Demographics of Iraq
Iraqi Arabs are the largest Semitic people in Iraq, while Kurds are the largest Indo-European, non-Semitic ethnic group and largest ethnic minority. Iraqi Turkmen are the third largest ethnic group in the country. Studies indicate that the different ethno-religious groups of Iraq and Mesopotamia share significant similarities in genetics and that Iraqi Arabs, who make up the majority of Iraqis, are genetically distinct from other Arab populations in the Arabs of the Arabian peninsula.
The population was estimated to be 40,194,216 in 2018 (residing in Iraq) and over 10 million living in the diaspora, with most of the population being Shia Arabs (15 million), Sunni Arabs (9 million), followed by Kurds (4.7 million), Turkmen (3 million), Assyrians and Armenians (0.5 million), Afro-Iraqis (1 million), Yazidis (500,000) and Shabaks (250,000). Other minorities include Mandeans (3,000), Roma (50,000) and Circassians (2,000). The most spoken languages are Mesopotamian Arabic, Kurdish, Syriac and Iraqi Turkmen dialects. The percentages of different ethno-religious groups residing in Iraq vary from source to source due to the last Iraqi census having taken place over 30 years ago. A new census of Iraq is planned to take place in 2020.
Iraq is the region known outside the Islamic world as Mesopotamia. The population estimate in 1920 was 3 million. 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|
Fertility ages average in 1997–2006
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, Yazidis, Shabaks, Kaka'i, Bedouins, Roma, Chaldeans, 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 Turkmen.
A report published by the European Parliamentary Research Service suggests that in 2015 there was 24 million Arabs (15 million Shia and 9 million Sunni); 4 million Sunni Kurds (plus 500,000 Shia Feylis and 200,000 Kaka'i); 3 million Iraqi Turkmen; 1 million Black Iraqis; 500,000 Christians (including, in alphabetical order: Arab Christians, Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldean Catholics, and Syriac Orthodox); 500,000 Yazidis; 250,000 Shabaks; 50,000 Roma; 3,000 Sabean-Mandaeans; 2,000 Circassians; 1,000 Baháʼí; and a few dozen Jews.
Arabic and Kurdish are the two official languages of Iraq. Arabic is taught across all schools in Iraq, however in the north the Kurdish language is the most spoken. Eastern Aramaic languages, such as Syriac and Mandaic are spoken, as well as the Iraqi Turkoman language, and various other indigenous languages.
Kurdish, including several dialects, is the second largest language and has regional language status in the north of the country. Aramaic, in antiquity spoken throughout the whole country, is now only spoken by the Assyrian Chaldean minority. The Iraqi Turkmen dialect is spoken in northern Iraq (particularly in the Turkmeneli region) and numerous languages of the Caucasus are also spoken by minorities, notably the Chechen community.
98% of Iraqis follow Islam: 51% Shia and 42% Sunni. 5% of Muslims in Iraq describe themselves as "Just a Muslim". According to the CIA World Factbook, Shias make up 58% of population, while Sunnis make up 37%. Christianity accounts for 1–2%, and the rest practice Yazidism, Mandaeism, 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. Estimates say there are 500,000 Christians in Iraq.
Nearly all Iraqi Kurds identify as Sunni Muslims, however do not practice as much as Sunni Arabs. 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: 39.01% (male 8,005,327/female 7,674,802)
- 15-24 years: 19.42% (male 3,976,085/female 3,829,086)
- 25-54 years: 33.97% (male 6,900,984/female 6,752,797)
- 55-64 years: 4.05% (male 788,602/female 839,291)
- 65 years and over: 3.55% (male 632,753/female 794,489) (2018 est.)
According to Pew, which surveyed nearly 1,500 scientifically random-sampled Iraqis regarding their religious affiliations, and also their religious beliefs and practices, at "The few available survey measures of religious identity in Iraq suggest that about half the country is Shia. Surveys by ABC News found between 47% and 51% of the country identifying as Shia between 2007 and 2009, and a Pew Research survey conducted in Iraq in late 2011 found that 51% of Iraqi Muslims said they were Shia (compared with 42% saying they were Sunni).
- Arabic (official)
- Kurdish (official)
- Iraqi Turkmen dialect (official only in majority speaking area)
- Assyrian dialect (Neo-Aramaic) (official only in majority speaking area)
- total: 20.2 years
- male: 20 years
- female: 20.5 years (2019 est.)
Population growth rate
- 2.5% (2018 est.)
Crude birth rate
- 30 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Crude death rate
- 3.8 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
Total fertility rate
- 3.94 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Net migration rate
- −1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.)
- urban population: 70.5% of total population (2018)
- rate of urbanization: 3.06% annual rate of change (2015–20 est.)
- at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 0–14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
- 25-54 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
- 55–64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
- 65 years and over: 0.8 male(s)/female
- total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
Maternal mortality rate
- 50 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Infant mortality rate
- total population: 37.5 deaths/1,000 live births
- male: 40.6 deaths/1,000 live births
- female: 34.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
- total population: 74.9 years
- male: 72.6 years
- female: 77.2 years (2018 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate
- 51.5% (2011)
- 5.5% of GDP (2011)
- 0.85 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
Hospital bed density
- 1.4 beds/1,000 population (2014)
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: 79.7%
- male: 85.7%
- female: 73.7% (2015 est.)
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