Provinces of Iraq

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Updates: 

It transpires that there is currently no provision in Iraqi law for forming new provinces (source [9], among others). However, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has a degree of autonomy. It decreed the split of Halabja province from As-Sulaymaniyah on 2014-03-16, and most sources I've seen seem to accept the change. On 2014-01-22, the Iraqi cabinet approved the splitting of Fallujah, Nineveh Plains, and Tuz Khormato provinces from Al-Anbar, Ninawa, and Salah ad-Din, respectively. That change is disputed. There was also mention of splitting Talafar province from Ninawa.

Update 10 to Geopolitical Entities and Codes (formerly FIPS 10-4) is dated 2012-12-31. It adds alternate names in Kurdish for the three provinces in the Kurdish Autonomous Region.

The Real Academia Española, which is the arbiter of the Spanish language, has promulgated new spelling rules as of November 2010. In domesticated words, the letter Q is no longer to be used except before U. One consequence is that the correct spelling of this country in Spanish will be Irak, replacing Iraq. It's possible that many writers of Spanish will refuse to comply, or will only gradually catch on to the new style.

Update 1 to the U.S. standard "Geopolitical Entities and Codes" is dated 2010-08-20. It changes the name of At-Ta'mim to Kirkuk. Sources [6]-[8] suggest that the naming of the province is controversial.

Many census records were lost in the 2003 Iraq war, but the aggregate data were preserved. News sources state that the Kurdish provinces of Arbil, Dahuk, and As-Sulaymaniyah were not enumerated in that census, because of the no-fly zone. Still, source [4] reports populations for those provinces.

Erratum: In the main table for Iraq on page 185, the population data come from the 1987 census. The population given for Arbil should be 770,439 (the last two digits were transposed). The total population for Iraq should be 16,335,198.

International standard ISO 3166-2 was published on December 15, 1998. It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard). For Iraq, the draft standard showed 18 provinces. The final standard shows the same 18 provinces and the same codes, with two exceptions. The code for As-Sulaymaniyah has been altered to SU, and the code for At-Ta'mim (Kirkuk) has been altered to TS. Also, the Arabic name for the type of division is the same as before, but ISO now translates the word into English as "governorates" rather than "provinces".

Country overview: 

Short nameIRAQ
ISO codeIQ
FIPS codeIZ
LanguageArabic (ar)
Time zone+3
CapitalBaghdad

 

In 1900, almost all of Iraq was part of the Ottoman Empire; its southern strip of mostly desert land was in Arabia. The Ottoman Empire was aligned with Germany in World War I. British forces occupied Mesopotamia, or Iraq-Arabi, in 1917. The Treaty of Sèvres (1920) divided up the Ottoman Empire. Iraq was one of the pieces. It was created as a British mandate under the League of Nations. The mandate ended in 1932, whereupon Iraq became independent.

From ~1935 to 1991 there was a lozenge-shaped neutral zone between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. It was occupied only by nomads, and neither Iraq nor Saudi Arabia wanted to be put to the trouble of administering it. After the Persian Gulf War, it was divided evenly between the two countries.

Other names of country: 

  1. Arabic: al Jumhouriya al 'Iraqia (formal)
  2. Danish: Irak, Mesopotamien (formal)
  3. Dutch: Irak, Republiek Irak (formal)
  4. English: Republic of Iraq (formal)
  5. Finnish: Irak
  6. French: Irak m, Iraq m
  7. German: Irak m
  8. Icelandic: Írak
  9. Italian: Iraq m
  10. Norwegian: Irak, Republikken Irak (formal)
  11. Portuguese: Iraque, República f do Iraque m (formal)
  12. Russian: Республика Ирак (formal)
  13. Spanish: Irak, República f de Irak (formal), Iraq (obsolete)
  14. Swedish: Irak
  15. Turkish: Irak, Irak Cumhuriyeti (formal)

Origin of name: 

Arabic: well rooted, or lowland

Primary subdivisions: 

Iraq is divided into 18 muhafazat (sing. muhafazah: provinces).

ProvinceHASCFIPSPopulationArea(km.²)Area(mi.²)CapitalPc
Al-AnbarIQ.ANIZ011,023,776138,50153,476Ar-Ramadi31
Al-BasrahIQ.BAIZ021,556,44519,0707,363Al-Basrah61
Al-MuthannaIQ.MUIZ03436,82551,74019,977As-Samawah66
Al-QadisiyahIQ.QAIZ04751,3318,1533,148Ad-Diwaniyah58
An-NajafIQ.NAIZ17775,04228,82411,129An-Najaf54
ArbilIQ.ARIZ111,095,99214,4715,587Arbil44
As-SulaymaniyahIQ.SLIZ051,362,73917,0236,573As-Sulaymaniyah46
BabilIQ.BBIZ061,181,7516,4682,497Al-Hillah51
BaghdadIQ.BGIZ075,423,964734283Baghdad10
DahukIQ.DAIZ08402,9706,5532,530Dahuk42
Dhi QarIQ.DQIZ091,184,79612,9004,981An-Nasiriyah64
DiyalaIQ.DIIZ101,135,22319,0767,365Ba'qubah32
HalabjaIQ.HAIZ05Halabja46
Karbala'IQ.KAIZ12594,2355,0341,944Karbala'56
KirkukIQ.TSIZ13753,17110,2823,970Kirkuk36
MaysanIQ.MAIZ14637,12616,0726,205Al-Amarah62
NinawaIQ.NIIZ152,042,85237,32314,410Mosul41
Salah ad-DinIQ.SDIZ18904,43224,7519,556Tikrit34
WasitIQ.WAIZ16783,61417,1536,623Al-Kut52
18 provinces22,046,244434,128167,617
  • HASC: Hierarchical administrative subdivision codes. If periods are replaced by
    hyphens, these are the same as the province codes from ISO standard 3166-2.
  • FIPS: Codes from FIPS PUB 10-4.
  • Population: 1997-10-16 census (source [4]).
  • Pc: First two digits of postal code for the province.

Postal codes: 

Iraq uses five-digit postal codes. The first digit indicates the geographic region; the first two digits, the province. The new system was introduced on 2004-05-25 by the Coalition Provisional Authority. Iraq had already developed postal code systems in 1991 and 2003, but they were ineffective (source [3]).

Further subdivisions:

The provinces are further subdivided into qadhas and nahiyas.

Territorial extent: 

Al-Muthanna includes the Iraqi half of the former Neutral Zone.

The Kurdish Autonomous Region consists of the provinces of Arbil, Dahuk, and As-Sulaymaniyah.

Origins of names: 

  1. Arbil: Akkadian, thought to be from arba: four, ilan: gods
  2. Babil: ancient Babylon, from Akkadian babu: gate, ilan: gods, i.e., gate of the gods
  3. Baghdad: possibly "the gift of God"
  4. Ninawa: ancient Nineveh, possibly from a Semitic word for habitation
  5. Salah ad-Din: after Saladin (~1138-1193), Muslim general and statesman, born in Tikrit

Change history: 

Modern Iraq comprised roughly the vilayets (governorates) of Bagdad, Bassora (or Busra), and Mosul, plus a small section of Zor, under the Ottoman Empire, as well as a northern section of Arabia. A good deal of the western and southern border lies in desert lands, and has remained indefinite until quite recently. All province boundaries, especially those in the desert, have been subject to frequent change.

  1. 1914: Under the Ottoman Empire, the vilayets of Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul corresponded approximately to modern Iraq.
  2. 1920-12-23: Boundary between British mandate (Iraq) and French mandate (Syria) agreed on
  3. ~1955: Iraq consisted of 14 liwa (provinces), as shown in the following table.
Province19351947-10-191957-10-12Area(km.²)CapitalModern
Amara264,508307,021329,84017,945Al-AmarahMaysan
Arbil180,671239,776273,38315,315IrbilArbil
Baghdad499,410817,2051,313,01219,922BaghdadBaghdad, Salah ad-Din
Basra286,312368,799503,33018,022Al-BasrahAl-Basrah
Diwaniya416,831378,118520,47083,343Ad-DiwaniyahAl-Qadisiyah, Al-Muthanna, An-Najaf
Diyala215,900272,413329,83615,742Ba'qubahDiyala
Dulaim129,836192,983253,023137,969Ar-RamadiAl-Anbar
Hilla211,666261,206354,7796,889Al-HillahBabil
Karbala124,290274,264217,3757,170KarbalaKarbala'
Kirkuk223,634286,005388,83919,543KirkukKirkuk, As-Sulaymaniyah
Kut138,200224,938295,89914,814Al-KutWasit
Mosul453,004595,190755,44750,881MosulNinawa, Dahuk
Muntafiq231,990371,867458,84814,452An-NasiriyahDhi Qar
Sulaimani184,204226,400304,89511,993As-SulaymaniyahAs-Sulaymaniyah
14 provs.3,560,4564,816,1856,298,976434,000
  • Province names as shown in the 1951 Encyclopædia Britannica World Atlas. This transliteration
    from Arabic is no longer in fashion.
  • Dates are the dates of censuses.
  • Capital: Provincial capitals, circa 1950. The names are transliterated using a more modern method.
  • Modern: Approximate present-day provinces covering the same area. Bear in mind that there have
    been a lot of minor boundary changes between provinces, especially in desert areas.
  1. ~1962: Name of Dulaim province changed to Ramadi; name of Muntafiq province changed to Nasiriyah.
  2. ~1970: Status of divisions changed from liwa to muhafazat.
  3. 1971: Name of Hilla province changed to Babil.
  4. 1976-02: Name of `Amara province changed to Maysan; name of Diwaniya province changed to Al-Qadisiyah; name of Kirkuk province changed to At-Ta'mim; name of Kut province changed to Wasit; name of Mosul province changed to Ninawa; name of Nasiriya province changed to Dhi Qar; name of Ramadi province changed to Al-Anbar; An-Najaf province split from Al-Muthanna; Salah ad-Din province split from Baghdad.
  5. ~2004: Capital of Salah ad-Din province moved from Samarra to Tikrit.
  6. ~2006-06: Name of At-Ta'mim province changed back to Kirkuk.
  7. 2014-03-16: Halabja province split from As-Sulaymaniyah (former HASC code IQ.SU.

Other names of subdivisions: 

Spelling note: the original place names are in Arabic. There are many different schemes for transliterating from the Arabic to the Roman alphabet. Many of the variant names are just alternate transliterations of the same name. The definite article "al-" is sometimes omitted or inserted. The l of "al-" is usually assimilated to the following consonant if that consonant is ch, d, n, s, sh, or t.

  1. Al-Anbar: Dulaim, Ramadi (obsolete)
  2. Al-Basrah: Basra, Bassora (variant)
  3. Al-Qadisiyah: Diwaniyah (obsolete)
  4. Arbil: Arbela (obsolete); Erbil, Irbil (variant); Hewlêr (Kurdish)
  5. As-Sulaymaniyah: Slêmanî (Kurdish)
  6. Kirkuk: At-Ta'mim (alternate); Tamin (variant)
  7. Babil: Babylon (variant); Hilla (obsolete)
  8. Baghdad: Bagdá (Portuguese); Bagdad (Dutch, French, German, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish); Bağdat (Turkish)
  9. Dahuk: D'hok (variant); Dihok (Kurdish)
  10. Dhi Qar: Muntafiq, Nasiriyah (obsolete); Thi-Qar (variant)
  11. Karbala': Kerbela (variant)
  12. Maysan: `Amara (obsolete)
  13. Ninawa: Al-Mawsil, Mosul (obsolete); Ninive (French, German); Nínive (Portuguese); Ninevah, Nineveh, Niniveh (variant)
  14. Salah ad-Din: Salaheddin (variant)
  15. Wasit: Kut, Kut-al-Imara (obsolete)

Population history:

Province1965-10-141977-10-171987-10-171997-10-16
Al-Anbar307,000466,059820,6901,023,776
Al-Basrah669,0001,008,626872,1761,556,445
Al-Muthanna143,000215,637315,815436,825
Al-Qadisiyah400,000423,006559,805751,331
An-Najaf389,680590,078775,042
Arbil356,000541,456770,4391,095,992
As-Sulaymaniyah400,000690,557951,7231,362,739
Kirkuk474,000495,425601,219753,171
Babil488,000592,0161,109,5741,181,751
Baghdad2,045,0003,189,7003,841,2685,423,964
Dahuk146,000250,575293,304402,970
Dhi Qar499,000622,979921,0661,184,796
Diyala397,000587,754961,0731,135,223
Karbala'340,000269,822469,282594,235
Maysan345,000372,575487,448637,126
Ninawa743,0001,105,6711,479,4302,042,852
Salah ad-Din363,819726,138904,432
Wasit334,000415,140564,670783,614
Totals8,047,00012,000,49716,335,19822,046,244

Sources: 

  1. [1] 1965 census data: Encyclopædia Britannica, 1984 edition. Data are rounded to nearest 1,000.
  2. [2] 1977, 1987, 1997 census data: Statesman's Yearbook, editions of 1988-89, 1993-94, and 2006. In the 1997 data, the province populations add up to 22,046,284, which disagrees with the total given in the book.
  3. [3] Press release, issued by the Japanese embassy to the U.S., and attributed to the Coalition Provisional Authority. Retrieved from http://japan.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-20040526-06.html (dead link) on 2005-10-26.
  4. [4] The Statesman's Yearbook 2006, ed. Barry Turner. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, Hampshire 2005.
  5. [5] Library of Congress country study  (retrieved 1999).
  6. [6] Wikipedia  says that At-Ta'mim changed its name to Kirkuk in mid-2006 (retrieved 2010-10-09).
  7. [7] A statistical report from the Iraqi Central Organization for Statistics and Information Technology  lists Kirkuk as one of the provinces (retrieved 2010-10-09).
  8. [8] An article in the Christian Science Monitor  says, "...Kirkuk Province, officially still called Tamim, its previous Baath Party-era name" (dated 2008-04-24, retrieved 2010-10-09).
  9. [9] The Europe Turkmen Friendship  blog has an article titled "The Iraqi Cabinet Decides to Form Three New Governorates," by Reidar Visser (retrieved 2014-04-30).
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