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|citadel of Erbil , a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2014|
Erbil (officially Kurdish ھەولێر Hewlêr or Arabic أربيل Arbil , DMG Arbīl ) is the capital and at the same time the seat of the government of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan in Iraq. In addition, Erbil is the capital of the Erbil governorate of the same nameand the economic and trade center of the autonomous region of Kurdistan.
Favored by the stable security situation and as the location of the regional parliament, several foreign missions were opened in Erbil. Countries that have a diplomatic mission in Erbil include the USA , Russia , Iran , Great Britain , France , South Korea , Germany and China . In November 2007 the UN opened an office in Erbil. The mayor is Nihad Latif Kodscha , who lived in exile in Germany for 23 years .
Due to its immense age, the city was mentioned at an early stage in human history. As early as the third millennium BC, the Sumerians mentioned the city as Urbilum or Urbelum . This term is likely derived from the Hurrian word arbilum . In the Ur-III period the place was also called Urbilum, until the Old Babylonian period Urbel, the Assyrians called it Arbail (today Aramaic ܐܪܒܝܠ Arbela ). Other researchers attribute the name to the Akkadian arba'ū ilū ( four gods ).
In ancient Persia the city was called Arbairā . In ancient Greece, Arbelles .
Today's Kurdish name Hewlêr is probably another change of the word Arbel around various phonetic metatheses .
The population of Erbil has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2007, according to OCHA, the population of the city of Erbil was 808,600, the population of the Erbil district 1,115,890 and the population of the Erbil governorate 1,542,421. In 2013, the Joint Analysis Unit (JAU) of UNAMI (United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq) assumed a population of 1,530,722 for the Erbil Governorate. For 2014, the REACH initiative by UNOSAT , ACTED (Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development) and IMPACT is assuming a population of 1.4 million for Erbil, even without the refugees who reached the city after the conquest of Mosul by ISIS .
More recent estimates put the governorate at up to 2 million people, but exact and reliable figures do not exist. The majority are the Kurds ; The minorities include Chaldo Assyrians , Arabs and Turkmens . In addition, numerous guest workers from Turkish companies live in the city due to the emerging housing and house construction. The city's residents are predominantly Muslim . Over 40,000 Christian Chaldo Assyrians live mainly in the suburb of Ankawa .
Erbil is one of the oldest continuously populated cities in the world. The city is estimated to be more than 8,000 years old. Already under Aššur-reš-iši I. the city was the target of Assyrian campaigns. The city has long been a religious center for the goddess Ishtar .
When Erbil was under Median rule, Kyaxares I tribes of the Sagartier from the Zagros settled here. When the Achaemenids replaced the Medes, the Medes led Phraortes a revolt against Darius I to. Darius I defeated the rebels in 521 BC And had this immortalized on the Behistun inscription . In 331 the Persian great king Dareios III was defeated. in the battle of Gaugamela not far from Arbela, the Macedonian king Alexander the great . The battle was also known as the Battle of Arbela, allegedly because the Macedonians thought Gaugamela was too insignificant (Strabo, Geographika 16, 3). After the defeat of the Persians against Alexander the Great, Erbil became part of the Seleucid Empire . In classical times the city was known by its Aramaic name, Arbela. The Greeks assumed that Arbela was founded by Arbelus , the son of Athmoneus (Strabo, Geographika 16, 3). Erbil was the capital of the Principality of Adiabene . With the victory of 141 BC Chr. Was Mithridates I of Parthia ruler of Mesopotamia. The city changed several times between Parthians and Seleucids. 88 BC Tigranes conquered Erbil and occupied Adiabene. When the Romans threatened Armenia, he offered Adiabene to the Parthians in exchange for their help against Rome.
Erbil later developed into the capital of a more or less autonomous vassal state of the Parthians. The first known king of the local dynasty was Izates , who ruled around 30 AD. His successor converted to Judaism .
In 195, Septimius Severus occupied Adiabene and was given the title Parthicus Adiabenicus . Vologaeses V recaptured Adiabene and punished King Narses for failing to help with a campaign in the east of the empire. Like the entire area, Erbil was often fought over in the Roman Parthian wars. In 216 Caracalla conquered the city. The Romans plundered royal Parthian tombs.
After the revolt of Ardashir I in 222 against the Parthians and the establishment of the Sassanid Empire , Erbil became part of the new empire for 400 years. Erbil was ruled by a governor ( Middle Persian : Mowbed). One of these governors was the Crown Prince Chosrau II. Erbil was the seat of a Metropolitan of the Church of the East . The diocese was called Ḥdhayab in Aramaic . Many Aramaic speaking Christians lived in Erbil. The Christianization of northern Mesopotamia often started from Erbil.
During the Middle Ages, Erbil became an important stop on the trade route between Mosul and Baghdad. After the Sassanids were defeated by the Arabs , the area became Muslim. Centuries later, Imad ad-Din Zengi conquered the city in 1131. From 1145 to 1233 Erbil was the capital of the Begteginids or Atabegs of Erbil. One of these local rulers, Muzaffar ad-Din Gökböri , left behind many social institutions such as orphanages. After 1233 the city fell to the Abbasids . In 1235 the Mongols sacked Erbil. In 1397 Timur invaded the city and destroyed it. The proportion of Christians decreased and Erbil became more and more a Muslim city. From the 16th century the Ottomans ruled Erbil and it became part of the Vilayets of Mosul. In 1731 Nadir Shah , the later ruler of Persia, besieged the city and was able to take it after long resistance. Even so, the city remained part of the Ottoman Empire until the First World War .
Erbil consists of a lower town in the plain on the river and the core town on the settlement hill , in the middle of which an Ottoman fort is enthroned.
Erbil was slightly damaged in the first Gulf War . After the withdrawal of the Iraqi military and administration in 1992, the first free Kurdish parliament was elected in Erbil. Until 1996 there were violent clashes between the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Erbil has been administered by the KDP since 1996.
In August 2014 there was a first confrontation between the autonomous region of Kurdistan and the Islamic State (IS). During this confrontation, fighting broke out between the Kurdish Peshmerga troops and the Islamic State militias over the city. When the IS terrorists tried to advance 40 km from Erbil with a lightning offensive, the United States intervened immediately afterwards. Air strikes by the United States were able to stop the advance on the city promptly and effectively. Since then, the Kurds have been supported with air strikes on IS artillery positions. In the further course of the process several states formed an anti-IS alliance under the leadership of the USA in order to be able to give the Kurds further support from the air.
The city has a dry subtropical climate. In the summer months between June and September, the average maximum temperature rises to 42 degrees Celsius, accompanied by strong solar radiation: Rain is extremely unlikely during this time of the year.
In winter, between December and February, the maximum temperature averages 12 to 14 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature in January is around two degrees Celsius on average, but values below zero degrees Celsius are not uncommon at this time of year. The annual rainfall of around 540 millimeters on average falls almost exclusively in the period from November to April.
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Erbil
Economy and Infrastructure
Erbil's economic position in Iraq was insignificant for decades. The reasons were Saddam Hussein's policies , the operations and massacres of the Iraqi army , as well as the consequences of the uprisings after the Second Gulf War and the subsequent civil war between the Kurdish factions. This changed suddenly with the Third Gulf War : Since terrorist attacks by Baathists and Islamists are the order of the day in other parts of Iraq , more and more companies are moving to Erbil. This has led to brisk economic activity in Erbil as well as to a strong increase in the population (2003: approx. 700,000; 2010 over 1 million; 2014 approx. 1.4 million). In November 2009, Prime Minister Barham Salih opened the new Majidi Mall. International stores and brands such as Adidas and Nike are also represented there.
Erbil has taken over functions that Amman previously had in Jordan, e.g. B. as a trade fair location and as a location for large conferences. Since February 2010 there is a German business office that helps German companies.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, Erbil Airport was converted from a military base into an airport for civil aviation. The airport opened on July 7, 2005 and now offers scheduled flights to destinations in Europe and the Middle East . In 2014, 1,566,000 passengers used the airport. Compared to the previous year, the number of passengers has increased by 31%. After the independence referendum of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan on September 25, 2017, Iraq closed the airport to international flights. Humanitarian, military and diplomatic flights were exempt from the ban. In March 2018 international flights to and from Erbil were allowed again.
The Green Belt in Erbil is a sub-project of the Erbil Master Plan, the implementation of which has been planned since 2007 and has been approved since 2012. It is an artificial green area and is to be created with a circumference of 80 km around the city. It should consist mainly of agricultural land and afforested forests. The main aim of the project is to minimize the effects of sandstorms and to slow down the creeping desertification and, in the best case, to end it. Further goals are an end to the urban sprawl in Erbil in order to avoid high infrastructure costs, and a competitive regional agricultural sector with stronger local marketing of the cultivated products. In addition, tourism is to be expanded here with incentives for investment. Furthermore, the Green Belt should serve as a local recreation area and have a long-term positive effect on the city's climate.
In 2013, Emaar Properties , the largest real estate company in the United Arab Emirates , announced the construction and planning of Downtown Erbil based on the model of Downtown Dubai. Emaar Properties is known for major upper-class projects such as Downtown Dubai and Burj Khalifa . Downtown Erbil is, at 3 billion US dollars in costs, the most expensive major project in the entire Kurdistan region to date. The future city center, with an area of 541,000 m², is to be used for apartments, hotels and a shopping center.
Furthermore, wide ring roads are being laid out to stimulate further urban development. The focus of today's urban development is Gulan Street , five years ago a country road and bypass around Erbil. It leads from the main Erbil-Mosul about 6 kilometers to the main road Erbil- shaqlawa and is now marked by various residential areas, shopping malls and skyscrapers. The now fourth ring road is named after Qazi Mohammed , the first President of the Republic of Mahabad ; the area around this street has already been largely released for development.
Erbil master plan
Until the beginning of 2009, the Iraqi state had no legal basis for creating a legal framework for orderly urban planning, for example for the preparation of zoning plans or development plans. Due to the outstanding importance of Erbil for the Kurdish region, the administration decided on a development and land use plan that is designed to run until 2034. A new shopping center called Nistiman Mall is still under construction. It is to serve as a replacement for the shabby Scheikalah market district of the former city center. Most of the old city center will be demolished in favor of green spaces. The old citadel has already been evacuated and converted into an open-air museum. This first phase of the development plan should be completed by 2014.
The master plan includes:
- Aquacultures southwest and west of the city
- The settlement of heavy industries south and south-east of the city
- The settlement of the petrochemical industry east of the city
- A Formula 1 / Grand Prix racetrack in the east
- Safari and nature parks in the north and east
- Several reservoirs and water protection areas in the north and west
- Various recreational and sports offers (golf courses, green belt, etc.)
There are many international educational institutions in Erbil, including US, British, French and German schools and universities. The oldest university in the city and also in the autonomous region of Kurdistan is Salahaddin University . It was founded in Sulaimaniyya in 1968 and was named University of Sulaimani. In 1981 the Iraqi regime relocated it to Erbil and renamed it Salahaddin University due to the city's massive Kurdish resistance against Saddam Hussein. It has been based in Erbil since 1981 and is the most visited university in the Kurdistan region. In addition to Salahaddin University, there are other universities in Erbil, including the University of Kurdistan Hewlêr , which was founded in 2006 and specializes in health sciences, and Hawler Medical University .
In September 2010 a German school was opened in Erbil, initially with five classes as well as a kindergarten and preschool.
The most famous attraction of the city is the citadel of Erbil , which received the status of a world cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2014 . It is over 8,000 years old and is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world. Assyrians , Akkadians , Babylonians and Greeks lived in this settlement before . The city-famous, traditional Qaysari Bazar is located at the southern entrance of the citadel . This bazaar was founded in the fourteenth century when the city began to expand. Since then, souvenirs, gold jewelry, textiles and homemade food have been traded in the bazaar .
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