Iraq Iraq

Statistical Snapshot



Iraq has an estimated population of 39.3 million in 2019, growing by 2.3 percent and with an urbanization rate of 70.7 percent.  Youth, below 24 years of age, make up 58 percent of the total population.[1] Life expectancy rate at birth is 71.7 years for men and 75.6 years for women.[2] Maternal mortality ratio is lower than the regional average at 79 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to 149 per 100,000 live births respectively.[3]


Iraq’s Human Development Index (HDI) for 2018 is 0.689—which puts the country in the medium human development group — positioning it at 120 out of 189. The country’s value is above the average of 0.634 for countries in the medium human development group and below the average of 0.703 for countries in Arab States.  When adjusted for inequality, the HDI falls to 0.552, a loss of 19.8 percent, largely due to inequality in education.[3]


According to the Global Peace Index, Iraq has been ranked the fifth least peaceful country worldwide in 2019, incurring an economic cost of violence estimated at 32 percent of GDP for the same year.[4] Gripped by conflict and economic volatility since 2003, there are an estimated  4.1 million Iraqis in need of humanitarian assistance in 2020 and approximately 1.4 million people remain internally displaced, over 50 percent of whom have been displaced for more than four years.[5] By the end of 2019, Iraq also hosted around 245 thousand Syrian refugees, mostly living in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.[6] The refugee population have poor access to essential basic services, including education, water and healthcare.


The conflict in Iraq has had a grave impact on the lives of children. Approximately 3.3 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance and more than 658,000 children remain internally displaced in Iraq, with the risk of missing out on education according to UNICEF. At least 2.3 million people, of whom 1 million children under the age of 18, have water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) needs, with an estimate of 77 percent of people in Iraq having access to sufficient and safe water.[7] Around 324,533 individuals in camps, 493,050 out-of-camps and 1,975,543 returnees in Iraq are in need of primary health care services. In addition, there is a need to rehabilitate over 350 primary healthcare services and hospitals.[8] According to the WHO, government health expenditure is only 0.7 percent of GDP, the lowest in the Arab region, against a global average of 10.1, thus explaining why out-of-pocket health expenditure (as a percent of current health expenditure) is at 58 percent, higher than the global average of 33.1 percent.[9] As such, Iraq’s already crippling healthcare system puts the country in a more challenging position to respond to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19.


Iraq holds around 12.2 percent of the world’s proven crude oil reserves, the fourth largest worldwide, and is ranked as the second largest exporter of crude oil.[10] Following the dual shock of the 2014-2017 conflict and steep drop in oil prices, Iraq is once again facing another socio-economic crisis accompanied with a persistent social and political turmoil. The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with a steep decline in international oil prices threatens the crude-exporting country into an unprecedented economic crisis.


Following a contraction in real GDP by -2.4 percent in 2017 and -0.5 percent in 2018, down from 15.1 percent in 2016, the economy grew by 3.9 percent in 2019, where growth in oil sector registered a 3.7 percent increase and non-oil a 4.3 percent. However, the spread of COVID–19 is projected to negatively impact growth, where real GDP is expected to contract by 4.7 percent in 2020.[11] Oil revenues, Iraq’s main source of income making up 35.6 percent of GDP in 2019, are expected to drop to around half at 18.2 percent of GDP in 2020 as the price of oil worldwide crashed.[12] At $28.4 per barrel in March 2020, Iraq’s budget deficit is projected to increase to 22.3 percent of GDP in 2020, up from 0.7 percent in 2019, while its current account deficit is projected to increase to 21.7 percent of GDP, up from 1.2 percent of GDP in 2019,[11] driven by the drop in Iraq oil exports value by 26 percent in the first quarter of 2020.[12] Public debt to GDP has been steadily increasing from 31 percent in 2013 up to a peak of 64.3 percent in 2016.  The fiscal surplus of 7.9 percent of GDP, registered for the first time since 2012, lowered the public debt to GDP to 49.3 percent in 2018, before slightly increasing again to 51.1 percent in 2019.[13]


The lack of reforms to boost private investment accompanied with the social and political turmoil in Iraq will add additional pressure on the services sector, which decelerated to 0.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 due to the escalation of the protests in October 2019. The most affected sectors were transport, trade, banking and tourism, which account for a sizeable 48 percent of non-oil GDP.[12] This will result in the deceleration of non-oil GDP growth, which is projected to contract to -9 percent in 2020.[11]


The COVID-16 pandemic comes at a time when Iraq is already facing major development and humanitarian challenges. Iraq continues to struggle with national poverty, with 18.9 percent of the population living below the national poverty line, and 8.6 percent considered as multi-dimensionally poor according to the latest UNDP human development report in 2019. Along the same lines, youth unemployment in Iraq remains an ongoing challenge, estimated at 25.1 percent in 2019, largely affecting young women, whose unemployment rate reached 61.6 percent.[14] Despite holding 25.2 percent of the parliamentary seats in 2019[15], among the highest rates in the region, Iraqi women still face multifaceted challenges. Only 52.7 percent of the young women and 44 percent of the adult women were literate in 2018.[16] Early marriage continues to prevail, where, according to the latest available data, almost 27.9 percent of women (aged 20-24) got married before reaching 18 years in 2018.[17] With the highest gender digital divide in the Arab region of 47 percent, Iraq has a long way to bridge the digital divide and other forms of gender discrimination.[18]



This overview was last updated in May2020. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.

[1] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2019World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].

[2] Central Statistical Organization, Iraq. 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[3] United Nations Development Programme. 2019. Human development report, global multidimensional poverty index 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[4] Institute for Economics and Peace. 2019. Global Peace Index: Measuring Peace in a Complex World. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 May 2020].

[5] United Nations Office for the Commission of Humanitarian Affairs. 2020. Humanitarian response plan, Iraq. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[6] The Office of the United nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 2020. Inter-agency operational update, Iraq. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[7] United Nations Children’s Fund. 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[8] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). 2020. Humanitarian Needs Overview, Iraq. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].  
[9] World Health Organization (WHO). April 2020. [ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 31 May 2020].
[10] Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). 2019. Annual statistical Bulletin. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 May 2020]. 
[11] International Monetary Fund. April 2020.World Economic Outlook Database [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 May 2020].

[12] The World Bank. 2020. Iraq Economic Monitor: Navigating the Perfect Storm (Redux). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 May 2020].
[13] International Monetary Fund. October 2018. World Economic Outlook Database. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 May 2020].

[14] International Labor Organization. 2020. ILOstat, ILO estimates, November 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 May 2020].
[15] The World Bank, Sustainable Development Goals Database. 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].

[16] UNESCO Institute for Statistics. 2019. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[17] SDG Global Database. 2019. United Nations Statistics Division. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 23 April 2020].
[18] International Telecommunication Union. 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 April 2020].


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Data Highlights

  • The tertiary gross enrollment ratio in Iraq has been on the rise since 2006, it reached 19.4% in 2015.

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