Iraqis in Iran

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Iranian Iraqis
Iran Iraq Locator.svg
     Iraq      Iran
Total population
(204,000 - 500,000+)
Regions with significant populations
Iranian Kurdistan, Abadan, Ahvaz, Ilam, Tehran, Mashhad, Qom, Nishapur[1]
Mesopotamian Arabic, Kurdish, Persian
Predominantly: Shia Islam
Minority: Yazdânism
Related ethnic groups
Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Azeris,
Georgians, Kurds, Lurs, Persians, Turks

There is a large population of Iraqis in Iran, including Iranian citizens of Iraqi origin or descent, as well as Iraqi citizen expatriates. According to the 2001 Iran census, there were roughly 203,000 Iraqis living in Iran;[2] a UNHCR report counts 204,000 Iraqis living in Iran.[3] The actual figure is likely to be much higher than this, perhaps exceeding 500,000, as many Iraqis gained Iranian citizenship while in Iran. In recent years, many have returned to Iraq following the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Migration history[edit]

Iraqis have always been a thriving community in Iran, with well established populations in Ahvaz, Abadan and Ilam,[citation needed] but many have fled and settled in other countries because of events such as the 1979 Islamic Iranian revolution and the Iran–Iraq War.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs recorded over 202,000 Iraqi refugees in Iran in September 2003, over half the entire Iraqi refugee population in the world. About 50,000 of them are housed in 22 refugee camps in Iran, which are situated along the country's western border with Iraq, this number is significantly higher than that for Afghan refugees, of whom only about 2 percent live in camps. The majority of Iraqi refugees live in urban areas in western Iran. In total, more than 11,500 Iraqis have returned in convoys facilitated by UNHCR from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon since the end of the war that led to the downfall of Saddam Hussein.

With more than 200,000 Iraqi refugees living in Iran, they are more than half of all registered Iraqi refugees in the world. At around 48,000 of the refugees are hosted in Iran's camps, but most Iraqi refugees live in large urban centres, usually in the western parts of Iran. The majority of Iraqis have opted for life in Tehran, due to its high standards of living and greater job availability.[4] Predominantly settling down in Doulatabad, an almost entirely Iraqi neighbourhood in the south-eastern corner of Tehran. Another well known Iraqi neighbourhood in Iran is Marvi Alley, a shopping area located in the centre of Tehran. This is where the first Iraqi refugees came in the early '70s, and has remained a centre for all Iraqis in Tehran, often dubbed it Baghdad Market.[4]


Iran's connection with Iraq dates back to antiquity. The Parthian Iranians and Sassanid Persians placed their capital at Ctesiphon, 30 kilometres (20 mi) from present-day Baghdad. It is believed to have been the largest city in the world from 570 to 637 A.D.[5] The Iranian Ambassador to Iraq recently announced that Iran is committed to working with Iraqi national and provincials governments on a restoration of the great palace at Ctesiphon.[5]


The majority of Iraqis in Iran today are the Shia Muslims (47%) and the Kurds (33%) who were the main groups that escaped persecution from the two-decade regime of Saddam Hussein. Sunnis also hold a considerable minority of 10%, closely followed by Jews (6%) and smaller ethnic groups who constitute (4%) of the population.

Notable people[edit]

See also[edit]