The population of the area is largely Kurdish, but the majority of the city's inhabitants are Arabs. In 1987 the city's population was 664,221 people; the 2002 population estimate was 1,739,800. It is the nation's third largest city, after Baghdad and Basra.
The ancient ruined city of Nineveh is nearby across the Tigris.
Mosul became an important commercial center in the 8th century. In the 13th century it was conquered and destroyed by the Mongols; although it was later rebuilt and remained important, it did not regain its earlier grandeur. Between 1534 and 1918 it was a part of the Ottoman Empire.
In World War I the British occupied Mosul in October 1918. After the war, the city and the surrounding area became part of the British mandate of Iraq. However, this mandate was contested by Turkey which continued to claim the area. Iraq's possession of Mosul was confirmed by the League of Nations in 1926.
See also: Baiji\n