Who are these people with whom we are at war? It is...


January 24, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

Who are these people with whom we are at war? It is difficult to generalize about 17 million people, but here, based on interviews with Arab experts, is a primer on Iraq -- the country and its people. Look for it daily in the Today section.

History Modern Iraq encompasses the ancient kingdom of Babylonia. The so-called "Fertile Crescent" that lies between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is the region where writing first developed. It is widely regarded by scholars as the site of the fabled Garden of Eden.

Iraq is the birthplace of Abraham, patriarch of three of the world's dominant religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In the 6th century B.C., Nebuchadnezzar, king of the New Babylonia, conquered Jerusalem and exiled the Jews.

Just 30 miles outside Baghdad, Iraq's capital, are the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. The terraced gardens, which included a vaulted brick building housing fountains, pools and lush gardens, were probably built in 600 B.C.

Two of Iraq's towns -- Najaf and Karbala -- have Shiite shrines, where Shiite Muslims from around the world make pilgrimages.

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