Basra (Arabic: البصرة Al Baṣrah) is a port city in the Lower Mesopotamia region of southern Iraq, very close to the border with Kuwait. It is Iraq's third largest city with a population of 1,700,000 (2003).
Basra is also Iraq's main port, although it does not have deep water access, which is handled at the port of Umm Qasr. The city is one of the ports from which the fictional Sinbad the Sailor journeyed. It played an important role in early Islamic history and was built in 636. Basra is consistently one of the hottest cities in Iraq, with summer temperatures regularly exceeding 50 °C (122 °F). In April 2017, the Iraqi Parliament recognized Basra as Iraq's economic capital. The city was called by many names throughout its history, Basrah being the most common. In Arabic the word baṣrah means "the overwatcher", which might have been an allusion to the city's origin as an Arab military base against the Sassanids. Others have argued that the name is derived from the Aramaic word basratha, meaning "place of huts, settlement". The city was founded at the beginning of the Islamic era in 636 and began as a garrison encampment for Arab tribesmen constituting the armies of the Rashid Caliph Umar.