(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 438,317 sq km
Population: 39,650,145 (2021 est.)
Median age: 21.2 years (2020 est.)
Ethnic Groups: Arab 75%-80%, Kurdish 15%-20% or other 5% (1987 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.
One of the religious minorities in Iraq is the Yazidi. Their beliefs draw from aspects of Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism. Per the US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2019, between 400,000 to 500,000 live in Iraq, mostly in the north. About 360,000 Yazidis are displaced.
1921 – After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, Great Britain gains control of the area. It sets up a government in Mesopotamia and renames the country Iraq.
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.
1943-1945 – Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani leads an uprising, gaining control of areas of Erbil and Badinan. When the uprising is defeated, Barzani and his forces retreat to Kurdish areas in Iran and align with nationalist fighters under the leadership of Qazi Muhammad.
March 22, 1945 – Iraq becomes a founding member of the Arab League.
December 21, 1945 – Iraq becomes a member of the United Nations.
July 14, 1958 – King Faisal is killed in a coup led by Abdul Karim Kassem.
October 1959 – A group, including Saddam Hussein, attacks the motorcade of Kassem. The assassination attempt fails and most of the attackers are killed. Hussein escapes and flees to Syria and later to Egypt.
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.
October 1973 – Iraq fights Israel in the Yom Kippur war.
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 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.
March 16, 1988 – Iraq uses poison gas against the Kurdish people in Halabja in Northern Iraq. Thousands of people are believed to have died in the attack.
August 2, 1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait.
January 17, 1991 – Operation Desert Storm begins.
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 6, 1991 – Iraq accepts the terms of UNSCR 687.
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.
December 16, 1998 – Great Britain and the United States launch air strikes against Iraq. The attack, called Operation Desert Fox, is in response to Iraq’s refusal to cooperate with UN weapons inspections.
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.
January 27, 2003 – Chief inspectors Mohammad ElBaradei and Hans Blix brief the UNSC on Iraqi compliance with inspections.
March 7, 2003 – ElBaradei and Blix present their final reports to the UNSC. ElBaradei says the IAEA “to date found no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapon program in Iraq.”
March 19, 2003 – Bush announces that US and coalition forces have begun military action against Iraq. (Military action began the morning of March 20 in Iraq.)
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 28, 2004 – Ayad Allawi is sworn in as the interim prime minister of Iraq. He is the first ruler other than Hussein to lead the country in more than three decades. He steps down in April 2005.
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.
July 1, 2004 – Hussein makes his first appearance in court. A judge charges him with a variety of crimes that marked his reign, including the invasion of Kuwait and the gassing of the Kurds.
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.
April 6-7, 2005 – Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani is selected the country’s president by the transitional national assembly. The next day he and two vice presidents are sworn in.
May 3, 2005 – Ibrahim al-Jaafari is sworn in as Iraq’s interim prime minister.
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.
April 22, 2006 – Talabani names Nuri al-Maliki prime minister-designate.
May 20, 2006 – The Iraqi Parliament approves 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.
September 1, 2010 – Operation Iraqi Freedom is renamed Operation New Dawn, to reflect the reduced role US troops will play in securing 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.
October 21, 2011 – US President Barack Obama announces that virtually all US troops will come home from Iraq by the end of the year. According to a US official, about 150 of the 39,000 troops currently in Iraq will remain to assist in arms sales. The rest will be out of Iraq by December 31.
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.
April 30, 2014 – Iraqis vote in parliamentary elections to elect members of the Council of Representatives. Maliki’s party wins 92 seats in parliamentary elections, short of the 165 seats needed for a majority.
June 10, 2014 – Al Qaeda splinter group ISIS seizes the province of Nineveh and its capital Mosul.
June 11, 2014 – ISIS takes control of Tikrit.
July 24, 2014 – Fouad Massoum succeeds Talabani as president.
August 8, 2014 – Two US F/A-18 jet fighters bomb Sunni Islamic extremists in Iraq. Obama authorizes “targeted airstrikes” if needed to protect US personnel from ISIS militants. The US military also could use airstrikes to prevent what officials warn could be a genocide of minority groups by the ISIS fighters.
August 14, 2014 – In a televised address, Maliki withdraws his candidacy for a third term and endorses Haider al-Abadi as his replacement.
April 1, 2015 – Iraqi forces, working with Shiite militiamen, retake the city of Tikrit from ISIS.
June 26, 2016 – Lt. General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi says on state TV that Iraqi troops retook the key city of Falluja from ISIS.
October 17, 2016 – Abadi makes a televised statement announcing the start of the mission to retake the key city of Mosul from ISIS control. A diverse coalition of about 100,000 troops will play a role in the operation, mostly made up of Iraqi government troops and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters. US military officials have estimated up to 5,000 ISIS fighters are in Mosul, but the terror group’s supporters say there are 7,000.
March 7, 2017 – Iraqi forces take control of key government buildings and a bridge in western Mosul as part of their push to retake the city from ISIS. The Tigris river divides Mosul into east and west. The east was liberated in January and the second phase, to clear militants from the west, was launched on February 19.
July 10, 2017 – Abadi announces that Mosul has been recaptured from ISIS.
October 3, 2017 – Talabani, Iraq’s first non-Arab president, dies at the age of 83.
May 12, 2018 – The first parliamentary elections since the defeat of ISIS take place.
May 18, 2018 – The elections commission announces that Muqtada al-Sadr’s political coalition, the Saeroon Alliance, has won the parliamentary election, garnering 54 of the 328 seats, the most of any coalition.
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.
October 2, 2018 – Barham Salih is elected president and appoints Adil Abdul Mahdi as prime minister-designate.
December 26, 2018 – US President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive in Iraq, making good on the President’s promise to visit a war zone.
October 6, 2019 – At least 104 people have been killed and 6,107 injured in protests across Iraq over the past week, according Iraq’s Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Saad Maan. The nationwide protests were sparked by frustration over alleged government corruption, lack of basic services and growing unemployment.
October 31, 2019 – Salih announces that Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi will resign once a successor has agreed to replace him. This follows weeks of anti-government protests resulting in more than 200 deaths and thousands of casualties.
November 9, 2019 – The Iraqi Parliamentary Human Rights Committee reports that at least 319 people have been killed in Iraq since the start of anti-government protests in October and nearly 15,000 have been injured.
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.
January 5, 2020 – The Iraqi Parliament votes to end all foreign troops in Iraq, according to the media office of the Iraqi Parliament. The vote represents a rebuke of the United States over its targeted airstrike on Soleimani.
May 7, 2020 – The Iraqi Parliament approves Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq’s former intelligence chief, as prime minister.
August 20, 2020 – Kadhimi meets with Trump in the Oval Office of the White House.
September 9, 2020 – The US commander in the Middle East announces a drawdown of US troops in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 in the month of September.
January 21, 2021 – Twin suicide bombs explode at a market in central Baghdad, killing at least 32 people and injuring 110 others, according to officials and state media. It is the first suicide attack to strike Baghdad in nearly two years.