Iraq is the birthplace of many of the Earth's oldest civilizations, including the Babylonians and the Assyrians. However, the twentieth century has been an era of coups, wars, and turmoil for the country. A long war with neighboring Iran in the 1980's cost hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars. The invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and subsequent Gulf War caused further casualties, followed by civil war inside the country and a decade of international sanctions.
Iraq was invaded in 2003 by a U.S/U.K.-led coalition of forces, who removed Saddam Hussein from power, completely lying about it in the process. Although some transfer of power to an Iraqi interim government has occurred, the country remains occupied by 140,000 US and UK soldiers, supposedly drawing down this August. Rebuilding on a massive scale inside larger cites has occurred. Travelers be warned, this is a current war zone.