Full name: Republic of Iraq
Area: 437,072 square kilometres
Population: 32 million
Head of state: President Jalal Talabani (since April 2005)
Currency: Iraqi dinar
More than half of Iraq’s gross domestic product (GDP) comes from oil. Its proven reserves of more than 115 million barrels are among the largest in the world. Baghdad wants to raise production from 3 million barrels a day (b/d) today to more than 12 million b/d in 2017, while the Iraqi government’s National Development Plan (NDP) aims to diversify the economy over the five years between 2010 and 2014.
|Largest listed companies by market capitalisation*|
|Dar Es Salaam Investment Bank||0.42|
|Bank of Baghdad||0.33|
|Credit Bank of Iraq||0.308|
|Baghdad Soft Drinks||0.17|
|Middle East Bank||0.16|
|Commercial Bank of Iraq||0.106|
|*=As of 8 December 2011. Source: Iraq Stock Exchange|
Iraq is a challenging country in which to do business. It ranks 175th out of the 183 countries on Germany-based Transparency International’s corruption index and 164th out of 183 on the US-based World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings. However, it is also a country of much promise. At the start of March, it was the third biggest projects market in the Middle East after Saudi Arabia and the UAE. With $301bn-worth of projects planned or under way, it ranks just ahead of Iran. The NDP has budgeted investment of $186bn and gross domestic product growth is forecast to be between 9 and 13 per cent in 2012.
The country is young, with 43 per cent of the 32-million-strong population aged under 15 and a life expectancy of 68 years, according to the World Bank. The population is growing at 3 per cent a year and 66 per cent live in urban areas.