"Sulaimani" redirects here. For other uses, see Sulaimani (disambiguation).

Sulaymaniyah City Montage
Coordinates: IQ 35°33′26″N 45°26′08″E / 35.55722°N 45.43556°E / 35.55722; 45.43556Coordinates: IQ 35°33′26″N 45°26′08″E / 35.55722°N 45.43556°E / 35.55722; 45.43556
Country  Iraq
Autonomous region  Kurdistan
Governorate Sulaymaniyah Governorate
  Type Council–manager
  Governor Haval Abobakir [1]
Elevation 882 m (2,895 ft)
Time zone UTC+3 (UTC+3)
  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC)

Sulaymaniyah (Central Kurdish: سلێمانی, Silêmanî; Arabic: السليمانية, as-Sulaymāniyyah), also called Sulaimani or Slemani, is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan. Sulaymaniyah is surrounded by the Azmer Range, Goyija Range and the Qaiwan Range in the northeast, Baranan Mountain in the south and the Tasluja Hills in the west. The city has a semi-arid climate with very hot dry summers and cool wet winters. Sulaymaniyah served as the capital of the historic Kurdish principality of Baban from 1784 to 1850.

The modern city of Sulaymaniyah was founded on 14 November 1784 by the Kurdish prince Ibrahim Pasha Baban who named it after his father Sulaiman Pasha.[2]

From its foundation Sulaymaniyah was always a center of great poets, writers, historians, politicians, scholars and singers, such as Nalî, Mahwi, Piramerd, Muhammed Emin Zeki Bey, Taufiq Wahby, Sherko Bekas, Nuri Sheikh Salih Sheikh Ghani Barzinji, Bachtyar Ali, Mahmud Barzanji, Mawlawi, Mawlânâ Khâlid and Mustafa Zihni Pasha.[3][4]


Stela of Iddi-Sin, King of Simurrum. It dates back to the Old-Babylonian Perdiod. From Qarachatan Village, Sulaymaniyah Governorate, Iraqi Kurdistan. The Sulaymaniyah Museum, Iraq

The region of Sulaymaniyah was known as Zamwa prior to the foundation of the modern city in 1784. The capital of the Kurdish Baban principality (1649–1850), before Sulaymaniyah was a territory named "Qelaçiwalan". At the time of the Babani's rule there were major conflicts between the Safavid dynasty and the Ottoman Empire. Qelaçiwalan became a battleground for the two rivals.[5]

Being of strategic importance and lying deep inside Safavid territory, there was concern that Qelaçiwalan would be attacked and captured if the Babanies did not give the Safavids military support, as both Sultan Mahmud II and Nader Shah were trying to gain the support of the dispersed Kurdish Emirates.[5] This obliged Mahmud Pasha of Baban in 1781 to think about moving the center of its Emirate to another safer place. He chose Melkendî, then a village but now a district in central Sulaymaniyah, to construct a number of Serahs for his political and armed units.[5]

In 1783, Ibrahim Pasha of Baban became ruler of the Emirate and began the construction of a new city which would become the capital of the Baban Emirate. In 1784 he finished erecting a number of palaces for trade called Qeyserîs and bazaars, which were also used as baths, and began inviting people from the surrounding villages and Emirates to move to the newly established city. Soon Melkendî, which was originally intended to be the city itself, instead became one of its quarters and still is today.[5]

In the early 1800s refugees from Ardalan moved to Sulaymaniyah including Mastura Ardalan, the widow of Khasraw Khani Ardalan, the ruler of the kingdom. Ardalan wrote an account of Kurdish history in Persian and was buried in Sulaymaniyah when he died in 1848.[6]

From 1922 to 1924, Sulaymaniyah was designated the capital of the Kingdom of Kurdistan, a short lived unrecognized State declared by Iraqi Kurds following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.[7]


In 1820, only 26 years after the creation of the city, a British man named Rech visited the city and estimated that its population was more than ten thousand, containing 2,144 families of which 2,000 were Muslim, 130 Jewish, and 14 Christian.[8] Ottoman documents from 1907 suggest that there were 8,702 Muslim and 360 non-Muslim residents living in the city at that time. The Peshkawtin newspaper which was distributed in Sulaymaniyah in 1920 estimated its population to be around ten thousand.

According to Iraqi government documents, by 1947 the number of residents had increased to 23,475; by 1998 to 548,747, and in 2009 to 2,000,000.[8]

Geography and climate

Sulaymaniyah Panorama in September 2015

The city is located in northern Iraq. Of the main population centers in the country, it is characterized by its cooler summer temperatures and its rainier winters. Average temperatures range from 0 °C (32 °F) to 39 °C (102 °F). In the winters, there can be a significant amount of snow.

Snow is not frequent in winter, but snow has fallen in Sulaymaniyah in January 2008,[9] January 2010,[10] February 2010, February 2011, March 2012,[11] January 2013,[12] and January 2015.[13]

Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa).[14]

Climate data for Sulaymaniyah
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.8
Average low °C (°F) −0.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 129
Source: (altitude: 849m)[14]


Public education is free from primary school until graduation from university. The University of Sulaymaniyah was opened in 1968 with instruction in Kurdish, Arabic, and English. It has faculties in engineering, agriculture, the arts, science, and medicine. It is the largest university in South Kurdistan.

A new University of Sulaymaniyah[16] was established in 1991, teaching in Kurdish, English and Arabic. And the second new university is Sulaimani Polytechnic University[17] was established in 2012, teaching in Kurdish, English and Arabic.

In 2007 The American University of Iraq – Sulaimani,[18] (AUI-S) was a new addition to the American universities in the Middle East, holding its first classes in October 2007. Instruction is in English only.

The Komar University of Science and Technology,[19] (KUST) - Sulaymaniyah was established and licensed by the Ministry of High Education and Scientific Research in Kurdistan Region Government, by the official letter no. 17867/7 on 18 October 2009. KUST is a private university governed by a Board of Trustees and run by an Administration Council. Its main campus is located in Sulaymaniyah. KUST offered its first teaching classes in 2010 with an English language summer course (levels 1 and 3).[20]


Adnan Karim in a joint concert with the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra conducted by the renowned Kurdish composer A.J. Sagerma performing classical Kurdish music

Sulaymaniyah is considered the center of the Sorani Kurdish culture in Kurdistan. It is recognized officially as the cultural capital of South Kurdistan. Development of Sorani as a modern literary language started in this city in the early 19th century, when many Kurdish poets such as Nalî, Piramerd, Muhamed Amin Zaki, Abdulla Goran, Muhamad Salih Dilan, Ahmad Hardi, Ibrahim Ahmad, Nuri Sheikh Salih Sheikh Ghani Barzinji, Sherko Bekas, and Bachtyar Ali published their works.

The city is known for its open, relatively liberal and tolerant society when compared to other cities of Kurdistan. According to Al-Jazeera, the city has a Chinatown as a result of attracting foreign investment. Around 500 Chinese people reside in the city according to Al Arabiya.[21]

In 2006 the Movement for Change started in Sulaymaniyah and challenged what it called the "corrupt" and "nepotistic" Kurdish Government. The movement gained massive support from the city.

The two independent newspapers Hawlati[22] and Awena[23] and the two independent political magazines Lvin and Shock, are published and distributed in Sulaymaniyah city.

Sulaymaniyah is the only city in South Kurdistan that regularly celebrates world music day or Fête de la Musique. In one trip to the city, a journalist working for the BBC wrote about Sulaymaniyah's distinct culture: "Culture is hugely important to the Kurdish people, especially in Sulaymaniyah, but there is a strong pull to the west--modernisation and consumerism--driven perhaps by the satellite televisions they have had access to since they started running their own affairs...And at the university, students mill around the campus, chattering with each other and doing some last-minute cramming for their exams. The war only stopped lectures for a few weeks. There are probably more women than men and they are happy to air their views to anyone who asks."[24]


Since 2003 Iraq has seen a huge economic boom. Sulaymaniyah's economy today relies on tourism, agriculture[25] and a number of small factories, most of which are involved in the building trade.

In 2004 the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis in Iraq released an in-depth survey of the Sulaymaniyah Governorate in which they surveyed each city. In this survey one can see the economic boom of 2003 mentioned earlier.[26]


Kurdish artist Tara Jaff playing the Harp during a cultural gathering at Aram Gallery

The city was visited by more than 60,000 tourists in 2009.[27] Sulaymaniyah attracted more than 15,000 Iranian tourists in the first quarter of 2010, many drawn by the fact it is not subject to strict laws faced at home. Newroz 2010 drew an exodus of Iranian tourists choosing to celebrate the event in the region.[28]

Victims of one of Saddam Hussein's campaigns are represented by broken glass and tiny lights at the Amna Suraka Museum (Kurdish: "Red Intelligence Museum") in Sulaymaniyah.

Notable people


Diplomatic missions

Twin towns – Sister cities

See also


  1. "Sulaimani Polytechnic University". 2015-06-13. Retrieved 2015-06-13. External link in |publisher= (help)
  2. Ali, Meer Ako. "Sulaimany: 227 years of glory". Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  3. Salih Rasha, Akram. Sulaymaniyah 200 Years. Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan. pp. 503–504.
  4. slimany
  5. 1 2 3 4 "The Leading Suly Government Site on the Net". Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  6. Goudsouzian, Tanya (21 November 2016). "Sulaimania: Saving the dream city of a Kurdish prince". Al-Jazeera. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  7. Prince, J. (1993), "A Kurdish State in Iraq" in Current History, January.
  8. 1 2 ckb:سلێمانی
  9. "Iraq under cold front bringing snow with below zero temperatures". Indian Muslims. Kuwait News Agency (KUNA). 12 January 2008. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013. BAGHDAD, Jan 11 (KUNA) -- snow fell on large areas of Iraq following two days of low temperatures.
  10. "Snow covers Sulaimaniya". National Iraqi News Agency (NINA). 26 January 2010. Retrieved 3 March 2013. Sulaimaniya (NINA) –The city of Sulaimaniya witnessed a heavy fall of snow that covered the entire city since Monday midnight. Reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency said “The citizens of Sulaimaniya woke up on Tuesday morning to see their city covered with snow and the street painted in white color.”
  11. "Heavy Snow Blankets Sulaimaniya". Iraq Updates. 3 March 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  12. "Unusually heavy snow hits Iraq's Sulaimaniya". Al Arabiya. Reuters. 14 January 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013. An unusually heavy snowstorm blanketed Sulaimaniya city, in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, on Saturday (January 12) as severe weather conditions continue to sweep through the region.
  13. "11 Refugee Children Freeze to Death in Kurdistan Camps". Erbil. 12 January 2015. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  14. 1 2 "Climate: Sulaymaniyah - Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Retrieved 2014-01-04.
  15. "WorldClim Global Climate Data Grids". WorldClim. Retrieved 14 September 2011. [data is inaccessible]
  16. "University of Sulaimani". Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  17. "Sulaimani Polytechnic University". Retrieved 2014-10-24.
  20. Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 2012-08-08. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. "Iraqi Kurdistan sees 1st emerging China town".
  22. "". Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  23. "ئاوێنە نیوز". Retrieved 2014-08-26.
  24. "Kurdistan diary: Day Three". KurdishGlobe. 2006-10-28. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  25. "Slemani". Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  26. (PDF) Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-12. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. "Rudaw.NL, dé Opinieblog…". Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  28. "Rudaw.NL, dé Opinieblog…". Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  29. "Suleimaniya Museum: a small place for a great civilization". KurdishGlobe. 2008-02-13. Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  30. "Wusha Corporation". Retrieved 2012-08-09.
  31. "Tucson Sister Cities". Interactive City Directory. Sister Cities International. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  32. اعلام خواهرخواندگی سلیمانیه عراق و ناپل ایتالیا , Kurdpress (Persian), 30 April 2013.

External links

Media related to Sulaymaniyah at Wikimedia Commons

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