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Iraq (Arabic: الْعِرَاق, romanized: al-ʿIrāq; Kurdish: عێراق, romanized: Êraq), officially the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: جُمْهُورِيَّة ٱلْعِرَاق Jumhūriīyah al-ʿIrāq; Kurdish: کۆماری عێراق, romanized: Komarî Êraq), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, the Persian Gulf and Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital and largest city is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Assyrians, Armenians, Yazidis, Persians, Shabakis, Sabian-Mandaeans, Circassians, and Kawliya, with similarly diverse geography and wildlife. The majority of the country's 40 million citizens are Muslims, and other recognized religions include Christians, Yarsans, Yezidis, Zoroastrianism and Mandaeans. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish, with other recognized regional languages being English, Neo-Aramaic, Turkish and Armenian.During ancient times, lands that now constitute Iraq were known as Mesopotamia (“Land Between the Rivers”), a region whose extensive alluvial plains gave rise to some of the world’s earliest civilizations and empires since the 6th millennium BC, including those of Akkad, Babylon, Assyria and Sumer, the earliest known civilisation. The "Cradle of Civilisation" is a common term for the area comprising modern Iraq and was the birthplace of many valuable inventions and discoveries, including writing system, mathematics, time, calendar, astrology and law code. It was here that mankind began first to read, write, create laws and live in cities under an organised government—notably Uruk. Following the Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia, Baghdad became the capital and the largest city of the Abbasid Caliphate, and during Islamic Golden Age, the city evolved into a significant cultural and intellectual center, and garnered it a worldwide reputation for its academic institutions, including House of Wisdom. The city was largely destroyed at the hands of the Mongol Empire in 1258 during the Siege of Baghdad, resulting in a decline that would linger through many centuries due to frequent plagues and multiple successive empires.
Modern Iraq dates back to 1920, when the British Mandate of Mesopotamia, joining three Ottoman vilayets, was created under the authority of the League of Nations. A British-backed Kingdom was established in 1921 under Faisal I of Iraq. The Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from the UK in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic created. Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party from 1968 until 2003. In 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, sparking a protracted war which would last for almost eight years, and end in a stalemate with devastating losses for both countries. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party was removed from power, and multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005. The US presence in Iraq ended in 2011. But the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified as fighters from the Syrian civil war spilled into the country. On 9 December 2017, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIL and announced full liberation of borders with Syria from Islamic State militants. Remnants of ISIL still conduct an ongoing insurgency in the country.
Iraq is a federal parliamentary republic. The president is the head of state, the prime minister is the head of government, and the constitution provides for two deliberative bodies, the Council of Representatives and the Council of Union. The judiciary is free and independent of the executive and the legislature.Iraq is considered an emerging middle power with a strategic location and a founding member of the United Nations, the OPEC as well as of the Arab League, OIC, Non-Aligned Movement and the IMF. Since its independence, Iraq's political history has been characterized by periods of significant economic and military growth, as well as periods of political and economic instability.