The Kurds

Basic information:

  • According to current estimates, the population of the Kurdistan Region is 5.5-6.5 million.
  • In addition to the Kurds the region is also inhabited by the Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkmen, Armenians, Jews and Arabs.
  • The region has a young, rapidly growing population. As many as 36% of the population did not exceed the age of 14, and only 4% of the population are over 65 years old.
  • The average age of the Kurdistan Region is only 20.65 years.
  • The average life expectancy: 70.25 years.
  • Birth rate in 2012 was 3%

The demographic structure of the Kurdistan Region has changed significantly over the past few decades, mainly due to migration policy pursued by the government in Baghdad. Its result was massive resettlement and migration of the population. In 1980, the regime of Saddam Hussein destroyed more than 4,000 villages and forced people to settle in the cities.

By the year 2001 at least 600,000 people have been displaced inside the country. Only in November 1991, over 100,000 people, mainly Kurds, were expelled from the city of Kirkuk.

According to the survey conducted in 2004 by officials of the United Nations of the Development Programme (UNDP), as many as 66% of the population of Duhok was forced to migrate, in Suleimaniah it was 31% and 7% in Erbil.

The population of the Kurdistan Region for centuries has been living mainly in rural areas and  their main business was animal husbandry (mainly sheep and goats) and handling of fertile soils. The region was commonly called the breadbasket of Iraq. Today the proportions have reversed. The majority of the population lives and in cities – Erbil, Duhok and Sulaimaniah, working in administration, commerce and industry.

At the same time the Kurdistan Regional Government over the years has been taking action to restore economic balance. Substantial funding is intended to revitalize agriculture. Since 1991, the government in collaboration with the UN agencies rebuilt 2620 out of 4000 destroyed villages.