Over the centuries numerous empires dominated Mesopotamia, the fertile land we now call Iraq. Located between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers
, its capital city of Baghdad was at one time the most significant commercial and cultural center in the entire Muslim world.
Dozens of invasions and wars would follow, and in 1638, it was conquered by the Ottoman Turks.
The Ottomans controlled Iraq until the onset of World War I, at which point they were pushed out of the country by the United Kingdom
after having sided with Germany
and the Central Powers.
Post war, the League of Nations granted the United Kingdom
authority over Mesopotamia and Palestine, and on November 11, 1920 the Mesopotamian region became known as the Sate of Iraq.
During the British
occupation of Iraq, widespread tension erupted between the Shi'ites and Kurds as the two fought for independence. In an attempt to improve conditions, Britain
replaced the civil commissioner in Baghdad with Sir Percy Cox who managed to subdue the uprising.
In 1932, a decade after Turkey's
defeat in World War I, Iraq became an independent kingdom.
The Iraqi regime was briefly eradicated during World War II by the Golden Square officers, led by Rashid Al, before being destroyed by the Allied forces and becoming a base for allied attacks.
Following World War II, Iraq became a founding member of the Arab League and joined the United Nations.
An uprising broke out in 1948, and protests were widespread and violent throughout Baghdad. However, the disorder quickly subdued at the onset of the Arab-Israeli War between the State of Israel
and their Arab neighbors.
Iraq claimed jurisdiction over Kuwait in 1961 after the country gained independence from Britain
, and instability was quick to follow.
Then, Kurdish nationalist leader, Mustafa Barzani began asserting control in the northern reaches of Iraq, sparking the First Kurdish Iraqi War.
A peace plan was announced in 1970 following the aftermath of the Kurdish Iraqi War permitting an extended level of autonomy for the Kurdish. Unfortunately this moment of peace was short-lived, and by 1974 the Second Kurdish Iraqi War broke out lasting until 1975.
Shortly after the Arab-Israeli war concluded in 1979, the Baath Party took control of the country, and after overthrowing Ahmed Hasan Al-Bakr (his close friend and leader of his party), Saddam Hussein gained control as Iraq's newest President.
In the 1980s, Iraq declared war on its neighbor Iran
, and that brutal and tragic conflict lasted eight years.
Tens of thousands died, many were victims of the chemical weapons introduced by Iraq, and the economic loss to Iraq was estimated at more than $100 billion.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait
in 1990, provoked by the long standing territorial dispute between the two countries, the Gulf War began, and their forces were quickly defeated by a military coalition.
Today, after the US
-led invasion in March of 2003, the Hussein power base is gone, and Iraq is in transition. Military forces remain, helping to restore the damaged infrastructure, and the development of a freely elected government.
Due to these conditions, travel to Iraq at this time is dangerous and unpredictable.