Demographics of Iraq
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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Iraq, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.
The population is estimated to be 37,202,572 as of 2016, with most of the population being Arab (70%), followed by Kurds (25%), Turkmens (3%) and Assyrians (2%). Iraqis are 2–3% Christian (down from 6% before 2003), 3% Yazidis, 2% Shabaks with numerous other faiths Shia Muslims make up 65-70% and form the majority and the rest belong to other religious minorities.
- 1 Background
- 2 Population
- 3 Vital statistics
- 4 Ethnic and religious groups
- 5 Languages
- 6 Religions
- 7 Demographic statistics
- 7.1 Age structure
- 7.2 Ethnic groups
- 7.3 Religions
- 7.4 Languages
- 7.5 Median age
- 7.6 Population growth rate
- 7.7 Crude birth rate
- 7.8 Crude death rate
- 7.9 Total fertility rate
- 7.10 Net migration rate
- 7.11 Urbanization
- 7.12 Sex ratio
- 7.13 Maternal mortality rate
- 7.14 Infant mortality rate
- 7.15 Life expectancy at birth
- 7.16 Contraceptive prevalence rate
- 7.17 Health expenditures
- 7.18 Physicians density
- 7.19 Hospital bed density
- 7.20 Obesity - adult prevalence rate
- 7.21 Children under the age of 5 years underweight
- 7.22 Nationality
- 7.23 Literacy
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Iraq is the region known outside the Islamic world as Mesopotamia. The population estimate in 1920 was 3 million. The ruins of Ur, Babylon and other ancient cities are situated in Iraq, as is the legendary location of the Garden of Eden. Almost 75% of Iraq's population lives in the flat, alluvial plain stretching southeast from Tikrit to the Persian Gulf. The Tigris and the Euphrates carry about 70 million cubic meters of silt annually from this plain down to the delta. The water from these two great rivers, and the fertility of the soil in the alluvial plain and the delta, allowed early agriculture to sustain a stable population as far back as the 7th millennium BC.
|Period||Live births per year||Deaths per year||Natural change per year||CBR1||CDR1||NC1||TFR1||IMR1|
|1 CBR = crude birth rate (per 1,000); CDR = crude death rate (per 1,000); NC = natural change (per 1,000); TFR = total fertility rate (number of children per woman); IMR = infant mortality rate per 1,000 births|
|Year||Population (×1,000)||Live births||Deaths||Natural increase||Crude birth rate||Crude death rate||Rate of natural increase||TFR|
Life expectancy at birth
|Period||Life expectancy in
|Period||Life expectancy in|
Structure of the population (1 July 2013) (Estimates) :
Ethnic and religious groups
Iraq's dominant ethnic group are the Mesopotamian Arabs, who account for more than three-quarters of the population.
According to the CIA World Factbook, citing a 1987 Iraqi government estimate, the population of Iraq is formed of 70% Arabs followed by 25% Kurds. In addition, the estimate claims that other minorities form 5% of the country's population, including the Turkmen/Turcoman, Yezidis, Shabak, Kaka'i, Bedouins, Roma, Assyrians, Circassians, Sabaean-Mandaean, and Persians. However, the International Crisis Group points out that figures from the 1987 census, as well as the 1967, 1977, and 1997 censuses, "are all considered highly problematic, due to suspicions of regime manipulation" because Iraqi citizens were only allowed to indicate belonging to either the Arab or Kurdish ethnic groups; consequently, this skewed the number of other ethnic minorities, such as Iraq's third largest ethnic group – the Turkmens/Turkomans.
A report published by the European Parliamentary Research Service suggests that in 2015 there was 20 million Arabs (15 million Shia and 9 million Sunni); 8 million Sunni Kurds (plus 500,000 Shia Faili Kurds and 200,000 Kurdish Kaka'i); 0.5 million Iraqi Turkmen/Turkoman; 1 million Black Iraqis; 500,000 Christians (including Assyrians and Armenians); 500,000 Kurdish Yazidis; 250,000 Kurdish Shabaks; 50,000 Roma; 3,000 Sabean-Mandaeans; 2,000 Circassians; 1,000 Baha’i; and a few dozen Jews.
Kurds are the largest minority in Iraq. They are a Northwestern Iranic ethnic group who began migrating into various regions of Ancient Assyria in northern Iraq from Persian Azerbaijan in the period prior to the establishment of Abbasid rule in AD 750. According to most scholars, the Kurds formed a pastoral and tribal society. Today, Kurds comprise between 23% to 25% of the country's population, and they have one of the highest birth rates of any group in Iraq (and the Middle East).
Arabic and Kurdish are the two official languages of Iraq. Arabic is spoken or understood by Arab population and some kurdish intellectuals, while Kurdish is spoken or understood by the Kurdish population in northern Iraq.
Kurdish, including several dialects, is the second largest language and has regional language status in Iraqi Kurdistan. Aramaic, in antiquity spoken throughout the whole country, is now only spoken by the Assyrian minority. The Iraqi Turkmen/Turkoman dialect of Turkish is spoken in pockets of northern Iraq (particularly in the so-called Turkmeneli region) and numerous languages of the Caucasus are also spoken by minorities, notably the Chechen community.
97% of Iraqis follow Islam: 61% Shia and 34% Sunni. 1% of these describe themselves as "Just a Muslim". According to the CIA Factbook, Shias make up 60% of population, while Sunnis 35%. Christianity accounts for 5%, and the rest practice Mandaeism, Yazidism and other religions.
While there has been voluntary relocation of many Christian families to northern Iraq, recent reporting indicates that the overall Christian population may have dropped by as much as 50 percent since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, with many fleeing to Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon (2010 estimate). The percentage of Christians has fallen from 6% in 1991 or 1.5 million to about one third of this, due to massive exodus - two-thirds of Assyrian Christians have fled to other countries in the Middle East, Europe, United States and Canada.
Nearly all Iraqi Kurds are Sunni Muslims. A survey in Iraq concluded that "98% of Kurds in Iraq identified themselves as Sunnis and only 2% identified as Shias". The religious differences between Sunni Arabs and Sunni Kurds are small. While 98 percent of Shia Arabs believe that visiting the shrines of saints is acceptable, 71 percent of Sunni Arabs did and 59 percent of Sunni Kurds support this practice. About 94 percent of the population in Iraqi Kurdistan is Muslim 
- 0-14 years: 40.45% (male 7,895,522/female 7,569,205)
- 15-24 years: 19.25% (male 3,841,375/female 3,702,187)
- 25-54 years: 32.84% (male 6,704,201/female 6,558,108)
- 55-64 years: 3.99% (male 752,598/female 812,683)
- 65 years and over: 3.46% (male 601,937/female 754,295) (2017 est.)
with no official census, all numbers are taken from the parliamentary elections.
- Shia 60%
- Sunni 29%
- Christian as low as 0.6% in 2017 down from 6% in 2003  and halved from 1.8 million to 900,000 or as high as 1.2 million in 2013 BBC News 25 December 2013.
- Yazidis 2%
- Yarsani 2%
- Shabaks 2%
- Zoroastrianism 0.6%
- Mandeans 0.1%
- Hindu 0.1%
- Buddhist 0.1%
- Jewish 0.1%
- Folk religion 0.1
- Unaffiliated 9%
- Other 0.1
- Arabic (official)
- Kurdish (official)
- Iraqi Turkmen/Turkoman dialect, a dialect of Turkish (official only in majority speaking area)
- Assyrian (Neo-Aramaic) (official only in majority speaking area)
- total: 20 years
- male: 19.8 years
- female: 20.3 years (2017 est.)
Population growth rate
- 2.55% (2017 est.)
Crude birth rate
- 30.4 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Crude death rate
- 3.8 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Total fertility rate
- 4 children born/woman (2017 est.)
Net migration rate
- 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2013 est.)
- urban population: 70.5% of total population (2018)
- rate of urbanization: 3.06% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
- at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
- under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 15-64 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.87 male(s)/female
- total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
Maternal mortality rate
- 50 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate
- 37.5 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 69 years
- male: 69.67 years
- female: 72.67 years (2013 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate
- 51.2% (2011)
- 8.4% of GDP (2011)
- 0.69 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
Hospital bed density
- 1.3 beds/1,000 population (2010)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
- 30.4% (2016)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
- 8.5% (2011)
- noun: Iraqi(s)
- adjective: Iraqi
- definition: age 15 and over can read and write
- total population: 78.2%
- male: 86%
- female: 70.6% (2010 est.)
- "World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision". ESA.UN.org (custom data acquired via website). United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
- "Iraq". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
- "Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2006 - unicef statistics" (PDF). Unicef. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
- World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-03-05. Retrieved 2014-03-05.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "World Population Prospects – Population Division – United Nations". esa.un.org. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
- "Iraq". The World Factbook. 22 June 2014.
- "Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds: Conflict or Cooperation?" (PDF). International Crisis Group. 2008. p. 16. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- "Minorities in Iraq Pushed to the brink of existence" (PDF). European Parliamentary Research Service. 2015. pp. 3–4. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
- Aboona, H. (2008). Assyrians, Kurds, and Ottomans: Intercommunal relations on the periphery of the Ottoman Empire. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press. p. 92 - 95
- Aboona, H (2008). Assyrians and Ottomans: intercommunal relations on the periphery of the Ottoman Empire. Cambria Press. . ISBN 978-1-60497-583-3. page 89-105
- According to Aboona, Kurds were "less disposed to adopt civilisation than the Persians and Turks that adopted Islam at its advance". In the region of Sulaimaniyah in 1820-1821, Kurds were still chiefly pastoral nomads, and four out of five were still living as such. Aboona, H (2008). Assyrians and Ottomans: intercommunal relations on the periphery of the Ottoman Empire. Cambria Press. . ISBN 978-1-60497-583-3. page 89-105
- On the Margins of Nations: Endangered Languages and Linguistic Rights. Foundation for Endangered Languages. Conference, Joan A. Argenter, R. McKenna Brown - 2004
- "Middle East :: IRAQ". CIA The World Factbook.