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The Mesopotamian Marshes, otherwise known as the Iraqi Marshes or Al-Ahwar, are of vital importance to Iraq. For the Marsh Arabs or Ma’dan, the marshes are particularly important for habitation as well as livelihood and income generated primarily through agriculture.
The Marshes cover roughly 20,000 km2 (7,722 sq mi) of the lower part of the Mesopotamian basin. The UNESCO World Heritage Site’s natural beauty can best be seen via the lens of its rich biodiversity. Its variety of flora ranges from submerged to emerged plants, with a montage of birds, insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and mammals. More recently, hydro-engineering—dams for flood administration and hydroelectricity, reservoirs for agricultural irrigation, and canals—have contributed to a decline in the volume of the yearly marsh-renewing floods. In the 1990s, former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein drained the marshes in response to rebellious tribesmen partaking in anti-government uprisings...
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