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Erbil (Arabic: أربيل; Kurdish: ھەولێر ,Hewlêr, known in ancient history as Arbela and also spelled Arbil, Arbel and Irbil, is the largest most populated city in Iraqi Kurdistan and capital city of the Kurdistan Region. It is located approximately in the center of Iraqi Kurdistan region and the north of Iraq. It has about 879,000 inhabitants and Erbil Governorate has a permanent population of 2,009,367 as of 2015.
Human settlement at Erbil may be dated back to the 5th millennium BC, which would make the city one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in the world. At the heart of the city is the ancient Citadel of Erbil. The earliest historical reference to the region dates to the Third Dynasty of Ur of Sumer, when King Shulgi mentioned the city of Urbilum. The city was later conquered by the Assyrians.
Erbil became an integral part of the kingdom of Assyria by the 21st century BC through to the end of the seventh century BC, after it was captured by the Gutians, and it was known in Assyrian annals variously as Urbilim, Arbela and Arba-ilu. Subsequent to this, it was part of the geopolitical province of Assyria under several empires in turn, including the Median Empire, the Achaemenid Empire(Achaemenid Assyria), Macedonian Empire, Seleucid Empire, Armenian Empire, Parthian Empire, Roman Assyria and Sasanian Empire (Asōristān), as well as being the capital of the tributary state of Adiabene between the mid-second century BC and early second century AD.
Erbil’s archaeological museum houses a large collection of pre-Islamic artefacts, particularly the art of Mesopotamia, and is a center for archaeological projects in the area. The city was designated as Arab Tourism Capital 2014 by the Arab Council of Tourism. In July 2014, the Citadel of Arbil was inscribed as a World Heritage site.
The city has an ethnically diverse population of Kurds (the majority ethnic group), Assyrians, Turkmens, Arabs, Shabaks, Mandaeans and Armenians. It is equally religiously diverse, with believers of Sunni Islam, Shia Islam, Christianity, Yazidism, Yarsanism, Shabakism and Mandaeism extant in and around Erbil.
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