Ethnic Groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20% or other 5% (1987 est.)
Religion: Muslim (official) 95%-98% (Shia 64%-69%, Sunni 29%-34%), Christian 1%, other 1-4% (2015 est.)
GDP (purchasing power parity): $649.3 billion (2017 est.)
GDP per capita: $16,700 (2017 est.)
Unemployment: 16% (2012 est.)
In ancient times, the area comprising Iraq was known as Mesopotamia and gave rise to some of the world’s first civilizations.
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.
July 14, 1958 – King Faisal is killed in a coup led by Abdul Karim Kassem.
February 1963 – Kassem is overthrown and executed. The Baath Party assumes control of the government. Hussein returns from Cairo. 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. Hussein becomes the secretary and acting deputy chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council.
March 6, 1975 – 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 Pahlavi’s insistence, Hussein expels Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini from Iraq, where he has been in exile for 13 years.
February 1979 – Khomeini 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 Khomeini’s call for the overthrow of the Baathist regime, comprised mostly of Sunni Muslims, Hussein expels 40,000 Shiite Muslims. Hussein also orders the execution of Ayatollah Mohammed al-Bakr Sadr, an ally of 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.
August 2, 1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait.
March 1991 – After the coalition expels Iraq from Kuwait, the United States encourages the Kurds to rebel. However, Iraq crushes the rebellion and one million Kurds flee to Turkey.
April 18, 1991 – Under the terms of UNSCR 687, Iraq gives a detailed account of its weapons inventory. It states that it has no biological weapons program.
April 14, 1995 – The UNSC 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.
September 16, 2002 – Facing the threat of US air strikes, Iraq unconditionally agrees to the return of UN inspectors.
September 19, 2002 – Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri sends a letter to the UN from Hussein stating that Iraq has no chemical, nuclear or biological weapons.
November 8, 2002 – The UNSC 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 UNSCR 1441.
November 27, 2002 – UN 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 UN.
March 20, 2003 – Hussein speaks on Iraqi TV. He calls the US-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, Bush declares that “major combat operations” in the Iraq war are over, despite some continued fighting.
May 22, 2003 – The UNSC approves Resolution 1483, lifting sanctions and reaffirming the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.” It also acknowledges the US and Great Britain’s right to occupy Iraq. The resolution sets up a UN support system to work with the United States 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 US Defense Department.
June 1, 2004 – The Iraqi interim government takes over from the US-backed Iraqi Governing Council (the IGC dissolves itself). The new interim government will oversee 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 a.m. local time, two days before the June 30 deadline previously announced by the US-led coalition.
June 30, 2004 – The coalition turns over legal control of Hussein and 11 other former top Iraqi officials to the interim Iraqi government. They remain, however, in the physical custody of the United States for security reasons.
August 2004 – US and Iraqi forces battle insurgents in Najaf. Many insurgents there are followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
November 2004 – US and Iraqi forces battle insurgents in Falluja. About 2,000 insurgents are killed. On November 14, 2004, the United States 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.
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.
May 20, 2006 – The Iraqi Parliament approves Prime Minister 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. Hussein is found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, pending appeal.
December 30, 2006 – Hussein is hanged a few minutes after 6 a.m. Baghdad time.
January 1, 2009 – The US military hands over control of Baghdad’s “Green Zone” to Iraqi authorities.
June 30, 2009 – US troops pull back from Iraqi cities and towns, and Iraqi troops take over the responsibility for security operations. However, US 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 26. The Iraqiya coalition, led Allawi, wins the most seats in Parliament.
August 19, 2010 – The last US combat brigade leaves Iraq. Approximately 52,000 US troops remain in the country.
November 25, 2010 – Maliki is named to a second term as prime minister by Talabani in a televised ceremony.
December 15, 2010 – The UN Security Council votes to free Iraq from sanctions that started during the Hussein era.
December 15, 2011 – US troops lower the flag of command that flies over Baghdad, officially ending the US 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.
June 11, 2014 – ISIS takes control of Tikrit.
July 24, 2014 – Fouad Massoum succeeds Talabani as president.
August 14, 2014 – In a televised address, Maliki withdraws his candidacy for a third term and endorses Haider al-Abadi as his replacement.
June 6, 2018 – Parliament orders a recount of all ballots in the May 12 election amid accusations of fraud.
August 19, 2018 – Iraq’s highest court ratifies the results of the May elections.
December 1, 2019 – As anti-government protests continue, Iraq’s parliament announces that it has accepted Abdul Mahdi’s resignation. Abdul Mahdi will serve as a caretaker prime minister until a new prime minister is named.