqi Railways. The train is still listed on the Turkish State Railways website, with the notation that it is temporarily out of service, indicating that it is expected to return to operation in the near future. Any effort to traverse Syrian territory in 2012-2013 is not recommended owing to the country’s continuing, deadly internal strife.)

Get In - By car

Cars may be the riskiest mode of entry into the nation. When you get to the border, it’s a good idea to trade in your taxi/rental vehicle for an armoured 4×4, which can be hired for GBP300 (USD460) approx. from the British security firm GENRIC, along with an armed guard if needed.

From Turkey

Driving in from Turkey is the most convenient way to reach the country’s northernmost region. In comparison to the rest of the nation, this part of the country is quite safe. Border police and locals will advise you on which cities are safe to visit (Zakho, Dohuk, Erbil, As-Sulaymaniyah, and so on) and which towns to avoid (Zakho, Dohuk, Erbil, As-Sulaymaniyah, and so on) (such as Mosulor Baghdad).

You will travel south-east from Diyarbakir, Turkey, to Zakho, Iraq. It is possible to take a taxi that has been pre-arranged; the average cost of this taxi trip is USD150, and the majority of the drivers only speak Kurdish or Arabic. You will often change cabs at Silopi, just five minutes from the Iraqi border, or change automobiles around 70 kilometers from the border and carry on from there. After that, the taxi driver will handle all of your paperwork at the border. This entails your driver going from building to building, stamping and approving papers. For the Turkish side of the border, you must have a photocopy of your passport, which you must leave with them (the photocopy, not your passport).

A considerably less costly alternative is to take a bus straight from Diyarbakir to Silopi. This will not cost more than TRY20. It’s simple to catch a cab to Zakho from the Silopi otogar (bus stop). All of the photocopying and documentation for the Turkish side may be handled by a competent cab driver.

At this point, you will have completed your drive over the border into Iraq. After that, your taxi driver will take you to the Iraqi immigration and customs department. All people and cars entering Iraq must be checked for contraband by customs officials, and their vehicles must be registered and pay a stamp fee; however, searches are not always performed. Without this stamp fee, it is unlawful for a non-Iraqi vehicle to buy gasoline at any of the country’s state-run gas stations. After paying any import taxes to customs and getting the vehicle stamp, immigration officials will examine your passport and, if you have a visa, will stamp it. Furthermore, at certain land border crossings, your fingerprint and/or picture will be collected. There was no visa charge at this border crossing as of July 2008.

You will now be at the border taxi stop, a few kilometers outside of Zakho’s city center, and may need to take another taxi to go to Zakho’s city center (IQD5,000-10,000). It costs about USD40 to take a cab from the Turkish city where you swapped vehicles to Zakho. This is a secure location where you may meet up with pals or charter a cab to another area of the nation. While you wait, sip some tea.

From Jordan

Be prepared for a lengthy trip if you are crossing the Jordanian border. The journey across the eastern Jordanian desert resembles a lunar landscape. The trip from Amman to Baghdad may take between 10-15 hours. You’ll leave Amman between 5:00 and 10:00 a.m. and arrive at the border crossing four hours later. On a good day, the border crossing may take an hour and a half to more than five or six hours. It typically takes half as long to enter Iraq as it does to leave. Jordanian immigration and customs officials are extremely picky about who they let in, and they often close their side of the border and refuse to let anybody through for unexplained reasons.

The journey from the border to Baghdad is very hazardous. The road is rife with highway robbers and bands of criminals that prey on unsuspecting travelers. Traveling this road without sufficient communications equipment or firearms of any sort is STRONGLY ADVISED. Make no stops along this route; if traffic gets stopped on the highway for any reason (other than a potential IED), it is advisable to loop until traffic flows again. Vehicles, particularly those inhabited by westerners, are vulnerable to assault at any moment. Carry additional gasoline as well as lots of food.

From Kuwait

Crossing the Kuwaiti border is equally as tough as crossing the Jordanian border. The Kuwaiti border is made much more difficult by the fact that Kuwaiti immigration and customs officials are even stricter than Jordanian authorities, and anything may lead them to prevent your entrance or departure at their discretion. Sneaking into a military convoy is not recommended since the turret gunners in the convoy may mistake your vehicle for a suicide attacker.

In Iraq, reliable yet unobtrusive transportation is essential. Buying a vehicle that blends in with the other vehicles on the road is usually the best option. Toyota, Hyundai, and Kia, as well as lesser-known Eastern European and Asian manufacturers, are widely available. BMWs and Mercedes are also found in Iraq, although they are less frequent, particularly the good ones with the steering wheel on the right side.

Get In - By bus

Iraq may be entered from Jordan by a bus from Amman. Other nations may operate buses to Iraq. Third-country citizens may also enter Iraq for employment reasons using buses that often leave from Kuwait.

How To Travel Around Iraq

Although frequent buses connect Zakho and Dohuk and cost about USD2, public transportation is scarce in Kurdistan. Throughout the day, shared taxis depart from Dohuk towards Erbil and other destinations. The route between Dohuk and Arbil passes close to Mosul but does not exit Kurdish territory, making it secure, albeit a little too close for comfort.

Shared taxis may be the safest mode of transportation in Iraqi Kurdistan, since the drivers have no desire to leave the region.

Get Around - By car

Driving at night may be a safer option than driving during the day, but there are a few guidelines to follow:

City centers should be avoided. Even while the majority of Iraqis are fast asleep by midnight, those who remain up are almost definitely up to naught good.

Keep an eye out for military personnel. You may be perceived for a hostile/troublemaker if you’re out late at night and successfully attempting to fit in with the locals. You will be regarded as a suspect at checkpoints, and you must behave cautiously until they determine you are not a target.

If you come across military personnel, make sure your lights are turned on, your hazards/flashers are turned on, you slow down or pull over to the side of the road, and you obey any and all orders given to you. If a stop sign, green laser, or other signal is aimed at you or in your general vicinity, it is best to err on the side of caution rather than risk being fired at.

If you’re traveling to Iraq and meet acquaintances along the way, be VERY CAREFUL about accepting a ride. Make sure they don’t leave Iraqi Kurdistan province if they accept the offer.

Destinations in Iraq

Regions in Iraq

  • Al Jazira
    The area between and around the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers, north and northwest of Baghdad.
  • Baghdad Belts
    The belts of suburbs, villages, and cities that radiate out from Baghdad’s center.
  • Iraqi Desert
    The vast, desolate wastelands of the country’s west and southwest.
  • Iraqi Kurdistan
    This is the safest area of Iraq for travel, since it is home to the Kurdish people and is mainly administered by what is for all intents and purposes a distinct national government.
  • Lower Mesopotamia
    The Cradle of Civilization itself, home to major Shia cities and holy sites, such as Karbala, Najaf, Basra, and Nasiriya, as well as legendary ruins of ancient civilizations, including Babylon and Sumerian Ur.

Cities in Iraq

  • Baghdad (بغداد)
  • Arbil (أربيل)
  • Ar Rutba (الرطبة)
  • Basra (البَصرة)
  • Dahuk (دهوك)
  • Fallujah (الفلّوجة)
  • Karbala (كربلاء)
  • Kirkuk (كركوك)
  • Mosul (موصل)
  • Sulaimaniyah (سليمانى)

Other destinations in Iraq

  • Ashur — a UNESCO World Heritage site and the historic capital of the Assyrian Empire, this is one of the country’s few major archaeological monuments that has benefitted from the recent invasion—the Hussein administration intended to build a dam nearby that would have inundated and destroyed the site.
  • Babylon (بابل) — The remains of ancient Babylon have been destroyed by poor rebuilding, looting, and military neglect, yet they remain some of the most magnificent in the Cradle of Civilization.
  • Ctesiphon — Ctesiphon, the historical capital of the Parthian and Sassanid Empires, has left us with majestic, towering remains, most notably the spectacular Arch of Ctesiphon; close over the Tigris, the archaeological site of the ancient Hellenistic city of Seleucia has been discovered.
  • Hatra — formerly a UNESCO World Heritage site, this once well-preserved Parthian city in the desert had some of Iraq’s most beautiful remains, which were badly damaged or destroyed by Da’esh militants in 2015.
  • Nineveh (نينوى) — Nineveh Is a 3,000-year-old city and one-time Assyrian capital, whose partly rebuilt remains and archaeological site is located across the Tigris from Mosul.
  • Ur (أور) — Ur Is the remains of an ancient Sumerian city best known for the Great Ziggurat of Ur, a huge step pyramid.

Things To See in Iraq

Iraq’s tourism sector has suffered as a result of the country’s terrible governance and destructive conflicts over the last 40 years. Religious pilgrims, mainly from the Middle East, Iran, and Central Asia, have returned in huge numbers to the holy sites of southern Iraq after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime, which was virulently opposed to Shia Islam. Religious pilgrimage is still very dangerous, although there is more safety in numbers and familiarity with the Arab area. Pilgrimage, of course, is a more pressing cause for travel than tourism!

One can only hope that security and stability are restored to this vast and ancient region soon, because it is a fascinating travel destination for anyone interested in history, whether it is ancient history dating back 4,000 years, medieval Islamic and later Ottoman history, or modern history from the early twenty-first century. The aforementioned wars and misgovernment have not been kind to Iraq’s ruins, particularly in terms of the Hussein government’s extensive reconstruction of ancient Babylon and subsequent neglect by foreign military forces. However, the allure of ancient cities like as Babylon, the Babylonian capital; Ur, the ancient metropolis of mankind’s first big civilizations, Sumeria; important Parthian towns including beautiful Hatra and the capital Ctesiphon; and Ashur, the Assyrian capital, outweighs the harm done.

Outside of Saudi Arabia, the holiest places of Shia Islam are in Iraq’s lush heartland of Lower Mesopotamia. The Shia-Sunni divide in Islam arose from a disagreement about the Prophet Muhammad’s rightful successor in the mid-seventh century C.E., with the Shiites backing Ali ibn Abi Talib, who would become the first Imam and whose Caliphate capital was in the ancient city of Kufa. The Imam Ali Mosque, one of Shia Islam’s holiest shrines, houses Ali’s grave in modern-day Najaf. Husayn ibn Ali, the third Imam and Prophet’s grandson, is widely regarded as one of Shia Islam’s greatest martyrs, and the two grand mosques of Karbala, Al Abbas Mosque and Imam Husayn Shrine (which stands on his grave), are the most important pilgrimage sites for Shiites, who come to observe the Ashura, the day of mourning for Imam Husayn.

The Al-Askari Mosque, which serves as the mausoleum of Imams ‘Ali al-Hadi and Hassan al-‘Askari, is another significant Shia mosque in Samarra. Sadly, this mosque has been severely damaged by sectarian violence in 2006, with the dome, minarets, and clock tower being destroyed. Finally, the seventh and ninth Imams, Musa al-Kadhim and Muhammad at-Taqi, are buried in the Al-Kadhimiya Mosque at Kadhimiya. The renowned historical scholars Shaykh Mufid and Shaykh Nasir ad-Din Tusi are both buried inside this mosque. Baghdad’s Abu Hanifa Mosque, constructed around the grave of Abu Hanifah an-Nu’man, the founder of the anaf school of Islamic religious law, is one of the most important Sunni Islamic holy places.

The majority of contemporary attractions are the Saddam Hussein government’s large modernist sculptures and palaces, which are mainly situated downtown Baghdad (or on top of some of the world’s most significant historical sites…). Given the foreign and internal conflict, as well as government crimes against its own people during the last 40 years, monuments to those who have suffered can only be expected to become more prevalent in the future. However, such improvements may have to wait until the country’s tumultuous present is resolved. Meanwhile, it is feasible (though sometimes hazardous) to go to places and battlegrounds that have become household names across the globe as a result of the most recent war.

Food & Drinks in Iraq

Food in Iraq

Masgouf is considered Iraq’s national dish. It’s an open-cut freshwater fish that’s been marinated in olive oil, salt, curcuma, and tamarind for hours before being roasted with the skin on. Lime, chopped onions and tomatoes, and flatbread are traditional masgouf garnishes.

Baytinijan Tepsi In Iraq, this meal is also extremely popular. Meatballs, aubergine, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and potatoes are common ingredients in this baked dish.

Drinks in Iraq

In Iraq, alcohol is allowed, and street sellers can generally get you some if you really need it, but this is simply begging to be recognized as an alien. Furthermore, despite the fact that alcohol is legal in Iraq, several rebel organizations have targeted alcohol merchants and consumers.

Money & Shopping in Iraq

The Iraqi dinar (IQD) is the official currency, although you may also use euros (€) and US dollars (USD) nearly everywhere. Keep in mind that most individuals dislike making change for big bills. Any flaws in the banknotes (creases, bank ink stamps, rips, and so on) may arouse suspicions that you are a counterfeiter. Also, don’t bring any old bills with you. For everyday spending money, carry mainly tiny notes in the shape of Iraqi dinars.

The broad acceptance and trust in the new Iraqi dinar has decreased the importance of the US dollar, and many shops are now refusing to take it. Due to the huge number of notes needed to pay with dinars, most individuals will continue to pay big hotel bills or rent payments in US dollars or euro. The exchange rate varies from day to day and from town to town, but it is often about IQD1175 to USD1. Inflation used to be quite high (65 percent per year since 2003), but it has recently been considerably lower (11 % in 2008), making the Iraqi dinar a more appealing investment target than the Vietnamese dong.

Learn about the security aspects of the new dinar and US dollar banknotes; the previous Iraqi government was suspected of producing counterfeit USD20, USD10, and USD5 bills, and these counterfeiters are still active.

Culture Of Iraq


Iraq is well renowned for its rich maqam history, which has been handed down orally down the generations by maqam masters in an unbroken line of transmission. The maqam al-Iraqi is regarded as the highest and most flawless type of maqam. The collection of sung poetry al-maqam al-Iraqi is composed in one of the sixteen meters of classical Arabic or in Iraqi dialect (Zuhayri). UNESCO has designated this kind of art as “humanity’s intangible heritage.”

Many of Iraq’s most famous musicians were Jewish in the early twentieth century. With the exception of the percussionist, Iraq Radio was founded in 1936 with an ensemble made up exclusively of Jews. Ensembles comprising oud, qanun, and two percussionists performed in Baghdad nightclubs, while the radio broadcasted the same style with a ney and cello.

Salima Pasha, a Jew, was arguably the most renowned vocalist of the 1930s and 1940s (later Salima Murad). Pasha’s love and respect were uncommon at the period, since public performances by women were frowned upon, and the majority of female singers were recruited from brothels.

Ezra Aharon, an oud musician, was Iraq’s most renowned early composer, while Daoud Al-Kuwaiti was the most notable instrumentalist. Daoud and his brother Saleh created the official ensemble for the Iraqi radio station, and they were the ones who introduced the cello and the ney into the traditional ensemble.

Art and architecture

The Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra, whose preparations and concerts were temporarily disrupted during the Occupation of Iraq but have since resumed, is one of the city’s most important cultural organizations. The Iraqi National Theatre was stolen during the 2003 invasion, but restoration works are ongoing. During the 1990s, when UN sanctions restricted the import of foreign films, the live theatrical industry flourished. According to reports, up to 30 theaters have been transformed into live stages, with a variety of comedy and serious plays on offer.

Baghdad’s cultural institutions include the Academy of Music, the Institute of Fine Arts, and the Baghdad Music and Ballet School. Baghdad also has many museums, notably the National Museum of Iraq, which contains the world’s biggest and best collection of antiquities and artifacts from ancient Iraqi civilisations, some of which were taken during the Iraqi occupation.

The Medes captured Ninus or Nineveh under Cyaxares, and the place was reduced to mounds of dirt some 200 years after Xenophon walked through it. It remained buried until Botta and Layard found the Assyrian towns’ remains in 1845. The most important ruins are those of Khorsabad, 16 kilometers (10 miles) northeast of Mosul; Nimroud, which is thought to be the old Calah; and Kouyunjik, which is most likely the ancient Nineveh. Fragments of numerous large structures, which seem to have been palace-temples, have been discovered in these cities. They were mostly made of sun-dried bricks, and all that survives are the lower parts of the walls, which are embellished with sculpture and paintings, pieces of the pavements, a few height markers, and some noteworthy drainage works.


Following the collapse of complete state control in 2003, Iraq’s broadcast industry had a period of tremendous development. The prohibition on satellite dishes was lifted immediately, and by mid-2003, according to a BBC report, Iraqis owned and managed 20 radio stations ranging from 0.15 to 17 television stations, as well as 200 Iraqi publications. Significantly, the number of these publications has been disproportionate to the population of the areas where they were published. For example, more than 30 newspapers are produced and delivered in Najaf, which has a population of 300,000.

Ibrahim Al Marashi, an Iraqi media specialist and author of many studies on the topic, cites four phases of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, during which the US took actions that have had major consequences for the Iraqi media since then. Pre-invasion planning, the war and actual target selection, the initial post-war period, a rising insurgency, and handover of authority to the Iraqi Interim Government (IIG) and Prime Minister Iyad Allawi are the stages.


Iraqi cuisine has a lengthy history, dating back to the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Ancient Persians over 10,000 years. Tablets discovered in Iraqi ruins reveal recipes produced in temples during religious festivals – the world’s earliest cookbooks. In many areas of knowledge, including the culinary arts, ancient Iraq, or Mesopotamia, was home to numerous complex and highly evolved civilisations. The Iraqi kitchen, however, reached its pinnacle during the medieval period, when Baghdad was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Today, Iraqi cuisine reflects this rich heritage, as well as significant influences from neighboring Turkey, Iran, and the Greater Syria region’s culinary traditions.


In Iraq, football is the most popular sport. Following years of conflict and turmoil, football has become a significant unifying force in Iraq. Basketball, swimming, weightlifting, bodybuilding, boxing, kickboxing, and tennis are all prominent sports in the United States.

The Iraqi Football Association is the country’s governing organization, in charge of the Iraqi National Team and the Iraqi Premier League (also known as Dawri Al-Nokba). It was established in 1948 and has been a FIFA member since 1950, as well as a member of the Asian Football Confederation since 1971. Al Shorta, Iraq’s most successful club, won back-to-back league championships in 2013 and 2014 and was the first team to win the Arab Champions League. The Iraqi National Football Team won the 2007 AFC Asian Cup after beating Saudi Arabia in the final 1-0 due to captain Younis Mahmoud’s goal, and they have competed in two FIFA tournaments (the 1986 FIFA World Cup and the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup).

Stay Safe & Healthy in Iraq

Stay Safe in Iraq

The political situation is very unpredictable after the conflict was proclaimed formally ended in December 2011. A series of fatal explosions and shootings occurred in May 2013. Conflicts erupted in Anbar in December 2013. In January 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Sunni anti-government tribal groups were fighting for control of Fallujah.

Iraq is plagued by a slew of issues that make travel dangerous and difficult. The security situation is dangerous in almost every part of the nation, and it is only becoming worse as terrorist strikes continue. Street warfare, bombs, and other acts of armed violence are everyday occurrences due to resistance to the military occupation, US and UK troops, and Iraqi military, police, or anybody connected with the Iraqi government, as well as growing factional and sectarian strife.

The country’s middle third is the most hazardous; the southern ports are less risky, but only in comparison. Northern Iraq, or Kurdistan, on the other hand, is secure and has seen relatively little violence since 2003. Political upheavals, kidnappings, and other underground activities thrive in major cities, including Baghdad, so proceed carefully. The Kurdish peshmerga (military) number over 100,000, and checkpoints may be found on every route, town, city, and even hamlet. All non-Kurds are carefully inspected, and the internal secret police are sometimes followed. But have no fear: this is why terrorism in the North is virtually impossible. The cops are kind, and everyone enjoys meeting visitors, particularly Americans.

Traveling alone makes you an obvious target for kidnappers and should be avoided if at all possible; instead, go with a translator/guard. There are many private and government security services available for your personal protection; you should seriously consider using these alternatives for your own safety. If you work in Iraq, talk to your boss about how to manage your personal safety. If no protection is supplied by the client, you should strongly consider not going to Iraq; if you must go, you should hire armed security and get thorough training in suitable protective gear, survival, and weaponry.

Stay Healthy in Iraq

Drinking the water anyplace in Iraq is unsafe for short-term tourists. Always consume bottled water, ideally from a Western or Jordanian manufacturer. It will most likely be offered by vendors and big retailers, and it will be simple to locate. Water is pumped straight from the Tigris or Euphrates rivers in Iraq, treated with ozone, and then filtered into bottles by the majority of Iraqi water businesses. It has a bad taste and should not be consumed by people with sensitive systems. Many street sellers may sell beverages like lemon-infused water, which should be avoided by international tourists.

When buying beverages, those with prior experience in Iraq should exercise caution and rely on their previous experience.

Drinking the native tea (chai), which is heated to a boil before serving, may be safe for certain individuals, but if in doubt, insist on bottled water. Boiling of water has little effect on many types of water-borne illness, pollution, or infectious agents, and they are still present in the water after boiling.

Cuisine preparation standards in Iraq are not the same as in Western nations, as a stroll past an Iraqi butcher shop would show, and eating local food may make a tourist sick. Make an effort to bring your own. Uncooked meals should be avoided since tap water is usually unfit for consumption.

If your body begins to reject food and drink as a result of anything you shouldn’t have consumed, locate someone who knows Arabic and send them to a local pharmacy, where they may request a medication called “InterStop” (similar to co-phenotrope/Lomotil). This is more effective than any of the well-known western brands.



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