It transpires that there is currently no provision in Iraqi law for forming new provinces (source , 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 - 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  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 It superseded ISO/DIS 3166-2 (draft international standard).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
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".
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.
Arabic: well rooted, or lowland
Iraq is divided into 18 muhafazat (sing. muhafazah: provinces).
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 ).
The provinces are further subdivided into qadhas and nahiyas.
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.
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.
|Baghdad||499,410||817,205||1,313,012||19,922||Baghdad||Baghdad, Salah ad-Din|
|Diwaniya||416,831||378,118||520,470||83,343||Ad-Diwaniyah||Al-Qadisiyah, Al-Muthanna, An-Najaf|
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.
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