Baghdad Capital of Iraq with about 7.4 million inhabitants (2005 estimate), situated in the interior of the country on the river Tigres at the point where land transportation meets river transportation, and where the distance between Tigris and the other main river of Iraq, Euphrates, is the shortest. The distance to the Persian Gulf is a sailing distance of about 900 km. The distance from Baghdad to the Euphrtes is only 50 km. Baghdad is the main transportation hub of Iraq, and is linked with the two most important neighbor countries Jordan and Syria, with excellent highways.
Connections from north to south in Iraq pass near Baghdad. The country's main airport, Baghdad International Airport, lies here as well now back in use after more than a decade of sanctions on Iraq.
Baghdad is the most important centre of learning in Iraq with the University of Baghdad (established in 1957), al-Mustansiriyya University (established in 1963) and the University of Technology (established in 1974). There are more than 1,000 primary schools in the Baghdad governorate, hundreds of intermediate and secondary schools, several vocational schools, technical institutes, and in addition to the 3 universities, al-Bakr Military Academy. Education in Iraq is free on all levels.
Baghdad was, prior to the wars of the 1980's and 90's, one of the leading cultural centre of the Arab world. Some of the most famous sculptors, poets and writers have come from Baghdad, or worked in the city. In literature, Baghdad has earned fame for its free-verse poets. Painting is a popular art in Baghdad, and there were until the 2003 war numerous exhibitions well attended by the population.
The National Theatre was earlier one of the best equipped in the Arab world, but continued its work even under the embargo. It was however looted during the 2003 war Since the 2003 war, most of the institutions of Baghdad has suffered hard, especially in terms of finances, but the city has kept its communities of artists, and the major institutions are the process of being rebuilt and reestablished or already operative.
Baghdad's city structure is vast, with several centres. The main areas of activities are the quarters around Saadoun, on the east bank of the Tigris. These were predominantly built up in the 1970's, but there are many examples of traditional architecture mainly in the outskirts. Along Rashid Street some of the anicest old town houses of Baghdad are found, even if many now are in bad condition. In between the streets, areas of typical Baghdad houses are found.
These are distinguished by the 1st floor wooden bays with latticed windows, and inner open courtyards. Roads of modern Baghdad are wide and many buildings stand free from other buildings. This especially applies to the western side of the Tigris, with the many governmental buildings, hotels and middle and upper class mansions. Wide highways run through all parts of Baghdad, making it a city that is easy to move around in with a car. There are also tramways or subways in Baghdad. Baghdad has many parks, of which Zawra park is the most popular. There are also several great monuments, of which the Martyr's Monument of 1983 is the most impressive, with a 50 metre high split green dome at its centre.