The Kurdistan Region of Iraq is an autonomous region in federal Iraq, comprising the governorates of Erbil Dohuk and Suleymania. The region borders Syria to the west, Iran to the East, and Turkey to the north, an area of some 40,600 square kilometres, about twice the size of Wales. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is based in Erbil, (also known as Hewler). The population of Kurdistan is approximately 4m, and increasing quickly.
The Region and surrounding areas were devastated by the Anfal genocide campaigns of Saddam Hussein’s regime in the 1990s. It is estimated that some 4,000 villages were razed, hundreds of thousands were murdered, displaced or went into exile.
During their long troubled history the mountains have been the refuge of the Kurds – ‘We have no friends but the mountains’ is a popular saying. Now with peace established and growing prosperity the towns are expanding, and the KRG estimates that some 65% of the destroyed villages have been rebuilt.
The mountain areas provide staggeringly beautiful scenery. The region is rich is ancient sites, including the Citadel in Erbil, said to be the longest continually inhabited place in the world. Kurds are now free to celebrate their culture, enjoy their wonderfully colourful traditional costumes, their distinctive food music and dance.