The land inhabited by the Iraqi Kurds consists of mountain ranges, hillsides with scattered oak forests, and river valleys that can support orchards and vineyards (Bulloch 1993). The climate there is very severe. In the Northern parts the temperatures can fall to -20AaASF in the winter and can rise above 100AaASF in the summer (Bulloch 1993). In the lower lands, the climate is milder. The temperatures are consistently high, they are more predictable, and transportation is easier along the Tigris River Valley (Chaliand 1993).
The Kurdish area includes a good portion of the vast Iraqi oil fields, especially in the province of Mosul. This is the area where international politics have swirled since before World War I (Kurdish Life 2003). The largest city in northern Iraq is the oil town of Kirkuk, which used to be about half-and-half Kurdish and Turkmen before the Iraqi government systematically reduced the Kurdish and increased the Arab population in the 1970s (Bulloch 1992). The town of Arbil and Sulemaniye are almost entirely Kurdish (Chaliand 1993).
The total Kurdish population of northern Iraq is estimated at three million (Bulloch 1992). They are the dominant ethnic group living there, although they have shared the area with Arabs, with Assyrian Christians who have lived there for centuries, and with TurkmenAAAZs who have lived in the area around Kirkuk since they were moved there by the Ottoman Turks (Kurdish Life 2003).
Kurds have very black hair, dark brown eyes and olive complexions, but there are many Kurds with light brown or blond hair, and sometimes blue eyes (Kurdish Life 2003). They tend to be shorter and lighter than the average American. Traditional clothes for men consist of loose trousers with a shirt and jacket, cummerbund, and a skullcap over which is worn a turban folded from a large square of material (The Kurds 2003). Colors of clothing are frequently symbolic of the tribe, alliance, or political party its wearer belongs to.
Yellow is the color of the PUK (The Kurds 2003). Green is the color of the KDP (The Kurds 2003). WomenAAAZs clothing typically consists of loose trousers, a long loose overdress, a vest, and a headscarf covering the hair (The Kurds 2003). Some of the womenAAAZs dresses and menAAAZs shirts have long, pointed sleeve extensions that are tied in the back or wrapped around the arms when working (The Kurds 2003).
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