Baghdad

This article is about the capital of Iraq. For other uses, see Baghdad (disambiguation).
Baghdad
بغداد
ܒܓܕܕ
Capital city
Clockwise from top: Aerial view of the Green Zone; Al-Mustansiriya University; Al-Kadhimiya Mosque; Swords of Qadisiyah monument; and the National Museum of Iraq
Official seal of Baghdad
Seal
Nickname(s): 'The City of Peace' [1]
Baghdad is located in Iraq
Baghdad
Baghdad
Coordinates: 33°20′N 44°23′E / 33.333°N 44.383°E / 33°20′N 44°23′E / 33.333; 44.383
Country   Iraq
Governorate Baghdad
Established 762 AD
Founded by Abu Jafar al-Mansur
Government
 • Type Mayor–council
 • Body Baghdad City Advisory Council
 •  Mayor Zekra Alwach
Area
 • Total 204.2 km2 (78.8 sq mi)
Elevation 34 m (112 ft)
Population
 • Estimate (2016) 7,180,889
 • Rank 1st
  [2] [3]
Demonym(s) Baghdadi
Time zone Arabia Standard Time ( UTC+3)
 • Summer ( DST) No DST ( UTC)
Postal code 10001 to 10090
Website Mayoralty of Baghdad

Baghdad ( Arabic: بغداد‎‎, Iraqi pronunciation: [bɐʁˈd̪ɑːd̪]; Syriac: ܒܲܓ݂ܕܵܕ‎; Kurdish: Bexda‎) is the capital of the Republic of Iraq. The population of Baghdad, as of 2011, is approximately 7,216,040, making it the largest city in Iraq, [2] [3] the second largest city in the Arab world (after Cairo, Egypt), and the second largest city in Western Asia (after Tehran, Iran).

Located along the Tigris River, the city was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. Within a short time of its inception, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center for the Islamic world. This, in addition to housing several key academic institutions (e.g. House of Wisdom), garnered the city a worldwide reputation as the "Center of Learning".

Throughout the High Middle Ages, Baghdad was considered to be the largest city in the world with an estimated population of 1,200,000 people. [4] The city was largely destroyed at the hands of the Mongol Empire in 1258, resulting in a decline that would linger through many centuries due to frequent plagues and multiple successive empires. With the recognition of Iraq as an independent state (formerly the British Mandate of Mesopotamia) in 1938, Baghdad gradually regained some of its former prominence as a significant center of Arab culture.

In contemporary times, the city has often faced severe infrastructural damage, most recently due to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and the subsequent Iraq War that lasted until December 2011. In recent years, the city has been frequently subjected to insurgency attacks. As of 2012, Baghdad was listed as one of the least hospitable places in the world to live, [5] and was ranked by Mercer as the worst of 221 major cities as measured by quality-of-life. [6]

Etymology

Al Khulafa historical mosque in Baghdad

The name Baghdad is pre-Islamic. The site where the city of Baghdad developed has been populated for millennia. By the 8th century AD, several villages had developed there, including a Persian [7] [8] hamlet called Baghdad, the name which would come to be used for the Abbasid metropolis. [9]

The name is of Indo-European origin [10] and a Middle Persian [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] compound of Bagh ( Baghpahlavi.png) "god" and dād ( Dadpahlavi.png) "given by", [18] translating to "Bestowed by God" or "God's gift". In Old Persian the first element can be traced to boghu and is related to Slavic bog "god", [10] while the second can be traced to dadāti. [19] A similar term in Middle Persian is the name Mithradāt (Mihrdād in New Persian), known in English by its Hellenistic form Mithridates, meaning "gift of Mithra" (dāt is the more archaic form of dād, related to Latin dat and English donor [10]). There are a number of other locations in the wider region whose names are compounds of the word bagh, including Baghlan and Bagram in Afghanistan or a village called Bagh-šan in Iran. [20] The name of the town Baghdati in Georgia shares the same etymological origins. [21] [22]

When the Abbasid caliph, al-Mansur, founded a completely new city for his capital, he chose the name Madinat al-Salaam or City of Peace. This was the official name on coins, weights, and other official usage, although the common people continued to use the old name. [23] [24] By the 11th century, "Baghdad" became almost the exclusive name for the world-renowned metropolis.