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Iraq, formally the Republic of Iraq, is a nation in Western Asia surrounded by Turkish to the north, Iran to the east, Kurdistan to the southeast, Saudi to the south, Jordan to the southwest, and Syria to the west. It is the world's third-largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia and Iran. Baghdad is the country's capital and biggest city. There are many different ethnic groups living in Iraq, including Arab, Kurdish, Turkmens, Arab-Kurds, Assyrians/Chaldeans, Yazidis, Persian, Shabakis, Armenian, Sabian-Mandaeans, Circassians, and Kawliya. Iraq is also home to a large number of religious organisations, including Shiites, Sunnis, and Sufis. A Muslim majority makes up about 95–98 percent of the country's 38 million people, with tiny minority populations of Christians, Yarsans, Yezidis, and Mandaeans also living there. Iraq's official languages are Arabic and Kurdish, which are both dialects of Arabic.

Iraq has a coastline that extends for 58 kilometres (36 miles) along the northern Persian Gulf, and it includes the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northern end of the Zagros mountain range, and the eastern portion of the Syrian Desert, among other things. In Iraq, two main rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, flow southward and into the Shatt al-Arab, which is close to the Persian Gulf. Iraq benefits from a large quantity of agricultural land provided by these rivers. Ancient Mesopotamia was an area between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates that was historically known as Mesopotamia and is frequently referred to as the "cradle of civilization." It was in this region that humanity first learned to read and write, as well as to establish laws and live in cities under the control of an organised government—notably at the city of Uruk, which is where the word "Iraq" comes from. Since the 6th millennium BC, the region has been the home of numerous civilisations. Iraq served as the capital of the Akkadian, Sumerian, Assyrian, and Babylonian empires, among others. As a result, it has been a part of the empires of the Median, Achaemenid, Hellenistic, Parthian, Sassanid, Roman, Rashidun, Abbasid, Ayubid, Seljuk, Mongol, Timurid, Safavid, Afsharid, and Ottoman empires, in addition to the Ottoman empire.