Iraq Environment - 2021


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Environment - current issues

government water control projects drained most of the inhabited marsh areas east of An Nasiriyah by drying up or diverting the feeder streams and rivers; a once sizable population of Marsh Arabs, who inhabited these areas for thousands of years, has been displaced; furthermore, the destruction of the natural habitat poses serious threats to the area's wildlife populations; inadequate supplies of potable water; soil degradation (salination) and erosion; desertification; military and industrial infrastructure has released heavy metals and other hazardous substances into the air, soil, and groundwater; major sources of environmental damage are effluents from oil refineries, factory and sewage discharges into rivers, fertilizer and chemical contamination of the soil, and industrial air pollution in urban areas

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Environmental Modification

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 57.73 micrograms per cubic meter (2016 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 190.06 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 17.44 megatons (2020 est.)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 1.23 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

industrial: 2.05 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

agricultural: 35.27 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)

Total renewable water resources

89.86 billion cubic meters (2017 est.)


mostly desert; mild to cool winters with dry, hot, cloudless summers; northern mountainous regions along Iranian and Turkish borders experience cold winters with occasionally heavy snows that melt in early spring, sometimes causing extensive flooding in central and southern Iraq

Land use

agricultural land: 18.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 8.4% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.5% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 9.2% (2018 est.)

forest: 1.9% (2018 est.)

other: 80% (2018 est.)

Revenue from forest resources

forest revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)

Revenue from coal

coal revenues: 0% of GDP (2018 est.)


urban population: 71.1% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 2.91% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: intermediate (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

note: widespread ongoing transmission of a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is occurring throughout Iraq; as of 19 July 2021, Iraq has reported a total of 1,501,595 cases of COVID-19 or 3,733.22 cumulative cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population with 44.48 cumulative deaths per 100,000 population; as of 19 July 2021, 1.74% of the population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Food insecurity

severe localized food insecurity: due to civil conflict, low oil prices, and economic slowdown - the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) for Iraq identified 4.1 million people in need, of which 2.4 million have acute humanitarian needs; while the number of people in need remained similar to the previous year, the severity of those needs increased, largely due to the impact of the COVID‑19 pandemic on top of an existing humanitarian crisis, leading to a 35% increase in the number of people in acute need; more than half of these are concentrated in the governorates of Nineveh and Anbar; the number of severely food insecure people is estimated at about 435,000, while 731,000 are vulnerable to food insecurity (2021)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 13.14 million tons (2015 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Iraq on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Iraq 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Iraq 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.