Key Facts Iraq

by Meyer Sosland
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Capital: Baghdad Population: 27,499,638 (July 2007 est.)

Religions: Muslim 97% (Shi’a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%.

Location: Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait.

Government: Parliamentary democracy. Chief of state is President Jalal Talabani (since April 6, 2005); head of government is Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (since May 20, 2006). Economy: Iraq’s economy is dominated by the oil sector, which has traditionally provided about 95% of foreign exchange earnings. Although looting, insurgent attacks and sabotage have undermined economy rebuilding efforts, economic activity is beginning to pick up in areas recently secured by the U.S. military surge. Oil exports are around levels seen before Operation Iraqi Freedom, and total government revenues have benefited from high oil prices. Despite political uncertainty, Iraq is making some progress in building the institutions needed to implement economic policy and has negotiated a debt reduction agreement with the Paris Club and a new Stand-By Arrangement with the IMF. The International Compact with Iraq was established in May 2007 to integrate Iraq into the regional and global economy, and the Iraqi government is seeking to pass laws to strengthen its economy. This legislation includes a hydrocarbon law to establish a modern legal framework to allow Iraq to develop its resources and a revenue sharing law to equitably divide oil revenues within the nation, although both are still bogged down in discussions. The Central Bank has been successful in controlling inflation through appreciation of the dinar against the U.S. dollar. Reducing corruption and implementing structural reforms, such as bank restructuring and developing the private sector, will be key to Iraq’s economic success.

GDP per capita: $3,600 (PPP 2007 est.), Inflation 4.7% (2007 est.); unemployment 18% to 30% (2006 est.).

Currency: New Iraqi dinar; 1 U.S. dollar equals 1,209 Iraqi dinars (March 11, 2008).

Exports: $34.04 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.): crude oil 84%, crude materials excluding fuels 8%, food and live animals 5%.

Imports: $23.09 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.): food, medicine, manufactures.

Major crops/agricultural products: Wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, dates, cotton; cattle, sheep, poultry.

Agriculture: 5% of GDP NA% of labor force.

Internet: Code .iq; 3 (2007) hosts and 36,000 (2004) users.