|Geography and Climate
Iraq is located in the Middle East, bordering the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait. Area comparatively slightly more than twice the size of Idaho. Total land boundary is 3,631 km, border countries are Iran 1,458 km, Jordan 181 km, Kuwait 242 km, Saudi Arabia 814 km, Syria 605 km, Turkey 331 km.
Iraq is mostly desert; climate is mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq. Terrain consists mostly of broad plains; reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas; mountains along borders with Iran and Turkey. Elevation extreme has the lowest point in Persian Gulf 0 m and highest point in Gundah Zhur 3,608 m. Natural resources are petroleum, natural gas, phosphates, sulfur. Land use: arable land: 12%, permanent crops: 0%, permanent pastures: 9%, forests and woodland: 0%, other: 79% (1993 est.). Irrigated land: 25,500 sq km (1993 est.). Natural hazards are dust storms, sandstorms, floods.
Environment—current issues: government water control projects have drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Shi'a Muslims, who have inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area's wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; development of Tigris-Euphrates Rivers system contingent upon agreements with upstream riparian Turkey; air and water pollution; soil degradation (salinization) and erosion; desertification.
Ref. Anonymous, 1999