In prehistoric times, the region was home to Neanderthal cultures such as has been found at the Shanidar Cave. The northern branch of the Gutian/Hurrians inhabited the region around 2400 BC, whom along with the Medes, the Kurds trace their origins to. Assyrian kings ruled the region from the 21st century BC.Large cities were built by the Assyrians, including Ashur, Nineveh (Mosul), and Arrapkha (Kirkuk). One of the major Assyrian cities, and the current capital city of the Kurdistan Region, Erbil (Arba-Ilu), was noted for its distinctive cult of Ishtar, and its Assyrian inhabitants called the city “the Lady of Ishtar”.
The Kurdistan Region has seen a long list of invaders and conquerors: Ancient Persians, Alexander the Great, Muslim Arabs in the 7th Century, the Mongols in the 13th Century, medieval Persians and Ottoman in the 16th Century, the British in the 20th century, and more recently Saddam Hussein and his Baathist state of Iraq.
In recent history, with the formation of modern states, the Kurds were promised a Kurdistan according to the treaty of Sevres. However, the treaty of Lausanne, which superseded the previous treaty, divided Kurdish inhabited lands across Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Armenia. This led to various revolts and conflict with the Iraqi government. Famously, the first Iraqi – Kurdish conflict came about due to the Kurds demanding an independence from Iraq.
After the first Iraqi – Kurdish conflict, regional autonomy was given to the Kurds in 1970 with the creation of the Kurdish Autonomous Region following the agreement of an Autonomy Accord between the government of Iraq and leaders of the Iraqi Kurdish community. This autonomy was short lived, and was dissolved in 1974.
After the Gulf War in 1990-1991 and the enforcement by the Americans of a no-fly zone in Iraqi Kurdistan region, the Iraqi Kurds gained its long sought after autonomy. In 1992, an alliance of political parties, the Iraqi Kurdistan Front, held parliamentary and presidential elections. As a result, the Iraqi Kurdistan Front established the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a new autonomous Government of Kurdistan in Iraq. Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are the two main parties in the Region.