|Regions with significant populations|
Arabic had been a minority language in Iraq since the 8th century BC,1718 it was spoken in Hatra in the 1st and 2nd centuries,19 and by Iraqi Christians in Al-Hirah from the 3rd century,20 and from the 8th century following the Muslim conquest of Persia it became the common language of Iraqi Muslims, due to Arabic being the language of the Qur'an and the Caliphate.2122 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. Some of Iraq's Christians and Mandaeans retained dialects of Aramaic, since it remained the liturgical language of their faiths. Kurdish-speaking Iraqis live in the mountainous Zagros region of northeast Iraq to the east of the upper Tigris. The Kurds and Arabs of Mesopotamia have interacted and intermarried for well over a millennium. Modern genetic studies indicate that Iraqi Arabs and Kurds are very closely related.2324 Arabic and Kurdish are Iraq's national languages.
The Iraqi people have an ancient cultural history and civilization.2526 In ancient and medieval times Mesopotamia was the political and cultural centre of many great empires. The ancient Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer is the oldest known civilization in the world,27 and thus Iraq is widely known as the cradle of civilization.25 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 Y-DNA Haplogroup J2 originated in northern Iraq.28 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,28 although there have been several published studies displaying the genealogical connection between all Iraqi people and the neighbouring countries, across religious and linguistic barriers. One such study reveals a close genetic relationship between Iraqis, Kurds, Caspian Iranians and Svani Georgians.23
Iraqi mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Iran, Syria, Palestine, Georgia, and Armenia, whereas it substantially differs from that observed in Arabia.28 Iraqi Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria.28 No significant differences in Y-DNA variation were observed among Iraqi Arabs, Assyrians, or Kurds.28
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, J2 and J1 for the Y-DNA) are those considered to have originated in Western Asia and to have later spread mainly in Western Eurasia.28 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/Eastern Europe into modern Iran also influenced Iraq.28
Many historians and anthropologists provide strong circumstantial evidence to posit that Iraq's Maʻdān people share very strong links to the ancient Sumerians2729 - the most ancient inhabitants of southern Iraq,27 and that Iraq's Mandaeans share the strongest links to the Babylonians.30 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 Christian population are closely related to other Iraqis,2427 and also to Jordanians, yet due to religious endogamy have a distinct genetic profile that distinguishes their population.31 "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."32 Many Iraqis who today speak Arabic are originally of Assyrian roots.3334
In a 2011 study focusing on the genetics of the Maʻdān people of Iraq, researchers identified Y chromosome haplotypes shared by Marsh Arabs, Iraqis, and Assyrians, "supporting a common local background."27
Studies have reported that most Irish and Britons are descendants of farmers who left modern day Iraq and Syria 10,000 years ago.35 Genetic researchers say they have found compelling evidence that four out of five (80% of) white Europeans can trace their roots to the Near East.35 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.36
Iraqis have historically been a multilingual people, conversant in several languages but having a Semitic lingua franca. Iraqi identity transcends language boundaries and is more associated with geography; the Tigris–Euphrates alluvial plain and its environs.citation needed
While Iraqis are often thought of as comprising several ethnic groups, most Iraqis, as a people with an ancient civic culture and tradition of multilingualism, have historically engaged in healthy inter-communal relations,37 and favoured a common identity,37 and due to this Iraqis as a whole can be seen to bear some characteristics of an ethnic group.37
The single identity and culture of the Iraqi people is most commonly seen in the Iraqi cuisine. Mesopotamian 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 antiquity38 such as Iraq's national dish Masgouf and Iraq's national cookie Kleicha, which can be traced back to Sumerian times.39
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"). It is common for Iraqi Arabs to have relatives of Iraqi Kurdish background, and vice versa.
Iraq's national languages are Arabic and Kurdish. 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).41 The two main dialects of Kurdish spoken by Kurdish Iraqis are Soranî (spoken in the provinces of Arbil and Sulaymaniyah)42 and Kurmanji (spoken in the province of Dohuk).42 In addition to Arabic, most Christian Iraqis and some Mandaean Iraqis speak Neo-Aramaic dialects, and around 1 percent of Iraqi people speak Persian and Turkmen respectively.
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 Shīʻah but also including minority Sunni).
In addition to Islam, many Iraqi people are Christians belonging to various Christian denominations, some of which are the Chaldean Catholic Church (Chaldean Christians), the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Assyrian Church of the East. Their numbers inside Iraq have dwindled considerably and range between 500,000 and 800,000; around 2% of the population.
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 fled to Israel between 1949 to 1952.4445
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 ,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.
As a consequence of nine years of U.S. military occupation and massive terrorism introduced by the occupation, Iraqis currently form the second largest refugee group in the world numbering over 1.8 million.46 The UNHCR estimates that over 4.7 million Iraqis have been displaced during the U.S. occupation of Iraq.47
- History of the Iraqi people
- Mesopotamia: Birthplace of civilisation
- Iraqi identity - Forces for Integration/ Divisiveness
- The Iraq DNA project
- "Iraq". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
- "NGO's claim Iraqis have hit 2 million in Syria". Retrieved 2010-12-11.
- "500,000 Iraqis in Iran". Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "Ethnic groups of Turkey". Joshua Project. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "The Iraqi Embassy estimates that the Iraqi population is around 350,000-450,000". International Organization for Migration. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "Iraqis In Egypt". HRW. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
- "Population pressures". ECRE. Archived from the original on 2007-08-07. Retrieved 2007-08-19.
- Constantine, Zoi (28 August 2008). "UAE Iraqis restricted by passport delays". The National. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
- "Arab American Demographics". Arab American Institute. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "Statistics Sweden". Statistics Sweden. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- "Ethnic groups of Kuwait". Joshua Project. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "Iraqis in Lebanon". aina.org. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-08-15.
- "Iraqis In Yemen". HRW. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
- "Australian Iraqi population estimated to be as high as 80,000". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2005-01-22. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "Iraqi community in Greece". UNHCR. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
- "Iraqi – a native or inhabitant of Iraq". Reference.com. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- Ramirez-Faria, Carlos (2007). Concise Encyclopaedia of World History. Atlantic Publishers. p. 33. ISBN 81-269-0775-4.
- Blázquez Martínez, José María (2006). "Arabia, the Arabs and the Persian Gulf. A Dissertation of Ancient Sources". Gerión (Complutense University of Madrid) 24 (2): 7–20. ISSN 0213-0181. Retrieved 2011-03-15.
- "Araba (ancient state, Iraq)". Britannica. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- "Lakhmid Dynasty (Arabian dynasty)". Britannica. Retrieved 2010-11-23.
- Roberts, John Morris (1993). History of the World. Oxford University Press. p. 265.
- Rodinson, Maxime (1981). The Arabs. Routledge. p. 56. ISBN 0-7099-0377-4.
- Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, The History and Geography of Human Genes, p. 242
- "Cavalli-Sforza et al. Genetic tree of West Asia". Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- McIntosh, Jane (2005). Ancient Mesopotamia: New Perspectives. ABC-CLIO. p. 313. ISBN 978-1-57607-965-2. "Iraqis have always been proud of their heritage and of their unique position as guardians of the Cradle of Civilization."
- Spencer, William (2000). Iraq: Old Land, New Nation in Conflict. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-7613-1356-4. "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."
- Al-Zahery et al. (Oct. 2011). "In search of the genetic footprints of Sumerians: a survey of Y-chromosome and mtDNA variation in the Marsh Arabs of Iraq". BMC Evolutionary Biology 11: 288. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-11-288. PMC 3215667. PMID 21970613. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
- "N. Al-Zahery et al. "Y-chromosome and mtDNA polymorphisms in Iraq, a crossroad of the early human dispersal and of post-Neolithic migrations" (2003)". Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- Spencer, William (2000). Iraq: Old Land, New Nation in Conflict. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 17. ISBN 978-0-7613-1356-4. "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.""
- "Iraq's Marsh Arabs". Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- Dr. Joel J. Elias, Emeritus, University of California, The Genetics of Modern Assyrians and their Relationship to Other People of the Middle East
- Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza, The History and Geography of Human Genes, p. 243
- Kjeilen, Tore. "Assyrians". LookLex Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
- Kjeilen, Tore. "Iraq / Peoples". LookLex Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
- Derbyshire, David (2010-01-20). "Most Britons descended from male farmers who left Iraq and Syria 10,000 years ago". London: Daily Mail. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "Migrants from the Near East 'brought farming to Europe'". BBC. 2010-11-10. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- Marr, Phebe (2003). Iraqi identity.
- Nasrallah, Nawal (2003). Delights from the Garden of Eden: A Cookbook and History of the Iraqi Cuisine. 1stBooks. ISBN 1-4033-4793-X.
- Marks, Gil (2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. John Wiley & Sons. p. 317. ISBN 0-470-39130-8.
- Mili, Amel (2009). Exploring The Relation Between Gender Politics and Representative Government in the Maghreb. ProQuest. p. 92. ISBN 978-1-109-20412-4.
- "Country Profile: Iraq". Mongabay. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "The Kurdish language". KRG. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- Muller-Kessler, Christa (Jul. - Sep. 2003). "Aramaic 'K', Lyk' and Iraqi Arabic 'Aku, Maku: The Mesopotamian Particles of Existence.". The Journal of the American Oriental Society 123 (3): 641–646.
- Farrell, Stephen (2008-06-01). "Baghdad Jews Have Become a Fearful Few". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- Van Biema, David (2007-07-27). "The Last Jews of Baghdad". Time. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- "Iraqis are the second largest refugee group in the world, with an estimated 1.8 million seeking refuge primarily in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Turkey". UNHCR. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
- "UNHCR – Iraq". UNHCR. Retrieved 2010-12-10.