Iraqâ€™s modern borders, shared with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia,Â Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran, were defined by the League of Nations after World War I when it was placed under British control.
A monarchy put in place after the country gained its independence was overthrown in a 1958 coup that established parliamentary democracy.
The 2003 invasion led by the United States ended the authoritarian regime of Saddam Hussein, who had ruled the country since 1979, and precipitated widespread insurgency and fighting between the Shiite and Sunni populations.
In October 2005, Iraqis approved a constitution in a national referendum and elected a 275-member Council of Representatives (COR) in December 2005. The COR approved most cabinet ministers in May 2006, marking the transition to Iraq’s first constitutional government in nearly a half century.
Nine years after the invasion of Iraq, US military operations there ended in mid-December 2011.
In January 2009 and April 2013, Iraq held elections for provincial councils in all governorates except for the three comprising the Kurdistan Regional Government and Kirkuk Governorate. Iraq held a national legislative election in March 2010 and, after nine months of deadlock the COR approved the new government in December 2010.
In April 2014, Iraq held a national legislative election and expanded the COR to 328 legislators. Prime Minister Nuri al-MALIKI dropped his bid for a third term in office, enabling new Prime Minister Haydar al-ABADI, a Shia from Baghdad, to win parliamentary approval of his new cabinet in September 2014.
Iraq has been characterised by political instability and sectarian conflict since the withdrawal of American forces in 2011. In 2014, the rise of the Islamic State militant group prompted a coalition of nations led by the United States to intervene, providing military support for the governments of Iraq and Syria.