Erbil (Hewlęr in Roman-alphabet Kurdish) is, with a population of approximately 1.3 million (2009), the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. It is located 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Mosul, and is the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Urban life at Erbil can be dated back to at least 6000 BC, and it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. At the heart of the city is the ancient Citadel of Arbil. The Hurrians were the first to establish Urbilum and expand their rule to the rest of northern Mesopotamia. The city has since been under the rule of many regional powers, including the Assyrians, the Babylonians, Kurds under the rules of Persians, the Greeks, the Arabs, and the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks. Erbil's archaeological museum houses a large collection of pre-Islamic artifacts, and is a center for archaeological projects in the area.
Among historians, the most accepted terminology of the word Erbil is derived from the Assyrian language which means four gods (arba'? il?). The city was a centre for the worship of the goddess Ishtar. In classical times the city was known by its Aramaic name, Arbela. In Old Persian the city was called Arbair?. The name Erbil was mentioned in Sumerian holy writings (c. 2000 BC) as Urbilum, Urbelum or Urbillum.
Today, the modern Kurdish name of the city, Hawler, appears to be a corruption of the local Neo-Aramaic name Arbel by a series of metatheses of consonants