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THE REPUBLIC OF Iraq, located in the Middle East astride the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, has a land area of 169,234 sq. mi. (434,924 sq. km.), a population of 28,993,000 (2006 est.), and a population density of 171 people per sq. mi. (66 people per sq. km.). Baghdad, the capital and the largest city, has a population of 5,831,000.

The Iraqi economy is heavily reliant on oil, and 12 percent of the land is arable, with a further 9 percent used for meadows and pasture. To try to reduce the reliance on imports from overseas, the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein embarked on a process of turning the land in the delta of the Tigris and the Euphrates into farmland, alienating many of the Marsh Arabs ...

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