Mosque, Samarra, Iraq
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Mosque, Samarra, Iraq

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Iraq Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

438,317 sq km (169,235 sq miles).

Population

31.9 million (2013).

Population density

72.7 per sq km.

Capital

Baghdad.

Government

Republic.

Head of state

President Jalal Talabani since 2005.

Head of government

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki since 2006.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. Various two- and three-pin plugs are in use. Electricity supplies were severely affected in the 2003 conflict and are still unreliable.

There are hopes that Iraq may have started on the path to stability. After all, civilisation as we know it once emerged from this region. Slowly, over the last several years, regional and national elections have been held, foreign troops have started to depart and the healing process looks to be underway. More optimistic Iraqi refugees have returned as security improves and foreign companies have begun to bid for the first post-war oil contracts.

Iraq is rebuilding slowly. Most of the country's political, social, physical and economic infrastructures were, by and large, destroyed during the war in 2003. However, national elections in December 2005 have brought increased stability to the country. In June 2009, after largely successful provincial elections earlier in the year, American and British troops withdrew from the streets of Iraqi towns and cities, though a limited number still remain in bases.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 19 August 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

  • Anbar province
  • Ninewah province
  • Salah-ah din province
  • Diyala province
  • Tam’mim (Kirkuk) province
  • Erbil city and all areas west of the city within Erbil province

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Iraq, including the remainder of the Kurdistan region.

If you’re currently in Anbar, Ninewah, Salah-ad-Din, Diyala or Tam’mim (Kirkuk) provinces you should leave now. If you’re in Erbil city or areas to the west of the city within Erbil province you should leave by commercial means.

This advice follows attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on towns to the South West of Erbil on 6-7 August. The U.S. announced on 8 August that the US military has begun conducting targeted airstrikes against ISIL in northern Iraq. Following advances in June 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other armed groups now control parts of Iraq, particularly in Anbar, Ninewah, Sala-ad-din and Diyala provinces.

If you’re a British national currently in Iraq and wish to inform the FCO of your whereabouts you should contact the FCO by:

  • texting Iraq2014 to +447860010026. You will be sent instructions on how to send the information to the FCO. Messages should be restricted to 160 characters. The reliability and cost of sending a text message varies from country to country and is dependent on the networks within those countries
  • completing a form online
  • you can also e-mail your name, date of birth, passport number and location to Baghdad.ConsularEnquiries@fco.gov.uk

The FCO will protect your privacy and process the personal information you provide in line with the Data Protection Act 1998.

The security situation throughout Iraq remains uncertain, and could deteriorate quickly. You should monitor media reporting and make sure you have robust contingency plans in place.

Following recent fighting in Ninewah province, large numbers of displaced persons have travelled to Dohuk province in the Kurdistan Region, joining other displaced persons already taking refuge there. If you are travelling to this region you should factor this in to your planning.

If you travel to those parts of Iraq to which the FCO advise against all but essential travel:

  • consider your security arrangements carefully and take all necessary security precautions, including contingency plans. Outside of the Kurdistan Region, you should employ a professional security company.

  • avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people; if you become aware of any nearby violence, leave the area immediately

There is a high threat of terrorism including kidnapping across Iraq. Terrorist groups operating in Iraq routinely use kidnapping as a tactic. Westerners continue to be targeted and many terrorists in Iraq view those engaged in humanitarian aid work or journalism as legitimate targets. There was a marked increase in the number of terrorist attacks in Iraq in 2013, and this trend has continued in 2014. Although terrorist incidents have been less frequent in the Kurdistan Region and the situation could deteriorate rapidly.

The British Embassy in Baghdad and the British Consulate-General in Erbil are able to offer limited consular assistance only.

You must get a visa before you travel. You can apply for a visa at Iraqi missions overseas, contact the Iraqi Embassy in London.

If you’re only travelling to the Kurdistan Region, you can get a visa on arrival, but this will not be valid for the rest of Iraq.

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