Iraq Iraq

Statistical Snapshot




Iraq has an estimated population of 41.1 million in 2021[1] and with an urbanization rate of 71.1 percent.[2] Youth, below 24 years of age, make up 56 percent of the total population.[1] Life expectancy rate at birth is 69 years for men and 73 years for women.[1] 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 2019 is 0.646—which puts the country in the medium human development group — positioning it at 123 out of 189. Although Iraq moved down from the 120th place in 2018, yet on the period of 2014-2019 Iraq’s HDI ranking has been pushed up by four places. The country’s value is below the average of 0.705 for countries in Arab States.  When adjusted for inequality, the HDI loses 19.7 percent, largely due to inequality in education.[3]


According to the Global Peace Index, Iraq has been ranked the 3rd least peaceful country worldwide in 2020, incurring an economic cost of violence estimated at 26 percent of GDP for 2019.[4] Gripped by conflict and economic volatility since 2003, there are an estimated  4.1 million Iraqis in need of humanitarian assistance in 2021 (out of which more than 3 million children) and approximately 1.2 million people remain internally displaced.[5] By the end of May 2021, Iraq also hosted around 246 thousand Syrian refugees, mostly living in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.[5]  The refugee population have poor access to essential basic services, including education, water, and healthcare, a situation that worsened following the outbreak of COVID-19.


Almost two decades after the war, Iraq suffers from deep economic and social fragilities and political instability. On top of the country’s high dependence on oil exports for growth and revenue* leading to poor economic policies, the lack of reforms and subsequently high levels of corruption, Iraq has been lately suffering from the volatility of oil prices, recent social unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been reflected on real GDP growth that reached in 2020 its largest contraction since the fall of the Saddam regime, reversing two years of steady recovery.[6] Indeed, Iraq’s economy experienced a sharp contraction of 10.9 percent in 2020 [7] mainly explained by the low global demand for oil, Iraq’s adherence to OPEC production cuts and the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and the service sectors, with non-oil economy contracting by 9 percent. Oil revenues, Iraq’s main source of income making up 35.6 percent of GDP in 2019, dropped to around half at 18.2 percent of GDP in 2020 as the price of oil worldwide crashed.[8]


On the other hand, inflation pressures remained low in 2020 at 0.6 percent given the low domestic demand and cheaper imported goods.[9] Growth is projected to increase to 1.1 percent in 2021 and 4.4 in 2022,[7] however the country’s outlook will depend on global oil markets, the implementation of reforms**, and the capacity to respond to COVID-19 and ensure a quick rollout of vaccines.[9]


As oil prices are recovering, the fiscal deficit is expected to progressively decrease, from a projected 5.5 percent in 2021 to 0.6 percent of GDP in 2023, and the government gross debt is projected to remain high at around 70 percent of GDP in 2021 and 74 percent in 2023, compared to 51 percent in 2019.[7]


In December 2020, the Central Bank issued a statement setting the exchange rate of the currency at 1,470 Iraqi Dinars for each USD, which entails a 22 percent devaluation of the Iraqi Dinar compared to its value in January 2020. The Central Bank stated that this is a necessary move given the economic conditions of Iraq due to the outbreak of COVID-19, in addition to the deficit in the public budget and decreasing oil revenues due to the deteriorating oil prices. The Central Bank of Iraq is hoping for this move to enhance the competitiveness of the Iraqi national production given the region’s economic conditions and exchange rates.[10] However, given the country’s limited capacity for import substitution, the currency devaluation may push inflation to 9.4 percent in 2021, which will put additional pressure on household well-being.[7][9]
Similarly, to counter the outbreak of COVID-19 and its implications, Iraq’s Central Bank reduced the required reserve ratio from 15% to 13%.[11]


The COVID-19 pandemic comes at a time when Iraq is already facing major development and humanitarian challenges. Iraq continues to struggle with national poverty. According to a recent study by the World Bank and UNICEF, 12 percent of population could be pushed into poverty by the current crisis, causing the national poverty rate to climb to 32 percent from 20 percent in 2018.[12] Along the same lines, youth unemployment in Iraq remains an ongoing challenge, estimated at 25.2 percent in 2019, largely affecting young women, whose unemployment rate reached 62.6 percent.[13] Despite holding 26.4 percent of the parliamentary seats in 2020 [14], among the highest rates in the region, Iraqi women still face multifaceted challenges: 59.7 percent of young illiterates were females and 69.5 percent of the adult illiterates were women in 2017;[15] early marriage continues to prevail, where, according to the latest available data, almost 28 percent of women (aged 20-24) got married before reaching 18 years;[16] and 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.[17]


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.[18] As such, Iraq’s already crippling healthcare system puts the country in a more challenging position to respond to the outbreak of COVID-19.


As for COVID-19, there were 1,181,698 confirmed cases between January 3, 2020 and May 27, 2021, with 16,267 reported deaths. As of May 24, 2021 there were 442,234 administered vaccine doses.[19] Iraq is one of 20 countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region which are expected to receive a total of 46 to 56 million additional doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines during the first half of 2021 as part of COVAX Facility.[20] Iraq received 2 deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX by mid-May 2021,[21] and signed deals to purchase the AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNtech, Sinopharm and Sputnik V vaccines, 2.0 million, 1.5 million, 2.0 million and 1.0 million doses of the vaccines, respectively.[22]



This overview was last updated in May 2021. 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. 2019. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].

[2] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. 2019World Urbanization Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].
[3] United Nations Development Programme. 2020. Human development report. 2020. [ONLINE] Available at:  [Accessed 28 May 2021].
[4] Institute for Economics and Peace. 2020. Global Peace Index: Measuring Peace in a Complex World. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].
[5] United Nations Office for the Commission of Humanitarian Affairs. 2021. Humanitarian response plan, Iraq. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].

[6] The World Bank. 2020. Breaking Out of Fragility: A Country Economic Memorandum for Diversification and Growth in Iraq. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 30 May 2021]

[7] International Monetary Fund (IMF). IMF DataMapper.  April 2021. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2020].

[8] The World Bank. 2020. Iraq Economic Monitor: Navigating the Perfect Storm (Redux). [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 December 2020].

[9] The World Bank. 2021. Yemen Overview. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 26 May 2021].

[10] Central Bank of Iraq. December 2020. Statement on Exchange Rate Adjustment. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 December 2020]

[11] Central Bank of Iraq. 2020. Media Center. [ONLINE] Available at:  [Accessed 28 May 2021].

[12] UNICEF Iraq, The World Bank, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative and the Ministry of Planning in Iraq. July 2020. Assessment of COVID-19 Impact on Poverty and Vulnerability in Iraq. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 May 2021].

[13] International Labor Organization. 2020. ILOstat, ILO estimates, Decemmber 2020. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].

[14] The World Bank, Sustainable Development Goals Database. 2021. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].
[15] UNESCO Institute for Statistics. 2021. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].
[16] SDG Global Database. 2021. United Nations Statistics Division. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].
[17] International Telecommunication Union. 2020. [ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 28 May 2021].
[18] World Health Organization (WHO). April 2020. [ONLINE] Available at [Accessed 22 December 2020].
[19] World Health Organization. March 2021. WHO Coronavirus (COVID-19) Dashboard. [ONLINE] Available at:  [Accessed 28 May 2021].
[20] UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ReliefWeb. February 2021. Glimmer of hope: COVID-19 vaccines roll out in countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].

[21] UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ReliefWeb. May 2021. Iraq receives second delivery of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].

[22] International Monetary Fund. 2021. Policy Responses To COVID-19. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 May 2021].

[23] Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). 2019. Annual statistical Bulletin. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 December 2020].


* 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.[23]

** Reforms mainly consist of the private sector-led diversification, relating to more fiscal stability, improving the financial sector and business environment; and increasing investments in agriculture, gas, electricity, social protection, and labor.[9]



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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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