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View of Sulaimani - Slemani - City in Southern Kurdistan in Spring 2016.JPG
Interior, the Kurd's Heritage Museum, Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan.jpg
Castle Sherwana & Heme pasha.jpg
Romanian amphitheater - sulaymaniyah.jpg
Sharaf Khan Bidlisi Statue at Slemani Public Park.jpg
Grand Millennium Sulaimani Hotel in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan.jpg
Top-bottom, R-L:
View over Suleymaniyah
Sulaymaniyah MuseumSherwana Castle
Roman amphitheater • Sharafkhan Bidlisi statue
Suleymaniyah at night
Sulaymaniyah is located in Iraqi Kurdistan
Sulaymaniyah is located in Iraq
Coordinates: 35°33′26″N 45°26′08″E / 35.55722°N 45.43556°E / 35.55722; 45.43556Coordinates: 35°33′26″N 45°26′08″E / 35.55722°N 45.43556°E / 35.55722; 45.43556
Country Iraq
Region Kurdistan Region
GovernorateSulaymaniyah Governorate
 • TypeCouncil–manager
 • GovernorHaval Abubakir[2]
882 m (2,895 ft)
 (2018 Estimation)
 • Total878,146 [1]
Time zoneUTC+3 (UTC+3)
 • Summer (DST)not observed

Sulaymaniyah, also spelled as Slemani (Kurdish: سلێمانی, romanized: Silêmanî,[3][4] Arabic: السليمانية, romanizedas-Sulaymāniyyah[5]), is a city in the east of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, not far from the Iran–Iraq border. It is surrounded by the Azmar, Goizha and Qaiwan Mountains in the northeast, Baranan Mountain in the south and the Tasluja Hills in the west. The city has a semi-arid climate with very hot dry summers and cold wet winters.

From its foundation Sulaymaniyah was always a center of great poets, writers, historians, politicians, scholars and singers, such as Nalî, Mahwi, and Piramerd.[6][7][8] The modern city of Sulaymaniyah was founded in 1784[9] by the Ottoman-Kurdish prince Ibrahim Pasha Baban, who named it after his father Sulaiman Pasha.[10] Sulaymaniyah was the capital of the historic principality of Baban from 1784 to 1850.


Stela of Iddi-Sin, King of Simurrum. It dates back to the Old Babylonian Period. From Qarachatan Village, Sulaymaniyah Governorate, Iraqi Kurdistan. Located in the Sulaymaniyah Museum, Iraq.

The region of Sulaymaniyah was known as Zamwa prior to the foundation of the modern city in 1784. The capital of the Kurdish Baban principality (1649–1850), before Sulaymaniyah, was a territory named "Qelaçiwalan". At the time of the Babani's rule there were major conflicts between the Safavid dynasty and the Ottoman Empire. Qelaçiwalan became a battleground for the two rivals.[11]

Being of strategic importance and lying deep inside Safavid territory, there was concern that Qelaçiwalan would be attacked and captured if the Babani did not give the Safavids military support, as both Sultan Mahmud II and Nader Shah were trying to gain the support of the dispersed Kurdish Emirates.[11] This obliged Mahmud Pasha of Baban in 1781 to think about moving the center of the emirate to a safer place. He chose Melkendî, then a village but now a district in central Sulaymaniyah, to construct a number of serahs for his political and armed units.[11]

In 1783, Ibrahim Pasha Baban became ruler of the emirate and began the reconstruction of a city which once constructed by Ottoman Sultan Sulaiman (the name of Sulaimaniyah came from his name) new city which would become its capital. In 1784 he finished erecting a number of palaces for trade called Qeyserîs and bazaars, which were also used as baths, and began inviting people from the surrounding villages and emirates to move to the newly established city. Soon Melkendî, which was originally intended to be the city itself, instead became one of its quarters.[11] The new city of Sulaymaniyah was named after Sulaiman Baba, who was the first Baban prince to gain control of the province of Şarezûr. Sulaiman Baba invaded the neighboring Kurdish vassaldom of Ardalan, defeating their forces in 1694. Ottoman Sultan Mustafa II assigned him the district of Baban.[12]

In the early 1800s refugees from Ardalan moved to Sulaymaniyah, including Mastura Ardalan, the widow of Xosraw Xanî Erdalan, the ruler of the kingdom. Erdalan wrote an account of Kurdish history in Persian and was buried in Sulaymaniyah when he died in 1848.[13]

From 1922 to 1924, Sulaymaniyah was the capital of the Kingdom of Kurdistan, a short-lived unrecognized state declared by Iraqi Kurds following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.[14]


In 1820, only 36 years after the creation of the city, a British man named Rech visited the city and estimated that its population was more than ten thousand, containing 2,144 families of which 2,000 were Muslim, 130 Jewish, and 14 Christian.[citation needed]

Ottoman documents from 1907 suggest that there were 8,702 Muslim and 360 non-Muslim residents living in the city at that time.

The Peshkawtin newspaper which was distributed in Sulaymaniyah in 1920 estimated its population to be around ten thousand.

According to Iraqi government documents, by 1947 the number of residents had increased to 23,475; by 1998 to 548,747, and in 2015 to an estimated 656,100.[15]

The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani estimated the number of inhabitants in 2016 at 800,000 [16]

Geography and climate[edit]

Panorama of Sulaymaniyah, September 2015

The city is located in northern Iraq and Southern Kurdistan. Of the main population centers in the country, it is characterized by its cooler summer temperatures and its rainier winters. Average temperatures range from 0 to 39 °C (32–102 °F). In the winters, there can be a significant amount of snow. Snow falls every year or two.[17][18][19][20][21]

The Köppen-Geiger climate classification system classifies its climate as hot-summer Mediterranean climate (Csa).[22]

Climate data for Sulaymaniyah
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 3.8
Average low °C (°F) −0.2
Average precipitation mm (inches) 129
Source: (altitude: 849m)[22]


The University of Sulaymaniyah was opened in 1968 with instruction in Kurdish, Arabic, and English. It has faculties in engineering, agriculture, the arts, science, and medicine. It is the largest university in the Kurdistan Region.[23] A second university, Sulaimani Polytechnic University[24] was established in 2012, also teaching in Kurdish, English and Arabic.

In 2007 The American University of Iraq – Sulaimani,[25] (AUI-S) was a new addition to the American universities in the Middle East, graduating its fifth class in 2016. Instruction at this private, not-for-profit liberal arts university is in English only, featuring a US-accredited program in English as a Second Language (ESL). There are a number of other private universities.


Adnan Karim in a joint concert with the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra conducted by the renowned Kurdish composer A.J. Sagerma performing classical Kurdish music

Two independent newspapers Hawlati[26] and Awena[27] and two independent political magazines Lvin and Shock, are published and distributed in Sulaymaniyah city. Since 2016, there exists an International Film Festival in the city which is organized by the College of Fine Arts of the University of Sulaymanya.[9]

Sulaymaniyah is the only city in South Kurdistan that regularly celebrates World Music Day or Fête de la Musique. In one trip to the city, a journalist working for the BBC wrote about Sulaymaniyah's distinct culture:"Culture is hugely important to the Kurdish people, especially in Sulaymaniyah, but there is a strong pull to the west—modernisation and consumerism—driven perhaps by the satellite televisions they have had access to since they started running their own affairs...And at the university, students mill around the campus, chattering with each other and doing some last-minute cramming for their exams. The war only stopped lectures for a few weeks. There are probably more women than men and they are happy to air their views to anyone who asks."[28]


Roman amphitheater in Sulaymaniyah, important tourist attraction in the city
Sarchnar Park

Since 2003, Sulaymaniyah has experienced a growing local economy. Its economy today relies on tourism, agriculture[29][better source needed] and a number of small factories, most of which are involved in the building trade.

In 2004 the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis in Iraq released an in-depth survey of the Sulaymaniyah Governorate in which they surveyed each city. In this survey, one can see the economic boom of 2003 mentioned earlier.[30]


Hewari Shar Park
Victims of the Anfal campaign are represented by broken glass and tiny lights at the Amna Suraka museum in Sulaymaniyah[31]
Kurdish artist Tara Jaff playing the Harp during a cultural gathering at Aram Gallery
Sulaymaniyah at Night at the Top of Azmar Mountain

The city was visited by more than 60,000 tourists in 2009.[32] Sulaymaniyah attracted more than 15,000 Iranian tourists in the first quarter of 2010, many drawn by the fact it is not subject to strict laws faced at home. Newroz 2010 drew an exodus of Iranian tourists choosing to celebrate the event in the region.[33]


  • Sulaimani Museum: It is the second biggest museum after the national museum in Baghdad. It is home to many Mesopotamian, Kurdish and ancient Persian artifacts dating back to 1792–1750 BC.[34]
  • Amna Suraka museum[31]
  • Museum of Modern Art (Mozehanai Hunari Howchah)[9]
  • Sulaimani Archeological Museum[9]

Notable People from Slemani (Sulaimanyah)[edit]



In recent years, many people in Sulaymaniyah have distanced themselves from Kurdish nationalism as the Kurdistan Workers Party is experiencing a surge.[36]

Twin towns – sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Central Statistics Organization Iraq. "Population Projection 2015-2018" (PDF). Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  2. ^ "Sulaimani Polytechnic University". 13 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Bi wêneyên Pêşengeha Pirtûkan a Navnetewî ya Silêmanî". Rûdaw. 23 November 2019. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  4. ^ "سەرۆکی هەرێمی کوردستان سەردانی سلێمانی دەکات". Rûdaw (in Kurdish). 25 November 2019. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  5. ^ "السليمانية". Al Jazeera (in Arabic). Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  6. ^ Salih Rasha, Akram. Sulaymaniyah 200 Years. Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan. pp. 503–504.
  7. ^ slimany
  8. ^ Is the Paris of Iraq (21 September 2016). "Sulaimani city, on verge of economic collapse?". Kurd Net – Daily News.
  9. ^ a b c d Cockrell-Abdullah, Autumn (2018). "There Is No Kurdish Art". The Journal of Intersectionality. 2 (2): 103–128. doi:10.13169/jinte.2.2.0103. ISSN 2515-2114. JSTOR 10.13169/jinte.2.2.0103 – via JSTOR.
  10. ^ Ali, Meer Ako (13 November 2011). "Sulaimany: 227 years of glory". The Kurdistan Tribune. Archived from the original on 9 October 2019.
  11. ^ a b c d "The Leading Suly Government Site on the Net". Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  12. ^ Gábor Ágoston, Bruce Alan Masters (2009), Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, p.70, Infobase Publishing, ISBN 9781438110257
  13. ^ Goudsouzian, Tanya (21 November 2016). "Sulaimania: Saving the dream city of a Kurdish prince". Al-Jazeera. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  14. ^ Prince, J. (1993), "A Kurdish State in Iraq" in Current History, January.
  15. ^ "Iraq: Governorates, Major Cities & Urban Centers – Population Statistics, Maps, Charts, Weather and Web Information".
  16. ^ "Life in Sulaimani". The American University of Iraq Sulaimani. 17 October 2016.
  17. ^ "Iraq under cold front bringing snow with below zero temperatures". Indian Muslims. Kuwait News Agency (KUNA). 11–12 January 2008. Archived from the original on 28 September 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013. BAGHDAD, Jan 11 (KUNA) – snow fell on large areas of Iraq following two days of low temperatures.
  18. ^ "Snow covers Sulaimaniya". National Iraqi News Agency (NINA). 26 January 2010. Archived from the original on 26 February 2014. Retrieved 3 March 2013. Sulaimaniya (NINA) –The city of Sulaimaniya witnessed a heavy fall of snow that covered the entire city since Monday midnight. Reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency said "The citizens of Sulaimaniya woke up on Tuesday morning to see their city covered with snow and the street painted in white color."
  19. ^ "Heavy Snow Blankets Sulaimaniya". Iraq Updates. 3 March 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
  20. ^ "Unusually heavy snow hits Iraq's Sulaimaniya". Al Arabiya. Reuters. 14 January 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2013. An unusually heavy snowstorm blanketed Sulaimaniya city, in northern Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, on Saturday (January 12) as severe weather conditions continue to sweep through the region.
  21. ^ "11 Refugee Children Freeze to Death in Kurdistan Camps". Erbil. 12 January 2015. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  22. ^ a b "Climate: Sulaymaniyah – Climate graph, Temperature graph, Climate table". Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  23. ^ "University of Sulaimani". Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  24. ^ "Sulaimani Polytechnic University". Retrieved 24 October 2014.
  25. ^ Archived 23 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "". Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  27. ^ "ئاوێنە نیوز". Retrieved 26 August 2014.
  28. ^ "Kurdistan diary: Day Three". KurdishGlobe. 28 October 2006. Archived from the original on 10 March 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  29. ^ "Slemani". Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  30. ^ "Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis in Iraq" (PDF). Archived from the original on 14 August 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  31. ^ a b "The Museum of Amna Suraka: a Critical Case Study of Kurdistani Memory Culture". Leiden University. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  32. ^ "Rudaw.NL, dé Opinieblog…". Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  33. ^ "Rudaw.NL, dé Opinieblog…". Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  34. ^ "Suleimaniya Museum: a small place for a great civilization". KurdishGlobe. 13 February 2008. Archived from the original on 8 March 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  35. ^ "Wusha Corporation". Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
  36. ^ "Kurdish Nationalism at an Impasse". The Century Foundation. 29 April 2019. Retrieved 18 April 2020.
  37. ^ "Tucson Sister Cities". Interactive City Directory. Sister Cities International. Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  38. ^ اعلام خواهرخواندگی سلیمانیه عراق و ناپل ایتالیا Archived 5 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Kurdpress (Persian), 30 April 2013.

External links[edit]

Media related to Sulaymaniyah at Wikimedia Commons