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Iraq Fast Facts

By CNN Library
updated 1:37 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard at their position in the Omar Khaled village west of Mosul near Tal Afar on Sunday, August 24. They have been battling the militant group ISIS, which has taken over large swaths of northern and western Iraq as it seeks to create an Islamic caliphate that stretches from Syria to Iraq. Kurdish Peshmerga forces stand guard at their position in the Omar Khaled village west of Mosul near Tal Afar on Sunday, August 24. They have been battling the militant group ISIS, which has taken over large swaths of northern and western Iraq as it seeks to create an Islamic caliphate that stretches from Syria to Iraq.
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(CNN) -- Here's a look at the country of Iraq which borders Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran and the Persian Gulf.

About Iraq:
(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 438,317 sq km

Population: 32,585,692 (July 2014 est.)

Median age: 21.5 years

Capital: Baghdad

Ethnic Groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian, or other 5%

Religion: Muslim (official) 99% (Shia 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian 0.8%

GDP: $249.4 billion (2013 est.)

GDP per capita: $7,100 (2013 est.)

Unemployment: 16% (2012 est.)

Other Facts:
In ancient times, the area comprising Iraq was known as Mesopotamia and gave rise to some of the world's first civilizations.

One of the religious minorities in Iraq is the Yazidi. Throughout the Middle East, Yazidi number between 200,000 and one million. Approximately 500,000 live in Iraq, mostly in the north. Their beliefs draw from aspects of Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism.

Chaldean Christians are another minority religious group in Iraq. They number approximately 500,000, down from over one million prior to 2003.

Timeline:
1921 - After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Great Britain gains control of the area. It sets up a government in Mesopotamia and renames the country Iraq.

1924 - The new Constitutional Assembly of Iraq meets to consider the Anglo-Iraq treaty. The treaty would compel Iraq to honor all agreements made by Great Britain previously, including oil concessions. In order to compel Iraq to accept the treaty, Great Britain threatens to withdraw and leave Iraq vulnerable to Saudi Arabia or Turkey. The treaty is ratified.

October 3, 1932 - Iraq becomes an independent nation with Baghdad as its capital, and is admitted to the League of Nations.

1943-1945 - Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani leads an uprising, gaining control of areas of Irbil and Badinan. When the uprising is defeated, Barzani and his forces retreat to Kurdish areas in Iran and align with nationalist fighters under the leadership of Qazi Muhammad.

March 22, 1945 - Iraq becomes a founding member of the Arab League.

December 21, 1945 - Iraq becomes a member of the United Nations.

July 14, 1958 - King Faisal is killed in a coup led by Abdul Karim Kassem.

October 1959 - A group, including Saddam Hussein, attacks the motorcade of Abdul Karim Kassem. The assassination attempt fails and most of the attackers are killed. Hussein escapes and flees to Syria.

February 1963 - Kassem is overthrown and executed. The Baath Party assumes control of the government. Hussein returns from Cairo, Egypt. The new Baath government is overthrown before the end of the year.

July 17, 1968 - In a coup, Major General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr of the Baath party becomes Iraq's new president. Saddam Hussein becomes the secretary and acting deputy chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council.

October 1973 - Iraq fights Israel in the Yom Kippur war.

March 6, 1975 - Saddam Hussein and Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi of Iran meet to discuss a treaty. The Algiers Accord is signed by both countries later in the year.

October 1978 - At the Shah's insistence, Hussein expels Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini from Iraq, where he has been in exile for 13 years.

February 1979 - The Ayatollah returns to Iran to lead the country, after the ouster of the Shah in January.

July 16, 1979 - Hussein takes over as president of Iraq.

1979 - In response to the Ayatollah's call for the overthrow of the Baathist regime, comprised mostly of Sunni Muslims, President Hussein expels 40,000 Shiite Muslims. Hussein also orders the execution of Ayatollah Mohammed al-Bakr Sadr, an ally of Ayatollah Khomeini.

September 22, 1980 - Iraq launches an air attack against Iran, beginning the Iran-Iraq war. In 1984 and 1986 Iraq is accused of using mustard gas and other chemical weapons against Iran. The war ends in a stalemate in 1988.

March 16, 1988 - Iraq uses poison gas against the Kurdish people in Halabja in Northern Iraq. Thousands of people are believed to have died in the attack.

August 2, 1990 - Iraq invades Kuwait.

January 17, 1991 - Operation Desert Storm begins.

February 28, 1991 - A ceasefire in the Gulf War takes effect.

March 1991 - After the coalition expels Iraq from Kuwait, the U.S. encourages the Kurds to rebel. However, Iraq crushes the rebellion and one million Kurds flee to Turkey.

April 3, 1991 - The U.N. passes Security Council Resolution 687. It establishes UNSCOM.

April 6, 1991 - Iraq accepts SCR 687.

April 18, 1991 - Under the terms of SCR 687, Iraq gives a detailed account of its weapons inventory. It states that it has no biological weapons program.

April 14, 1995 - The U.N. Security Council adopts Resolution 986 establishing the "oil-for-food" program, providing Iraq with the opportunity to sell oil to finance the purchase of humanitarian goods. Iraq does not accept the plan.

December 16, 1998 - Great Britain and the United States launch air strikes against Iraq. The attack, called Operation Desert Fox, is in response to Iraq's refusal to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.

January 29, 2002 - U.S. President George W. Bush says in his State of the Union address that Iraq, Iran and North Korea constitute an "axis of evil'' that threatens the United States.

September 16, 2002 - Facing the threat of U.S. air strikes, Iraq unconditionally agrees to the return of United Nations inspectors.

September 19, 2002 - Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri sends a letter to the U.N. from Saddam Hussein stating that Iraq has no chemical, nuclear or biological weapons.

November 8, 2002 - The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 1441, outlining strict new weapons inspections and threatening "serious consequences" if Iraq fails to comply.

November 13, 2002 - Iraq agrees to comply with U.N. Resolution 1441.

November 27, 2002 - U.N. inspectors begin working in Iraq.

December 7, 2002 - Iraq submits a 12,000 page declaration of former weapons programs and civilian industries with military applications to the United Nations.

January 27, 2003 - Chief inspectors Mohammad ElBaradei and Hans Blix brief the U.N. Security Council on Iraqi compliance with inspections.

March 7, 2003 - Chief inspectors ElBaradei and Blix submit their final reports to the U.N. Security Council.

March 19, 2003 - President George W. Bush announces that U.S. and coalition forces have begun military action against Iraq. (This means that military action began the morning of March 20th in Iraq.)

March 20, 2003 - President Hussein speaks on Iraqi TV. He calls the U.S. led coalition attacks - "shameful crimes against Iraq and humanity."

April 9, 2003 - Coalition forces take Baghdad.

May 1, 2003 - Speaking on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, President George W. Bush declares that "major combat operations" in the Iraq war are over, despite some continued fighting.

May 22, 2003 - The United Nations Security Council approves Resolution 1483, lifting sanctions against Iraq and reaffirms the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq." It also acknowledges the U.S. and Great Britain's right to occupy Iraq. The resolution sets up a U.N. support system to work with the U.S. and Great Britain to facilitate the transition to a government elected by the people of Iraq.

November 21, 2003 - The oil-for-food program ends. The Coalition Provisional Authority takes responsibility for supplying humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people.

December 13, 2003 - Hussein is captured in a "spider hole" near a hut in Tikrit. His capture is not confirmed until December 14 by the U.S. Defense Department.

June 1, 2004 - The Iraqi interim government takes over from the U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council (the IGC dissolves itself). The new interim government will be in charge of the country after sovereignty is handed over and until national elections for a transitional government are held by the end of January.

June 28, 2004 - The handover of sovereignty to the interim Iraqi government takes place at 10:26 am local time, two days before the June 30th deadline previously announced by the U.S.-led coalition.

June 28, 2004 - Ayad Allawi is sworn in as the interim prime minister of Iraq. He is the first ruler other than Saddam Hussein to lead the country in more than three decades. He steps down in April 2005.

June 30, 2004 - The Coalition turns over legal control of Saddam Hussein and 11 other former top Iraqi officials to the interim Iraqi government. They remain, however, in the physical custody of the U.S. for security reasons.

July 1, 2004 - Saddam Hussein makes his first appearance in court. A judge charges him with a variety of crimes that marked his reign, including the invasion of Kuwait and the gassing of the Kurds.

August 2004 - U.S. and Iraqi forces battle insurgents in Najaf. Many insurgents there are followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

September 23, 2004 - Ayad Allawi, interim leader of Iraq, speaks before a joint session of Congress while he is in Washington for meetings with President George W. Bush.

November 2004 - U.S. and Iraqi forces battle insurgents in Falluja. About 2,000 insurgents are killed. On November 14, 2004, the U.S. declares Falluja "liberated."

January 30, 2005 - Millions of Iraqis cast ballots in the nation's first free election in half a century. Iraqi expatriates in Australia, the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, Jordan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Syria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates also participate.

April 6 - 7, 2005 - Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani is selected the country's president by the transitional national assembly. The next day he and two vice presidents are sworn in.

May 3, 2005 - Ibrahim al-Jaafari is sworn in as Iraq's interim Prime Minister. He steps down in May 2006.

December 15, 2005 - Millions of Iraqis participate in an election to choose a 275-seat Parliament that will serve a four-year term.

February 10, 2006 - The results of the December 2005 election are certified. The United Iraqi Alliance wins 128 seats, the Kurdistan Alliance Party wins 53 seats, the Iraqi Accord Party wins 44 seats and the final 50 seats are split between five other parties.

April 22, 2006 - President Jalal Talabani names Nuri al-Maliki Prime Minister-designate.

May 20, 2006 - The Iraqi Parliament approves Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's choices for the Iraqi national unity government. There are 37 cabinet ministers, comprised of representatives from all major parties and all major ethnic and secular groups.

November 5, 2006 - The Iraqi High Tribunal reaches a verdict in the Dujail case. Eight defendants are charged with crimes relating to the murder of 148 Iraqi men in 1982. Former President Hussein is found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, pending appeal.

December 30, 2006 - Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is hanged a few minutes after 6 am Baghdad time.

January 1, 2009 - The U.S. military hands over control of Baghdad's "Green Zone" to Iraqi authorities.

June 30, 2009 - U.S. troops pull back from Iraqi cities and towns and Iraqi troops take over the responsibility for security operations. However, U.S. troops remain in the country to continue combat operations and patrols in rural areas.

March 7, 2010 - Iraqi legislative elections are held. The results are announced on March 26th. The Iraqiya coalition, led by former interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, wins the most seats in Parliament.

August 19, 2010 - The last U.S. combat brigade leaves Iraq. Approximately 52,000 U.S. troops remain in the country.

September 1, 2010 - Operation Iraqi Freedom is renamed Operation New Dawn, to reflect the reduced role U.S. troops will play in securing the country.

November 25, 2010 - Al-Maliki is named to a second term by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in a televised ceremony.

December 15, 2010 - The U.N. Security Council votes to free Iraq from sanctions that started during the Saddam Hussein era.

December 15, 2011 - U.S. troops lower the flag of command that flies over Baghdad officially ending the U.S. military mission in Iraq.

September 9, 2012 - Fugitive Iraqi vice-president Tariq al-Hashimi is sentenced to death after being found guilty of running a death squad.

January 2014 - Violence erupts in Anbar province with Iraqi security forces, Sunni tribesmen and al-Qaeda-linked groups battling for control of the cities of Falluja and Ramadi.

April 30, 2014 - Iraqis vote in parliamentary elections to elect members of the Council of Representatives. Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki's party wins 92 seats in parliamentary elections, short of the 165 seats needed for a majority.

June 10, 2014 - Al-Qaeda splinter group ISIS seizes the province of Nineveh and its capital Mosul.

June 11, 2014 - ISIS takes control of Tikrit.

July 24, 2014 - Fouad Massoum succeeds Jalal Talabani as president.

August 8, 2014 - Two U.S. F/A-18 jet fighters bomb Sunni Islamic extremists in Iraq. President Barack Obama has authorized "targeted airstrikes" if needed to protect U.S. personnel from ISIS militants. The U.S. military also could use airstrikes to prevent what officials warn could be a genocide of minority groups by the ISIS fighters.

August 14, 2014 - In a televised address, Prime Minister al-Maliki withdraws his candidacy for a third term and endorses Haider al-Abadi as his replacement.

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