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The Ziggurat of Ur ©hardnfast

Iraq is still one of the most dangerous countries in the world. When the smoke does eventually clear from this war-torn nation though, it might (depending on what survives the war) have many a wonder to reveal.

Iraq is a veritable gold mine of archaeological wealth. It was once the home of Ancient Mesopotamia, the capital of which, Babylon, was situated on the modern site of Al-Hillah on the east of the Euphrates River. The ruins of this ancient city, where the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon once existed, were treated as sacred palaces by Saddam Hussein during his reign and today are host to coalition forces and their often tasteless graffiti. In Baghdad, the remains of the Ishtar temple, the Ancient Theatre and the Babylon Tower (all precious Mesopotamian sites) are slowly being eroded by bombing and fighting in the city, much to the chagrin of archaeologists the world over.

The capital of Baghdad was a learning centre and focal point of the Middle East silk trade. The history of the three Mesopotamian civilisations that conquered the land; the Assyrians, the Babylonians and the Achaemenids is captured in the Baghdad Museum, which suffered some looting at the onset of the 2003 invasion but is now under the protection of the US military. To the south of Baghdad, near Nasiriyah, is one of the few landmarks left untouched by the invasion so far, the Great Ziggurat of Ur. Built over 4,000 years ago as a platform onto which the gods could descend from the heavens, the strange stone temple is built on a trapezoid base and overlooks the ancient tombs of long gone Mesopotamian leaders.

Currently the only way to travel with a modicum of safety in Iraq is with an armoured army convoy. Again, it is emphatically advised that you don't travel there at all.


The international dialling code for Iran is +964. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom).



Languages Spoken

Arabic is the majority language, Kurdish is spoken by approximately 15-20% of the population. English is spoken by most businessmen.

Duty Free

Travellers to Iraq may import the following goods tax-free: up to 200 cigarettes/10 cigars/250g of tobacco, one litre spirits, two litres wine, and goods valued to goods up to the value of ID500,000. It is also advised not to bring magazines, films or books contrary to country norms.


Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are standard.


A vaccination is required for passengers arriving in Iraq within 6 days of staying in a country with a risk of yellow fever transmission. Travellers holding passports containing evidence of being in Israel, or holding evidence which suggests that they intend on going to Israel, will be denied access to the country. Visa extensions are possible by application. Regardless of official guidelines, we always recommend that passports have at least six months validity when travelling.

Entry Requirements

A passport valid for at least six months beyond the period of intended stay, and a visa, are required to enter Iraq. Canadian nationals can obtain a visa on arrival at Erbil or Sulaymaniyah Airports for a maximum stay of 30 days.

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There are a few health risks to consider when travelling to Iraq. Travellers are recommended to be vaccinated against polio and typhoid. Malaria is a risk in some parts of the country, and cholera outbreaks also occur. Yellow fever certificates are required by those arriving from an infected country in Africa or the Americas. Tap water should not be drunk, including ice in drinks, and food precautions should be taken. Healthcare facilities are limited, especially in rural areas. Travellers are advised to have full medical insurance and to consult with their medical practitioner prior to travel.


All but essential travel to Iraq is advised against. Travel within Iraq remains very dangerous given the security situation.

Emergency Phone Number


* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov

Exchange Rate

Not available.

Embassies of Iraq

Foreign Embassies in Iraq


The overwhelming majority of Iraqi citizens are devout Muslims, and travellers to the region should be aware that the Koran still provides the basis for many of the country's social mores and customs. Conservative dress (covering the arms and legs) and reserved public behaviour are the norms, and drinking it in public is taboo. Photography is becoming more socially accepted, although travellers should exercise caution whenever using their camera ('Ask First' is probably a good rule to abide by, and don't photograph military installations or personnel). It is considered rude to show the soles of your feet or shoes, and to touch or move objects with your feet. Visitors should also avoid using their left hand when greeting others, or when eating, as it is considered 'haram' (impure). During the month of Ramadan, do not eat, drink or smoke in public places between the hours of sunrise and sunset, as it is bound to offend local sensibilities. Finally, it might be useful for travellers to bear in mind that in Iraq, an indirect communication style is favoured, with politeness and deference (especially to one's elders) being highly valued.


Most Iraqi businessmen speak English and are polite and conservative in their manner. The same respect is expected in return. Exchanging business cards is normally restricted to senior business figures and it is advisable to have a translation of details on the alternate side. Appointments should be made and punctuality is expected for business meetings. Dress is formal and conservative and though Iraqis do not wear ties, it is not negative for foreigners to do so. Women should dress modestly and cover their hair. Business gifts are quite acceptable. Friday is the Muslim holy day when everything is closed, and most businesses also close on Thursday. During Ramadan business hours may be shortened.

Public Holidays in Iraq

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