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  1. H Ramadan,
  2. F Abdulla,
  3. E Al-Shimmery
  1. 1
    Specialist Registrar in Neurology, Bradford Royal Infirmary, Bradford, UK
  2. 2
    Specialist Neurosurgeon, Hawler Teaching Hospital, Arbil, Iraq
  3. 3
    Specialist in Clinical Neurology, Rezgary Teaching Hospital and Halwer Medical University, Arbil, Iraq
  1. H Ramadan, Department of Neurology, St Luke’s Hospital, Little Horton Lane, Bradford BD5 0NA, UK; hawramanr{at}

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Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and commonly known as the “cradle of civilization”, largely corresponds to modern Iraq. Its history goes back to at least 6000 BC. Mesopotamia is the homeland of the famous Summarian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Median Empires and the birth place of the first written records, domestic laws, astronomy, mathematics and pharmacology. Iraq is a big country (435,052 km2) with 18 provinces, about the same size as Germany and Austria combined. Its population was estimated to be 28 million in 2005 with a life expectancy of 48 years for men and 67 for women. In 2005, 4.1% of GDP was spent on health.1 The country has the second largest known oil reserves in the world and was the second-largest exporter of oil in the world prior to the war with Iran.

Baghdad was the capital of the Islamic Abbasid Caliphate for seven centuries, its rule stretching from Morocco to Central Asia. The Ottoman Empire controlled Iraq for nearly four centuries until in 1918, in the wake of the Great War, the UK took control and established a British mandate in Iraq in 1920. A year later, Iraq became a kingdom and Faysal Hussein Bin Ali was crowned the first King. In 1932 Iraq gained independence and …

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