The Kurds in Iraq many years fought against the leaders in Bagdad since the British and the French have divided the Middle-East and then spread the Kurds over four countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey.
The Kurds in Iraq many years fought against the leaders in Bagdad since the British and the French have divided the Middle-East and then spread the Kurds over four countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. The Kurdish resistance operated from the mountains. Under Saddam Hussein the resistance, as well as in the same time the oppression reached a cold climax: Saddam executed an aimed genocide with the Anfal operation, by which villages were depopulated, citizens were harassed with poisonous gas, women and children were dropped off in assemble-villages and many ten thousands of Kurds were transported to the south and killed there and buried in mass graves in the desert.
Since 1991 Kurdistan is more or less autonomous, because the Americans and the British imposed no-fly zones after the Gulf war. At first it brought no improvement: the Kurdish parties first fought a civil war until 1996 and only after the American invasion of 2003 and the departure of Saddam they were persuaded to co-operate. Since 2005 the Kurdish region of Iraq is a federal state within Iraq, with their own government and parliament.
Whereas in the rest of Iraq fighting is going on, it is safe already in Kurdistan since 2005. This led to an economic growth, in which Kurdistan became the gateway to the rest of Iraq and is in fact the financial capital of Iraq. As a result of the resistance in the past and because of the necessary to keep the region safe against malicious people, Kurdistan is a territory with many weapons: police, army and surveillance. Diplomats who consider Iraq as a unit, think in Kurdistan one needs the same security measures as elsewhere in Iraq, have themselves accompanied by guards and drive with safeguards.
In Kurdistan there are two major Kurdish dialects: Sorani and Badini. The elder generation also speaks Arabic, and only a few understand English. Besides many Kurds who were years in Europe speak a European language.
The Iraqi currency is the dinar, however almost everywhere one can also pay in dollars.
Iraq hardly has banks with international connections, and therefore practically no ATMs. Almost everything takes place in cash. As spending money we advise about an amount of $250 p.p. We suggest to take this amount in US dollars.
You could bring a credit card, however you only can use this in expensive hotels and shops. However as a back-up it could be convenient.
It is possible to travel to Kurdistan during the whole year. Spring and autumn are the most pleasant times. In summer it can be rather warm in the inland of Kurdistan, and during winter awfully cold and then you can ski here very well. The most beautiful time in which we are planning our voyages, is just in the early spring and the late autumn. In spring nature opens, and in the autumn the weather is lovely and bright with beautiful skimming light.
Erbil in March: day temperatures between 16 and 23o C.*, night temperatures between 3 and 8o C.*. In this period the sun shines 6 hours per day on average. Atmospheric humidity 55% on average. During this period twice a week a rain shower falls.
Erbil in October: Day temperatures between 16 and 22 o C.*, night temperatures between 4 and 9o C.*. In this period the sun shines 6 hours per day on average. Atmospheric humidity 34% on average. During this period twice a week a rain shower falls. * In these periods on the average of the last 10 years.
Because during this voyage you will have to deal with both warm weather and rather cool evenings, you will have to take this into consideration. In Kurdistan man do not wear shorts and we advise our travellers against this. Moreover Kurdistan is a (moderate) Islamic country, which is for women a circumstance to bear in mind. So: covered cloths. Headdress is no compulsory in Kurdistan, however it will be convenient to have one on hand, if only for visiting a few mosques. Also give a thought to good walking shoes.
Kurdistan is a very photogenic country, as well as qua nature, monuments and people. As to the last we ask our members to be reserved: if you whish to take photos of people, so do it openly and ask for their permission. Especially if you want to take pictures of women.
Apart from your hand-baggage you can check in at the most 20 kilogram. However we request you to try to reduce your luggage to 15 kilo at the most and to use handy bags. Hard suitcases are very unhandy, especially in connection with the limited space for luggage in the (mini)busses.
In Kurdistan a voltage of 220V is existing, however we recommend to bring along a universal adapter, because sometimes there are other electric points. Regarding your photo and film equipment please, bear in mind that sometimes you cannot dispose of an electric point. So see that you have a good battery or sufficient (rechargeable) batteries.
Telephone and internet
In Kurdistan internet cafes are available in limited locations. If you want to phone to the Netherlands, you in general do this from a hotel. Some Dutch mobile telephone companies have a so-called 'roaming' agreement with Iraqi-Kurdistan, which means that you again in limited locations could phone with your own mobile telephone. We recommend to inform at your own provider about the possibilities and costs.