Population: 5.2 million
The people living in the Kurdistan Region are predominantly Kurds as well as Assyrians, Chaldeans, Turkmen, Armenians and Arabs.
The Region has a young and growing population, with 36% aged 0-14 years, and only 4% aged over 63. The median age in Kurdistan is just over 20, meaning more than 50% are less than 20.
The Kurdistan Region’s demography has changed considerably in the last few decades mainly because of forced migration by the previous Iraqi government, which is one of the main reasons for the movement from the countryside to towns and cities. By 2001, at least 600,000 people were internally displaced mainly because of the previous Iraqi regime’s policies since the 1970s. This included more than 100,000 people expelled in November 1991 alone from Kirkuk by the Iraqi government. According to a UNDP survey, 66% of people living in Duhok province have been forced to change their residence due to war at any point in their lives, while the figures in Slemani and Erbil are 31% and 7%, respectively.
Traditionally, the majority of people in the Kurdistan Region lived in villages and survived on farming and animal husbandry of mainly sheep and goats thanks to the land’s fertile soil. The Region was known as the breadbasket of Iraq. Today this has reversed, with the majority living and working in the three cities of Erbil, Duhok and Slemani and working in the government, construction, and trade.
In the 1980s Saddam Hussein’s regime destroyed over 4,000 villages and forcibly moved their residents to collective towns. Many of these villages have now been rebuilt. The Kurdistan Regional Government, with the support of UN agencies and NGOs, after 1991 rebuilt 2,620 of some 4,000 destroyed villages.