Monday, March 05, 2007

Geography Iraq

At 168,743 sq.mi (437,072 km²), Iraq is the 58th-largest country in the world, after Morocco. It is comparable in size to the US state of California, and somewhat larger than Paraguay.

Large parts of Iraq consist of desert, but the area between the two major rivers (Euphrates and Tigris) is fertile, with the rivers carrying about 60 million cubic metres (78 million cu. yd) of silt annually to the delta. The north of the country is largely mountainous, with the highest point being a 3,611 metres (11,847 ft) point, unnamed on the map opposite, but known locally as Cheekah Dar (black tent). Iraq has a small coastline with the Persian Gulf. Close to the coast and along the Shatt al-Arab (known as arvandrūd: اروندرود among Iranians) there used to be marshlands, but many of these were drained in the 1990s.

The local climate is mostly desert with mild to cool winters and dry, hot, cloudless summers. The northern mountainous regions experience cold winters with occasional heavy snows, sometimes causing extensive flooding. The capital of Baghdad is situated in the centre of the country, on the banks of the Tigris. Other major cities include Basra in the south and Mosul in the north.

While its proven oil reserves of 112 billion barrels ranks Iraq second in the world behind Saudi Arabia, the United States Department of Energy estimates that up to 90 percent of the country remains unexplored. Unexplored regions of Iraq could yield an additional 100 billion barrels. Iraq's oil production costs are among the lowest in the world. However, only about 2,000 oil wells have been drilled in Iraq, compared to about 1 million wells in Texas alone.