Demographics of Iraq
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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Iraq, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.
Ancient Iraq is referred to as Mesopotamia and has throughout its history been a multiethnic and multicultural region. Historically, ancient peoples who inhabited Iraq were the Sumerians and Babylonians to the south, Akkadians in the central-south and Assyrians to the north of the country. A native Arab population was present in the country as early as the second or third century BC, about four centuries before the Islamic conquest in the 7th century. The earliest known language in history is the Sumerian language, originating in southern Iraq (Sumer-Babylonia). During the third millennium BC, a very intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians of the south and the Akkadians to further north in central Mesopotamia, in which there was very widespread bilingualism of both peoples able to speak the Sumerian and Akkadian language. Aramaic, as well as Christianity, has been present in Iraq during since the first century, which was introduced by Thomas the Apostle. Christians in Iraq are one of the world's oldest continuous communities in the world. Before the advent of Islam to Iraq, the majority of the population who inhabited Iraq followed Christianity, Judaism or indigenous ancient Mesopotamian religions. The pre-Islamic people of Iraq included people from various ethnic groups in Mesopotamia; and the majority of them spoke the Syriac language, despite not all being ethnic Syriacs, Assyrians or Christians. Syriac Christianity first emerged in Upper Mesopotamia and the Nestorian Church and its successor churches were established in central-southern Iraq, in the ancient city of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. Unknown to many, after Palestine/Israel, Iraq is the location of the most biblical history than any other country in the world.
Following the Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia, a large population of the indigenous Syriac-speaking people of Iraq (who followed either Christianity, Judaism or Mesopotamian religion) were Arabized and became Muslims, eventually adopting the Arab identity with their religion. However, a Christian group of indigenous people from Mesopotamia, the Chaldo-Assyrian peoples, resisted Islamization as well as Arabization, retaining their Syriac Christian religion and language to this day. Mesopotamian Iraqi Arabic developed as the dominant language in the country, and is an Aramaic Syriac substrate, and also shares significant influences from ancient Mesopotamian languages of Akkadian, Sumerian and Babylonian, as well as Persian, Turkish and Kurdish. Mesopotamian Arabic (spoken in all of Iraq and parts of Syria) is said to be the most Aramaic-Syriac influenced dialect of Arabic, due to Aramaic-Syriac having originated in Mesopotamia, and spread throughout the Middle East (Fertile Crescent) during the Neo-Assyrian period, eventually becoming the lingua franca of the entire region before Islam. Iraqi Arabs and Assyrians are the largest Semitic peoples in Iraq, sharing significant similarities in language between Mesopotamian Arabic and Syriac, and Kurds are the largest Indo-Euorpean people, sharing similarities with the other Iranian peoples in the country, such as the Yazidis.
The population was estimated to be 40,194,216 in 2018, with most of the population being Arab (75%), followed by Kurds (20%), Turkmen 3% (3 million), Afro-Iraqis (1 million), Chaldo-Assyrians 2–5% (500,000-1.5 Million), Yazidi 1.4% (500,000) and Shabaks 0.7% (250,000). Iraqis are 64% Shia Muslim, 31% Sunni Muslim, 2–5% Christian, 1.4% Yazidi, and, and several other indigenous faiths. The percentages of different ethnoreligious groups vary from source to source due to the last Iraqi census having taken place over 30 years ago. A new census of Iraq is planned to take place in 2020 in which the populations of each ethnoreligious group in Iraq will clearly defined.
Iraq is the region known outside the Islamic world as Mesopotamia. The population estimate in 1920 was 3 million. The ruins of Ur, Babylon and other ancient cities are situated in Iraq, as is the legendary location of the Garden of Eden. Almost 75% of Iraq's population lives in the flat, alluvial plain stretching southeast from Tikrit to the Persian Gulf. The Tigris and the Euphrates carry about 70 million cubic meters of silt annually from this plain down to the delta. The water from these two great rivers, and the fertility of the soil in the alluvial plain and the delta, allowed early agriculture to sustain a stable population as far back as the 7th millennium BC.
|Period||Live births per year||Deaths per year||Natural change per year||CBR1||CDR1||NC1||TFR1||IMR1|
|1 CBR = crude birth rate (per 1,000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1,000); NC = natural change (per 1,000); TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1,000 births|
|Year||Population (×1,000)||Live births||Deaths||Natural increase||Crude birth rate||Crude death rate||Rate of natural increase||TFR|
Life expectancy at birthEdit
|Period||Life expectancy in
|Period||Life expectancy in|
Structure of the population (1 July 2013) (Estimates) :
Ethnic and religious groupsEdit
Iraq's dominant ethnic group are the Mesopotamian Arabs, who account for more than three-quarters of the population.
According to the CIA World Factbook, citing a 1987 Iraqi government estimate, the population of Iraq is formed of 70% Arabs followed by 25% Kurds. In addition, the estimate claims that other minorities form 5% of the country's population, including the Turkmen/Turcoman, Yazidis, Shabaks, Kaka'i, Bedouins, Roma, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Circassians, Sabaean-Mandaean, and Persians. However, the International Crisis Group points out that figures from the 1987 census, as well as the 1967, 1977, and 1997 censuses, "are all considered highly problematic, due to suspicions of regime manipulation" because Iraqi citizens were only allowed to indicate belonging to either the Arab or Kurdish ethnic groups; consequently, this skewed the number of other ethnic minorities, such as Iraq's third largest ethnic group – the Turkmens/Turkomans.
A report published by the European Parliamentary Research Service suggests that in 2015 there was 20 million Arabs (15 million Shia and 9 million Sunni); 8 million Sunni Kurds (plus 500,000 Shia Feylis and 200,000 Kaka'i); 0.5 million Iraqi Turkmen/Turkoman; 1 million Black Iraqis; 500,000 Christians (including Chaldeans, Syriacs, Assyrians, Armenians and Arab Christians); 500,000 Yazidis; 250,000 Shabaks; 50,000 Roma; 3,000 Sabean-Mandaeans; 2,000 Circassians; 1,000 Baha’i; and a few dozen Jews.
Kurds are the largest minority in Iraq. They are a Northwestern Iranic ethnic group who began migrating into various regions of Ancient Assyria in northern Iraq from Persian Azerbaijan in the period prior to the establishment of Abbasid rule in AD 750. According to most scholars, the Kurds formed a pastoral and tribal society. Today, Kurds comprise between 23% to 25% of the country's population, and they have one of the highest birth rates of any group in Iraq (and the Middle East).
Arabic and Kurdish are the two official languages of Iraq. Arabic is taught across all schools in Iraq, however in the north the Kurdish language is the most spoken. Eastern Aramaic languages, such as Syriac and Mandaic are spoken, as well as the Iraqi Turkoman language, and various other indigenous languages.
Kurdish, including several dialects, is the second largest language and has regional language status in the north of the country. Aramaic, in antiquity spoken throughout the whole country, is now only spoken by the Assyrian Chaldean minority. The Iraqi Turkmen/Turkoman dialect of Turkish is spoken in pockets of northern Iraq (particularly in the so-called Turkmeneli region) and numerous languages of the Caucasus are also spoken by minorities, notably the Chechen community.
97% of Iraqis follow Islam: 61% Shia and 34% Sunni. 1% of these describe themselves as "Just a Muslim". According to the CIA World Factbook, Shias make up 64% of population, while Sunnis make up 31%. Christianity accounts for 3–5%, and the rest practice Yazidism, Mandaeism, and other religions.
While there has been voluntary relocation of many Christian families to northern Iraq, recent reporting indicates that the overall Christian population may have dropped by as much as 50 percent since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, with many fleeing to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon (2010 estimate). The percentage of Christians has fallen from 6% in 1991 or 1.5 million to about one third of this. Estimates say there are 500,000 Christians in Iraq.
Nearly all Iraqi Kurds are Sunni Muslims. A survey in Iraq concluded that "98% of Kurds in Iraq identified themselves as Sunnis and only 2% identified as Shias". The religious differences between Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds are small. While 98 percent of Shia Arabs believe that visiting the shrines of saints is acceptable, 71 percent of Sunni Arabs did and 59 percent of Sunni Kurds support this practice. About 94 percent of the population in Iraqi Kurdistan is Muslim.
- 0–14 years: 39.01% (male 8,005,327/female 7,674,802)
- 15-24 years: 19.42% (male 3,976,085/female 3,829,086)
- 25-54 years: 33.97% (male 6,900,984/female 6,752,797)
- 55-64 years: 4.05% (male 788,602/female 839,291)
- 65 years and over: 3.55% (male 632,753/female 794,489) (2018 est.)
- Shia: 64%
- Sunni: 31%
- Christian: 2–5%, as low as 0.6% in 2017, down from 6% in 2003 and halved from 1.8 million to 900,000 or as high as 1.2 million in 2013
- Yarsani: 2%
- Yazidi: 1.4%
- Shabak: 2%
- Zoroastrianism: 0.6%
- Mandaeism: 0.1%
- Hinduism: 0.1%
- Buddhism: 0.1%
- Folk religion: 0.1%
- Unaffiliated: 9%
- Other 0.1%
- Jewish 0.00001%
- Arabic (official)
- Kurdish (official)
- Iraqi Turkmen/Turkoman dialect, a dialect of Turkish (official only in majority speaking area)
- Assyrian Chaldean (Neo-Aramaic) (official only in majority speaking area)
- total: 20.2 years
- male: 20 years
- female: 20.5 years (2019 est.)
Population growth rateEdit
- 2.5% (2018 est.)
Crude birth rateEdit
- 30 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Crude death rateEdit
- 3.8 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Total fertility rateEdit
- 3.94 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Net migration rateEdit
- -1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
- urban population: 70.5% of total population (2018)
- rate of urbanization: 3.06% annual rate of change (2015–20 est.)
- at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 0–14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
- 55–64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
- total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
Maternal mortality rateEdit
- 50 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rateEdit
- total population: 37.5 deaths/1,000 live births
- male: 40.6 deaths/1,000 live births
- female: 34.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
Life expectancy at birthEdit
- total population: 74.9 years
- male: 72.6 years
- female: 77.2 years (2018 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rateEdit
- 51.5% (2011)
- 5.5% of GDP (2011)
- 0.85 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
Hospital bed densityEdit
- 1.4 beds/1,000 population (2014)
Obesity – adult prevalence rateEdit
- 30.4% (2016)
Children under the age of 5 years underweightEdit
- 8.5% (2011)
- noun: Iraqi(s)
- adjective: Iraqi
- definition: age 15 and over can read and write
- total population: 79.7%
- male: 85.7%
- female: 73.7% (2015 est.)
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