Iran and Iraq, the countries with similar-sounding names often get mixed up. But they are two very different countries, with different history, traditions and languages. 

So what is the difference between Iran vs Iraq? And do Iran and Iraq have anything in common? Are they enemies? And what do you need to know to never confuse them again? 

Well, this short blog is here to help you distinguish between these two countries. I know many people get Slovakia and Slovenia mixed up and are often wondering if Haiti and the Dominican Republic are different since they share an island. Hey, I met people who confuse Austria and Australia.

Iran vs Iraq

But before we look at key differences when it comes to Iran vs Iraq, let’s get their names right. 

Here is how to pronounce their names correctly: Iran is pronounced as “​ih-ron”, not “ay-ran”. Iraq is pronounced “ih-rock” not “ay-rack”.

Iran vs Iraq – Where are they located?

Both countries are located in the Middle East and share a common border. 

  • Iran borders Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan and to the west with Turkey and Iraq.
  • Iraq shares a border with Turkey, Iran,  Syria and Jordan, and to the south with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Which country is bigger? Iran or Iraq?

Iran is a much bigger country in land size as you can see based on the map below. The population of Iran is 80 million while Iraq’s population is just 31 million.

Iran vs Iraq on the map

What is the Capital City? Iran vs Iraq

The capital city of Iran is Tehran and Baghdad is the capital of Iraq. 

Iran vs Iraq The Two Capital Cities

Iran vs Iraq The Two Capital Cities are Tehran and Baghdad

What are the Flags of Iran and Iraq?

The flag of Iran is a tricolour comprising equal horizontal bands of green, white and red. 

The Takbir (phrase ʾAllāhu ʾakbar, meaning “Allah (God) is the greatest”) in Kufic Script is written in white 22 times on the fringe of the bands. In the middle is a symbol: four curves and a sword in the shape of a water lily. The most popular symbol of the country prior to the Iranian Revolution was the Lion and Sun motif which used to be part of the Iranian flag – sometimes you still see the Iranian flag with Lion and Sun because of this (but usually outside of Iran by Iranian migrants).

The flag of Iraq includes the three equal horizontal red, white, and black stripes of the Arab Liberation flag and in the Kufic script written in the centre is Takbir again.

The red is used to symbolise the courage and struggles of the nation. The black represents both the oppression. The colour white symbolises the future of Iraq and the generosity of its people. Green is a colour that is associated with Islam.

Iran vs Iraq Flags

Interested in joining a unique Small Group Adventure in Iran?

Epic Backpacker Tours offers this unique, immersive trip in Iran, and it’s awesome! Get 5% off the 12-Day’ Ultimate Iran Adventure’ with Epic Backpackers – just enter promo code HUNGRYNOMADSAREEPIC at checkout!

You might also enjoy learning about Haiti vs the Dominican Republic, Latvia vs Lithuania or more about how many countries are there in the world?

I answer the question of whether it’s safe to visit Iraq Kurdistan in this post from my travels here and you may enjoy reading about the things I loved the most about Iran and my 20 favourite photos from Iran.

If you’d like more of our travel advice, see our post about our Expert Travel Tips from 15+ Years of Travel.


✈️ Flights: Aviasales & CheapOair are the best websites to book cheap flights.

🏨 AccommodationBooking.comAgoda, and Hotellook are the top platforms to search for fantastic hotels and accommodation options at the best price.

🏥 Travel Insurance: Don’t forget travel insurance! We recommend World Nomads or SafetyWing.

🚌 Transportation: To book trains, Trainline is the best and cheapest website. To book transport in Europe, USA & Canada, we use Omio & FlixbusUS. For travel in Asia, we use 12Go. For all other countries, we use BookaWay to compare and book Bus, Ferry, or train tickets to get around.

🚘 Car Rental: DiscoverCars, & Europcar are reliable platforms to book rental cars.

👫 Group ToursG Adventures or Expat Explore offers the best group adventures around the world. Use our promo code VERYHUNGRYNOMADS at checkout to receive 5% off your Expat Explore Trip!

📸 Day Tours & TripsGetYourGuide & Viator are the only platforms you will need. They offer everything at unbeatable prices.

🎒 LuggageOsprey Farpoint 40L Backpack or Samsonite Luggage Range (we love this Stack’d Carry-On Spinner Suitcase).

🛄 What to Pack: To help you get started on packing, here is our ULTIMATE Packing List for all Travellers.

🐶 Become a House Sitter: Join Trusted Housesitters and enjoy FREE accommodation around the world. Use our personal invite to receive 25% off your new membership.

💰 Send Money Anywhere: WISE is the best online account that lets you send money, get paid, and spend money internationally. It’s so easy to use and way cheaper than any bank transfer.

📶 Stay Connected: Airalo eSIM allows you to get connected the moment you land at your destination and you can avoid those expensive data roaming charges. We LOVE this product! Use promo code VHN20 for a 20% discount on ALL eSIMs (new Airalo users only – Read Terms & Conditions) OR use promo code VHN15 for a 15% discount on ALL eSIMs (for existing Airalo account users – Read Terms & Conditions)

✅ Check out our Travel Resources Page for more Useful Tips to Save you Money!