History of Sulaimanyah



The region of Sulaymaniyah was known as Zamwa prior to the foundation of the modern city in 1784. The capital of the Kurdish Baban principality (1649–1850), before Sulaymaniyah was a territory named “Qelaçiwalan”. At the time of the Babani’s rule there were major conflicts between the Safavid dynasty and the Ottoman Empire. Qelaçiwalan became a battle ground for the two rivals.

Being of strategic importance and lying deep inside Safavid territory, there was major concern that Qelaçiwalan would be attacked and captured if the Babanies did not give the Safavids military support, as both Sultan Mahmud II and Nadir Shah were trying to gain the support of the dispersed Kurdish Emirates. This obliged Mahmud Pasha of Baban in 1781 to think about moving the center of its Emirate to another safer place. He chose Melkendî, then a village but now a district in central Silêmanî, to construct a number of Serahs for his political and armed units.

In 1783, Ibrahim Pasha of Baban undertook the rule of the Emirate and began the construction of a new city which would become the capital of the Baban Emirate. In 1784 he finished erecting a number of palaces for trade called Qeyserî’s and bazars, which were used as baths as well, and began inviting people from the surrounding villages and even Emirates to move over to the newly established city. Soon Melkendî, which was originally intended to be the city itself, instead became one of its quarters and still is today.

Sulaymaniyah has since its foundation been the center of Kurdish nationalism, and it was from here that Mahmud Barzanji sparked the first rebellion against the British occupation on May 22, 1919 with the arrest of British officials in Sulaymaniyah and attempted to declare an independent Kingdom of Kurdistan that same year. On 10 October 1921, a statement was issued in Sulaymaniyah, then the capital of Kurdistan, to establish the Kingdom of Kurdistan. Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji, now backed by the British, declared himself as the King of the Kingdom of Kurdistan.

The British occupation declared Sheikh Hama Tahmas as king in order to silence the residents of Sulaymaniyah and stop their rebellion, but Sheikh Mahmud acted and ruled independently from the British, and wanted them out of the kingdom. As a result, in the same year, he was exiled for several years to the Andaman islands in India by the British occupation, only to return and raise another unsuccessful rebellion centered in Sulaymaniyah in 1923.

In January 1926 the League of Nations gave the mandate over the territory to Iraq, with the provision for special rights for Kurds. In 1930-1931, Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji made his last unsuccessful attempt to free Kurdistan, he retreated into the mountains, and later signed a peace accord with the Iraqi government and settled in the new Iraq in 1932.

The first and oldest neighborhood in the city is called “Goizha” (kurdish: Goyija), which was named after the mountain overlooking the city. “Sabûnkaran” was of the cities first neighborhoods, its name means “those who make soap” in Kurdish, its residents were mainly involved in the soap industry. “Cûlekan” or the Jews neighborhood where it was mainly inhabited by Kurdish Jews. In the fifties and after the establishment of the state Israel, most of its inhabitants migrated to the newly created state.
In 23 April 1982, during the Iran-Iraq War, a demonstration broke out in the city against the arrests and torture of the city’s youths who were accused of planning revolt against the ruling Arab Ba’ath regime.

Following the Gulf War, a series of nationwide uprisings broke out across Iraq against the Ba’athist rule, including the 1991 uprising in Sulaymaniyah, led by the Kurdish separatists KDP and PUK. Since the successful liberation in 1991, the has been administered by Kurdish Government and serves as one of the metropolises of north Iraq.


Sulaymaniyah governorate has much fertile land such as the Sharazur and Bitwen plains which are considered two of the most fertile plains in the Middle East. Historically, Sulaymaniyah was mainly agricultural and one of the major suppliers of wheat and other agricultural products. Its role declined due to the policies of Saddam Hussein aimed at reducing the city’s economical potential as it was a center of the Kurdish revolution.

Since 2003 Iraq has seen a huge economic boom. Sulaymaniyah’s economy today relies on tourism, agriculture[11] and a number of small factories, most involved in the building trade.

In 2004 the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis in Iraq released in-depth survey of Sulaymaniyah Governorate in which they surveyed each city. In this survey one can see the economic boom of 2003 mentioned earlier.


Students outside the main administrative building of The American University of Iraq – Sulaimani.

Education is free from primary school until graduation from university. The University of Sulaymaniyah was opened in 1968 with instruction in Kurdish, Arabic, and English. It has faculties in engineering, agriculture, the arts, science, and medicine.It is the largest university in South Kurdistan. The University was moved during the 1980s to Erbil which is now known as the Salahaddin University.

A new University of Sulaymaniyah was established in 1991, teaching in Kurdish, English and Arabic.

In 2007 The American University of Iraq – Sulaimani, The American University of South Kurdistan – Sulaimani (AUI-S) was a new addition to the American universities in the Middle East, holding its first classes in October 2007. Instruction is in English only.

In 2008 the University of Human Development was opened in Qaradax with three colleges and four departments. Its first year courses include law, politics, computer engineering and English language.

Komar University of Science and Technology (KUST) – Sulaymani was established and licensed by the Ministry of High Education and Scientific Research in Kurdistan Region Government, by the official letter no. 17867/7 on October 18, 2009. KUST is a private university governed by a Board of Trustees and run by an Administration Council. Its main campus is located in the city of Sulaymani, in Kurdistan.

KUST offered its first teaching classes in 2010 with an English language summer course (levels 1 and 3).


The city is dependent on road transport. 0n 20 July 2005 Sulaimaniyah International Airport opened, with regular flights to various European destinations such as Frankfurt, Stockholm, Malmö, Munich, Eindhoven and Düsseldorf as well as Middle Eastern cities like Dubai, Amman, Doha, Beirut, Damascus, Istanbul and Ankara.

Copyright 2013. Directorate of sulaymaniyah immigration . All Rights Reserved.