Iraqi Kurdistan, the sovereign state of the northeastern area of Iraq has been praised as a paradise on earth in Middle Eastern literature. It is surrounded by rugged mountains and beyond the rugged terrain, ravines and natural springs lays Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the west and the rest of Iraq to the South. Kurdistan is simply the immense mountainous area where the borders of Iraq, Iran, and Turkey join.
Kurdistan has almost never had a country of its own, although from 1920 to 1923 an independent Kurdistan existed. The country was divided in 1923, between present day Iraq and Turkey. They have struggled to be an independent nation and after years of heaving fighting between the Kurdish opposition and the Iraqi government, the establishment was the Kurdistan Region of Iraq was set in March 1970. Today, the capital is Erbil and the region is governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government.
THE KURDS. WHO ARE THEY?
The unique cradle of civilization was home to the first Kurdish ancestor. Archeologists found Kurds pioneered agriculture, weaving, pottery, and metal work.
However, somewhere in the glooms of history, the Kurdish way of living became lost and it wasn’t until atrocities shocked the world then every nation in the world asked, “Kurds? Who Are They”
There is a famous expression in Kurdish, “No friends but the mountains.” After centuries of conquerors in the region, the Kurds started to resist the repression. Kurds live within their beloved mountains, in hopes to preserve their dearly loved culture, their treasured language and their precious lives.
These days, Kurdish people are very friendly and Kurdish culture is famous for hospitality and generosity. You can knock at anyone’s door and they will welcome you in. On the street, they will start talking to anyone and make friends with anybody.
SPOTLIGHT ON CULTURE
Many visitors journey through Kurdistan for the Biblical chronicles. Many abundant prophets like Nahum, Jonah, Habakkuk, and Daniel are all buried within the borders of Kurdistan. In Amadiya, an ancient city, the Magi (known as the wise) began their quest when they followed a bright shining star, appearing in the sky at that time.
Kurdish culture lays into their historic roots. It’s the pride of its people and some visitor’s reason to journey to Kurdistan. Kurdish music and songs are epic in nature, which are ballads recounting the heroic tales of past Kurdish heroes. Kurdish dance is similar to those from Lebanon and the Balkans. Kurdish folklore dances distinguish them from neighboring populations. The beauty of Kurdish designs is the full of all-over floral motifs and geometric patterns. For whatever reason one decides to travel to Kurdistan, they will not escape nor hate the richness of Kurdish culture.
Kurdistan has undergone immense economic growth since international sanctions were lifted. It’s quickly growing into a regional economic powerhouse. Currently, Iraqi Kurdistan has the lowest poverty rates in Iraq. The region’s economy is dominated by the oil industry and is investing opportunities to span every sector, including agriculture and tourism.
The region has a more developed economy in comparison to other regions of Iraq, due to the relative peace. Since 2003 the stronger economy of Iraqi Kurdistan attracted more than 100,000 works from other regions of Iraq. And since 2001, the per capita income was 28% higher than in the rest of Iraq.
Recently, the Kurdistan Regional Government has taken steps to facilitate more opportunities. It has passed laws and regulations, and promotes foreign venture.
Iraqi Kurdistan is divided into three governorates; Duhok, Erbil and Sulaymaniya. Each of these governorates is divided into districts and there is a total of 26 districts. Each district is divided into sub-districts. Governorates have a capital city while districts and sub-districts have district centers. Governorates of Iraqi Kurdistan:
1. Sulaymaniyah (Silêmanî)
2. Erbil (Hewlêr)
3. Dahuk (Duhok)
Iraqi Kurdistan refers to the three Kurdish northern Iraqi Provinces. The three Kurdish Provinces are Duhok, Erbil, and Sulaymaniya. While the city Kirkuk is largely inhabited and controlled by Kurds, it still is not under the rule of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
While the Kurdistan Region has an increasing urban population, it has a significant rural population. The following list is an incomplete list of the largest cities within the three governorates which are currently under control of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Main cities of Kurdistan Region; borders of region are presented in accordance with official view of Kurdistan Regional Government.