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Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Iraq

WARNING: Iraq is currently unstable, please read this travel warning before going!

Geography

Iraqi Geography - Date trees along the Euphrates River
Date trees along the Euphrates

Iraq sits in the heart of the Middle East and has, for centuries been the center of the region. This nearly landlocked country has borders with Syria to the northwest, Jordan to the west, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to the south, Iran to the east, and Turkey to the north. Where the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers drain into the Persian Gulf, Iraq holds a very small bit of coastline on this body of water.

In the southwestern part of the country, it is primarily desert and this consists of nearly half the country. In the northeast Iraq has a bit of the Zagros Mountains, although these mountains are primarily in Iran and create a border with that country. Finally, running from the northwest to the southeast are the Tigris & Euphrates Rivers. These rivers create a lush basin, at times even swampy, which allows great human development and most of the population lives in this long basin. As these rivers reach the Persian Gulf the land becomes more swamp-like.

Weather

Iraq is a fairly large country with some mountains and coastline so the weather varies to a somewhat significant degree. Winters in the desert and mountains can get to freezing at night and rise to about 60° F (16° C) during the days to the 80s° F (27-32° C) in the south many days. Summers however experience the opposite extreme many days as temperatures can soar to over 110° F (44° C) in the desert although in most of the country, including Baghdad, daily highs during the summer hover around 80° F (27° C). Summers are also prone to huge dust storms in the deserts. The little rain that Iraq does receive, they generally get in the months of December to April and most of it falls in the northern mountains.

Wildlife

Iraq is primarily desert, but a number of animals have either adopted to this climate or pass through with the seasons. Despite the dry landscape, there are many mammals in the country, including the gazelle, antelope, cheetah, pig, hare, and hyena. Like the mammal life, there is a limited number of sea animals and they are primarily limited to the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers and their very small Persian Gulf shore.

Among the bird present, many are scavengers or hunters, including the vulture, raven, hawk, buzzard, and owl. However, along the rivers and gulf there are also some water fowls, like the duck and goose and in other areas grouse and partridges can be found. The reptilian and amphibian life is relatively large since these animals adjust well to the dry desert. Lizards are perhaps the most common of these animals, although dozens of other species are also present.

This page was last updated: March, 2013