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For other uses, see Kirkuk (disambiguation).
Kerkûk, Karkuk, Kerkük
Kirkuk Citadel
Kirkuk Citadel
Kirkuk is located in Iraq
Kirkuk's location in Iraq
Coordinates: 35°28′0″N 44°19′0″E / 35.46667°N 44.31667°E / 35.46667; 44.31667Coordinates: 35°28′0″N 44°19′0″E / 35.46667°N 44.31667°E / 35.46667; 44.31667
Country  Iraq
Governorate Kirkuk Governorate
Elevation 350 m (1,150 ft)
Population (2009 Est.)[1]
 • Total 850 787
Time zone GMT +3

Kirkuk (Arabic: كركوك‎‎ Karkūk; Kurdish: که‌رکووکKerkûk, Turkish: Kerkük) is a city in the north of Iraq, 236 kilometres (147 mi) north of Baghdad and 83 kilometres (52 miles) south of Erbil.[2] It is the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.

Kirkuk lies in a wide zone with an enormously diverse population and has been multilingual for centuries. There were dramatic demographic changes during Kirkuk's urbanization in the twentieth century, which saw the development of distinct ethnic groups.[3] Kurds, Turkmen, Arabs and Assyrians lay conflicting claims to this zone, and all have their historical accounts and memories to buttress their claims.[4]

The city sits on the ruins of the original Kirkuk Citadel, site of the ancient mid 3rd millennium BC, Assyrian city of Arrapha,[5] and which sits near the Khasa River. The city is mentioned during the Sumero-Akkadian period of Assyria in cuneiform script from about 2400 BC.[6] The region became a part of the Akkadian empire (2335-2154 BC) which united all of the Akkadian and Sumerian speaking Mesopotamians under one rule. After its collapse, the language isolate speaking Gutians, a pre-Iranic race from Ancient Iran, overran the region for a few decades, making Arrapha their capital, before being ejected from Mesopotamia by the Sumerians during the Neo-Sumerian Empire (2112-2004 BC). The city later came to be dominated by the language isolate speaking Hurrians from eastern Anatolia before being incorporated into the Old Assyrian Empire (2025-1750 BC), after which Arrapha and indeed the whole of northern Mesopotamia, together with parts of north east Syria and south east Turkey, became a part of Assyria proper. During the late 15th century BC Assyria and Arrapha was under the domination of the short lived Mittani-Hurrian empire, but after the Assyrians overthrew and destroyed the Hurri-Mitanni in the early 14th century BC the city was once more under Assyrian rule. Arrapha remained an important Assyrian city until the fall of the Assyrian empire between 615-599 BC. After this it remained a part of the geo-political province of Assyria (Achaemenid Assyria, Athura, Seleucid Syria, Assyria (Roman province) and Assuristan) under various foreign empires, and between the 2nd century BC and 3rd century AD became the capital of the Neo-Assyrian state of Beth Garmai before this was conquered into the Sassanid empire and became a part of Assuristan. The Arab Islamic conquest of the 7th century AD saw the dissolution of Assyria as a geo-political entity.

Kurds[7][8] and Turkmens[9] have claimed the city as a cultural capital. It was named the "capital of Iraqi culture" by the Iraqi ministry of culture in 2010.[10] The city currently consists mainly of people who self-identify as Kurds, Arabs, Iraqi Turkmens and Assyrians. With changes in population after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the US invasion, and the advent of Daesh, most experts believe that the Kurds make up the majority of the population[11][12]


The ancient name of Kirkuk was the Assyrian Arrap'ha. During the Parthian era, a Korkura/Corcura (Ancient Greek: Κόρκυρα) is mentioned by Ptolemy, which is believed to refer either to Kirkuk or to the site of Baba Gurgur three miles (4.8 km)(5 km) from the city.[13] Since the Seleucid Empire it was known as Karkha D-Bet Slokh, which means 'Citadel of the House of Seleucid'[14] in Mesopotamian Aramaic, the lingua franca of the Fertile Crescent in that era.[15]

The region around Kirkuk was known historically in the Eastern Aramaic and Syriac Assyrian sources as "Beth Garmai" (Syriac: ܒܝܬܓܪܡܝ‎). The name "Beth Garmai" or "Beth Garme" may be of Syriac origin which meaning "the house of bones",[16] which is thought to be a reference to bones of slaughtered Achaemenids after a decisive battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III on the plains between the Upper Zab and Diyala river.[17] It was one of a number of independent Neo-Assyrian states which flourished during the Parthian empire (150 BC-226 AD). Kirkuk itself was the Assyrian Karkha D'Beth Slokh, the metropolitan centre of Beth Garmai.

It is also thought that region was known during the Parthian and Sassanid periods as Garmakan, which means the 'Land of Warmth' or the 'Hot Land'. In some Iranian languages like Persian and Kurdish "Garm" means warm;[18] the name is still used by the Kurds in the form Garmian with the same meaning.

During the Seleucid period, the city was renamed after king Seleucus, Karkha d' Beth Slokh ("Fort Seleucus"), a corruption of which is at the root of modern name Karkuk/Kirkuk. After the 7th century, Muslim writers used the name Kirkheni (Syriac for "citadel"[19]) to refer to the city.[20] Others used other variant, such as Bajermi (a corruption of Aramaic "B'th Garmayeh" or Jermakan (a corruption of Persian Garmakan) .[18] A cuneiform script found in 1927 at the foot of Kirkuk Citadel stated that the city of Erekha of Babylonia was on the site of Kirkuk. Other sources consider Erekha to have been simply one part of the larger Arrapha metropolis.


Ancient history[edit]

It is suggested that Kirkuk was one of the places occupied by Neanderthals based on archeological findings in the Shanidar Cave settlement.[21] A large amount of pottery shards dating to the Ubaid period were also excavated from several Tells in the city.[22]

Ancient Arrapkha was a part of Sargon of Akkad's Akkadian Empire (2335-2154 BC),[23] and city was exposed to the raids of the Lullubi during Naram-Sin's reign.[24]

Later the city was occupied around 2150 BC by language Isolate speaking Zagros Mountains dwellers who were known as the Gutian people by the Semitic and Sumerian of Mesopotamians. Arraphkha was the capital of the short lived Guti kingdom (Gutium), before it was destroyed and the Gutians driven from Mesopotamia by the Neo-Sumerian Empire c. 2090 BC.[6][25] Arrapkha became a part of the Old Assyrian Empire (c.2025-1750 BC), before Hammurabi briefly subjected Assyria to the short lived Babylonian Empire, after which it again became a part of Assyria c.1725 BC.

However, by the middle of the 2nd millennium B.C. the Indo-Aryan Mittani of Anatolia formed a ruling class over the language isolate speaking Hurrians, and began to expand into a Hurri-Mitanni Empire. In the 1450s they attacked Assyria, sacking Assur, and bringing the cities of Gasur and Arrapkha under their control.[26] From c.1450 to 1393 BC the kings of Assyria paid tribute to the kingdom of Mittani.[26]

The Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-1020 BC) overthrew the Hurri-Mitanni in the mid 14th century BC and Arrapha once more became incorporated into Assyria proper. In the 11th and 10th centuries BC the city rose to prominence, becoming an important city in Assyria until the fall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC).[27]

The Hurri-Mitanni domination of Assyria was broken in the 1390s BC, and Arrapkha once more became an integral part of Assyria with the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-1020 BC) which saw the Hurrian population driven from the region. It remained as such throughout the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC) where it became an important Assyrian city.

After the fall of Assyria between 612-599 BC it was still an integral part of the geo-political province of Assyria - Achaemenid Assyria, Athura, Seleucid Syria, Assyria (Roman province) and Assuristan. In the Parthian and Sassanid eras Kirkuk was capital of the small Assyrian state of Beth Garmai (c.160 BC-250 AD).[28]

The city briefly came to be part of the short lived Median Empire before falling to the Achaemenid Empire (546-332 BC) where it was incorporated into the province of Athura (Achaemenid Assyria).[29][30]

Later it became part of the Macedonian Empire (332-312 BC) and succeeding Seleucid Empire (311-150 BC) before falling to the Parthian Empire (150 BC-224 AD) as a part of Athura. The Parthians seemed to only exercise loose control, and a number of small Neo-Assyrian kingdoms sprang up in the region between the 2nd century BC and 4th century AD, one such kingdom named "ܒܝܬܓܪܡܝ", (that is Bit Garmai in Syriac) had Arrapha as its capital.[31] Christianity also arose during this period, with Arrapha and its surrounds being influenced by the Assyrian Church of the East. The Sassanid Empire destroyed these kingdoms during 3rd and early 4th centuries AD, and Arrapha was incorporated into Sassanid ruled Assuristan (Sassanid Assyria).

In AD 341, the Zoroastrian Shapur II ordered the massacre of all Assyrian Christians in the Persian Sassanid Empire. During the persecution, about 1,150 were martyred in Arrapha.[32] The city remained a part of the Sassanid Empire until the Islamic conquest in the mid 7th century AD.

After the Islamic Conquests[edit]

Arab Muslims fought the Sassanid empire in the 7th century AD, conquering the region. The city was a part of the Islamic Caliphate until the tenth century. Kirkuk and the surrounding areas were then ruled by the Seljuk Turks for many years. After the divided empire collapsed, the city became a part of Turkic Zengid dynasty for a century. After the Mongol invasion, the Ilkhanate State was founded in the region and the city became a part of the Mongol Ilkhanate. The Ilkhanate region was then conquered by the Black Sheep Turkomans and White Sheep Turkomans. Ottoman Empire took control of Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Hejaz in the early 16th century. Turkish rule continued until World War I when the Ottoman Empire was overthrown in the region by the British Empire.

British occupation[edit]

At the end of World War I, the British occupied Kirkuk on 7 May 1918. Abandoning the city after about two weeks, the British returned to Kirkuk a few months later after the Armistice of Mudros. Kirkuk avoided the troubles caused by the British-backed Shaykh Mahmud, who quickly attempted to defy the British and establish his own fiefdom in Sulaymaniyah.

Entry into the Kingdom of Iraq[edit]

As both Turkey and Great Britain desperately wanted control of the Vilayet of Mosul (of which Kirkuk was a part), the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 failed to solve the issue. For this reason, the question of Mosul was sent to the League of Nations. A committee travelled to the area before coming to a final decision: the territory south of the "Brussels line" belonged to Iraq. By the Treaty of Angora of 1926, Kirkuk became a part of the Kingdom of Iraq.

Discovery of oil[edit]

Main article: Kirkuk Field

In 1927, Iraqi and American drillers working for the foreign-owned and British-led Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) struck a huge oil gusher at Baba Gurgur ("St. Blaze" or father blaze in Kurdish) near Kirkuk. The IPC began exports from the Kirkuk oil field in 1934. The Company moved its headquarters from Tuz Khormatu to a camp on the outskirts of Kirkuk, which they named Arrapha after the ancient city. Arrapha remains a large neighborhood in Kirkuk to this day. The IPC exercised significant political power in the city and played a central role in Kirkuk's urbanization, initiating housing and development projects in collaboration with Iraqi authorities in the 1940s and 1950s.[33]

The presence of the oil industry had an effect on Kirkuk's demographics. The exploitation of Kirkuk's oil, which began around 1930, attracted both Arabs and Kurds to the city in search of work. Kirkuk, which had been a predominantly Turkmen city, gradually lost its uniquely Turkmen character.[34][35][36] At the same time, large numbers of Kurds from the mountains were settling in the uninhabited but cultivable rural parts of the district of Kirkuk. The influx of Kurds into Kirkuk continued through the 1960s.[37] According to the 1957 census, Kirkuk city was 37,63% Iraqi Turkmen, 33,26% Kurdish with Arabs and Assyrians making up less than 23% of its population.[38][39]

Some analysts believe that poor reservoir-management practices during the Saddam Hussein years may have seriously, and even permanently, damaged Kirkuk's oil field. One example showed an estimated 1,500,000,000 barrels (240,000,000 m3) of excess fuel oil being reinjected. Other problems include refinery residue and gas-stripped oil. Fuel oil reinjection has increased oil viscosity at Kirkuk making it more difficult and expensive to get the oil out of the ground.[40]

Over all, between April 2003 and late December 2004 there were an estimated 123 attacks on Iraqi energy infrastructures, including the country's 7,000 km-long pipeline system. In response to these attacks, which cost Iraq billions of US dollars in lost oil-export revenues and repair costs, the US military set up the Task Force Shield to guard Iraq's energy infrastructure and the Kirkuk-Ceyhan Oil Pipeline in particular. In spite of the fact that little damage was done to Iraq's oil fields during the war itself, looting and sabotage after the war ended was highly destructive and accounted for perhaps eighty percent of the total damage.[41]

The discovery of vast quantities of oil in the region after World War I provided the impetus for the annexation of the former Ottoman Vilayet of Mosul (of which the Kirkuk region was a part), to the Iraqi Kingdom, established in 1921. Since then and particularly from 1963 onwards, there have been continuous attempts to transform the ethnic make-up of the region.

Pipelines from Kirkuk run through Turkey to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean Sea and were one of the two main routes for the export of Iraqi oil under the Oil-for-Food Programme following the Gulf War of 1991. This was in accordance with a United Nations mandate that at least 50% of the oil exports pass through Turkey. There were two parallel lines built in 1977 and 1987.

1970 Autonomy Agreement[edit]

On paper, the Autonomy Agreement of 11 March 1970, recognized the legitimacy of Kurdish participation in government and Kurdish language teaching in schools. However, it reserved judgment on the territorial extent of Kurdistan, pending a new census.[34]

Baghdad interpreted this as a virtual declaration of war, and, in March 1974, unilaterally decreed an autonomy statute. The new statute was a far cry from the 1970 Manifesto, and its definition of the Kurdish autonomous area explicitly excluded the oil-rich areas of Kirkuk, Khanaqin and Shingal/Sinjar. In tandem with the 1970–1974 autonomy process, the Iraqi regime carried out a comprehensive administrative reform, in which the country's sixteen provinces, or governorates, were renamed and in some cases had their boundaries altered. The old province of Kirkuk was split in half. The area around the city itself was named At-Ta'mim (Arabic: التأميم ‎‎) ("nationalization"), and its boundaries were redrawn to give an Arab majority.[42]

According to Human Rights Watch, from the 1991 Gulf War until 2003, the former Iraqi government systematically expelled an estimated 500.000, Kurds and some Assyrians from Kirkuk and other towns and villages in this oil-rich region. Most have settled in the Kurdish-controlled northern provinces. Meanwhile, the Iraqi government resettled Arab families in their place in an attempt to reduce the political power and presence of ethnic minorities, a process known as Arabization.[43]

The Arabization of Kirkuk and other oil-rich regions is not a recent phenomenon. Successive governments have sought at various times to reduce the ethnic minority populations residing there since the discovery of significant oil deposits in the 1920s. By the mid-1970s, the Ba'ath Party government that seized power in 1968 embarked on a concerted campaign to alter the demographic makeup of multi-ethnic Kirkuk. The campaign involved the massive relocation of tens of thousands of ethnic minority families from Kirkuk, Sinjar, Khanaqin, and other areas, transferring them to purpose-built resettlement camps. This policy was intensified after the failed Kurdish uprising in March 1991.[44][45][46][47][48][49] Those expelled included individuals who had refused to sign so-called "nationality correction" forms, introduced by the authorities prior to the 1997 population census, requiring members of ethnic groups residing in these districts to relinquish their Kurdish or Assyrian identities and to register "officially as Arabs." The Iraqi authorities also seized their property and assets; those who were expelled to areas controlled by Peshmerga were stripped of all possessions and their ration cards were withdrawn.[50]

Kirkuk after 2003[edit]

American and British military forces led an invasion of Iraq in March 2003, driving Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party from power. A caretaker government was created until the establishment of a democratically-elected government.

Since April 2003, thousands of internally displaced Kurds have returned to Kirkuk and other Arabized regions to take back their homes and lands which have since been conquered by Arabs from central and southern Iraq.

Under the supervision of chief executive of Coalition Provisional Authority L. Paul Bremer, a convention was held on 24 May 2003 to select the first City Council in the history of this oil-rich, ethnically divided city. Each of the city's four major ethnic groups was invited to send a 39-member delegation from which they would be allowed to select six to sit on the City Council. Another six council members were selected from among 144 delegates to represent independents social groups such as teachers, lawyers, religious leaders and artists.

Kirkuk's 30 members council is made up of five blocs of six members each. Four of those blocs are formed along ethnic lines—Kurds, Arabs, Assyrian and Turkmen—and the fifth is made up of independents. Turkmen and Arabs complained that the Kurds allegedly hold five of the seats in the independent block. They were also infuriated that their only representative at the council's helm was an assistant mayor whom they considered pro-Kurdish. Abdul Rahman Mustafa (Arabic: عبدالرحمن مصطفى ‎‎), a Baghdad-educated lawyer was elected mayor by 20 votes to 10. The appointment of an Arab, Ismail Ahmed Rajab Al Hadidi (Arabic: اسماعيل احمد رجب الحديدي ‎‎), as deputy mayor went some way towards addressing Arab concerns.

On 30 June 2005, through a secret direct voting process, with the participation of the widest communities in the province and despite all the political legal security complexities of this process in the country generally and in Kirkuk in particular, Kirkuk witnessed the birth of its first elected Provincial Council. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq IECI approved and announced the outcomes of this process, which filled the 41 seats of Kirkuk Provincial Council as follows:

  • 26 seats 367 List Kirkuk Brotherhood List KBL
  • 8 seats 175 List Iraqi Turkmen Front ITF
  • 5 seats 299 List Iraqi Republic Gathering
  • 1 seats 178 List Turkmen Islamic Coalition
  • 1 seats 289 List Iraqi National Gathering

The new Kirkuk Provincial Council started its second turn on 6 March 2005. Its inaugural session was dedicated to the introduction of its new members, followed by an oath ceremony supervised by Judge Thahir Hamza Salman, the Head of Kirkuk Appellate Court.

Five churches in Kirkuk were targeted with bombs in August 2011[51]

On 12 July 2013, Kirkuk was hit by a deadly bomb and 38 people have been killed in the attack in a café. The blast happened shortly after 22:00 local time (19:00 (GMT). It comes after more than 40 people died in a series of bombings and shootings across Iraq, including in Kirkuk, on 11 July 2013.[52]

On 12 June 2014, the town was taken by Kurdish forces when Iraqi army fled following the success of the ISIL 2014 Northern Iraq offensive in securing control of nearby Tikrit, as well as neighboring areas in Syria.[53][54]

On 21 October 2016, ISIL launched multiple attacks in Kirkuk to divert Iraqi military resources during the Battle of Mosul. Witnesses reported multiple explosions and gun battles in the city, most centered on a government compound. At least 11 workers, including several Iranians, were killed by a suicide bomber at a power plant in nearby Dibis.[55] The attack was brought to an end by 24 October, with 74 militants being killed and others including the leader of the attackers being arrested.[56]


The most reliable census concerning the ethnic composition of Kirkuk dates back to 1957. Kirkuk province borders were later altered, the province was renamed al-Ta'mim and Kurdish dominated districts were added to Erbil and Sulamaniya provinces.[57]

Census Results for the City of Kirkuk in 1957[58]
Ethnic Group by First Language Percentage
Turkish 45,306 37.6%
Kurdish 40,047 33.3%
Arabic 27,127 22.5%
Syriac 1,509 1.3%
Hebrew 101 0.1%
Total 120,402
Census results for Kirkuk Governorate[38]
Ethnic group 1957 Percentage 1977 Percentage 1997 Percentage
Arabs 109,620 28.2% 218,755 45% 544,596 72%
Kurds 187,593 48.2% 184,875 38% 155,861 21%
Turkmens 83,371 21.4% 80,347 17% 50,099 7%
Assyrians 1,605 0.4%
Jews 123 0.03%
Other 6,545 1.77% 0 0% 2,189 0.3%
Total 388,829 100% 483,977 100% 752,745 100%

Ethnic groups[edit]

As stated previously, Kirkuk is a multilingual and diverse city with a history of fluidity of identity.[3] The following information concerns a handful of the groups in the city and region that are considered to be distinct ethnic groups.

Kurdish people[edit]

Kurds have a long history in Kirkuk before the Baban family. The Baban family was a Kurdish family that, in the 18th and 19th centuries, dominated the political life of the province of Sharazor, in present-day Iraqi Kurdistan. The first member of the clan to gain control of the province and its capital, Kirkuk, was Sulayman Beg. Enjoying almost full autonomy, the Baban family established Kirkuk as their capital. It was from this time that Kurds in Iraq began to view Kirkuk as their capital. This persisted even after the Babans moved their administration to the new town of Sulaymaniya, named after the dynasty's founder, in the late 18th century.[59]

Iraqi Turkmen people[edit]

The Iraqi Turkmen are descendants of Turkic migrants to Iraq dating back to the Umayyads and Abbasid eras, when they arrived as military recruits.[60] Considerable Turcoman settlement began during the Seljuq era when Toghrul entered Iraq in 1055 with his army composed mostly of Oghuz Turks. Kirkuk remained under the control of the Seljuq Empire for 63 years. The Turcoman settlement in Kirkuk was further expanded later during the Ottoman Era, when people were brought to the city from there.

During the Ottoman period the Turcoman were the predominant population of Kirkuk city but Kurds constituted the majority of the rural population of Kirkuk.[37]

Currently Iraqi Turkmen politicians hold just over 20 percent of seats on Kirkuk's city council, while Turkmen leaders say they make up nearly a third of the city.[61]

Arab people[edit]

The principal Arab extended families in the city of Kirkuk were: the Tikriti and the Hadidi (Arabic: حديدي‎‎). The Tikriti family was the main Arab family in Kirkuk coming from Tikrit in the 17th century. Other Arab tribes who settled in Kirkuk during the Ottoman Period are the Al-Ubaid (Arabic: آل عبيد‎‎) and the Al-Jiburi (Arabic: آل جبور‎‎). The Al-Ubaid came from just northwest of Mosul when they were forced out of the area by other Arab tribes of that region. They settled in the Hawija district in Kirkuk in 1805 during the Ottoman Period.[62]


The Assyrians have an ancient history in Kirkuk, as they do throughout northern Iraq. As Arrapha it was a part of the Old Assyrian Empire (c.1975-1750 BC), and fully incorporated into Assyria proper by the 14th century BC during the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-105 BC), and remained so until the downfall of the Neo-Assyrian Empire between 615 and 599 BC. After this it was an integral part of Achaemenid Assyria (Athura), and during the Parthian Empire was centre to an independent Neo Assyrian state named Beth Garmai, before being incorporated into Assuristan by the Sassanid Empire.

The Seleucid town, like many other Upper Mesopotamian cities had a significant indigenous Assyrian population. Christianity was established among them in the 2nd century by the bishop Tuqrītā (Theocritos).[63] During the Sasanian times the town became an important centre of the Assyrian Church of the East, with several of its bishops rising to the rank of Patriarch. Tensions among Christians and Zoroastrians led to a severe persecution of Christians during the reign of Shapur II (309-379 A.D.) as recorded in the Acts of the Persian Martyrs. Persecution resumed under Yazdegerd II in 445 A.D. who massacred thousands of them. Their situation greatly improved under the Sasanians in the following two centuries after the advent of a national Persian church of free of Byzantine influence, namely Nestorianism.[64] During the Sasanian times the town became an important centre of the Church of the East, with several of its bishops rising to the rank of Patriarch. Tensions among Christians and Zoroastrians led to a severe persecution of Christians during the reign of Shapur II (309-79 A.D.) as recorded in the Acts of the Persian Martyrs. Their situation greatly improved under the Sasanians in the following two centuries.[64] During the Sasanian times the town became an important centre of the Church of the East, with several of its bishops rising to the rank of Patriarch. Persecution resumed under Yazdegerd II in 445 A.D. who massacred thousands of them. Tradition puts the death toll at 12,000 among them the patriarch Shemon Bar Sabbae.[65] The city was known as the centre of the prosperous Ecclesiastical Province of Beth Garmai which lingered until the conquests of Timur Leng in 1400 A.D. During the Ottoman period most of Kirkuk's Christians followed the Chaldean Catholic Church whose bishop resided in the Cathedral of the Great Martyrion which dates back to the 5th century. The Cathedral was however used as a powder storage and was blown up as the Ottomans retreated in 1918.[66]

The discovery of oil brought more Christians to Kirkuk, however they were also affected by the Arabization policy of the Baath Party.[67] Their numbers continued to plummet after the American invasion,[68] and they occupy 4% of municipal offices, a percentage though to be representative of their numbers in the city.[69] They number around 2,000.[70]


The Armenians of Kirkuk established a church in the old part of the city in 1906, and the population grew afterwards with the arrival of refugees from the Armenian Genocide. There are currently around 500 in the city.


Jews had a long history in Kirkuk. Ottoman records show that in 1560 there were 104 Jewish homes in Kirkuk,[71] and in 1896 there were 760 Jews in the city.[72] After WWI, the Jewish population increased, especially after Kirkuk became a petroleum center; in 1947 there were 2,350 counted in the census. Jews were generally engaged in commerce and handicraft. Social progress was slow, and it was only in the 1940s that some Jewish students acquired secondary academic education. By 1951 almost all of the Jews had left for Israel and those who stayed were disappeared by the local government.[73]

Future of Kirkuk[edit]

Sulaymaniyah-Kirkuk Road. After fleeing the Iraqi army and the assurance by the Kurdish Peshmerga in 2014.

A referendum on whether Kirkuk province should become part of Iraqi Kurdistan was due to be held in November 2007 but has been delayed repeatedly, and currently has no firm date. In December 2007, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made an unscheduled visit to Kirkuk before proceeding to Baghdad, where she called on Iraqi leaders to urgently implement a national reconciliation roadmap.[74]

On 12 June 2014, Kirkuk was taken over by the Kurdistan government, due to an extreme escalation in the insurgency in Iraq.[75] According to the Kirkuk status referendum, article 140 Kurdistan has legal rights to Kirkuk. The Peshmerga and KRG is currently in charge of Kirkuk after the Iraqi army fled. It can become a part of Iraqi Kurdistan in the future after a referendum is held.

Main sites[edit]

Ancient architectural monuments of Kirkuk include:

The archaeological sites of Qal'at Jarmo and Yorgan Tepe are found at the outskirts of the modern city. In 1997, there were reports that the government of Saddam Hussein "demolished Kirkuk's historic citadel with its mosques and ancient church".[76][77]

The architectural heritage of Kirkuk sustained serious damage during World War I (when some pre-Muslim Assyrian Christian monuments were destroyed) and, more recently, during the Iraq War. Simon Jenkins reported in June 2007 that "eighteen ancient shrines have been lost, ten in Kirkuk and the south in the past month alone".[78]


Kirkuk experiences a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification: BSh) with extremely hot and dry summers and cool, rainy winters. Snow is rare but it has fallen in 22 February 2004,[79] and from 10 to 11 January 2008.[80]

Climate data for Kirkuk (1976-2008)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 13.8
Average low °C (°F) 4.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 68.3
Average precipitation days 11 11 11 9 5 0 0 0 0 5 7 10 69
Source: WMO[81]

Notable people from Kirkuk[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Gazetteer". World Gazetteer. 26 January 2009. Archived from the original on 9 February 2013. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  2. ^ "Google Maps Distance Calculator". 12 January 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-26. 
  3. ^ a b Bet-Shlimon, Arbella. 2012. Group Identities, Oil, and the Local Political Domain in Kirkuk: A Historical Perspective. Journal of Urban History 38, no. 5.
  4. ^ "Kirkuk". Cities in transition. 
  5. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History – Page 17 by John Boardman
  6. ^ a b William Gordon East, Oskar Hermann Khristian Spate (1961). The Changing Map of Asia: A Political Geography, 436 pages, p: 105
  7. ^ [1] Claims in conflict: reversing ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq, Human Rights Watch (Organization), Aug. 2004, Vol.16, 54.
  8. ^ Cocks, Tim (21 July 2009). "U.N. wants Iraq Kurds to drop Kirkuk vote-diplomat". ofReuters. 
  9. ^ "The Identity of Kirkuk" (PDF). Conclusion 
  10. ^ [2][dead link]
  11. ^ Goudsouzian, Tanya; Fatah, Lara (16 June 2014). "Analysis: The Kurds take Kirkuk, now what?". Al Jazeera. 
  12. ^ Ignatius, David (13 February 2015). "In Iraq, Kirkuk remains a question mark". The Washington Post. Retrieved 21 October 2016. 
  13. ^ Edward Balfour, Encyclopaedia Asiatica, p. 214, Cosmo Publications, 1976
  14. ^ The Acts of Mar Mari the Apostle By Amir Harrak. p. 27.
  15. ^ The World's Greatest Story: The Epic of the Jewish People in Biblical Times By Joan Comay. p. 384.
  16. ^ "Garmai is the plural of Garma/Garmo meaning "bone"". Retrieved 20 June 2011. 
  17. ^ Grant, Asahel (1841). Nestorians. Harper. p. 52. 
  18. ^ a b Iraq’s Policy of Ethnic Cleansing: Onslaught to change national/demographic characteristics of the Kirkuk Region by Nouri Talabany
  19. ^ meaning of Karkha in Syriac, Syriac dictionary
  20. ^ Kirkuk and its dependencies: Historically part of Kurdistan – II by Mufid Abdulla
  21. ^ Edwards, Gadd & Hammond 1991, p. 256
  22. ^ Edwards, Gadd & Hammond 1991, p. 374
  23. ^ Edwards, Charlesworth & Boardman 1970, p. 433
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Further reading[edit]

Published in the 19th century
Published in the 20th century
  • "Kerkuk", Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.), New York: Encyclopaedia Britannica Co., 1910, OCLC 14782424 
  • "Kerkuk", Palestine and Syria (5th ed.), Leipzig: Karl Baedeker, 1912 
Published in the 21st century
  • Michael R.T. Dumper; Bruce E. Stanley, eds. (2008), "Kirkuk", Cities of the Middle East and North Africa, Santa Barbara, USA: ABC-CLIO, ISBN 1576079198 

External links[edit]