Baghdad is the capital of the Republic of Iraq and also its largest city. It is the second-largest city in the Arab world, following Cairo in Egypt, and it is the second-largest city in western Asia, following Tehran in Iran. Baghdad is located along the Tigris River.
During the Dark Ages, while Europe was suffering, Baghdad had a spirited culture and was known as one of the wealthiest and most intellectual civilizations in the world. For a time, Baghdad was known as the "Center of Learning," due to the many academic institutions found there. It was second in size only to Constantinople. This civilization flourished for roughly 500 years, until fires, flooding, feuding and internal security issues degraded its vitality.
In A.D. 1258, Baghdad was invaded by the Mongols. It is believed that approximately 100,000 scholarly residents were slaughtered, and the Tigris and Euphrates is said to have run red with their blood. Numerous historical structures, irrigation canals, literature and other treasures were lost forever. This caused a cultural decline that lasted for centuries.
In 1938, Iraq became recognized an independent state. Since then, Baghdad has slowly become more relevant as a cultural center in Arab culture. From 2003 until 2011, the Iraq War severely damaged Baghdad's infrastructure.