Iraq is a country in Western Asia, a.k.a. the Middle East, that is about twice the size of Idaho. Also known as Mesopotamia, Iraq was home to Earth's most ancient civilization, the Sumerian civilization, being the first to produce amongst many things, writing, philosophy, mathematics, cities, beer, the wheel, and the world's first epic literature, Gilgamesh. Iraq was also home to the world's first empire, the Akkadian Empire, and its successor states of Babylon and Assyria. Babylon in particular is famous for its artistic achievements and scientific advances, in areas such as mathematics, medicine, astronomy, and architecture.
Later, the land between the two rivers, Euphrates and Tigris, has had a tumultuous yet interesting history. In the 6th century BC, it was conquered by Cyrus the Great and ruled by the Persian Empire for centuries. In the 4th century BC, it was conquered by Alexander the Great and was ruled by Macedonian Greeks for a century. In the 3rd century BC, it was conquered by the Parthians, who built the city of Ctesiphon as the new capital of the Persian Empire, which ruled the region for centuries after. In the 7th century AD, it was eventually conquered by the Arabs, who in the 8th century built Baghdad as the capital of the new Arab Empire, under which much of Iraq's population adopted the Islamic religion and the Arabic language. For centuries, Baghdad was a major center of commerce and intellectual learning, and made major advances in the arts, sciences, and technology. This golden age eventually came to an end with the sack of Baghdad by Hulagu Khan, the Mongol warlord Genghis Khan's grandson, in 1258. Later on, Iraq became a part of the Ottoman Empire (1533-1928). During the first World War, the Ottomans were expelled from Iraq by the British Empire.
In the 1970s, Iraq fell under the autocratic rule of Saddam Hussein, at the time an ally of the United States. He continued to rule the country until the 2003 Iraq invasion by a Coalition led by the US, with the alleged aims of ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction. This was one of the most recent conflicts where nuclear depleted uranium was used by US forces, resulting in a fallout in Fallujah with defective birth rates comparable to that of Hiroshima. The WMD allegations by George Bush turned out to be based on false intelligence. The US occupied Iraq for years, until eventually pulling out in the Obama era, though American influence remains strong in the country.