The Iraqis leads here. For The Iraqis political party, refer to The Iraqis (party)

Iraqi people
العراقيون Irāqīyūn
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Iraq 31,234,000[1]
 Syria 2 million+[2]
 Iran 500,000+[3]
 Turkey 500,000+[4]
 United Kingdom 450,000+[5]
 Jordan 500,000, or less[6]{{{1}}}
 Egypt 150,000+[7]
 Germany 150,000+[8]
 UAE 150,000+[9]
 United States 140,000+[10]
 Sweden 120,000+[11]
 Kuwait 100,000+[12]
 Lebanon 100,000+[13]
 Yemen 100,000+[14]
 Australia 80,000+[15]
 Netherlands 60,000+
 Greece 5,000–40,000+[16]
. more countries
Mesopotamian Arabic (79%); Kurdish languages (17%)
Neo-Aramaic languages (2%); Turkish language (2%)
Islam (97%)
(Twelver · Sunni · Others
Christianity, Mandaeism, Judaism, Yazidism and others

The Iraqi people (Arabic: العراقيون ʿIrāqīyūn, Kurdish: گه‌لی عیراق Îraqîyan, Syriac: ܥܡܐ ܥܝܪܩܝܐ ʿIrāqāyā, Turkish: Iraklılar) are the citizens of the modern country of Iraq.[17]

Arabs have had a large presence in Mesopotamia since the Sasanian Empire (224-637).[18] Arabic was spoken by the majority in the Kingdom of Araba in the first and second centuries,[19] and by Arabs in al-Hirah from the third century.[20] Arabs were common in Mesopotamia at the time of the Seleucid Empire (3rd century BC).[21] The first Arab kingdom outside of Arabia was established in Iraq's Al-Hirah in the third century.[18] Arabic was a minority language in northern Iraq in the eighth century BC,[22] 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.[23][24]

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

Cultural history

Main articles: History of Iraq and Culture of Iraq

In ancient and medieval times Mesopotamia was the political and cultural centre of many great empires, such as the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, and Babylonia.[25][26] The ancient Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer is the oldest known civilization in the world,[27] and thus Iraq is widely known as the cradle of civilization.[25] 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.[28] 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,[28] 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, whereas it substantially differs from that observed in Yemen.[28] Iraqi Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Kuwait,[29] Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria.[28] 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.[28] Modern genetic studies indicate that Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds are distantly related.[30][31]

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.[28] 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.[28]

Many historians and anthropologists provide strong circumstantial evidence to posit that Iraq's Marsh Arabs share very strong links to the ancient Sumerians[27][32] - the most ancient inhabitants of southern Iraq,[27] and that Iraq's Mandaeans share the strongest links to the Babylonians.[33]

The Assyrian Christian population is fairly related to other Iraqis,[31][27] and also to Jordanians, yet due to religious endogamy have a distinct genetic profile that distinguishes their population.[34] "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."[35] Most North-West and Central Iraqis who today speak Arabic are originally of Assyrian roots.[36][37] In a 2011 study focusing on the genetics of the Maʻdān people of Iraq, researchers identified Y chromosome haplotypes shared by Marsh Arabs, Iraqis, and Assyrians, "supporting a common local background."[27]

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.[38] 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.[38] 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.[39]


Main article: Iraqi nationalism

Iraqis have historically been a multilingual, multiethnic people, conversant in several languages but having a Semitic lingua franca. Iraqi identity transcends ethnic and language boundaries, and is more associated with geography; the TigrisEuphrates alluvial plain and its environs.

While Iraqis are of several ethnic groups, most Iraqis, as a people with an ancient civic culture and tradition of multilingualism, have historically engaged in healthy inter-communal relations,[40] and favoured a common identity,[40] and due to this Iraqis as a whole can be seen to bear some characteristics of an ethnic group.[40]

The shared identity and culture of Iraqi people is most commonly seen in the Iraqi cuisine. Mesopotamian cuisine has changed and evolved since the time of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Abbasids; however several traditional Iraqi dishes have already been traced back to antiquity[41] such as Iraq's national dish, masgouf, and Iraq's national cookie, kleicha, which can be traced back to Sumerian times.[42]

Nowadays, the demonym "Iraqi" includes all ethnic minorities in the country, such as the Assyrians, Kurds and Iraqi Turkmen (although some of these groups often specify their ethnicity by adding a suffix such as "Iraqi Kurdish" or "Iraqi Turkmen").

Iraqis trace their ancestry back to the ancient people of the land,[26][43] and are proud of their ancient Mesopotamian roots and legacy,[25][26] which contributed so much to the world.[26]


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).[44] The two main dialects of Kurdish spoken by Kurdish Iraqis are Central Kurdish (spoken in the Erbil and Sulaymaniyah Governorates)[45] and Northern Kurdish (spoken in Dohuk Governorate).[45] In addition to Arabic, most Assyrians and Mandaeans speak Neo-Aramaic languages. Iraqi Arabic has an Aramaic substratum.[46]

The vast majority of Kurdish and Neo-Aramaic–speaking Iraqis also speak Mesopotamian Arabic.[45]


Religion in Iraq (est. 2010)[47]

  Islam (99%)
  Christianity (1%)

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.[48][49][50]


Main articles: Iraqi diaspora and Refugees of Iraq

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 also

External links


  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. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  6. "UNHCR".
  7. "Iraqis In Egypt". HRW. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  8. "Population pressures". ECRE. Archived from the original on 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
  9. Constantine, Zoi (28 August 2008). "UAE Iraqis restricted by passport delays". The National. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  10. "Arab American Demographics". Arab American Institute. 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. "Iraqi community in Greece" (PDF). UNHCR. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
  17. "Iraqi – a native or inhabitant of Iraq". Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  18. 1 2 Ramirez-Faria, Carlos (2007). Concise Encyclopaedia of World History. p. 33.
  19. "Araba (ancient state, Iraq)". Britannica. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  20. "Lakhmid Dynasty (Arabian dynasty)". Britannica. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
  21. Ramirez-Faria, 2007, p. 33.
  22. 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.
  23. Roberts, John Morris (1993). History of the World. Oxford University Press. p. 265.
  24. Rodinson, Maxime (1981). The Arabs. Routledge. p. 56. ISBN 0-7099-0377-4.
  25. 1 2 3 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.
  26. 1 2 3 4 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.
  27. 1 2 3 4 5 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 3215667Freely accessible. PMID 21970613. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "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.
  29. "Geographical Structure of the Y-chromosomal Genetic Landscape of the Levant: A coastal-inland contrast". Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  30. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, The History and Geography of Human Genes, p. 242
  31. 1 2 "Cavalli-Sforza et al. Genetic tree of West Asia". Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  32. 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."
  33. "Iraq's Marsh Arabs". Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  34. Dr. Joel J. Elias, Emeritus, University of California, The Genetics of Modern Assyrians and their Relationship to Other People of the Middle East
  35. Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, The History and Geography of Human Genes, p. 243
  36. Kjeilen, Tore. "Assyrians". LookLex Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  37. Kjeilen, Tore. "Iraq / Peoples". LookLex Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  38. 1 2 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.
  39. "Migrants from the Near East 'brought farming to Europe'". BBC. 2010-11-10. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  40. 1 2 3 Marr, Phebe (2003). "Iraqi identity".
  41. Nasrallah, Nawal (2003). Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of the Iraqi Cuisine. 1stBooks. ISBN 1-4033-4793-X.
  42. Marks, Gil (2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. John Wiley & Sons. p. 317. ISBN 0-470-39130-8.
  43. Mili, Amel (2009). Exploring The Relation Between Gender Politics and Representative Government in the Maghreb. ProQuest. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-109-20412-4.
  44. "Country Profile: Iraq". Mongabay. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  45. 1 2 3 "The Kurdish language". KRG. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
  46. 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.
  47. "Iraq". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 4 May 2011.
  48. Farrell, Stephen (2008-06-01). "Baghdad Jews Have Become a Fearful Few". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  49. Van Biema, David (2007-07-27). "The Last Jews of Baghdad". Time. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
  50. "Jews in Islamic Countries: Iraq".
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