Iraq - Provinces & Cities
Iraq is a country in the west of Asia. It lies at the north end of the Persian Gulf and has a small (58km) coastline in the south east of the country. It is surrounded by Iran to the east, Kuwait to the south, Saudi Arabia to the southwest, Jordan to the west, Syria to the north west, and Turkey to the north.
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, including those of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon, and Assyria.
This wealthy region, comprising much of what is called the Fertile Crescent, later became a valuable part of larger imperial polities, including sundry Persian, Greek, and Roman dynasties, and after the 7th century it became a central and integral part of the Islamic world. Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, became the capital of the ʿAbbasid caliphate in the 8th century.
The modern nation-state of Iraq was created following World War I (1914–18) from the Ottoman provinces of Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul and derives its name from the Arabic term used in the premodern period to describe a region that roughly corresponded to Mesopotamia and modern northwestern Iran.