Country Information


Population: 31,129,225 (July 2012 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.345% (2012 est.)
Ethnic groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20%, Turkoman, Assyrian or other 5%
Religions: Muslim 97% (Shi’a 60%-65%, Sunni 32%-37%), Christian or other 3%
Languages: Arabic, Kurdish (official in Kurdish regions), Assyrian, Armenian

Historically, the Kurds have continuously sought self-determination, and have fought the Sumerians, Assyrians, Persians, Mongols, European crusaders, and Turks. Estimated at about 35 million people, the Kurds make up the largest ethnic group in the world who do not have a nation-state of their own. In the 20th century, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria have suppressed many Kurdish uprisings.

During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, the Iraqi regime implemented anti-Kurdish policies and a de facto civil war broke out. Iraq was widely-condemned by the international community, but was never seriously punished for oppressive measures such as the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians, the wholesale destruction of thousands of villages and the deportation of thousands of Kurds to southern and central Iraq. The campaign of Iraqi government against Kurds in 1988 was called Anfal (“Spoils of War”). The Anfal attacks led to destruction of two to five thousand villages and death of between fifty and one-hundred thousand Kurds.

After the Kurdish uprising in 1991 led by the PUK and KDP, Iraqi troops recaptured the Kurdish areas and hundreds of thousand of Kurds fled to the borders. To alleviate the situation, a “safe haven” was established by the Security Council. The autonomous Kurdish area was mainly controlled by the rival parties KDP and PUK. The Kurdish population welcomed the American troops in 2003 by holding celebrations and dancing in the streets. By the beginning of 2006, the two Kurdish areas were merged into one unified region. A series of referenda are scheduled to be held in 2007, to determine the final borders of the Kurdish region.

Kurds Total population: 27 to 37.5 million

Regions with significant populations:

Kurdistan: Turkey: 12 to 15 million
Iran: 4.8 to 6.6 million
Iraq: 4 to 6 million
Syria: 0.9 to 2.8 million
Asia/Caucasus: Afghanistan: 200,000
Azerbaijan: 150,000
Israel: 100,000
Lebanon: 80,000
Georgia: 34,000 to 60,000
Armenia: 42,139
Turkmenistan: 40,000
Europe: Germany: 0.5 million to 0.8 million
France: 120,000
Sweden: 100,000
Netherlands: 70,000
Switzerland: 60,000
Austria: 50,000
United Kingdom: 25,000 to 80,000
Greece: 20,000 to 25,000

Languages: Kurdish, Persian, Turkish or Arabic spoken widely as second languages.

Religions: Predominantly Sunni Muslimalso some Shia, Yezidism, Yarsan, Judaism, Christianity.

Information gathered from various sites:

Iraq Resource Information Site
(Although this site has not been updated since 2002 it has quite a lot of interesting articles and information)

CIA World Factbook
(For those who enjoy facts and figures this is the site for you.)

Kurdistan Regional Government
(This is the official Kurdish Regional Government site)


GENOCIDE IN IRAQ : The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds
A Middle East Watch Report, Human Rights Watch July 1993
The book is also available online at:

A Modern History of The Kurds
By David McDowall. Published by I.B Tauris in 2000.