Baghdad is the capital of Iraq. The population is approximately 8,850,000 making it the largest city in Iraq and the second largest city in the Arab world, after Cairo.
Located along the Tigris River, the city was founded in the 8th century and became the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate which descended from Muhammad's uncle, Al-Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib (566-653) from whom the dynasty takes its name. Over time, Baghdad evolved into a significant cultural, commercial, and intellectual center for the entire region and gained a worldwide reputation as the "Center of Learning".
Baghdad was the largest city for much of the Abbasid era. The city was largely destroyed at the hands of the Mongol Empire in 1258, resulting in a decline that would linger through many centuries due to frequent plagues and warfare. With the recognition of Iraq as an independent state in 1938, Baghdad regained some of its former prominence as a significant center of Arab culture.
In contemporary times, the city has suffered severe infrastructural damage, most recently due to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the subsequent Iraq War that lasted until December 2011. In recent years, the city has been subjected to frequent insurgency attacks. This fighting has resulted in a substantial loss of cultural heritage and historical artifacts.
Today, Baghdad is experiencing a revival as new retail outlets and hotels are being built and infrastructure repaired. There is substantial hope that the new American University of Iraq - Baghdad will pave the way for a complete transformation of the city and region.