What You Need To Know

Baghdad (Arabic: بغداد‎‎) is the capital of the Republic of Iraq. The population of Baghdad, as of 2016, is approximately 8,765,000 making it the largest city in Iraq, the second largest city in the Arab world (after Cairo, Egypt), and the second largest city in Western Asia (after Tehran, Iran). Located along the Tigris River, the city was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Within a short time of its inception, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center for the Islamic world. This, in addition to housing several key academic institutions (e.g., House of Wisdom), garnered the city a worldwide reputation as the “Centre of Learning”. Throughout the High Middle Ages, Baghdad was considered to be the largest city in the world with an estimated population of 1,200,000 people. The city was largely destroyed at the hands of the Mongol Empire in 1258, resulting in a decline that would linger through many centuries due to frequent plagues and multiple successive empires. With the recognition of Iraq as an independent state (formerly the British Mandate of Mesopotamia) in 1938, Baghdad gradually regained some of its former prominence as a significant center of Arab culture. In contemporary times, the city has often faced severe infrastructural damage, most recently due to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent Iraq War that lasted until December 2011. In recent years, the city has been frequently subjected to insurgency attacks. As of 2012, Baghdad was listed as one of the least hospitable places in the world to live, and was ranked by Mercer as the worst of 221 major cities as measured by quality-of-life.

 

Area: 204.2 km²

Population: Estimate 8,765,000

Currency

  • The Dinar (Arabic pronunciation: [diːˈnɑːr]) (Arabic: دينار, [(sign: د.ع; code: IQD) is the currency of Iraq. It is issued by the Central Bank of Iraq and is subdivided into 1,000 fils (فلس), although inflation has rendered the fils obsolete since 1990.

Culture

Baghdad has always played a significant role in the broader Arab cultural sphere, contributing several significant writers, musicians and visual artists. Famous Arab poets and singers such as Nizar Qabbani, Umm Kulthum, Fairuz, Salah Al-Hamdani, Ilham al-Madfai and others have performed for the city. The dialect of Arabic spoken in Baghdad today differs from that of other large urban centres in Iraq, having features more characteristic of nomadic Arabic dialects (Verseegh, The Arabic Language). It is possible that this was caused by the repopulating of the city with rural residents after the multiple sacks of the late Middle Ages.

 

Economy

Baghdad accounts for 20 per cent of Iraq’s population and 40 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (PPP). Iraqi Airways, the national airline of Iraq, has its headquarters on the grounds of Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad.  Al-Naser Airlines has its head office in Karrada, Baghdad.

 

Golden Gate Palace

In the middle of Baghdad, in the central square was the Golden Gate Palace. The Palace was the residence of the caliph and his family. In the central part of the building was a green dome that was 39 m high. Surrounding the palace was an esplanade, a waterside building, in which only the caliph could come riding on horseback. In addition, the palace was near other mansions and officer’s residences. Near the Gate of Syria a building served as the home for the guards. It was made of brick and marble. The palace governor lived in the latter part of the building and the commander of the guards in the front. In 813, after the death of caliph Al-Amin the palace was no longer used as the home for the caliph and his family. The roundness points to the fact that it was based on Arabic script. The two designers who were hired by Al-Mansur to plan the city’s design were Naubakht, a Zoroastrian who also determined that the date of the foundation of the city would be astrologically auspicious, and Mashallah, a Jew from Khorasan, Iran.

 

Health systems

Iraq’s healthcare system is classified as primary by the world health organization, which indicates it is based upon “practical, scientifically sound and socially acceptable methods and technologies made universally accessible to individuals and families in the community through their full participation in the spirit of self-reliance and self-determination.”

 

Language

Arabic is the majority language, Kurdish is spoken by approximately 15-20% of the population, Turkmen, Neo-Aramaic languages and others by 5%. Other smaller minority languages include Mandaic, Shabaki, Armenian, Feyli Lurish and Persian.

 

Mutanabbi Street

Mutanabbi Street (Arabic: شارع المتنبي) is located near the old quarter of Baghdad; at Al Rasheed Street. It is the historic center of Baghdad bookselling, a street filled with bookstores and outdoor book stalls. It was named after the 10th-century classical Iraqi poet Al-Mutanabbi. This street is well established for bookselling and has often been referred to as the heart and soul of the Baghdad literacy and intellectual community.

 

Reconstruction efforts

Most Iraqi reconstruction efforts have been devoted to the restoration and repair of badly damaged urban infrastructure. More visible efforts at reconstruction through private development, like architect and urban designer Hisham N. Ashkouri’s Baghdad Renaissance Plan and the Sindbad Hotel Complex and Conference Center have also been made. A plan was proposed by a Government agency to rebuild a tourist island in 2008. In late 2009, a construction plan was proposed to rebuild the heart of Baghdad, but the plan was never realized because corruption was involved in it. The Baghdad Eye, a 198 m (650 ft) tall Ferris wheel, was proposed for Baghdad in August 2008. At that time, three possible locations had been identified, but no estimates of cost or completion date were given. In October 2008, it was reported that Al-Zawraa Park was expected to be the site, and a 55 m (180 ft) wheel was installed there in March 2011. Iraq’s Tourism Board is also seeking investors to develop a “romantic” island on the River Tigris in Baghdad that was once a popular honeymoon spot for newlywed Iraqis. The project would include a six-star hotel, spa, an 18-hole golf course and a country club. In addition, the go-ahead has been given to build numerous architecturally unique skyscrapers along the Tigris that would develop the city’s financial centre in Kadhehemiah. In October 2008, the Baghdad Metro resumed service. It connects the center to the southern neighborhood of Dora. In May 2010, a new residential and commercial project nicknamed Baghdad Gate was announced.  This project not only addresses the urgent need for new residential units in Baghdad but also acts as a real symbol of progress in the war torn city, as Baghdad has not seen projects of this scale for decades.

 

Transport

The Baghdad Metro is a surface commuter train that operates in the Iraqi city ofBaghdad. It is operated by the state owned Iraqi Republic Railways. It resumed operation in October, 2008. The train runs about 24 kilometres (15 mi) betweenBaghdad Central Station and the southern neighborhood of Dora.

Weather

Baghdad has a subtropical desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh) and is one of the hottest cities in the world. In the summer from June to August, the average maximum temperature is as high as 44 °C (111 °F) accompanied by blazing sunshine: rainfall has in fact been recorded on fewer than half a dozen occasions at this time of year and has never exceeded 1 millimetre (0.04 in). Even at night temperatures in summer are seldom below 24 °C (75 °F). Baghdad’s record highest temperature of 124 degrees Fahrenheit (51 degrees Celsius) was reached in July 2015.  The humidity is typically very low (under 10%) due to Baghdad’s distance from the marshy southern Iraq and the coasts of Persian Gulf, and dust storms from the deserts to the west are a normal occurrence during the summer. Winters boast mild days and chilly nights. From December to February, Baghdad has maximum temperatures averaging 15.5 to 18.5 °C (59.9 to 65.3 °F), though highs above 70 °F (21 °C) are not unheard of. Morning temperatures can be chilly: the average January low is 3.8 °C (38.8 °F) but lows below freezing only occur a couple of times per year. Annual rainfall, almost entirely confined to the period from November to March, averages around 150 mm (5.91 in), but has been as high as 338 mm (13.31 in) and as low as 37 mm (1.46 in). On 11 January 2008, light snow fell across Baghdad for the first time in memory.

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