Jamhuriat Al Iraq
Area: 434,128 sq. km
Neighbouring countries: Turkey to the North, Syria and Jordan to the West, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the South, Iran to the East
Capital City: Baghdad
Other Cities: Arbil, Mosul, Al Basrah, Kirkuk
Ethnic groups: Arabs, Kurds, Turks
Languages: Arabic (official), Kurdish, Turkish
Currency: Iraqi Dinar
Member of: Arab League, OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference), UN and OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)
(De Agostini, Jan. 2008)
A part of the Ottoman Empire, then under British administration (mandate of the Society of Nations) in 1920, Iraq became an independent monarchy in 1932, then a Republic in 1958.
The Constitution states that Islam is the official religion and that “no law can be approved if it is in contradiction with the Islamic law”; however, it is also stated that the State upholds the rights of freedom and religious rights.
The population is about 32 million (UN Statistics 2008). The Christians, of whom the majority are Catholics, are about 3%. (Dossier of the French Episcopal Conference on the Synod for the Middle East)
Relations with the Holy See
Iraq has diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The Apostolic Nuncio is Mgr. Giorgio Lingua, (4th Sep. 2010), also Nuncio to Jordan.
BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS OF CELRA – CONFERENCE OF LATIN BISHOPS OF THE ARAB REGION: Nevertheless, it is essential to give firm support and encouragement to those who choose to remain faithful to their homeland in order to prevent it from becoming an archaeological site deprived of ecclesial life
BENEDICT XVI TO THE AMBASSADOR OF IRAQ, ON THE OCCASION OF THE PRESENTATION OF HIS CREDENTIALS: It is my earnest hope that Iraq will emerge from the difficult experiences of the past decade as a model of tolerance and cooperation among Muslims, Christians and others in the service of those most in need…