World History

Iraq Timeline and History Highlights

Iraq Timeline Highlights


3500 – The Sumerian civilization establishes city-states in southern Mesopotamia.

3300 – Sumerians invent writing.

3200 – Sumerians first use wheels for vehicles.

2700 – The dominant city-state is Ur, ruled by the famous King Gilgamesh.

2330 – The Akkadians conquer Sumer under the leadership of Sargon I.

2000 – Iranian Elamites conquer the city of Ur.

1900 – Assyria gains control of northern Iraq.

1792 – Hammurabi becomes king of Babylon. He would publish the first written code.

1250 – The Assyrians first use iron in the manufacture of weapons and chariots.

705 – The capital of the Assyrian Empire moves to Nineveh in northern Iraq.

668 – Assyrian King Ashurbanipal builds a large library at Nineveh.604 – Nebuchadnezzar II becomes king of Babylon.

539 – Cyrus the Great of Persia conquers Iraq and the city of Babylon.

518 – The capital of the Persian Empire is established at Persepolis in southern Iraq.

330 – Alexander the Great defeats the Persians and conquers Babylon.

144 – The Parthian Empire gains control.

56 – Parthian forces defeat the invasion of the Roman Empire.


116 – The Roman Empire, led by Emperor Trajan, conquers southern Iraq and defeats Parthia.

224 – The Sassanid Empire gains control.

646 – Arab Muslims conquer the Sassanids.

762 – The city of Baghdad is established as the capital of the Abbasid caliphate. It has been the center of the Islamic world for about 500 years.

1055 – Baghdad is conquered by Seljuk Turks.

1258 – The Mongols invade Iraq, wreaking havoc and killing hundreds of thousands. Baghdad is plundered.

1401 – Timur invades Iraq and plunders Baghdad again.

1534 – Iraq is conquered by the Ottoman Empire. Iraq is divided into three Ottoman provinces: Mosul, Basra and Baghdad.

1914 – World War I begins. The Ottoman Empire is allied with the Central Powers Germany and Austria.

1917 – British forces invade Iraq and take Baghdad.

1919 – World War I ends. The Ottoman Empire loses the war.

1920 – Iraq becomes a British mandate. They appointed Faisal I as king of Iraq.

1927 – Oil is discovered north of Kirkuk.

1932 – Iraq becomes independent from Britain.

1939 – World War II begins. Iraq is allied with the Axis powers Germany and Italy.

1941 – Britain invades Iraq to secure oil supplies. 1945 – Iraq joins the Arab League.

1948 – Iraq, along with the Arab League, attacks Israel in the Arab-Israeli War.

1958 – The monarchy is overthrown and the Republic of Iraq is established.

1968 – The Baath Party takes control of Iraq.

1972 – Iraq nationalizes the Iraqi Oil Company (controlled by the government).

1979 – Saddam Hussein becomes president of Iraq. He eliminates the opposition and becomes a dictator.

1980 – The Iran-Iraq War begins.

1981 – Iraq’s nuclear research center is bombed by Israel.

1988 – A ceasefire is agreed with Iran.

1988 – Iraq uses chemical weapons to kill thousands of Kurds in the city of Halabja.

1990 – Iraq invades Kuwait.

1991 – The Gulf War (also known as the First Gulf War) begins with the coalition attacking Iraq to liberate Kuwait. The name of the operation is Operation Desert Storm. Iraq is defeated and expelled from Kuwait.

1992 – Southern Iraq is declared a “no fly zone”.

2003 – A coalition of nations, including the United States and Great Britain, invades Iraq, citing violations of the United Nations and weapons of mass destruction (WMD). They captured Baghdad and captured Saddam Hussein. This is known as the Iraq War or the Second Gulf War.

2006 – Saddam Hussein is executed for war crimes.

2010 – Iraq’s new government is approved by parliament.

2011 – US forces formally withdraw from Iraq.

Iraq History Highlights:

The country of Iraq is often called the “Cradle of Civilizations” because it is the birthplace of the world’s oldest civilization, the Sumerians. The Sumerians invented writing and established the first recorded history. For over 3000 years, the Sumerian civilization flourished in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley.

The next great civilization to emerge here was the Babylonian Empire in the 19th century BC. The Babylonians gained great power in the region, and were incorporated into the Persian Empire under the leadership of Cyrus the Great. Over the next few centuries, the country was conquered by various empires, including Greece (Alexander the Great), Parthia, Rome, and again Persia. The Islamic Empire came to power in the 7th century and ruled until the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.

After World War I, Britain seized power in the Ottoman Empire. Iraq became an independent country in her 1932 and was governed by a constitutional monarchy. Although the country was declared a republic in 1958, it was actually ruled by a series of dictators. The last dictator was Saddam Hussein.

In 1990 Iraq invaded Kuwait. This triggered the First Gulf War, in which US-led forces expelled Iraq and forced Iraq to submit to UN arms and weapons restrictions. When Iraq refused to abide by previous agreements in 2003, the United States invaded Iraq in a war known as the Second Gulf War, ousting Saddam Hussein from power.