|Kurdistan Region of Iraq|
Borders of the Kurdistan Region (disputed)
and largest city
36°11′N 44°00′E / 36°11′N 44°00′E / 36.183; 44.000
|Official languages||Kurdish (Sorani)|
|Religion||Islam (Sunni and Shia), Christianity, Yazdânism, Zoroastrianism|
|March 11, 1970|
|July 4, 1992|
|January 30, 2005|
|September 25, 2017|
|46,861 km2 (18,093 sq mi)|
• 2017 estimate
|GDP (nominal)||2016 estimate|
• Per capita
|Currency||Iraqi dinar (IQD)|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC+3)|
|not observed (UTC+3)|
|Drives on the||right|
Iraqi Kurdistan, officially called the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (Kurdish: ههرێمی کوردستان, translit. Herêmî Kurdistan) by the Iraqi constitution, is an autonomous region located in northern Iraq. It is frequently referred to as Southern Kurdistan (Kurdish: باشووری کوردستان, translit. Başûrê Kurdistanê), as Kurds generally consider it to be one of the four parts of Greater Kurdistan, which also includes parts of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan), and northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan).
The region is officially governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), with the capital being Erbil. Kurdistan is a parliamentary democracy with its own regional Parliament that consists of 111 seats. Masoud Barzani, who was initially elected as president in 2005, was re-elected in 2009. In August 2013 the parliament extended his presidency for another two years. His presidency concluded on 19 August 2015 after the political parties failed to reach an agreement over extending his term.
The new Constitution of Iraq defines the Kurdistan Region as a federal entity of Iraq, and establishes Kurdish and Arabic as Iraq's joint official languages. The four governorates of Duhok, Erbil, Silemani, and Halabja comprise around 46,861 square kilometres (18,093 sq mi) and have a population of 5.8 million (2017 estimate). In 2014, during the 2014 Iraq Crisis, Iraqi Kurdistan's forces also took over much of the disputed territories of Northern Iraq; the total area under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government contains some 8 million inhabitants.
The establishment of the Kurdistan Region dates back to the March 1970 autonomy agreement between the Kurdish opposition and the Iraqi government after years of heavy fighting. However, that agreement failed to be implemented and by 1974 Northern Iraq plunged into the Second Iraqi–Kurdish War, another part of the Iraqi–Kurdish conflict between the Kurds and the Arab-dominated government of Iraq. Further, the 1980–88 Iran–Iraq War, especially the Iraqi Army's Al-Anfal Campaign, devastated the population and environment of Iraqi Kurdistan. Following the 1991 uprising of Kurds in the north and Shia Arabs in the south against Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Kurdistan's military forces, the Peshmerga, succeeded in pushing out the main Iraqi forces from the north.
Despite significant casualties and the crisis of Kurdish refugees in bordering regions of Iran and Turkey, the Peshmerga success and the Western establishment of the northern Iraqi no-fly zone following the First Gulf War in 1991 created the basis for Kurdish self-rule and facilitated the return of refugees. As Kurds continued to fight government troops, Iraqi forces finally left Kurdistan in October 1991, leaving the region with de facto autonomy. In 1992, the major political parties in the region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, established the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government. The 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent political changes led to the ratification of a new constitution in 2005.