Despite the conflicts and controversies, Baghdad remains a city with incredible history and plenty of interesting sights. It has sadly taken up much of the news in the past 20 to 30 years as a result of military action, however, it is still a hugely important city for Iraq. Here are some fun facts about Baghdad to help clue you in.
1. Where is Baghdad?
Baghdad is the capital city of Iraq and is situated on the Tigris river.
2. Millions of people live here!
The city has a population of 7.665 million (2014)!
3. Baghdad is only second to Tehran in size.
Tehran is the largest city in southwest Asia, with Baghdad in second place.
4. The name is a bit of an oddity.
It is not certain how Baghdad got its name. The city we know today was built on a settlement identified as existing in AD 800 and thought to have been founded in the year AD 762.
5. The city is a circle.
The city was built in a circular form. It became the capital of the dynasty of Caliphs known as Abbasid, becoming the focal center of the Islamic world.
6. Genghis Khan conquered the city.
The city was conquered by the Grandson of Genghis Khan, Hulegu, the leader of the Mongolian Empire, in 1258.
7. The city has suffered from bombing over the years.
In 1990, the bombing began to cause considerable suffering and destruction in the city as a result of the war in the Persian Gulf. Iraq was again bombed, and more considerable destruction continued throughout the second Gulf War, which began in 2003.
8. The Tigris River was at risk of flooding the city.
A dam was constructed in 1956 to stop the Tigris River from flooding the Baghdad region.
9. It’s seriously hot out here.
The climate of the city reaches high temperatures averaging a low 100 degrees F during the days from May to September. At midday, these can peak in the high 100s!
10. Humidity’s high here, too.
Humidity in Baghdad varies from 10% to 50%, so no need to visit a sauna!
11. It is sometimes known to freeze in Baghdad!
During winter, temperatures sometimes drop to below freezing and daytime temperatures average 50 degrees F.
12. Sandstorms are prevalent here.
In the summer, sandstorms are a regular occurrence, though precipitation is rare at only 6 inches on average per year!
13. The Tigris River splits the city.
The old part of Baghdad is located on the east bank of the Tigris River. This area is known as Al-Rusafa, and the area on the west bank is known as Al- Karkh.
14. Baghdad’s buildings combine the old and the new.
Baghdad has a mix of old and new buildings. It is a thriving commercial center and has many offices for large companies, as well as shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and government offices.
15. The riverfront was once big for entertainment.
The riverfront area is near the palace. It was an important area for entertainment but as security issues increased during war times and more buildings became occupied by Government employees, the tone of the area changed.
16. The main university in Baghdad has been here since the late 1950s.
Iraq’s university is found adjacent to the river in Baghdad. It was established in 1957.
17. Education is free in Baghdad, on the whole.
Education in Iraq is free for school children and those attending university.
18. The city has its own stock exchange.
1992 saw the opening of the Baghdad Stock Exchange!
19. Red buses are a common sight here.
Double-decker ‘Red Buses’ are seen in the city, having been introduced by the British in 2003!
20. TV in the city started broadcasting in the 1950s.
1956 was the year Baghdad Television made its first broadcast!
21. US forces left the city in the early 10s.
The US finally left Baghdad and Iraq in December 2011.
22. Records have been set and broken here.
A motorcyclist in Baghdad set a record in 2019, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records. He rode the motorcycle at a speed of 88 kilometers per hour (54.7 miles per hour) for 25.97 miles. He was standing on the seat for the whole of the journey!
Historians believe that over 1,000 years ago, Baghdad set a record for a city having a population of one million people!
23. Even Moscow is younger!
Moscow is 300 years younger than Baghdad!
24. A name the city hopes to live up to.
Despite its turbulent history, Baghdad is known as the ‘City of Peace’!
25. A famous movie involved the city.
The famous actor Douglas Fairbanks was the star of the film ‘The Thief of Baghdad’. It was a silent ‘movie’ made in 1924, with a plot adapted from ‘One Thousand and One Nights’.
The film was so successful, it was remade in 1940 and 1961. Favorite special effects included the famous ‘flying carpets’!
26. Baghdad’s walls used to be massive.
The old walls of the city were up to 12 meters thick at the top, widening to 44 meters thick at the bottom – and they were 30 meters tall!
27. The statue fell with the city.
Champion weightlifter Kadhim Sharif al-Jabouri became famous in 2003 on the day ‘Baghdad fell’, when he struck the statue of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad with a sledgehammer.
28. Saddam Hussein reigned here for a long time.
Controversial leader Saddam Hussein became President of Iraq in 1979 on July 16th. He died by hanging on December 30th, 2006, at a military base in Kazmain, a suburb of Baghdad.
Claims from the UK and the US surrounding Hussein’s alleged cache of ‘weapons of mass destruction’ led to the origins of the Iraq War in 2003. It was later found that Hussein had no such WMDs.
FAQs about Baghdad
What exactly is Baghdad famous for?
Baghdad is perhaps most famous for being the center of the Islamic world.
Is Baghdad a rich city?
Yes - and it is largely thanks to the fact that oil is such a big deal out here.
Is it safe to visit Baghdad?
At the time of writing, it is not recommended to visit Baghdad for reasons of personal safety.
Do you know any fun facts about Baghdad? Share them in the comments below!