Kirkuk is a city in Iraq and the capital of Kirkuk Governorate.It is located in the Iraqi governorate of Kirkuk, 236 kilometres north of the capital, Baghdad. Kirkuk city lies 83 kilometres south of Arbil, 149 km southeast of Mosul, 97 km west of Sulaymaniyah, and 116 km northeast of Tikrit.Kirkuk lies in a wide zone with an enormously diverse population, which has moreover experienced dramatic demographic changes in the course of the twentieth century. The city has been multilingual for centuries, and the development of distinct ethnic groups was a process that took place over the course of Kirkuk's urbanization in the twentieth century. Kurds, Turkmen and Arabs lay conflicting claims to this zone, and all have their historical accounts and memories to buttress their claims.It stands on the site of the ancient Assyrian capital of Arrapha,which sits near the Khasa River on the ruins of a 5,000-year-old settlement. Arrapha reached great importance under the Assyrians in the 10th and 11th centuries BC. Because of the strategic geographical location of the city, Kirkuk was the battle ground for three empires—the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Babylonia, and Media—which controlled the city at various times.Kurds and Turkmens have claimed the city as a cultural capital. It was named the "capital of Iraqi culture" by the Iraqi ministry of culture in 2010.The city currently consists mainly of people who self-identify as Arabs, Assyrians, Iraqi Turkmens and Kurds.