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The Iraqi people (Arabic: العراقيون ʿIrāqiyyūn, Kurdish: گه‌لی عیراق Îraqîyan, Classical Syriac: ܥܡܐ ܥܝܪܩܝܐʿIrāqāyā, Turkish: Iraklılar) are the citizens of the modern country of Iraq.[22]

Iraqi people
العراقيون Irāqiyyūn
Total population
c. 50,000,000
Regions with significant populations
 Syria2 million+[2]
 United Kingdom450,000+[5]
 United States400,000+[10]
 more countries
Mesopotamian Arabic (75%)
Kurdish languages (17%)
Turkish language (9%)[19]
Neo-Aramaic languages (2%)
Islam (95-98%); Predominantly Twelver Shia Islam
[20][21] Minority; Sunni Other religions
Christianity, Mandaeism, Yazidism and others

Arabs have had a large presence in Mesopotamia since the Sasanian Empire (224–637).[23] Arabic was spoken by the majority in the Kingdom of Araba in the first and second centuries,[24] and by Arabs in al-Hirah from the third century.[25] Arabs were common in Mesopotamia at the time of the Seleucid Empire (3rd century BC).[26] The first Arab kingdom outside Arabia was established in Iraq's Al-Hirah in the third century.[23] Arabic was a minority language in northern Iraq in the eighth century BC,[27] from the eighth century following the Muslim conquest of Persia, it became the dominant language of Iraqi Muslims because Arabic was the language of the Quran and of the Abbasid Caliphate.[28][29]

Kurds who are Iraqi citizens, live mostly in the Zagros Mountains of northeast Iraq to the east of the upper Tigris. Arabic and Kurdish are Iraq's national languages.


Cultural historyEdit

In ancient and medieval times Mesopotamia was the political and cultural centre of many great empires, such as the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, and Babylonia.[30][31] The ancient Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer is the oldest known civilization in the world,[32] and thus Iraq is widely known as the cradle of civilization.[30] Iraq remained an important centre of civilization for millennia, up until the Abbasid Caliphate (of which Baghdad was the capital), which was the most advanced empire of the medieval world (see Islamic Golden Age).


One study found that Haplogroup J-M172 originated in northern Iraq.[33] In spite of the importance of this region, genetic studies on the Iraqi people are limited and generally restricted to analysis of classical markers due to Iraq's modern political instability,[33] although there have been several published studies displaying a genealogical connection between all Iraqi peoples and the neighbouring countries, across religious, ethnic and linguistic barriers.

Iraqi mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Iran, Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia.[33] Iraqi Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Kuwait,[34] Lebanon and Syria.[33] In a genetic study of Northern Iraqi Arabs, Kurds, Syriacs, Turkmens and Yazidis, the paternal lineages distributions among the five ethnic groups were found to vary significantly.[35] No significant differences in Y-DNA variation were observed among Iraqi Arabs, Assyrians, or Kurds in the study because of very small sample sizes for Kurds and Assyrians.[33] Modern genetic studies indicate that Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds are distantly related.[36][37]

For both mtDNA and Y-DNA variation, the large majority of the haplogroups observed in the Iraqi population (H, J, T, and U for the mtDNA, J-M172 and J-M267 for the Y-DNA) are those considered to have originated in Western Asia and to have later spread mainly in Western Eurasia.[33] The Eurasian haplogroups R1b and R1a represent the second most frequent component of the Iraqi Y-chromosome gene pool, the latter suggests that the population movements from Central Asia into modern Iran also influenced Iraq.[33]

Other haplogroups detected in the Iraqi people is mtDNA haplogroup L[disambiguation needed] with a frequency of 9.48% the origins most likely date back from the Arab slave trade of women from Sub-Saharan Africa.[38][39]

Many historians and anthropologists provide strong circumstantial evidence to posit that Iraq's Marsh Arabs share very strong links to the ancient Sumerians[32][40]—the most ancient inhabitants of southern Iraq.

The Assyrian Christian population is fairly related to other Iraqis,[37][32] and also to Jordanians, yet due to religious endogamy have a distinct genetic profile that distinguishes their population.[41] "The Assyrians are a fairly homogeneous group of people, believed to originate from the land of old Assyria in northern Iraq [..] they are Christians and are bona fide descendants of their namesakes."[42]

Studies have reported that most Irish and Britons have ancestry to Neolithic farmers who left modern day Iraq, Jordan and Syria 10,000 years ago.[43] Genetic researchers say they have found compelling evidence that, on average, four out of five (80%) Europeans can trace their Y chromosome to the ancient Near East.[43] In another study, scientists analysed DNA from the 8,000-year-old remains of early farmers found at an ancient graveyard in Germany. They compared the genetic signatures to those of modern populations and found similarities with the DNA of people living in today's Turkey and Iraq.[44]


Iraq's national languages are Arabic and the Kurdish languages. Arabic is spoken as a first language by around 79 percent of Iraqi people, and Kurdish by around 17 percent. The two main regional dialects of Arabic spoken by the Iraqi people are Mesopotamian Arabic (spoken in the Babylonian alluvial plain and Middle Euphrates valley) and North Mesopotamian Arabic (spoken in the Assyrian highlands).[45] The two main dialects of Kurdish spoken by Kurdish Iraqis are Central Kurdish (spoken in the Erbil and Sulaymaniyah Governorates)[46] and Northern Kurdish (spoken in Dohuk Governorate).[46] In addition to Arabic, most Assyrians and Mandaeans speak Neo-Aramaic languages.

Iraqi Arabic has an Aramaic substratum.[47]

The vast majority of Kurdish and Neo-Aramaic–speaking Iraqis also speak Mesopotamian Arabic.[46]


Religion in Iraq (est. 2010)[48]

  Islam (91%)

Iraq has many devout followers of its religions. In 1968 the Iraqi constitution established Islam as the official religion of the state as the majority of Iraqis (97%) are Muslim (predominantly Shīʻī, but also including minority Sunni).

In addition to Islam, many Iraqi people are Christians belonging to various Christian denominations. Assyrians belong to the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church. Their numbers inside Iraq have dwindled considerably to around 300,000.

Other religious groups include Mandaeans, Shabaks, Yazidis and followers of other minority religions. Furthermore, Jews had also been present in Iraq in significant numbers historically, but their population dwindled, after virtually all of them migrated to Israel between 1949 to 1952, following the declaration in 1948 that the support of Zionism (a Jewish-led state) was a capital offense. In 1950, Iraqi Jews were permitted to leave the country within a year provided they forfeited their citizenship. A year later, however, the property of Jews who emigrated was frozen and economic restrictions were placed on Jews who chose to remain in the country. From 1949 to 1951, 104,000 Jews were evacuated from Iraq in Operations Ezra and Nechemia (named after the Jewish leaders who took their people back to Jerusalem from exile in Babylonia beginning in 597 B.C.E.); another 20,000 were smuggled out through Iran.[49][50][51]


Iraqis form one of the largest diasporas in the world. The Iraqi diaspora is not a sudden exodus but one that has grown rapidly through the 20th century as each generation faced some form of radical transition or political conflict. From 1950 to 1952 Iraq saw a great exodus of roughly 120,000 - 130,000 of its Jewish population under the Israel-led "Operation Ezra and Nehemiah". There were at least two large waves of expatriation of both Christians and Muslims alike. A great number of Iraqis left the country during the regime of Saddam Hussein and large numbers have left during the Second Gulf War and its aftermath. The United Nations estimates that roughly 40% of Iraq's remaining and formerly strong middle-class have fled the country following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ "Iraq". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
  2. ^ "NGO's claim Iraqis have hit 2 million in Syria". Retrieved 2010-12-11.
  3. ^ "500,000 Iraqis in Iran". Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  4. ^ "Ethnic groups of Turkey". Joshua Project. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  5. ^ "The Iraqi Embassy estimates that the Iraqi population is around 350,000-450,000" (PDF). International Organization for Migration. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  6. ^ "UNHCR".
  7. ^ "Iraqis In Egypt". HRW. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  8. ^ Constantine, Zoi (28 August 2008). "UAE Iraqis restricted by passport delays". The National. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Arab American Demographics". Arab American Institute. Archived from the original on 2010-12-02. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  11. ^ "Statistics Sweden". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
  12. ^ "Ethnic groups of Kuwait". Joshua Project. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  13. ^ "Iraqis in Lebanon". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
  14. ^ "Iraqis In Yemen". HRW. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
  15. ^ "Australian Iraqi population estimated to be as high as 80,000". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2005-01-22. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  16. ^ "United Nations Population Division - Department of Economic and Social Affairs".
  17. ^ "Iraqi community in Greece" (PDF). UNHCR. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
  18. ^ "Bevölkerung zu Jahresbeginn seit 2002 nach detaillierter Staatsangehörigkeit" [Population at the beginning of the year since 2002 by detailed nationality] (PDF). Statistics Austria (in German). 14 June 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  19. ^ Bassem, Wassim (2016). "Iraq's Turkmens call for independent province". Al-Monitor. Turkmens are a mix of Sunnis and Shiites and are the third-largest ethnicity in Iraq after Arabs and Kurds, numbering about 3 million out of the total population of about 34.7 million, according to 2013 data from the Iraqi Ministry of Planning.
  20. ^ "Middle East :: Iraq — The World Factbook - Central Intelligence Agency".
  21. ^ "Iraq - Arabs". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  22. ^ "Iraqi – a native or inhabitant of Iraq". Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  23. ^ a b Ramirez-Faria, Carlos (2007). Concise Encyclopaedia of World History. p. 33. ISBN 9788126907755.
  24. ^ "Araba (ancient state, Iraq)". Britannica. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  25. ^ "Lakhmid Dynasty (Arabian dynasty)". Britannica. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  26. ^ Ramirez-Faria, 2007, p. 33.
  27. ^ Blázquez Martínez, José María (2006). "Arabia, the Arabs and the Persian Gulf. A Dissertation of Ancient Sources". Gerión. Complutense University of Madrid. 24 (2): 7–20. ISSN 0213-0181. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
  28. ^ Roberts, John Morris (1993). History of the World. Oxford University Press. p. 265.
  29. ^ Rodinson, Maxime (1981). The Arabs. Routledge. p. 56. ISBN 0-7099-0377-4.
  30. ^ a b McIntosh, Jane (2005). Ancient Mesopotamia: New Perspectives. ABC-CLIO. p. 313. ISBN 978-1-57607-965-2. Iraqis have always been proud of their heritage and of their unique position as guardians of the Cradle of Civilization.
  31. ^ Spencer, William (2000). Iraq: Old Land, New Nation in Conflict. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7613-1356-4. The Iraqi heritage is a proud one. Iraqi ancestors made such contributions to our modern world as a written language, agriculture and the growing of food crops, the building of cities and the urban environment, basic systems of government, and a religious structure centered on gods and goddesses guiding human affairs.
  32. ^ a b c Al-Zahery; et al. (Oct 2011). "In search of the genetic footprints of Sumerians: a survey of Y-chromosome and mtDNA variation in the Marsh Arabs of Iraq" (PDF). BMC Evolutionary Biology. 11: 288. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-288. PMC 3215667. PMID 21970613. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g "N. Al-Zahery et al. "Y-chromosome and mtDNA polymorphisms in Iraq, a crossroad of the early human dispersal and of post-Neolithic migrations" (2003)" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  34. ^ El-Sibai, Mirvat; Platt, Daniel E; Haber, Marc; Xue, Yali; Youhanna, Sonia C; Wells, R. Spencer; Izaabel, Hassan; Sanyoura, May F; Harmanani, Haidar; Bonab, Maziar Ashrafian; Behbehani, Jaafar; Hashwa, Fuad; Tyler-Smith, Chris; Zalloua, Pierre A (2009). "Geographical Structure of the Y-chromosomal Genetic Landscape of the Levant: A coastal-inland contrast". Annals of Human Genetics. 73 (6): 568–581. doi:10.1111/j.1469-1809.2009.00538.x. PMC 3312577. PMID 19686289.
  35. ^ Dogan, Serkan; Gurkan, Cemal; Dogan, Mustafa; Balkaya, Hasan Emin; Tunc, Ramazan; Demirdov, Damla Kanliada; Ameen, Nihad Ahmed; Marjanovic, Damir (2017). "A glimpse at the intricate mosaic of ethnicities from Mesopotamia: Paternal lineages of the Northern Iraqi Arabs, Kurds, Syriacs, Turkmens and Yazidis". PLOS ONE. 12 (11): e0187408. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0187408. PMC 5669434. PMID 29099847.
  36. ^ Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, The History and Geography of Human Genes, p. 242
  37. ^ a b "Cavalli-Sforza et al. Genetic tree of West Asia". Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  38. ^ Achilli A, Olivieri A, Pala M, et al. (April 2007). "Mitochondrial DNA variation of modern Tuscans supports the near eastern origin of Etruscans". American Journal of Human Genetics. 80 (4): 759–68. doi:10.1086/512822. PMC 1852723. PMID 17357081.
  39. ^ Abu-Amero KK, González AM, Larruga JM, Bosley TM, Cabrera VM (2007). "Eurasian and African mitochondrial DNA influences in the Saudi Arabian population". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 7: 32. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-32. PMC 1810519. PMID 17331239.
  40. ^ Spencer, William (2000). Iraq: Old Land, New Nation in Conflict. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-7613-1356-4. But one writer has suggested after a visit to the marshes near the site of ancient Sumer that "some Iraqis still have a touch of the Sumerian in them."
  41. ^ Dr. Joel J. Elias, Emeritus, University of California, The Genetics of Modern Assyrians and their Relationship to Other People of the Middle East
  42. ^ Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, The History and Geography of Human Genes, p. 243
  43. ^ a b Derbyshire, David (2010-01-20). "Most Britons descended from male farmers who left Iraq and Syria 10,000 years ago". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  44. ^ "Migrants from the Near East 'brought farming to Europe'". BBC. 2010-11-10. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  45. ^ "Country Profile: Iraq". Mongabay. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  46. ^ a b c "The Kurdish language". KRG. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
  47. ^ Muller-Kessler, Christa (Jul–Sep 2003). "Aramaic 'K', Lyk' and Iraqi Arabic 'Aku, Maku: The Mesopotamian Particles of Existence". The Journal of the American Oriental Society. 123 (3): 641–646. doi:10.2307/3217756. JSTOR 3217756.
  48. ^ "Iraq". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  49. ^ Farrell, Stephen (2008-06-01). "Baghdad Jews Have Become a Fearful Few". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  50. ^ Van Biema, David (2007-07-27). "The Last Jews of Baghdad". Time. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
  51. ^ "Jews in Islamic Countries: Iraq".