March 29, 2010

Irak population 32,000,000

Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run through the centre of Iraq, flowing from northwest to southeast. These provide Iraq with agriculturally capable land and contrast with the steppe and desert landscape that covers most of Western Asia.

Historically, the territory comprising Iraq was known in Europe by the Greek toponym 'Mesopotamia' (Land between the rivers). Iraq has been home to continuous successive civilizations since the 6th millennium BC. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is identified as the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of writing and the wheel.

Iraq mainly consists of desert, but near the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) are fertile alluvial plains, as the rivers carry about 60 million cubic metres (78 million cu. yd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains; the highest point being at 3,611 metres (11,847 ft) point, unnamed on the map opposite, but known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a small coastline measuring 58 km (35 miles) along the Persian Gulf. Close to the coast and along the Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrūd: اروندرود among Iranians) there used to be marshlands, but many were drained in the 1990.

Most of Iraq has a hot arid climate. Summer temperatures average above 40°C for most of the country and frequently exceed 48°C. Winter temperatures infrequently exceed 21°C with maximums roughly 15 to 16 °C and night-time lows occasionally below freezing. Typically precipitation is low, most places receive less than 250mm (10 in) annually, with maximum rainfall during the months of November to April. Rainfall during the summer is extremely rare except in the very north of the country.

Linguistically, the adherents of Shia Islam in Iraq predominantly speak Arabic and a bilingual minority speak Persian, while the Iraqi Turkmen speak South Azeri and the Feyli Kurds speak Feyli, a dialect of Kurdish, almost all belong to the Twelver school. Adherents of Sunni Islam include Arabic speakers, Iraqi Turkmen (who are mostly Hanafi school), and Kurds (who are Shafi school).

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