The main four governorates of Irbil, Sulaimania, Dohuk and Kirkuk with parts of Dyala and Nineva covers 18% of the total land area of Iraq. In these governorates the five million Kurdish population is dispersed, of which 2/3 inhabit the former three provinces. This area which constitutes more than half of the total area of Iraqi Kurdistan is now under the control of Kurdistan Regional Government. The remaining population inhabits the areas under the control of Iraqi government.
The mountainous nature of Kurdistan, deep valleys and plains contributes to climate changes. Low temperatures and heavy snowfalls in the winters and hot and dry summers are common variations in the region's weather conditions.
Kurdistan's fauna includes the ibex, lynx, gazelle, deer, wolf, fox, leopard, bear, wild boar, hare, squirrel, hedgehog, snakes, frogs and lizards. Fish are abundant in all rivers. The most common birds are grouse, snipe, goose, duck, crane, plover, pigeon, partridge, stork and birds of prey.
The area of Iraqi Kurdistan is approximately 80.000-km sq. thus it forms 18 % of the total area of Iraq (about 435.000-km sq.)
Iraqi Kurdistan is comprised of the six governorates of Arbil, Sulaimania, Dokuk, Kirkuk, parts of Dyala and Nineva.
Kurdistan is a mountainous area with many fertile plains, of cold winters and moderate summers. Hard won passes and narrow sloping valleys with hundreds of rivers and streams flowing deep in the bottom. In summer, the heat is intense, especially in the valleys and plains. In winter, the cold is penetrating and bitter.
The region and its climate as a whole can be divided into the following:
A subtropical area in the south, where winters are temperate and summers intensely hot with temperatures around 40 °C.
The high plains, where winters are relatively severe and summers dry and hot. During the winter, snow and heavy rains fall for three months with temperature barely above freezing point.
The mountainous area with extremely severe winters. Snow falls to a depth of several feet and temperatures well below zero. In springtime, it is still cold and snow is visible on the peaks until August.