Iraq Travel Guide: Travel tips for foreigners & backpackers, Baghdad tourist information, Iraq food average prices, eating on a budget, accommodation in Baghdad Find discount hotels, cheap accommodation, vacation deals, holiday packages.
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Iraq Travel Guide

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Full country name: Republic of Iraq
Area: 438,317 sq km
Population: 31,234,000
Capital City: Baghdad
Language: Arabic, Kurdish
Religion: 65% Shia Islam, 35% Sunni Islam
Government: Parliamentary republic
Time Zone: GMT+3 (UTC+3), summer - (DST) not observed (UTC+3)
Dialing Code: 964
Electricity: 230V, 50Hz
Weights & measures: Metric
Currency: Iraqi dinar (IQD)

Money & Costs:
Average yearly salary: USD 3,800

Budget: USD1-6
Mid-range: USD7-9
High: USD20+
Budget: USD5-15
Mid-range: USD20-30
High: USD50+

Geography: Iraq is an almost landlocked country located in Western Asia embracing most of the northwestern Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian and the northern part of the Arabian Deserts. It is bordered by Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Iraq mainly consists of the deserts and the valleys of the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. The north of the country is mostly composed of mountains. Iraq has a small coastline of 58 km along the Persian Gulf and that is why it is not totally landlocked.

Climate: The climate of Iraq is mostly desert, with dry and hot summer seasons and mild to cool winter seasons. The northern mountainous regions, however, have extremely cold winters with heavy snows, that are sometimes causing extensive flooding. The average summer temperature in Iraq is about 40 C (104 F), and the average winter temperature is about 15 C (59 F), with the northern part of the country having a minus temperature. The maximum rainfall occurs during winter months, but generally, the precipitation is quite low.

Recommended clothing: Lightweight cotton and linen clothes are advised when visiting Iraq in summer. A sweater for cooler evenings can be required. Pack waterproof mediumwear for the winter season and warm clothes when going to the mountainous areas of northern Iraq.

Food: Iraqi cuisine (or Mesopotamian) has a history dating back about ten thousand years - to the Sumerians, Babylonians, Akkadians, and Assyrians. The tablets found in Iraq, reveal the recipes of dishes prepared in the temples during religious festivals. Nowadays, meals begin with appetizers and salads (Mezza). Some of the most popular Iraqi dishes are: Kebab, Gauss (similar to kebab), Bamia (lamb, okra and tomato stew), Quzi (lamb with rice, almonds, raisins and spices), Falafel (fried chickpea patties served with amba and salad in pita), Maqluba (rice, lamb, tomato and aubergine dish) and many other. Locals also enjoy stuffed vegetable dishes such as Dolma and Mahshi. Note that you should only eat well-cooked meat and fish.

Drink: Arabic coffee is a national drink of Iraq. The thick coffee has a strong and bitter taste and is served to a guest as a greeting drink. Arak is a clear, unsweetened distilled alcoholic drink, which is mixed with water and ice. The most widely consumed drink is tea. It is drunk in the mornings and after each meal. Iraqi tea is much stronger and richer, because it is prepared in a special way (boiling tea is put in hot water, then placed over a second tea pot with boiling water to let the tea infuse). Milk is unpasteurized, therefore, it should be boiled before consumption.

Health: The tap water should be regarded as being potentially dangerous, therefore, it should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilized. Since Iraq has experienced years of neglect and war, only limited health facilities are available. Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is present in Iraq. You should avoid swimming and paddling in fresh water. Swimming pools which are well chlorinated and maintained are, however, safe.

Public Holidays:
1 Jan New Year's Day
6 Jan Army Day
26 Feb Mouloud (Birth of the Prophet Muhammad)
9 Apr Baghdad Liberation Day
17 Apr FAO Day
1 May Labour Day
14 Jul Republic Day
8 Aug Ceasefire Day (End of Iran-Iraq War)
11 Sep Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
3 Oct Iraqi Independence Day (National Day)
17 Nov Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
7 Dec Islamic New Year
16 Dec Ashura

Note: Muslim festivals are timed according to local sightings of various phases of the moon and the dates given above are approximations. During the lunar month of Ramadan that precedes Eid al-Fitr, Muslims fast during the day and feast at night and normal business patterns may be interrupted. Many restaurants are closed during the day and there may be restrictions on smoking and drinking. Some disruption may continue into Eid al-Fitr itself. Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha may last anything from two to 10 days, depending on the region.

Disclaimer: The above information is for reference purposes only. The content of this page is not intended to substitute for advice given by the user's own government travel departments or a licensed travel health advisor. The viewer/user of this web page should always contact the user's own government representatives in that area for the most up-to-date information at that time, before making a final decision to travel to that country or destination.

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