Iraq / Cities and Towns /
Other spellings: Erbil; Arbil
City in northern Iraq with around 990,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate). It is the capital of the Irbil governorate. From 1991-1996, it was the capital of the semi-independent Iraqi Kurdistan.
Irbil today thrives with its commerce and administration, and also benefits from the local oil industry. The city is situated at the foothills of the mountains in the east. The population is a mixture of Assyrian Christians and Kurdish Sunni Muslims.
Irbil is famous because most of the city rests on a 30 metre tall mound consisting of ruins from Irbil's long history.
Approximately 2300 BCE: Founded by the Sumerians, its first known name being Urbillium. It develops into an important communication centre, being a crossroad for caravans.
3rd century CE: Irbil becomes Christian.
331 BCE: The important Battle of Gaugamela takes place near Irbil, when the Macedonian king Alexander the Great defeats the Persian king Darius 3, a defeat leading to Alexander's conquest of Persia.
340: Persecutions against the Christian population.
1190: Irbil becomes capital of the kingdom of Muzaffar ad-Din, the brother of Saladin. This status lasts until 1232.
13th century: Irbil loses its economic and administrative importance to Mosul.
1517: Irbil is placed under Mosul's rule, with the Ottoman takeover of Iraq.
1925: Mosul and Irbil come under the jurisdiction of Baghdad.
1974: Irbil becomes capital of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region.
1991 October: With the Iraqi defeat by the international forces earlier this year, Irbil becomes the capital of the semi-independent Iraqi Kurdistan.
1996 August 31: The Kurdish leader Masud Barzani calls for assistance from the Iraqi military to drive Iran-friendly Kurds under the leadership of Jalal Talabani out of Irbil. The campaign is successful, and is continued with campaigns against the rest of Talabani's territory in Kurdistan.