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Syria Flag

Country Profile

Capital City: Damascus (Dimashq)

Other Cities: Aleppo (4.2 million), Homs (1.6 million), Hama (1.6 million), Lattakia (1 million)

Local Time: UTC+2h

Location:Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey
Area: 185,170 sq. km. (71,504 sq. mi.), including 1,295 sq. km. of Israeli-occupied territory
Terrain: Narrow coastal plain with a double mountain belt in the west; large, semiarid and desert plateau to the east.

Border countries
: Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey  

Climate: Mostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast.

Type: Republic, under Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party regimes since March 1963.
Independence: 17 April 1946.
Constitution: 12 March 1973.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Syrian(s)
Population: 17 million
GNI per capita PPP: $ 3 871 (year) Major ethnic groups: Arabs (90%), Kurds (9%), Armenians, Circassians, Turkomans Religions: Sunni Muslims (74%), Alawis (12%), Christians (10%), Druze (3%), and small numbers of other Muslim sects, Jews, and Yazidis Languages: Arabic (official), English and French (widely understood), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian
Literacy: 78% male, 51% female.


Currency: Syrian Pound (SYP)

Natural resources:
Petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower.

Agriculture products: Wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk.

Industries: Petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining.

Exports partners:
Germany 20.9%, Italy 12.6%, UAE 7.6%, Lebanon 6.2%, Turkey 6%, France 5.4%, Croatia 4.8%, USA 4.1% (2003)

Imports partners: Germany 7.2%, Italy 7.1%, China 6.3%, France 5.9%, Turkey 5.4% (2003)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Syria

Syrian Arab Republic

Syria Ministry of Tourism

Syrian Embassy

Map of Syria

Map of the Middle East region



Background:  Following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire during World War
I, Syria was administered by the French until independence in 1946. In the
1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. Since 1976,
Syrian troops have been stationed in Lebanon, ostensibly in a peacekeeping
capacity. In recent years, Syria and Israel have held occasional peace
talks over the return of the Golan Heights.

Geography Syria

Location:  Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon
and Turkey

Geographic coordinates:  35 00 N, 38 00 E

Map references:  Middle East

Area:  total: 185,180 sq km note: includes 1,295 sq km of Israeli-occupied
territory water: 1,130 sq km land: 184,050 sq km

Area - comparative:  slightly larger than North Dakota

Land boundaries:  total: 2,253 km border countries: Iraq 605 km, Israel
76 km, Jordan 375 km, Lebanon 375 km, Turkey 822 km

Coastline:  193 km

Maritime claims:  contiguous zone: 41 NM territorial sea: 35 NM

Climate:  mostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and
mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast; cold weather
with snow or sleet periodically in Damascus

Terrain:  primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain;
mountains in west

Elevation extremes:   unnamed location near Lake Tiberias -200 m highest
point: Natural resources:  petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese
ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower

Land use:  arable land: 26% permanent crops: 4% other: 70% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:  12,130 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:  dust storms, sandstorms

Environment - current issues:  deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion;
desertification; water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining
wastes; inadequate potable water

Environment - international agreements:  party to: Biodiversity, Climate
Change, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone
Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands signed, but not ratified:
Environmental Modification

Geography - note:  there are 42 Israeli settlements and civilian land
use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (August 2001 est.)

People Syria

Population:  17,155,814 (July 2002 est.)  note: in addition, about
40,000 people live in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights - 20,000 Arabs
(18,000 Druze and 2,000 Alawites) and about 20,000 Israeli settlers
(August 2001 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 39.3% (male 3,467,267; female 3,264,639)
15-64 years: 57.5% (male 5,052,841; female 4,817,662) 65 years and over:
3.2% (male 267,803; female 285,602) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  2.5% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  30.11 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  5.12 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.06
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.94 male(s)/female total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  32.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   70.32 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  3.84 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.01% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  NA

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  NA

Nationality:  noun: Syrian(s) adjective: Syrian

Ethnic groups:  Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%

Religions:  Sunni Muslim 74%, Alawite, Druze, and other Muslim sects 16%,
Christian (various sects) 10%, Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus,
Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)

Languages:  Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian
widely understood; French, English somewhat understood

Literacy:  definition: age 15 and over can read and write total
population: 70.8% male: 85.7% female: 55.8% (1997 est.)

Government Syria

Country name:   Syrian Arab Republic conventional short form:  local
long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah

Government type:  republic under military regime since March 1963

Capital:  Damascus

Administrative divisions:  14 provinces (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah);
Al Hasakah, Al Ladhiqiyah, Al Qunaytirah, Ar Raqqah, As Suwayda', Dar'a,
Dayr az Zawr, Dimashq, Halab, Hamah, Hims, Idlib, Rif Dimashq, Tartus

Independence:  17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under
French administration)

National holiday:  Independence Day, 17 April (1946)

Constitution:  13 March 1973

Legal system:  based on Islamic law and civil law system; special
religious courts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage:  18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:  chief of state: President Bashar al-ASAD (since 17
July 2000); Vice Presidents Abd al-Halim ibn Said KHADDAM (since 11
March 1984) and Muhammad Zuhayr MASHARIQA (since 11 March 1984) head
of government:  Prime Ministers Lt. Gen. Mustafa TALAS (since 11 March
1984), Farouk al-SHARA (since 13 December 2001), Dr. Muhammad al-HUSAYN
(since 13 December 2001) cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the
president elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year
term; referendum/election last held 10 July 2000 - after the death of
President Hafez al-ASAD, father of Bashar al-ASAD - (next to be held NA
2007); vice presidents appointed by the president; prime minister and
deputy prime ministers appointed by the president note: Hafiz al-ASAD
died on 10 June 2000; on 20 June 2000, the Ba'th Party nominated Bashar
al-ASAD for president and presented his name to the People's Council
on 25 June 2000 election results: Bashar al-ASAD elected president;
percent of vote - Bashar al-ASAD 97.29%

Legislative branch:  unicameral People's Council or Majlis al-shaab
(250 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
election results:  NPF 167, independents 83; note - the constitution
guarantees that the Ba'th Party (part of the NPF alliance) receives
one-half of the seats elections: last held 30 November-1 December 1998
(next to be held NA 2002)

Judicial branch:  Supreme Constitutional Court (justices are appointed
for four-year terms by the president); High Judicial Council; Court of
Cassation; State Security Courts

Political parties and leaders:  National Progressive Front or NPF
(includes the Ba'th Party, ASU, Arab Socialist Party, Socialist Unionist
Democratic Party, ASP, SCP) [President Bashar al-ASAD, chairman];
Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'th) Party (governing party) [President
Bashar al-ASAD, secretary general]; Syrian Arab Socialist Party or ASP
[Safwan KOUDSI]; Syrian Communist Party or SCP [Yusuf FAYSAL]; Syrian
Social National Party [Jubran URAYJI]

Political pressure groups and leaders:  conservative religious leaders;
Muslim Brotherhood (operates in exile in Jordan and Yemen); non-Ba'th
parties have little effective political influence

International organization participation:  AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU, CCC,
OIC, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA,

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador Rustum
al-ZU'BI chancery: 2215 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 FAX:
[1] (202) 234-9548 telephone: [1] (202) 232-6313

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Theodore H. KATTOUF embassy: Abou Roumaneh, Al-Mansur Street, No. 2,
Damascus mailing address: P. O. Box 29, Damascus telephone: [963] (11)
333-1342 FAX: [963] (11) 331-9678

Flag description:  three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white,
and black, with two small green five-pointed stars in a horizontal
line centered in the white band; similar to the flag of Yemen, which
has a plain white band, and of Iraq, which has three green stars (plus
an Arabic inscription) in a horizontal line centered in the white band;
also similar to the flag of Egypt, which has a heraldic eagle centered
in the white band

Economy Syria

Economy - overview:  Syria's predominantly statist economy has been
growing slower than its 2.5% annual population growth rate, causing a
persistent decline in per capita GDP. President Bashar AL-ASAD has made
little progress on the economic front after one year in office, but does
appear willing to permit a gradual strengthening of the private sector.
His most obvious accomplishment to this end was the recent passage
of legislation allowing private banks to operate in Syria, although a
private banking sector will take years and further government cooperation
to develop. ASAD's recent cabinet reshuffle may improve his chances of
implementing further growth-oriented policies, although external factors
such as the international war on terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, and downturn in oil prices could weaken the foreign investment
and government revenues Syria needs to flourish. A long-run economic
constraint is the pressure on water supplies caused by rapid population
growth, industrial expansion, and increased water pollution.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $54.2 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  2% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $3,200 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 27% industry: 23% services:
50% (2000 est.)

Population below poverty line:  15%-25%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  0.3% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  4.7 million (1998 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 40%, industry 20%, services 40%
(1996 est.)

Unemployment rate:  20% (2000 est.)

Budget:  revenues: $5 billion expenditures: $7 billion, including capital
expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)

Industries:  petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco,
phosphate rock mining

Industrial production growth rate:  NA%

Electricity - production:  19.7 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 64.47% hydro: 35.53%
other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  17.671 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  650 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  0 kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas,
olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk

Exports:  $5 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Exports - commodities:  crude oil 68%, textiles 7%, fruits and vegetables
6%, raw cotton 4% (1998 est.)

Exports - partners:  Germany 27%, Italy 12%, France 10%, Turkey 10%,
Saudi Arabia 7% (2000 est.)

Imports:  $4 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)

Imports - commodities:  machinery and transport equipment 21%, food
and livestock 18%, metal and metal products 15%, chemicals and chemical
products 10% (2000 est.)

Imports - partners:  Italy 9%, Germany 7%, France 5%, Lebanon 5%, China
4%, South Korea 4%, Turkey 4%, US 4% (2000 est.)

Debt - external:  $22 billion (2001 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:  $199 million (1997 est.)

Currency:  Syrian pound (SYP)

Currency code:  SYP

Exchange rates:  Syrian pounds per US dollar - 51 (December 2001), 46
(2000), 46 (1998), 41.9 (January 1997)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Syria

Telephones - main lines in use:  1.313 million (1997)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  NA

Telephone system:  general assessment: fair system currently undergoing
significant improvement and digital upgrades, including fiber-optic
 coaxial cable and microwave radio relay network international:  (Atlantic
 Ocean region); 1 submarine cable; coaxial cable and microwave
radio relay to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey; participant in

Radio broadcast stations:  AM 14, FM 2, shortwave 1 (1998)

Radios:  4.15 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:  44 (plus 17 repeaters) (1995)

Televisions:  1.05 million (1997)

Internet country code:  .sy

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):  1 (2000)

Internet users:  32,000 (2001)

Transportation Syria

Railways:  total: 2,750 km standard gauge: 2,423 km 1.435-m gauge note:
rail link between Syria and Iraq replaced in 2000 (2001) narrow gauge:
327 km 1.050-m gauge

Highways:  total: 41,451 km paved: 9,575 km (including 877 km of
expressways) unpaved: 31,876 km (1997)

Waterways:  870 km (minimal economic importance)

Pipelines:  crude oil 1,304 km; petroleum products 515 km

Ports and harbors:  Baniyas, Jablah, Latakia, Tartus

Merchant marine:  total: 143 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 482,985
GRT/702,590 DWT note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as
a flag of convenience: Egypt 1, Greece 2, Italy 1, Lebanon 10 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 12, cargo 126, livestock carrier 4, roll on/roll off 1

Airports:  99 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 24 over 3,047 m: 5 2,438 to 3,047
m: 16 under 914 m: 1 (2001) 914 to 1,523 m: 2

Airports - with unpaved runways:  total: 75 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2 914 to
1,523 m: 11 under 914 m: 62 (2001)

Heliports:  2 (2001)

Military Syria

Military branches:  Syrian Arab Army, Syrian Arab Navy, Syrian Arab Air
Force (includes Air Defense Forces), Police and Security Force

Military manpower - military age:  19 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 4,550,496 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 2,539,342
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 200,859
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $921 million (FY00 est.); note -
based on official budget data that may understate actual spending

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  5.9% (FY98)

Transnational Issues Syria

Disputes - international:  Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied; dispute
with upstream riparian Turkey over Turkish water development plans for
the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; Syrian troops in northern, central,
and eastern Lebanon since October 1976; Turkey is quick to rebuff any
perceived Syrian claim to Hatay province

Illicit drugs:  a transit point for opiates and hashish bound for regional
and Western markets

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002


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