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Iraqi people
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Iraq 31,234,000 [1]
 Syria 2 million+ [2]
 Jordan 1-2 million
 United Kingdom 450,000+ [3][4]
 United States 350,000+ [5]
 Brazil 70,000–340,000+
 Iran 203,000+ [6]
 Egypt 150,000+ [7]
 Germany 150,000+ [8]
 Lebanon 100,000+ [9]
 UAE 100,000+ [10]
 Yemen 100,000+ [11]
 Turkey 60,000–90,000+
 Australia 80,000+ [12]
 Sweden 70,000+ [13]
 Netherlands 50,000+
 Cuba 40,000+
 Greece 5,000–40,000+ [14]
. more countries .

Languages of Iraq include
Iraqi Arabic, North Mesopotamian Arabic, Kurdish, many varieties of Neo-Aramaic, Turcoman, Mandaic, Shabak
Ancient languages
Sumerian, Akkadian, Aramaic


Christianity, Judaism, Mandaeism as well as several other minority religions

Related ethnic groups

Iraqi people consist of and are related to Arabs, Assyrians, Caucasians, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Iranians, Lebanese, Bahranis, Mizrahim, Palestinians, Syrians, Turks
Y-DNA Haplogroup J2 originated in Northern Iraq [15]

The Iraqi people or Mesopotamian people are natives or inhabitants of the country of Iraq,[16][17] known since antiquity as Mesopotamia (Arabic: بلاد الرافدين, Aramaic: ܒܝܬ ܢܗܪܝܢ), and by virtue of a wide-ranging diaspora, throughout the Arab World, Europe, the Americas and Australasia. Before the arrival of Islam from the Arabian Peninsula, the population was mainly a non-Arabic speaking one but also witnessed a minority Arab presence, like Bani Assad, Taghlib, Banu Tamim and Lakhmid tribes among others.[18][19] After the arrival of Islam, Iraq witnessed a large migration from Arabia.[20]

At some point, Iraq underwent a campaign of administrative and linguistic Arabization following the Muslim conquest of Mesopotamia. [21] As a result, most of the non-Arabic speaking population gradually adopted Arabic due to it being the only language of the Qur'an. This change was facilitated by the fact that Arabic, being a Semitic language, shared a close resemblance to Iraq's traditional languages of Akkadian and Aramaic. While Arabic was the common language spoken by Iraqi Muslims from the 8th century AD onwards (Iraqi Arabic and North Mesopotamian Arabic as well as Literary Arabic), many of Iraq's Christians had no need of completely adopting the language, as prayers were not held in Arabic but in Aramaic. This is the reason why, even nowadays, many Christian Iraqis (who identify primarily with the people of ancient Assyria) speak mainly Neo-Aramaic (a modern form of the ancient Aramaic) but also Arabic (usually only the Iraqi or North Mesopotamian dialects).



Like many of its Semitic and non-Semitic neighbors, the Iraqi people developed a number of significant civilizations in Iraq, or Mesopotamia, widely regarded as the cradle of civilization. The region was the centre of five great empires or civilizations (or seven, if counting the Neo-Babylonian Empire and Neo-Assyrian Empire as separate empires), known as ancient Sumer, the Akkadian Empire, the Babylonian Empire (who brought a significant number of Jews into the land between the two rivers who would eventually form the Jewish population of Iraq), the Assyrian Empire, and the medieval Islamic Abbasid Caliphate.

The Ancient Iraqi civilization of Sumer is the oldest known civilization in the world, and thus Iraq is 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).

Further information on Iraq's civilizations, which has influenced and was influenced by many other great civilizations around the world, can be found under the following articles and the sub-links found within the respective pages:


Besides Sumer, Akkad, Assyria and Babylon, the land of Mesopotamia has been continuously conquered and assimilated by armies of invading empires (including the Median Empire, Persian Achaemenid and Sassanid empires, Macedonian Empire (followed by the Seleucid Empire), Parthian Empire, Roman Empire, the Islamic Rashidun and Umayyad Caliphates, the Mongol and Timurid empires, Safavid Empire, Ottoman Empire, and British Empire) over the course of its history. As a result, Iraqis share a mixed genetics.

It has been found that Y-DNA Haplogroup J2 originated in Northern Iraq. [15] 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, [22] although there have been several published studies displaying the genealogical connection between all Iraqi people and the neighbouring countries, across religious and linguistic barriers.

Many historians and archaeologists, provide strong circumstantial evidence to posit that Iraq's Marsh Arabs share the strongest link to the ancient Sumerians, the original inhabitants of Iraq.[1] The Beni Delphi (sons of Delphi) tribe of Iraq is believed to have Greek origins, from the Macedonian soldiers of Alexander the Great and the colonists of the Seleucid Empire.

The Assyrian population has also been found to "have a distinct genetic profile that distinguishes their population from any other population."[23] "The Assyrians are a fairly homogeneous group of people, believed to originate from the land of old Assyria in northern Iraq", and "they are Christians and are possibly bona fide descendants of their namesakes."[24] . Socialization for Ingroup Identity among Assyrians in the United States. International Society for Human Ethology, Ghent Belgium.</ref> "The genetic data are compatible with historical data that religion played a major role in maintaining the Assyrian population's separate identity during the Christian era". [23]

Due to the scarce genetic information on the Iraqi people, the following information is based on a historical perspective rather than on proven fact. However, in addition to the few ethnic groups listed above, it is believed that the Iraqi people also share Arab, Persian, Jewish, Greek, Roman, Turkic and, to a lesser extent, other Asian and European genetics. This is part of a general Iraqi identity beyond its Mesopotamian and Islamic heritage.


The single identity and heritage of the Iraqi people is most commonly seen in the Iraqi cuisine. Iraqi cuisine has changed and evolved since the time of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians and Abbasids; however several traditional Iraqi dishes have already been traced back to antiquity [25] such as Iraq's national dish Masgouf and Iraq's national cookie Kleicha which have been traced back to Sumerian and Babylonian times respectively [26][27]

Nowadays, the demonym "Iraqi" includes all minorities in the country, such as the Kurds and Turkmen (although these groups often specify their ethnicity by adding a Suffix such as "Iraqi Kurdish" or "Iraqi Turkmen").

In a novel written by acclaimed Swiss-Iraqi author Salim Matar, entitled The Women of the Flask, Matar writes that most Iraqis claim that:

[We] are Iraqis. [We] go back to the ancient Mesopotamians.

—Salim Matar


The two main regional dialects of Arabic spoken by the Iraqi people are Mesopotamian Arabic (spoken by approximately 18.1 million Iraqis (i.e. the majority) and thus commonly known as "Iraqi Arabic") and North Mesopotamian Arabic (spoken by approximately 7.8 million Iraqis in Iraq's north around the city of Mosul and thus commonly known as "Maslawi") [2].

In addition to Arabic, Christians in Iraq speak Syriac, a modern version of the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus[citation needed] and all people in the Mesopotamian region before the arrival of Islam and Arabization during the Islamic Conquest of Mesopotamia.

The Mandaic language is a dialect of the Eastern Aramaic language, which is thus also derived from the Semitic family of languages. All religious manuscripts of the Mandaeist Faith concerning rites were written in this language.[3].


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 are Muslim (both Sunni and Shia).

In addition to Islam, many Iraqi people are Christians belonging to various Christian denominations, some of which are the Assyrian Church of the East and the Ancient Church of the East with an estimated 300,000 members, the Chaldean Catholic Church with about 900,000 members and the Syriac Orthodox Church with an estimated 100,000 to 4 million members around the world as well as various Protestant churches [4] [5].

Other religions also include, Mandaeist Faith, Shabaks, Yezidis and followers of other minority religions. Furthermore Jews were also present in Iraq but their population has dwindled following the creation of Israel and the rise of the Ba'ath Party in Iraq. Present estimates of the Jewish population in Baghdad are seven[28] or eight[29].


The Iraqi diaspora is not a sudden exodus but one that has grown exponentially through the 20th century as each generation faced some form of radical transition or political conflict. 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 has fled the country during and after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

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".

Even though more than 120,000 Iraqi Jews left the country between 1950 and 1952, the recent Iraqi diaspora represents the largest exodus of refugees in the Middle East since the state of Israel was created in 1948 [6].

See also

External links


  1. ^ "Iraq". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-04-27. 
  2. ^ NGO's claim Iraqis have hit 2 million in Syria
  3. ^ BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » You expected maybe the Donald Rumsfeld fan club?
  4. ^ "Iraqis far from home sign up to vote". International Herald Tribune
  5. ^ "Arab American Institute". Retrieved 2009-09-19. 
  6. ^ "The 2001 Iran census states that there are 203,000 ethnic Iraqis living in Iran". Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  7. ^ "Iraqis In Egypt". Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  8. ^ "Population pressures". Retrieved 2007-08-19. 
  9. ^ "Iraqis In Lebanon". Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  10. ^ BuzzFlash > World Media Watch > 1/21/05
  11. ^ "Iraqis In Yemen". Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Sweden tightens rules on Iraqi asylum seekers". Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  14. ^ "Iraqi community in Greece". Retrieved 2007-08-14. 
  15. ^ a b N. Al-Zahery et al, "Y-chromosome and mtDNA polymorphisms in Iraq, a crossroad of the early human dispersal and of post-Neolithic migrations," Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (2003)
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Early Mesopotamia
  19. ^ Arab tribes map in Iraq
  20. ^ The Shi'is of Iraq Book - Migration from Arabia to Iraq
  21. ^ History of the world‎ by John Morris Roberts, P 265
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b Dr. Joel J. Elias, Emeritus, University of California, The Genetics of Modern Assyrians and their Relationship to Other People of the Middle East
  24. ^ Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, The History and Geography of Human Genes, p. 243
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ Baghdad Jews Have Become a Fearful Few, New York Times
  29. ^ The Last Jews of Baghdad - TIME


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