The Kurdistan Region is an autonomous region in the northern parts of Iraq comprising the four Kurdish-majority populated governorates of Dohuk, Erbil, Halabja, and Sulaymaniyah and bordering Iran, Syria, and Turkey. The Kurdistan Region encompasses most of Iraqi Kurdistan but excludes Kurdish areas in which Iraq has been preventing the Kurds from governing since Kurdish autonomy was realized in 1992 with the first Kurdish elections in the aftermath of the Gulf War. The Kurdistan Region Parliament is situated in Erbil, which is the largest Kurdish city in Iraq, but the Kurdish constitution declares the disputed city of Kirkuk to be the capital of Kurdistan. When the Iraqi Army withdrew from most parts of the disputed areas in mid-2014 because of the ISIL offensive in Northern Iraq, Kurdish Peshmerga entered the areas and held control there until October 2017.
The Kurds in Iraq oscillating fought for either autonomy or independence throughout the 20th century and experienced Arabization and genocide at the hands of Iraq. However, the American-led no-fly zone from March 1991 on over most of Iraqi Kurdistan gave the Kurds a chance to experiment with self-governance, and the autonomous region was de facto established. However, Iraq only recognized the autonomy of Kurdistan after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 with a new Iraqi constitution in 2005. A non-binding independence referendum was held in September 2017 which created mixed reactions internationally.
The region is stable and safe, having an extremely low crime rate. The Kurdistan Region was not invaded by IS and it has remained a stronghold of security in the Middle East. There are checkpoints in the region and security is very tight all over Kurdistan, particularly at the airport.