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Embassy of the United States in Baghdad, the largest and most expensive embassy in the world!

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, May 09, 2010 at 14:09:44 :: Iraq

The Embassy of the United States in Baghdad is the diplomatic mission of the United States in Iraq. It is home to the Ambassador to Iraq.

A new embassy, which has been described as the largest and most expensive embassy in the world at 0.44 square kilometers was opened in January 2009 after a series of construction delays. It replaced the embassy, which opened July 1, 2004 in Baghdad's Green Zone in a former Palace of Saddam Hussein.

The 104-acre compound, bigger than the Vatican and about the size of 80 football fields, boasts 21 buildings, a commissary, cinema, retail and shopping areas, restaurants, schools, a fire station, power and water treatment plants, as well as telecommunications and waste water treatment facilities.

The compound is six times larger than the United Nations compound in New York, and two-thirds the size of the National Mall in Washington.

It has space for 1,000 employees with six apartment blocks and is 10 times larger than any other U.S. embassy.

In a ceremony attended by U.S. and Iraqi officials, the U.S. Ambassador Ryan Cocker ushered in a "new era" for both Iraq and for the Iraqi-U.S. relationship, although critics have said that the embassy's fortress-like design and immense size show a fundamental disconnect between the U.S. and conditions on the ground in Iraq.

Old embassy

The United States' Legation Baghdad was changed to embassy status in 1946. The building was designed by Josep Lluis Sert and completed in 1957, with its main priority on keeping the building cool rather than security. This building remained the embassy until 1967, after the Six-Day War.

The U.S. Interests Section was moved to the Belgian embassy in 1972; in 1984 this was upgraded to embassy status following the resumption of U.S.-Iraqi ties.

Just days before the Gulf War, the embassy closed. The U.S. Interests Section was opened at the Polish embassy in 1991.

The old embassy is now apparently deserted and for rent.

New embassy

A new embassy, which has been referred to as Fortress America, opened in January 2009 in the Green Zone in Baghdad. The embassy complex comprises 21 buildings on a 104 acre (42 ha) site, making it the largest and most expensive U.S. embassy in the world.

U.S. Embassy Baghdad

It is located along the Tigris river, west of the Arbataash Tamuz bridge, and facing Al Kindi street to the north.

The embassy is a permanent structure which has provided a new base for the 5,500 Americans currently living and working in Baghdad.

During construction, the US government kept many aspects of the project under wraps, with many details released only in a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report.

Apart from the 1,000 regular employees, up to 3,000 additional staff members have been hired, including security personnel.

With construction beginning in mid-2005, the original target completion date was September 2007. "A week after submitting his FY2006 budget to Congress, the President sent Congress an FY2005 emergency supplemental funding request. Included in the supplemental is more than $1.3 billion for the embassy in Iraq..." An emergency supplemental appropriation (H.R. 1268/P.L. 109-13), which included $592 million for embassy construction, was signed into law on May 11, 2005.

According to the Department of State, this funding was all that was needed for construction of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Construction is being led by the Kuwaiti firm First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting.

The embassy has extensive housing and infrastructure facilities in addition to the usual diplomatic buildings. The buildings include:

- Six apartment buildings for employees
- Water and waste treatment facilities
- A power station
- Two "major diplomatic office buildings"
- Recreation, including a gym, cinema, and a swimming pool

The complex is heavily fortified, even by the standards of the Green Zone. The details are largely secret, but it is likely to include a significant US Marine Security Guard detachment. Fortifications include deep security perimeters, buildings reinforced beyond the usual standard, and five highly guarded entrances.

Oh and you know what? They even have a Facebook page!

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UNESCO World Heritage

Iraq, Samarra Archaeological City

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, March 12, 2013 at 06:05:03

Location Samarra Township, Salah al-Din Governorate, Iraq
Coordinates N34 20 27.562 E43 49 24.755
Property 15,058 ha
Date of Inscription 2007

Brief Description ( )

Samarra Archaeological City is the site of a powerful Islamic capital city that ruled over the provinces of the Abbasid Empire extending from Tunisia to Central Asia for a century. Located on both sides of the River Tigris 130 km north of Baghdad, the length of the site from north to south is 41.5 km; its width varying from 8 km to 4 km. It testifies to the architectural and artistic innovations that developed there and spread to the other regions of the Islamic world and beyond. The 9th-century Great Mosque and its spiral minaret are among the numerous remarkable architectural monuments of the site, 80% of which remain to be excavated.

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Minaret, Samarra Archaeological City

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Iraq, Ashur (Qal'at Sherqat)

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, March 12, 2013 at 05:59:02

Location Governorate of Salah ad Din, Iraq
Coordinates N35 27 32.004 E43 15 34.992
Property 70 ha
Date of Inscription 2003

Brief Description ( )

The ancient city of Ashur is located on the Tigris River in northern Mesopotamia in a specific geo-ecological zone, at the borderline between rain-fed and irrigation agriculture. The city dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. From the 14th to the 9th centuries BC it was the first capital of the Assyrian Empire, a city-state and trading platform of international importance. It also served as the religious capital of the Assyrians, associated with the god Ashur. The city was destroyed by the Babylonians, but revived during the Parthian period in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.

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Iraq, Hatra

 Posted by Simon Laroche
Simon Laroche
, March 12, 2013 at 05:52:41

Location Governorate of Ninawa, Iraq
Coordinates N35 35 17.016 E42 43 5.988
Property 324 ha
Date of Inscription 1985

Brief Description ( )

A large fortified city under the influence of the Parthian Empire and capital of the first Arab Kingdom, Hatra withstood invasions by the Romans in A.D. 116 and 198 thanks to its high, thick walls reinforced by towers. The remains of the city, especially the temples where Hellenistic and Roman architecture blend with Eastern decorative features, attest to the greatness of its civilization.

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