FAMILY   LIFE
The majority of Iraqis are Arabs. The country is also home to many other ethnic groups, the largest of which is the Kurds, who constitute over 20% of the population and whose traditional homeland is the Zagros mountains. Other minority groups include Turkomans, Assyrians, Yazidis, Persians, Luris, Mandaeans, Jews and Armenians.

Iraqis consider family unity and honour to be extremely important. Families hold their members responsible for their conduct and help each other whenever possible. Women are expected to be quiet and meek when in the presence of men, particularly outside the home. However, within the home women wield a great deal of power over their children and household affairs. As well, the recent wars have brought many women into the workforce.

Iraqis like large families, but urban couples usually have fewer children than people in the countryside. Iraqi children are loved and indulged, but taught to respect their elders. Correcting children's behaviour is considered many people's responsibility-including extended family members and neighbours.

Most young Iraqis marry when they finish their education. Parents often arrange marriages for their children, although the couple is permitted to meet first and may already know each other. Traditionally, women are given a dowry (mahar) of money and gold (either coins or jewellery), furniture or other useful items by the groom and his family. After marriage, women keep their own names and often continue to work.

Urban houses are built of cement or stone and are often surrounded with high stone walls. In two-storey homes, the roof is very important: the family often sleeps there during the summer, and in the daytime women spread laundry there to dry. Many urban families also live in apartments. Life in rural villages tends to be more traditional, and often three generations live together.

Most of Iraq's major cities and villages are located along rivers or near water. Iraq formerly had a large rural population, but in the last two decades, many people have moved to cities, which have become increasingly crowded. Iraqis traditionally lived in extended family units, but urban, educated Iraqis now usually live in nuclear families. Young adults rarely live on their own, but stay with their families until married.


  Did you know?
Iraqis observe the death of a family member with a 40-day mourning period. Women and men wear black, and after sundown during the first seven days (the aza), they share their grief with visitors, drinking coffee and listening to recordings of the Koran or to someone hired to read it aloud.





  Did you know?
Iraqis observe the death of a family member with a 40-day mourning period. Women and men wear black, and after sundown during the first seven days (the aza), they share their grief with visitors, drinking coffee and listening to recordings of the Koran or to someone hired to read it aloud.