Baghdad is the capital of Iraq and of Baghdad Governorate. With a
estimated at a population of 7,000,000, it is the largest city in Iraq. It
second-largest city in the Arab world (after Cairo) and the second-largest city
southwest Asia (after Tehran).
Located on the Tigris River, the city dates back to at least the 8th century,
to pre-Islamic times. Once the center of Dar al-salam, the Muslim world, Baghdad
has been a
center of violent conflict since 2003 because of the ongoing Iraq War.
Although there is no dispute over its Iranian origin, there have been several
proposals as to its specific etymology. The most reliable and most widely
these is that the name is a Middle Persian compound of Bhaga "god" + dād
translating to "god-given" or "God's gift", whence Modern Persian Baɣdād, Arabic
Another leading proposal is that the name comes from Middle Persian Bāgh-dād
The city of Baghdad is often said to have been founded on the west bank of the
Tigris on 30
July 762 by the Abbasid dynasty, led by caliph al-Mansur, replacing Harran as
the seat of
the caliphal government; however, a city of Baghdad is mentioned in pre-Islamic
including the Talmud , and the Abbasid city was likely built on the site of
Zumurrud Khaton tomb in Baghdad,1932
Baghdad eclipsed Ctesiphon, the capital of the Persian Empire, which was located
some 30 km
(20 miles) to the southeast, which had been under Muslim control since 637, and
became quickly deserted after the foundation of Baghdad. The site of Babylon,
been deserted since the 2nd century BC, lies some 90 km (55 miles) to the south.
The city was designed as a circle about 2 km in diameter, leading it to be known
"Round City". The original design shows a ring of residential and commercial
along the inside of the city walls, but the final construction added another
the first. In the center of the city lay the mosque, as well as headquarters
The purpose or use of the remaining space in the center is unknown. The circular
the city was a direct reflection of the traditional Persian Sasanian urban
ancient Sasanian city of Gur/Firouzabad is nearly identical in its general
radiating avenues, and the government buildings and temples at the center of the
The roundness points to the fact that it was based on Persian precedents such as
in Persia. The two designers who were hired by al-Mansur to plan the city's
Naubakht, a former Persian Zoroastrian who also determined that the date of the
of the city would be astrologically auspicious, and Mashallah, a Jew from
A center of learning (8th to 9th c.)
Within a generation of its founding, Baghdad became a hub of learning and
House of Wisdom was an establishment dedicated to the translation of Greek,
and Syriac works. The Barmakids were influential in bringing scholars from the
Academy of Gundishapur, facilitating the introduction of Greek and Indian
science into the
Arabic world. Baghdad was likely the largest city in the world from shortly
foundation until the 930s, when it was tied by Córdoba. Several estimates
the city contained over a million inhabitants at its peak. A portion of the
of Baghdad originated in Iran, especially from Khorasan. Many of Scheherazade's
One Thousand and One Nights are set in Baghdad during this period.
Stagnation and invasions (10th to 16th c.)
By the 10th century, the city's population was between 300,000 and 500,000.
meteoric growth slowed due to troubles within the Caliphate, including
relocations of the
capital to Samarra (during 808–819 and 836–892), the loss of the western and
provinces, and periods of political domination by the Iranian Buwayhids
Seljuk Turks (1055–1135). Nevertheless, the city remained one of the cultural
commercial hubs of the Islamic world until February 10, 1258, when it was sacked
Mongols under Hulagu Khan during the sack of Baghdad. The Mongols massacred most
city's inhabitants, including the Abbasid Caliph Al-Musta'sim, and destroyed
of the city. The canals and dykes forming the city's irrigation system were also
The sack of Baghdad put an end to the Abbasid Caliphate, a blow from which the
civilization never fully recovered.
At this point Baghdad was ruled by the Il-Khanids, the Mongol emperors of Iran.
Baghdad was again sacked, by Timur ("Tamerlane"). It became a provincial capital
by the Jalayirid (1400–1411), Qara Quyunlu (1411–1469), Aq Quyunlu (1469–1508),
Ottoman Baghdad (16th to 19th c.)
In 1534, Baghdad was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. Under the Ottomans, Baghdad
a period of decline, partially as a result of the enmity between its rulers and
a time, Baghdad had been the largest city in the Middle East before being
Constantinople in the 16th century. The Nuttall Encyclopedia reports the 1907
Baghdad as 185,000.
Baghdad in 1932
Baghdad remained under Ottoman rule until the establishment of the kingdom of
British control in 1921. British control was established by a systematic
Iraqi Arab and Kurdish national aspirations. Iraq was given formal independence
and increased autonomy in 1946. In 1958 the Iraqi Army deposed the grandson of
British-installed monarch, Faisal II. The city's population grew from an
in 1900 to 580,000 in 1950 of which 140,000 were Jewish.
Baghdad in the 1970s
During the 1970s Baghdad experienced a period of prosperity and growth because
of a sharp
increase in the price of petroleum, Iraq's main export. New infrastructure
sewage, water, and highway facilities were built during this period. However,
War of the 1980s was a difficult time for the city, as money flowed into the
thousands of residents were killed. Iran launched a number of missile attacks
Baghdad, although they caused relatively little damage and few casualties. In
Persian Gulf War caused damage to Baghdad's transportation, power, and sanitary
2003 Invasion of Iraq
2003 street map of Baghdad
Baghdad was bombed very heavily in March and April 2003 in the 2003 invasion of
fell under US control by April 7-April 9. Additional damage was caused by the
looting during the days following the end of the war. With the deposition of
Hussein's regime, the city was occupied by U.S. troops. The Coalition
established a three-square-mile (8-km²) "Green Zone" within the heart of the
which it governed Iraq during the period before the new Iraqi government was
The Coalition Provisional Authority ceded power to the interim government at the
June 2004 and dissolved itself.
A satellite false-color image of Baghdad, taken March 31, 2003. The image shows
rising from pools of burning oil spread along "Canal Road" and other locations.
full of oil were created shortly before the war to obscure visibility (black)
On September 23, 2003, a Gallup poll indicated that about two-thirds of Baghdad
said that the removal of the Iraqi leader was worth the hardships they
that they expected a better life in five years' time. As time passed, however,
the occupation declined dramatically. In April 2004, USA Today reported that a
Gallup poll in Baghdad indicated that "only 13 percent of the people now say the
of Iraq was morally justifiable. In the 2003 poll, more than twice that number
saw it as
the right thing to do."
Most residents of Baghdad became impatient with the occupation because essential
such as electricity were still unreliable more than a year after the invasion.
In the hot
summer of 2004, electricity was only available intermittently in most areas of
the city. An
additional pressing concern was the lack of security. The curfew imposed
the invasion had been lifted in the winter of 2003, but the city that had once
vibrant night life was still considered too dangerous after dark for many
dangers included kidnapping and the risk of being caught in fighting between
forces and insurgents.
On 10th April 2007, the United States military began construction of a three
mile long 3.5
metre tall wall around the Sunni district of Baghdad (Guardian). On 23rd April ,
Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, called for construction to be halted on the wall
Geography and climate
The city is located on a vast plain bisected by the Tigris River. The Tigris
in half, with the Eastern half being called 'Risafa' and the Western half known
The land on which the city is built is almost entirely flat and low-lying, being
alluvial origin due to the periodic large floods which have occurred on the
Baghdad is, in terms of maximum temperatures, one of the hottest cities in the
the summer from June to August, the average maximum is as high as 44°C (111°F)
by blazing sunshine: rainfall is almost completely unknown at this time of year.
Temperatures exceeding 50°C (122°F) in the shade are by no means unheard of, and
night temperatures in summer are seldom below 24°C (75°F) Though the humidity is
low due to
Baghdad's distance from the marshy Persian Gulf, dust storms from the deserts to
are a normal occurrence during the summer.
In the winter, from December to February, by contrast, Baghdad has maximum
averaging 15 to 16°C (59 to 61°F). Minima can indeed be very cold: the average
minimum is around 4°C (39°F) but temperatures below 0°C (32°F) are not uncommon
Annual rainfall, almost entirely confined to the period from November to March,
around 140 millimetres (5.5 in), but has been as high as 575 millimetres (23 in)
and as low
as 23 millimetres (~1 in).
Nodes of Development for the Private Sector Based Baghdad Renaissance Plan, with
Square Development on the far right.
Most Reconstruction of Iraq efforts have been devoted to the restoration and
badly damaged infrastructure. More visible efforts at reconstruction through
development, such as architect and urban designer Hisham N. Ashkouri's Baghdad
Plan and Sindbad Hotel Complex and Conference Center garnered early interest,
undeveloped due to the instability of the region.
A Private Sector based Baghdad Renaissance Plan, is a 25-year scheme, designed
Hisham Ashkouri to transform 9 km² of silt deposits into an "an up-market
residential neighborhood" astride the Tigris River in central
Renewable Energy 21st Century Technology
A key point of the Baghdad Renaissance Plan is not to impose additional loads on
electric and other utility infrastructures currently operating and serving the
Baghdad. The Tahrir Square Development is designed to be largely self-contained
respect, and as such will not tax the weakened infrastructure of the city
unduly. It is
important to use solar power (using the desert environment), wind, geothermal,
cell technologies to back those other conventional power plants using fossil
will help reduce pollution and environmentally sensitive by-products. The
pollution will be minimized once such technologies are adopted. The design will
for capturing oil products from vehicles and vehicle waste products.
A rendering of the Tahrir Square Development.
See also: Administrative districts in Baghdad
The City of Baghdad has 89 official neighborhoods within 9 districts. These
subdivisions of the city served as administrative centers for the delivery of
services but until 2003 had no political function. Beginning in April 2003, the
controlled Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) began the process of creating
functions for these. The process initially focused on the election of
in the official neighborhoods, elected by neighborhood caucuses. CPA convened a
meetings in each neighborhood to explain local government, to describe the
process and to encourage participants to spread the word and bring friends,
neighbors to subsequent meetings. Each neighborhood process ultimately ended
with a final
meeting where candidates for the new neighborhood councils identified themselves
their neighbors to vote for them. Once all 88 (later increased to 89)
were in place, each neighborhood council elected representatives from among
to serve on one of the city's nine district councils. The number of neighborhood
representatives on a district council is based upon the neighborhood’s
population. The next
step was to have each of the nine district councils elect representatives from
membership to serve on the 37 member Baghdad City Council. This three tier
system of local
government connected the people of Baghdad to the central government through
representatives from the neighborhood, through the district, and up to the city
The same process was used to provide representative councils for the other
Baghdad Province outside of the City itself. There, local councils were elected
neighborhoods (Nahia) and these councils elected representatives from their
serve on six district councils (Qada). As within the City, the district councils
elected representatives from among their members to serve on the 35 member
The final step in the establishment of the system of local government for
was the election of the Baghdad Provincial Council. As before, the
representatives to the
Provincial Council were elected by their peers from the lower councils in
proportional to the population of the districts they represent. The 41 member
Council took office in February, 2004 and served until National elections held
2005, when a new Provincial Council was elected.
This system of 127 separate councils may seem overly cumbersome but Baghdad
home to approximately seven million people. At the lowest level, the
each council represents an average of 74,000 people.
The nine District Advisory Councils (DAC) are as follows:
Karadah (Kharadah)  
Sadr City (Thawr) 
Tisa Nissan (9 Nissan) 
A U.S. Army helicopter flying by Baghdad's tower
Baghdad has always played an important role in Arab cultural life and has been
the home of
noted writers, musicians and visual artists.
The dialect of Arabic spoken in Baghdad today differs from that of other large
centers in Iraq, having features more characteristic of nomadic Arabic dialects
The Arabic Language). It is possible that this was caused by the repopulating of
with rural residents after the multiple sacks of the late Middle Ages.
Some of the important cultural institutions in the city include:
Iraqi National Orchestra – Rehearsals and performances were briefly interrupted
second Gulf War, but have since returned to normal.
National Theatre of Iraq – The theatre was looted during the 2003 Invasion of
efforts are underway to restore the theatre.
The live theatre scene received a boost during the 1990s when UN sanctions
import of foreign films. As many as 30 movie theatres were reported to have been
to live stages, producing a wide range of comedies and dramatic productions.
Institutions offering cultural education in Baghdad include the Academy of
of Fine Arts and the Music and Ballet School. Baghdad is also home to a number
which housed artifacts and relics of ancient civilizations; many of these were
the museums looted, during the widespread chaos immediately after U.S. forces
During the 2003 occupation of Iraq, AFN Iraq ("Freedom Radio") broadcast news
entertainment within Baghdad, among other locations. There is also a private
called "Dijlah" (named after the Arabic word for the Tigris River) that was
created in 2004
as Iraq's first independent talk radio station. Radio Dijlah offices, in the
neighborhood of Baghdad, have been attacked on several occasions. 
Sights and monuments
A U.S. Navy helicopter flying by the Al-Shaheed Monument
Points of interest include the National Museum of Iraq whose priceless
artifacts was looted during the 2003 invasion the iconic Hands of Victory arches
been a contentious issue as to their continued presence multiple Iraqi parties
discussions as to whether they should remain as historical monuments or be
the Baghdad zoo Thousands of ancient manuscripts in the National Library were
when the building burnt down during the 2003 invasion of Iraq The Al Kadhimain
the northwest of Baghdad (in Kadhimiya) is one of the most important Shi'ite
buildings in Iraq. It was finished in 1515 and the 7th (Musa ibn Jafar
al-Kathim) and the
9th Imams (Mohammad al-Jawad) were buried here. One of the oldest buildings is
century or 13th century Abbasid Palace. The palace is part of the central
of the city and close to other historically important buildings such as the
and Al-Mustansiriyah School (From the Abbasid Period). There are other landmarks
Baghdad, each of them marks a certain era and has become associated with
or even just changes that marked the city scape. Here are some of them:
Baghdad Tower (used to be known as Saddam Tower): before its partial destruction
due to the
USA bombing of the Ma'amoon Telecommunication Center next to it, the tower used
to be the
highest point in the city and from where all Baghdad can be seen. The
construction of the
tower marks a period of the post-Gulf-war of 1991 reconstruction efforts.
The Two Level Bridge in Jadriyah (Jisr Abul Tabqain (the Iraqi common name of
the planing for this bridge was put long time ago and even before Saddam's
regime take over
(reference), the bridge was never built back then. As part of the reconstruction
make Baghdad even better than before 1991 war and the USA air force destructive
the long planned bridge was executed. It connects Al-Doura area (which is very
a direct path to the rest of the Baghdad and complements the 14th of July
structure of the bridge is rather bulky and not much engineering had been put to
it, but it
functions for its purpose.
Al-Zawra'a Park in Al-Mansour Area and almost in a central location of Baghdad.
Al-Shaheed Monument: The monument to the Iraqi soldiers killed in the Iran-Iraq
located on the east bank of the Tigris near Sadr City.
In Baghdad is a wide road built in Saddam's time as a parade route, and across
it is the
Hands of Victory, which is a pair of enormous crossed swords cast from weapons
who died in the Iran-Iraq War.
Baghdad is home to the most successful football teams in Iraq, the biggest being
Al Quwa Al
Jawiya (Airforce club), Al Zawra, Al Shurta (Police) and Al Talaba (Students).
stadium in Baghdad is Al Shaab Stadium which was opened in 1966. Another, much
stadium, is still in the opening stages of construction.
The city has also had a strong tradition of horse racing ever since World War I,
Baghdadis simply as 'Races'. There are reports of pressures by Islamists to stop
tradition due to the associated gambling.
Baghdad's major neighborhoods
Baghdad International Airport
Adhamiyah: Sunni majority, Shiite presence.
Al-Kadhimya: Shiite majority.
Karrada: Shiite majority, Christian presence.
Al-Jadriya Area : Mixed area.
Al-Mansour: Mixed area.
Zayouna: Mixed neighborhood.
Dora: Mixed area, mostly Sunni. Former Christian presence (most have fled)
Sadr City: Almost exclusively Shiite.
Hurriya City: Shiite majority, Sunni presence.
Baghdad Al-Jadida(New Baghdad): Shiite majority, Christian presence.
Al-Sa'adoon area : Mixed area.
Bab Al-Moatham : Sunni majority, shiite presence.
Bab Al-Sharqi : Mixed area.
Al-Baya' : Shiite majority, Sunni presence.
Al-Saydiya : Sunni majority, Shiite presence.
Al-A'amiriya : Sunni majority, Shiite presence.
Al-Shu'ala: Almost exclusively Shiite.
Al-Ghazaliya: Sunni majority, Shiite presence.
Al-Za'franiya: Shiite majority, Sunni presence.
Hayy Ur: Almost exclusively Shiite.
Sha'ab City: Shiite majority, Sunni presence.
Hayy Al-Jami'a: Sunni majority, Shiite presence.
Al-Adel: Sunni majority, Shiite presence.
Al:Khadhraa: Sunni majority, Shiite presence.
Hayy Al-Jihad: Mixed area.
Hayy Al-A'amel: Shiite majority, Sunni presence.
Baghdad's major streets
Al-Rashid Street -- the city's main street, stretching from North Gate to South
Hilla Road -- Runs from the South into Baghdad via Yarmouk (Baghdad)
Caliphs Street -- site of historical mosques and churches.
Sadoun Street -- stretching from Liberation Square to Masbah
Mohammed Al-Qassim highway near Adhamiyah
Abu Nuwas Street -- runs along the Tigris from the from Jumhouriya Bridge to the
Damascus Street -- goes from Damascus Square to the International Airport Road
Mutanabbi Street -- A street with numerous book-shops, named after the 10th
Arbataash Tamuz (14th July) Street (Mosul Road)
Muthana al-Shaibani Street
Bor Said (Port Said) Street
Falastin (Palestine) Street
’Ordon (Jordan) Street
Matar Baghdad Al-Dawli (Airport Road) ((Formerly known as Matar Saddam