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Baghdad or Bagdad (both: băgˈdăd, bägdädˈ), city (2020 pop. 7,144,000), capital of Iraq, central Iraq, on both banks of the Tigris River. The city's principal economic activity is oil refining. Most of Iraq's other industries are in Baghdad, such as the making of carpets, leather, textiles, cement, and tobacco products and the distilling of arrack, a liquor. Military industries are also located there. Baghdad has several museums, numerous archaeological sites, and three universities, the largest of which is the Univ. of Baghdad (1958).

Baghdad was founded (762) on the west bank of the Tigris by the Abbasid caliph Mansur, who made it his capital. Its commercial position became generally unrivaled and under the caliph Harun ar-Rashid, Baghdad rose to become one of the greatest cities of Islam. It was the home of many eminent scholars, artists, and poets, who enjoyed the city's wealth and culture. The period of its utmost glory is reflected in the Thousand and One Nights, in which many of the tales are set in Baghdad. After the death (809) of Harun the seat of the caliph was moved to Samarra; when the caliphate was returned later in the century, Baghdad had already been weakened by internal struggles.

In 1258 the Mongols sacked the city and destroyed nearly all of its splendor. It revived but was captured again by Timur (1400) and by the Persians (1524). Baghdad was repeatedly contested by Persians and Turks until 1638, when it became part of the Ottoman Empire. By that time the city's population had dwindled from a peak of c.1,000,000 to only a few thousand. Baghdad was captured by the British in 1917, and in 1920 it became the capital of the newly constituted kingdom of Iraq. In the early 1950s the majority of Baghdad's large Jewish population, who were present there since the city's founding, left on organized flights to Israel. The city was the scene of a coup in 1958 that overthrew the monarchy and established the Iraqi republic.

As a result of the growing Iraqi oil industry, Baghdad experienced rapid economic and population growth. With the onset of the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88), however, Baghdad became a target for Iranian attacks; its economic development stagnated as the oil industry was affected by the war. In Aug., 1990, Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait; as a result of coalition force reprisal action, Baghdad suffered heavy air attacks at the start of the Persian Gulf War (1991). A large portion of the city's infrastructure and military industrial capacity was destroyed, and residents lost homes, electrical power, and water services. Great amounts of foreign aid, specifically food and medical supplies, were needed to sustain the population.

In the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2004, Baghdad gradually became a terror battleground as U.S. forces were confronted by Sunni insurgents and Islamists. Sectarian fighting between Shiites and Sunnis also scarred the city, leading to more religiously homogeneous neighborhoods. Although the U.S. “surge” of 2007 led to decreased levels of violence, the sectarian divisions in the city remained pronounced. During the same period, U.S. forces established (2003) the heavily fortified “Green Zone,” a 4-sq-mi (10-sq-km) section on the west bank of the Tigris that had been home to Saddam Hussein's palaces and Ba'ath and government offices and became the site of the U.S. civilian headquarters and Iraqi government offices; it became generally accessible to the public again in 2019.


See works by F. Stark. See also R. Levy, A Baghdad Chronicle (1929, repr. 78); G. LeStrange, Baghdad During the Abbasid Caliphate (1942, repr. 1983); C. Owles, Salad Days in Baghdad (1986).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



capital of Iraq since 1921; administrative center of the muhafaza (province) of Baghdad (since 1972). Situated on both banks of the Tigris River near the mouth of the Diyala River; at the crossroads linking the countries of the Mediterranean basin with those of Central Asia and southern Asia. In 1965 the population was 1.7 million, including suburbs. The climate is Mediterranean; the mean January temperature is about 10°C, the July temperature about 34°C. Annual precipitation is 163 mm.

Historical survey. Baghdad was founded in 762 by the caliph Mansur under the name of Madinat al-Salam (City of Peace) and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate. The word Baghdad is most commonly held to be derived from the ancient Persian bagha“god” and dad“given”—that is, “god’s gift.” Baghdad probably existed as a settlement in the 19th and 18th centuries B. C. In the ninth century A. D. the city was transformed into a major center of medieval Arab culture. Enormous wealth flowed to Baghdad. Goods and products were brought there from India, Arabia, and European countries. The Arab geographer ibn-Khordadbeh (c. 820–912/913) mentions Russian merchants visiting Baghdad. After the collapse of the Abbasids, Baghdad gradually lost its political significance, but it long remained a science center. There were more than 30 libraries in Baghdad early in the 13th century. It came under the sway of the Buvayids in 945 and the Seljuks in 1055. In 1258 it was conquered by the Mongols, who destroyed and plundered the city. In the late 14th and early 15th centuries it was captured twice by Tamerlane and again destroyed and laid waste. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Baghdad was held by the Turks, Persians, and the Turks once more. It was part of the Ottoman Empire from 1638 to 1917, when it was seized by British troops. In 1920 it became the administrative center of the British mandate territory, and from 1921 to 1958 it was the capital of Royal Iraq. Baghdad is an important center of the anti-imperialist national liberation movement of the Iraqi people. (The largest outbreaks occurred in 1948, 1949, 1952, and 1954.) The Republic of Iraq was proclaimed in Baghdad on July 14, 1958, as a result of the victory of the revolution.

Economy. Baghdad is the country’s transport, industrial, trade, and financial center. It is a railroad, highway, and air-transport junction. (An international airport is located in al-Hunaidi.) It is a large river port (export of grain, dates, wool, and hides). About 25 percent of all the country’s industrial plants—mainly those of the textile, leather, garment, and food industries—are in Baghdad. An electrical-engineering plant and garment and other enterprises have been built with the technical assistance of the USSR. There is domestic production of shoes, jewelry, and foods. A large oil refinery is located near Baghdad.

Architecture. Architectural monuments have been preserved in Baghdad; among them are the so-called Abbasid palace (late 12th-early 13th centuries), Zubaida’s tomb (early 13th century), the entire Mustansiriyah madrasa (1227–33, rebuilt in 1823, restored in the 20th century), the Suq al-Ghazal minaret (1279), the Khan Marjan (or Khan Ortma) caravansary (1358/59), the Bab al-Wastani gate (1221; now an armaments museum), and the tomb of Musa al-Kadhim (the so-called Golden Mosque, 1515; restored in the 17th and mid-20th centuries). Modern Baghdad has been rebuilt. The main street is al-Rashid Street, with modern bank, shop, and hotel buildings. The monumental panel-relief Revolution of July 14 (stone and bronze, 1959–60; sculptor, J. Salim) was erected on the al-Tahrir central plaza. At the end of Saadun Avenue is the monument to the Unknown Soldier (1959, architect, R. al-Chaderchi). On the west bank of the Tigris are the parliament, al-Rihab palace, government buildings, and an airport.

Scientific and cultural institutions. Baghdad has a university, an academy of sciences, and six museums (including the Iraqi Museum, the Museum of Arab Antiquities, the Museum of Modern Art, and ethnographic and natural history museums). There is also a public library.


Stolitsy stran mira. Moscow, 1966.
Tskhittishvili, O. Khalakh baghdadis isttoriisathvis. Tbilisi, 1968.
Baqir, T. Baghdad. Baghdad, 1959.
“Baghdad.” Encyclopé die de I’IsIam, vol. 1. Leiden-Paris, 1960. Pages 921–936.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Bagdad
the capital of Iraq, on the River Tigris: capital of the Abbasid Caliphate (762--1258). Pop.: 5 910 000 (2005 est.)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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