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: 30 July 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, Ninewah, Salah-ad-Din and Diyala provinces and all of the area south of Kirkuk City limits in Tam’mim province. There are reports of clashes between security forces and militants in these areas. If you’re currently in these areas you should leave now.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the rest of Iraq, except the Kurdistan region (Erbil, Suleymania and Dohuk provinces). The security situation remains uncertain. British nationals in Baghdad should have robust contingency plans in place and continue to monitor media reporting. You should stay in close contact with your private security companies and to monitor our travel advice pages.

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
  • or calling us on +44 207 008 1500
  • 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. Routes in and out of Baghdad may become blocked and airports closed or inaccessible at little or no notice. Baghdad International Airport has been the target of attacks in the past. You should plan and check your routes in advance of travelling. Stay in close contact with your private security companies and monitor this travel advice.

Following developments 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.

Border crossing points with countries neighbouring Iraq may close with little or no notice. There are reports that a number of Iraqi border crossings with Syria are now under ISIL control and have been closed. You should check in advance whether border crossings will be open before travelling through these areas.

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

  • employ a professional security company and take all necessary security precautions, including contingency plans.
  • 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. There was a marked increase in the number of terrorist attacks in Iraq in 2013, although terrorist incidents are less frequent in the Kurdistan region.

The US Embassy in Baghdad issued an emergency message on 21 May indicating that militant groups may be planning possible kidnap operations against their nationals. This applies equally to British nationals throughout Iraq, particularly oil company employees working in Basra province. The groups may be focused on hotels in the Basra area. International and local journalists have previously been detained in Iraq due to allegations of inadequate paperwork. Journalists should exercise extreme caution and take adequate security measures.

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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