Kurdistan: Recovering a Garden of Paradise, Photo Gallery
Iraqi Kurdistan, a region in northern Mesopotamia, is home to mountains, steppes, and pastures that were part of the Fertile Crescent: the birthplace of agriculture—and, indeed, civilization. There, ancient farmers nurtured a wealth of crops that would become staples throughout the world. Today, after years of wars and sanctions, Kurdistan is reengaging its land. As it negotiates the challenges of a new era, native plants and crops remain a defining feature of the landscape and people—how long can the agricultural heritage last?
The city of Sulaimaniyah is filled with public green spaces. A large traffic rotary has been landscaped with drought-resistant flowers, concrete frogs, and globe-shaped benches painted like pomegranates. In the distance, the city's cranes build towards the sky. Mountains are an ever-present silhouette on the horizon. When agriculture began in the Fertile Crescent (in modern-day southern Iraq) about 10,000 years ago, it was nourished by water that flowed through Kurdistan's mountains, and swelled into the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.