General Country Information
The Republic of Iraq is currently the world’s second most unstable country according to the 2007 Failed States Index, produced by the Foreign Policy magazine and the Fund for Peace.
Since 2003, Iraq has been occupied by a multinational – mainly American – coalition of forces. The former leader, President Saddam Hussein, was removed and sentenced to death by hanging, an event that was captured on a cell phone and broadcast worldwide.
In 2004 the Coalition Provisional Government, set up by the United States, handed over power to an interim Iraqi government. A new constitution was drafted and eventually approved on October 15, 2005. The first parliamentary elections were held in December 2005 and after a prolonged power struggle the current government was installed in May 2006, headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of the Islamic Dawa Party.
Violence dominates everyday life in Iraq; dozens of people are killed everyday. The violence stems from several conflicts that are currently being fought: a struggle between the U.S.-led occupying force in alliance with the Iraqi army, and various Iraqi resistance and jihadi terrorist and al-Qaeda related groups; a struggle between Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish groups, and an internal Shia struggle for power. Millions of Iraqi citizens have fled the violence to neighboring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan.
The population is estimated at 27, 5 million, of which about 75 percent are Arabs, about 20 percent Kurds, and five percent other ethnic groups such as Assyrians and Turkmen. About 95 percent of Iraqis are Muslim, of which 60 percent Shia and the remainder Sunni. About five percent are Christian and other.
The main languages are Arabic and Kurdish. About 74 percent of the population is literate.
More general information is available at BBC Country Profile and at Wikipedia in English, Arabic, and Kurdish.
Official information can be found at the website of the Iraqi government in Arabic.
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