Iraq is not getting out of the headlines. But these alone do not do justice to the country, in all its diversity and dynamism. Because Iraq has a lot more to offer. This portal would like to give a few pointers.
Two sections between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, which had been questionable for a long time, were only precisely defined as mutually agreed national borders between 1980 and 1983. There is currently an approximately 1000 km long border fence between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, secured with high technology, which is intended to prevent IS terrorists from entering Saudi Arabia. Iraq’s eastern border above the Shat al-Arab still corresponds to the old border between Persia and the Ottoman Empire, as it existed until the end of World War I.
Basic data on Iraq
There are a variety of statistics and databases on the Internet that provide useful information about Iraq. However, not all of them update them at regular intervals or give the same year as the survey basis for various indicators. For some data collections, neither the source of origin nor the method of data collection is traceable. Sometimes there are completely different design parameters; even with physical data, such as the land area, for example. Therefore, data collections from the World Bank are still considered the safe choice, here is a data overview from the World Bank, which was last updated in 2017.
Geography and natural resources
According to hyperrestaurant, Iraq is characterized by very different landscapes. Sand and scree deserts as well as steppes cover about 70-75% of the country. They are mainly found in the north-west, west and south-west of the country. These areas are some of the most sparsely populated. The majority of the population lives in the so-called alluvial zone. This refers to the core area of the country, which is like a bubble around the main rivers Euphrates and Tigris. This area makes up about a fifth of the total land area.
In the south, the Ba’ath regime had drained the swamps. The marshland and its culture have been recovering for several years.
In the north, Iraq is naturally enclosed by two mountains. In the border area with Turkey through the foothills of the Taurus Mountains; in the east, towards Iran, through the Zagros Mountains. This is where the highest point is found, close to the Iraqi-Iranian border.
Flora and fauna
Iraq’s wildlife is a reliable indicator of how the landscape has changed over the past two centuries. Animals that existed then are gone now. For example, the Asiatic lion, also known as the Persian lion (panthera leo persica), was seen in the early 1940’s. Towards the end of the 19th century, the Caspian tiger (panthera tigris) also appeared, the last documented specimen of which was shot near Mosul in 1887. There were also antelopes in Iraq’s subtropical steppe. But back then, in contrast to today, it still had closed layers of shrubbery and always filled water holes. This is what Arabian oryx antelopes find now only in the Jordanian Wadi Rum, where animals from successful offspring were released. So with the widespread disappearance of forests and watering holes in Iraq, so too did the animals.
Until the 1970’s, eagles, vultures or kites were occasionally spotted, but today these animals have disappeared. On the other hand, you can still see hawks, buzzards, ravens and various owls. There is also cause for hope, as there are renaturation programs as well as some reforestation efforts. This may serve both flora and fauna in the long run. The sinking water level in the Euphrates and Tigris, which is aggravated above all by the neighbors Turkey and Iran, leads to dramatic supply bottlenecks, political conflicts and contributes to further changes in the ecological system.
Mammals that can still be observed in the wild are foxes and wild boars. Jackals are much rarer, but can be discovered with an expert guide. They mostly occur in the low mountain ranges of the northeast. In contrast, the occurrence of fish is relatively diverse. Mainly carp, bream, catfish and loaches should be mentioned here.
Iraq’s flora is very different, depending on the landscape formation. In the northern plains of the country you can find small shrubs and a variety of herbs and spices. Mugwort, thyme, cardamom and rhizome are found there. Also different silk plants and goosefoot plants. Some of them are still used today for medicinal purposes. Especially at the time of the embargo in the 90’s, the wide range of uses of herbs was managed. In the direction of the mountain regions, up to medium heights, hawthorn, juniper berries and a kind of crippled pine grow. But exotic plants such as terebinth or wild pear also thrive there. In the central alluvial zone there are many types of grass, which are even more varied in the marshes. There are reeds, sedge, To find papyrus – as well as Iraqi sweet peas and a special kind of gauchheil. On the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers there are still some date palms and willows. For thousands of years they were one of the common plants there. But now drought and falling water levels are causing the stocks to shrink.
In the desert regions of the country the vegetation is naturally quite sparse. Only very frugal and robust plants such as Iraqi yarrow, samphire or tamarisk are found there.