|Regions with significant populations|
|Jordan||130,000, or less|
|Mesopotamian Arabic (75%)|
Kurdish languages (17%)
Turkish language (10-13%)
Neo-Aramaic languages (2%)
|Islam (95-98%); Predominantly Twelver Shia Islam|
 Minority; Sunni Other religions
Christianity, Mandaeism, Yazidism and others
Arabs have had a large presence in Mesopotamia since the Sasanian Empire (224–637). Arabic was spoken by the majority in the Kingdom of Araba in the first and second centuries, and by Arabs in al-Hirah from the third century. Arabs were common in Mesopotamia at the time of the Seleucid Empire (3rd century BC). The first Arab kingdom outside Arabia was established in Iraq's Al-Hirah in the third century. Arabic was a minority language in northern Iraq in the eighth century BC, from the eighth century following the Muslim conquest of Persia, it became the dominant language of Iraqi Muslims because Arabic was the language of the Quran and of the Abbasid Caliphate.
In ancient and medieval times Mesopotamia was the political and cultural centre of many great empires, such as the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, and Babylonia. The ancient Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer is the oldest known civilization in the world, and thus Iraq is widely known as the cradle of civilization. Iraq remained an important centre of civilization for millennia, up until the Abbasid Caliphate (of which Baghdad was the capital), which was the most advanced empire of the medieval world (see Islamic Golden Age).
One study found that Haplogroup J-M172 originated in northern Iraq. In spite of the importance of this region, genetic studies on the Iraqi people are limited and generally restricted to analysis of classical markers due to Iraq's modern political instability, although there have been several published studies displaying a genealogical connection between all Iraqi peoples and the neighbouring countries, across religious, ethnic and linguistic barriers.
Iraqi Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Kuwait, Lebanon and Syria. in a genetic study of Northern Iraqi Arabs, Kurds, Syriacs, Turkmens and Yazidis. the Paternal lineages distributions among the five ethnic groups were found to vary significantly.
For both mtDNA and Y-DNA variation, the large majority of the haplogroups observed in the Iraqi population (H, J, T, and U for the mtDNA, J-M172 and J-M267 for the Y-DNA) are those considered to have originated in Western Asia and to have later spread mainly in Western Eurasia. The Eurasian haplogroups R1b and R1a represent the second most frequent component of the Iraqi Y-chromosome gene pool, the latter suggests that the population movements from Central Asia into modern Iran also influenced Iraq.
Many historians and anthropologists provide strong circumstantial evidence to posit that Iraq's Marsh Arabs share very strong links to the ancient Sumerians—the most ancient inhabitants of southern Iraq.
The Assyrian Christian population is fairly related to other Iraqis, and also to Jordanians, yet due to religious endogamy have a distinct genetic profile that distinguishes their population. "The Assyrians are a fairly homogeneous group of people, believed to originate from the land of old Assyria in northern Iraq [..] they are Christians and are bona fide descendants of their namesakes."
Studies have reported that most Irish and Britons have ancestry to Neolithic farmers who left modern day Iraq, Jordan and Syria 10,000 years ago. Genetic researchers say they have found compelling evidence that, on average, four out of five (80%) Europeans can trace their Y chromosome to the ancient Near East. In another study, scientists analysed DNA from the 8,000-year-old remains of early farmers found at an ancient graveyard in Germany. They compared the genetic signatures to those of modern populations and found similarities with the DNA of people living in today's Turkey and Iraq.
Iraq's national languages are Arabic and the Kurdish languages. Arabic is spoken as a first language by around 79 percent of Iraqi people, and Kurdish by around 17 percent. The two main regional dialects of Arabic spoken by the Iraqi people are Mesopotamian Arabic (spoken in the Babylonian alluvial plain and Middle Euphrates valley) and North Mesopotamian Arabic (spoken in the Assyrian highlands). The two main dialects of Kurdish spoken by Kurdish Iraqis are Central Kurdish (spoken in the Erbil and Sulaymaniyah Governorates) and Northern Kurdish (spoken in Dohuk Governorate). In addition to Arabic, most Assyrians and Mandaeans speak Neo-Aramaic languages.
Iraq has many devout followers of its religions. In 1968 the Iraqi constitution established Islam as the official religion of the state as the majority of Iraqis (97%) are Muslim (predominantly Shīʻī, but also including minority Sunni).
In addition to Islam, many Iraqi people are Christians belonging to various Christian denominations. Assyrians belong to the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Catholic Church. Their numbers inside Iraq have dwindled considerably to around 300,000.
Other religious groups include Mandaeans, Shabaks, Yazidis and followers of other minority religions. Furthermore, Jews had also been present in Iraq in significant numbers historically, but their population dwindled, after virtually all of them migrated to Israel between 1949 to 1952, following the declaration in 1948 that the support of Zionism (a Jewish-led state) was a capital offense. In 1950, Iraqi Jews were permitted to leave the country within a year provided they forfeited their citizenship. A year later, however, the property of Jews who emigrated was frozen and economic restrictions were placed on Jews who chose to remain in the country. From 1949 to 1951, 104,000 Jews were evacuated from Iraq in Operations Ezra and Nechemia (named after the Jewish leaders who took their people back to Jerusalem from exile in Babylonia beginning in 597 B.C.E.); another 20,000 were smuggled out through Iran.
Iraqis form one of the largest diasporas in the world. The Iraqi diaspora is not a sudden exodus but one that has grown rapidly through the 20th century as each generation faced some form of radical transition or political conflict. From 1950 to 1952 Iraq saw a great exodus of roughly 120,000 - 130,000 of its Jewish population under the Israel-led "Operation Ezra and Nehemiah". There were at least two large waves of expatriation of both Christians and Muslims alike. A great number of Iraqis left the country during the regime of Saddam Hussein and large numbers have left during the Second Gulf War and its aftermath. The United Nations estimates that roughly 40% of Iraq's remaining and formerly strong middle-class have fled the country following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
- History of the Iraqi people
- Mesopotamia: Birthplace of civilisation
- Iraqi identity - Forces for Integration/ Divisiveness
- The Iraq DNA project
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Iraqis have always been proud of their heritage and of their unique position as guardians of the Cradle of Civilization.
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The Iraqi heritage is a proud one. Iraqi ancestors made such contributions to our modern world as a written language, agriculture and the growing of food crops, the building of cities and the urban environment, basic systems of government, and a religious structure centered on gods and goddesses guiding human affairs.
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But one writer has suggested after a visit to the marshes near the site of ancient Sumer that "some Iraqis still have a touch of the Sumerian in them."
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