Iraqi Arabs

Iraqi people
العراقيون Irāqīyūn
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 Iraq 31,234,000[1]
 Syria 2 million+[2]
 Jordan 500,000, or less[3]}
 Iran 500,000+[4]
 Turkey 500,000+[5]
 United Kingdom 450,000+[6]
 Egypt 150,000+[7]
 Germany 150,000+[8]
 UAE 150,000+[9]
 United States 140,000+[10]
 Sweden 120,000+[11]
 Kuwait 100,000+[12]
 Lebanon 100,000+[13]
 Yemen 100,000+[14]
 Australia 80,000+[15]
 Netherlands 60,000+
 Greece 5,000–40,000+[16]
. more countries
Arabic (79%); Kurdish (17%)
Aramaic (2%); Turkmen (2%)
Islam (97%)
Christianity, Mandaeism, and others

The Iraqi people (Arabic: العراقيون ʿIrāqīyūn, Kurdish: گه‌لی عیراق Îraqîyan, Aramaic: ܥܡܐ ܥܝܪܩܝܐʿIrāqāyā, Turkish: Iraklılar) are the citizens of the modern country of Iraq,[17]

Arabic had been a minority language in Iraq since the 8th century BC,[18][19] it was spoken in Hatra in the 1st and 2nd centuries,[20] and by Iraqi Christians in Al-Hirah from the 3rd century,[21] 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.[22][23] 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 Assyrians are very closely related.[24][25] Arabic and Kurdish are Iraq's national languages.

Cultural history

Main articles: History of Iraq and Culture of Iraq

The Iraqi people have an ancient cultural history and civilization.[26][27] 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,[28] and thus Iraq is widely known as the cradle of civilization.[26] 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.[29] 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,[29] although there have been several published studies displaying the genealogical connection between all Iraqi people and the neighbouring countries, across religious and linguistic barriers.

Iraqi mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Iran, Kuwait,[30] Syria, Palestine, Georgia, and Armenia, whereas it substantially differs from that observed in Yemen.[29] Iraqi Y-chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) haplogroup distribution is similar to that of Kuwait,[31] Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria.[29] No significant differences in Y-DNA variation were observed among Iraqi Arabs, Assyrians, or Kurds.[29]

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.[29] 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 into modern Iran also influenced Iraq.[29]

Many historians and anthropologists provide strong circumstantial evidence to posit that Iraq's Maʻdān people share very strong links to the ancient Sumerians[28][32] - the most ancient inhabitants of southern Iraq,[28] and that Iraq's Mandaeans share the strongest links to the Babylonians.[33]

The Assyrian Christian population are related to other Iraqis,[25][28] and also to Jordanians, yet due to religious endogamy have a distinct genetic profile that distinguishes their population.[34] "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."[35] Some Iraqis who today speak Arabic are originally of Assyrian roots.[36][37] 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."[28]

Studies have reported that most Irish and Britons are descendants of farmers who left modern day Iraq and Syria 10,000 years ago.[38] 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.[38] 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.[39]


Main article: Iraqi nationalism

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 TigrisEuphrates alluvial plain and its environs.

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,[40] and favoured a common identity,[40] and due to this Iraqis as a whole can be seen to bear some characteristics of an ethnic group.[40]

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 antiquity[41] such as Iraq's national dish Masgouf and Iraq's national cookie Kleicha, which can be traced back to Sumerian times.[42]

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.

Iraqis trace their ancestry back to the ancient people of the land,[27][43] and are proud of their ancient Mesopotamian roots and legacy,[26][27] which contributed so much to the world.[27]


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).[44] The two main dialects of Kurdish spoken by Kurdish Iraqis are Soranî (spoken in the provinces of Arbil and Sulaymaniyah)[45] and Kurmanji (spoken in the province of Dohuk).[45] In addition to Arabic, most Assyrians and some Mandaean Iraqis speak Neo-Aramaic dialects, and around 1 percent of Iraqi people speak Persian and Turkmen respectively.

Iraqi Arabic has an Aramaic substratum.[46]

The vast majority of Kurdish and Aramaic–speaking Iraqis also speak Iraqi Arabic.[45]


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. Assyrians belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, and the Assyrian Church of the East. Their numbers inside Iraq have dwindled considerably to around 300,000.

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.[47][48]


Main articles: Iraqi diaspora and Refugees of Iraq

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.

See also

External links

  • History of the Iraqi people
  • Mesopotamia: Birthplace of civilisation
  • Iraqi identity - Forces for Integration/ Divisiveness
  • The Iraq DNA project


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.