Erbil, the city of the Gods (Arbi-Ilu, meaning the ‘Four Gods’), Qelay Hewlêr as called by its people, or Erbil as currently called, is the capital of the Region of Kurdistan, Iraq. Irbil’s reputation began to spread globally as a home for investment, where investments amounted to more than USD 24 billion in 2/05/2012. Erbil hosts 32 foreign consulates in 20151.
As an urban city, Erbil is not modern; it is the oldest inhabited city in the world so far. Its name appeared in historical blogs since about 3000 BC as a vivid town and a Sumerian property. According to the Sumerian records, its name was (Urbilum) back then, as stated in one of the writings of the Sumerian King Sholki about 2000 BC. The Sumerians were the first people that appeared in Mesopotamia. Most historians confirm their displacement from Kurdistan (northern Mesopotamia: currently Iraq) towards the alluvial plain in southern Iraq, where they established cities and built the first civilization in human history. The Akkadians said, in the second half of the third millennium BC, Erbil’s name (as Urbil), while the Assyrians, since the middle of the third millennium until the middle of the first millennium BC, named it as of (Arba’ilu); i.e. the city of the four gods. In the era of Iranian empires, the name remained the same (Arba’ilu), while the Greeks named it in several ways: Arbilla, Arbillas, and Arbilis. Erbil borders have witnessed one of the most important historical battles (Arbilla or Kokamila battle) between Alexander the Great and Darius, the Achaemenid King in the fourth century BC, specifically in the year 331 BC. Also, Erbil’s name was mentioned in the books of Arab and Muslim historians as Arbel and Erbil, for more than fifty centuries.
Erbil, as a governorate with administrative geographical borders, was first found in 1923. The second stage of its growth Erbil began after the fall of the Baathist regime in Iraq in 2003, and Erbil began a new civilization era since 2004 up to date, during which Erbil, as a capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, witnessed a rapid, steady and vigorous development that made Erbil the focus of attention of the world that is looking for stability and real opportunities. Over the last years, Erbil expanded and moved away from its famous castle located at the center of the Governorate, rendering the holistic plan for the city a reality that is taking place in front of the eyes of Erbil’s families’ visitors, with pride and stability.
Erbil is located in the Region of Kurdistan, Iraq, bordered by Turkey on the north and Iran on the northeast, with an area of 15,074 km2, while the internal borders are Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk at the south, Nineveh Region at the west and Dohuk at the northwest.
Figure 3 Geographical Location
Erbil total population amounted to 1,957,486 persons in 2014, where females constituted 49%, while males constituted 51%3.
In addition to the Kurdish nationals, there are some other components in Erbil, including (Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Armenians and Arabs). As for religion, the majority of population are Muslims, yet other religions also exist; Christians, Yezidis, and Kakanis.
Terrain and Natural Resources:
Erbil’s typography varies between high mountains, foothills and plains, yet its most important natural terrain is a series of towering mountains that rise (2100- 3600 m) above sea level, permeated by deep valleys.
Among those mountain ranges are (Hasarost, Cork, Bradost, and Safeen), in addition to the wide plains which are one of the most important agricultural sources for the production of wheat and barley. Erbil is also famous for the production of other agricultural crops; nuts, figs, grapes, and pomegranates. It is also rich with mineral wealth; e.g. oil, iron and other minerals. Erbil is also an important commercial center in the region, in addition to being a tourist center due to the several tourist and historical areas it includes.
The production capacity of electricity of Erbil is (1029) megawatt, but the total losses in the system of the electricity networks is about 35%; 12% of which are technical losses and 23% are non-technical losses. The percentage of the population covered by the electric power services in the (center, outskirts and villages) is up to 98% of the gross population, for 22 hours per day during the year 2014.
The main source of drinking water in Erbil is the surface water and groundwater. The per capita share of potable water is 250 liters per day in the city of Erbil and 200 liters per day in the other outskirts and areas4.
1-Investment Authority website, May 2015: http://www.kurdistaninvestment.org/docs/licensed_projects.pdf date of entry June 18
2-Information, statistics and indicators for Erbil Governorate 2014, the Ministry of Planning, Kurdistan Statistical Authority, Erbil Directorate of Statistics
3-Erbil Directorate of Statistics, 2014.