Iraq (Arabic: العراق Al-ʾIrāq), officially the Republic of Iraq (Arabic: جمهورية العراق Jumhūrīyat Al-ʾIrāq, Kurdish: كۆماری ﮦێراق Komarê Iraq), is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert. It shares borders with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the west, Syria to the northwest, Turkey to the north, and Iran to the east. It has a very narrow section of coastline measuring 58 km (35 miles) at Umm Qasr on the Persian Gulf. There are two major flowing rivers: the Tigris and the Euphrates. These provide Iraq with agriculturally capable land and contrast with the desert landscape that covers most of Western Asia.
The capital city, Baghdad (Arabic: بغداد Baġdād), is in the center-east. Iraq's rich history dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is identified as the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of writing. Throughout its long history, Iraq has been the center of the Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Abbasid empires, and part of the Achaemenid, Macedonian, Parthian, Sassanid, Rashidun, Umayyad, Mongol, Ottoman and British empires.
In 2003, a multinational coalition of forces, mainly American and British, invaded and removed the authoritarian President Saddam Hussein and the governing Ba'ath Party from Power. The invasion has had wide-reaching consequences: following a short insurgency, a parliamentary democracy was established, Saddam Hussein was executed, official recognition and widespread political participation of Iraq's Kurdish minority and Shi'ite Arab majority, significant economic growth, building of new infrastructure, and use of the country's huge reserves of oil. Following the withdrawal of coalition forces in 2006, Iraq is today a parliamentary democracy composed of 18 governorates (known as muhafadhat).