Ethnic groups
Figures in 1000.
Arabs 17,400 60.0%
Marsh Arabs 500 %
Palestinians 15 0.1%
Assyrians 6,000 21.0%
Kurds 4,000 14.0%
Persians 400 1.4%
Turkmens 250 0.9%
Shabak 100 0.3%
Armenians 60 0.2%
Doms 50 0.2%
Zaza 45 0.2%
Turks 5 <0.1%
Qawliya 5 <0.1%
Chechens 2.5 <0.1%

Due to the borders demarcated high up in the mountains, the lands of Iraq has come to include several ethnic, or people, groups. Identity and ethnicity in Iraq can often be unrelated; a substantial part of those considering themselves Arabs are ethnically closer to other Iraqi peoples who speak other languages than they are with Arabs in f.x. Saudi Arabia.

The main stock of modern Iraqis originate with the Mesopotamian peoples living here since ancient times, but throughout all times there have been substantial migration waves in and out of this region.

Arabs and Arabized peoples constitute near 2 of 3 of the population. Assyrians are well assimilated with Arabs, counting 1 of 5. Kurds count for somewhat more than 10%.

The group of Assyrians is the most difficult group of all Iraqi peoples, as the higher claim includes groups that speak Arabic and who consider themselves part of pan-Arab identity, although they are conscious about Assyrian ancestry.

Persians form strong communities in the mountain region close to Iran.

Both Shabak and Zaza are disputed categories. They themselves claim a unique identity, while Kurds in general claim they are Kurdish peoples.

Turkmens are a group that has contributed to small communities across the eastern and northern parts of the Middle East.

Armenians in Iraq is another example of the tragedy of these people, losing their homelands in what today is Turkey.
Palestinians in Iraq are a large refugee background since 1948.

The Doms is a people related to the Rom people living across Europe. Their presence in Iraq is one of the smaller they form in the Middle East. The Qawliya is a people often referred to as gypsies. Their number is usually only referred to as “tiny”, but judging from the size of their communities, as the 1,000 inhabitants strong village of the same name, they must count between 3,000 and 10,000.

Co-existence between people groups of Iraq is not easy. With the disintegration of central power since the 1990’s, Kurds of the north began to assert their interests, possibly motivated by the hope of creating Kurdish self-governance. Kurds in the regions they dominate often suppress smaller ethnic groups, the Shabak in particular report numerous incidents.


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