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Syria[Country flag of Syria]
[Country map of Syria]

Introduction Syria
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. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April of 2005. Over the past decade, 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
land: 184,050 sq km
water: 1,130 sq km
note: includes 1,295 sq km of Israeli-occupied territory
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:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 41 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:
lowest point: unnamed location near Lake Tiberias -200 m
highest point: Mount Hermon 2,814 m
Natural resources:
petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 25.22%
permanent crops: 4.43%
other: 70.35% (2001)
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, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, 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 (February 2002 est.)
People Syria
Population:
18,448,752
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 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 37.4% (male 3,556,795/female 3,350,267)
15-64 years: 59.3% (male 5,601,971/female 5,333,799)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 288,868/female 317,052) (2005 est.)
Median age:
total: 20.37 years
male: 20.24 years
female: 20.51 years (2005 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.34% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:
28.29 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:
4.88 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 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: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2005 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 29.53 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 29.76 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 29.28 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.03 years
male: 68.75 years
female: 71.38 years (2005 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.5 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
less than 500 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
less than 200 (2003 est.)
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: 76.9%
male: 89.7%
female: 64% (2003 est.)
Government Syria
Country name:
conventional long form: Syrian Arab Republic
conventional short form: Syria
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah
local short form: Suriyah
former: United Arab Republic (with Egypt)
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 Minister Muhammad Naji al-UTRI (since 10 September 2003)
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 Hafiz al-ASAD, father of Bashar al-ASAD - (next to be held 2007); vice presidents appointed by the president; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
election results: Bashar al-ASAD elected president; percent of vote - Bashar al-ASAD 97.29%
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
Legislative branch:
unicameral People's Council or Majlis al-Shaab (250 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 2-3 March 2003 (next to be held NA 2007)
election results: percent of vote by party - NPF 67%, independents 33%; seats by party - NPF 167, independents 83; note - the constitution guarantees that the Ba'th Party (part of the NPF alliance) receives one-half of the seats
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:
Arab Socialist Unionist Movement [Ahmed al-AHMED]; National Progressive Front or NPF (includes Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'th) Party; the governing party) [President Bashar al-ASAD, secretary general]; Socialist Unionist Democratic Party [Fadlallal Nasr Al-DIN]; Syrian Arab Socialist Party or ASP [Safwan QUDSI]; Syrian Communist Party (two branches) [Wissal Farha BAKDASH, Yuusuf Rashid FAYSAL]; Syrian Social National Party [Jubran URAYJI]; Unionist Socialist Party [Fayez ISMAIL]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
conservative religious leaders; Kurdish Democratic Alliance [leader NA]; Kurdish Democratic Front [leader NA]; Muslim Brotherhood (operates in exile in London) [Ali Badr Eddine al-BAYANOUNI]; National Democratic Front [Hassan Abd al-AZIM]
International organization participation:
ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Imad MUSTAFA
chancery: 2215 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 232-6313
FAX: [1] (202) 234-9548
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Margaret SCOBEY
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, colors associated with the Arab Liberation flag; two small green five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; former flag of the United Arab Republic where the two stars represented the constituent states of Syria and Egypt; similar to the flag of Yemen, which has a plain white band, Iraq, which has three green stars (plus an Arabic inscription) in a horizontal line centered in the white band, and that of Egypt, which has a gold Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band; the current design dates to 1980
Economy Syria
Economy - overview:
Real GDP growth rose to 2.3 percent in 2004, a slight increase from 2003 when the predominantly statist economy suffered from disruptions caused by the war in Iraq and other developments in the region. Annual real GDP growth has averaged 2.3 percent for the last seven years. The Government of Syria has implemented modest economic reforms in the last few years, including cutting interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating some of the multiple exchange rates, and raising prices on some subsidized foodstuffs. Nevertheless, the economy remains highly controlled by the government. Long run economic constraints include declining oil production and exports and pressure on water supplies caused by rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and increased water pollution.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$60.44 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
2.3% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $3,400 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 25%
industry: 31%
services: 44% (2003 est.)
Labor force:
5.12 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 30%, industry 27%, services 43% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate:
20% (2002 est.)
Population below poverty line:
20% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.1% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
16.3% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $6.58 billion
expenditures: $9.45 billion, including capital expenditures of $4.67 billion (2004 est.)
Public debt:
32% of GDP (2004 est.)
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
Industrial production growth rate:
7% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
26.15 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 57.6%
hydro: 42.4%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
24.32 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2002)
Oil - production:
525,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
240,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
285,000 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
NA
Oil - proved reserves:
2.5 billion bbl (2004 est.)
Natural gas - production:
5.84 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
5.84 billion cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
240.7 billion cu m (2004)
Current account balance:
$1.1 billion (2003)
Exports:
$6.086 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
Exports - partners:
Italy 22.7%, France 18%, Turkey 12.9%, Iraq 9%, Saudi Arabia 6.2% (2004)
Imports:
$5.042 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, paper
Imports - partners:
Turkey 9.4%, Ukraine 8.7%, China 7.8%, Russia 5.4%, Saudi Arabia 5.2%, US 4.7%, South Korea 4.6%, Italy 4.3% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$5 billion (2004 est.)
Debt - external:
$4 billion (excludes military debt and debt to Russia) (2004 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$180 million (2002 est.)
Currency (code):
Syrian pound (SYP)
Currency code:
SYP
Exchange rates:
Syrian pounds per US dollar - (official rate): 11.225 (2004), 11.225 (2003), 11.225 (2002), 11.225 (2001), 11.225 (2000), (parallel market rate in Amman and Beirut) NA (2004), 52.8 (2003), 52.4 (2002), 50.4 (2002), 49.4 (2000)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Syria
Telephones - main lines in use:
2,099,300 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
400,000 (2002)
Telephone system:
general assessment: fair system currently undergoing significant improvement and digital upgrades, including fiber-optic technology
domestic: coaxial cable and microwave radio relay network
international: country code - 963; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); 1 submarine cable; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey; participant in Medarabtel
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 hosts:
11 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
220,000 (2002)
Transportation Syria
Railways:
total: 2,711 km
standard gauge: 2,460 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 251 km 1.050-m gauge (2004)
Highways:
total: 45,697 km
paved: 6,489 km (including 1,001 km of expressways)
unpaved: 39,208 km (2002)
Waterways:
900 km (not economically significant) (2002)
Pipelines:
gas 2,300 km; oil 2,183 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:
Baniyas, Latakia
Merchant marine:
total: 120 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 446,981 GRT/636,620 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 8, cargo 105, container 1, livestock carrier 4, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 12 (Egypt 1, Greece 1, Jordan 2, Lebanon 7, Romania 1)
registered in other countries: 73 (2005)
Airports:
92 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 26
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 16
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 2 (2004 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 66
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 54 (2004 est.)
Heliports:
7 (2004 est.)
Military Syria
Military branches:
Syrian Arab Army, Syrian Arab Navy, Syrian Arab Air Force (includes Air Defense Command), Police and Security Force
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 30 months (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 4,356,413 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 3,453,888 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males: 225,113 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$858 million (FY00 est.); note - based on official budget data that may understate actual spending
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
5.9% (FY00)
Transnational Issues Syria
Disputes - international:
Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied with the almost 1,000-strong UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) patrolling a buffer zone since 1964; Lebanon claims Shaba'a farms in Golan Heights; international pressure prompts the removal of Syrian troops and intelligence personel stationed in Lebanon since October 1976; Syria protests Turkish hydrological projects regulating upper Euphrates waters; 2004 Agreement and pending demarcation settles border dispute with Jordan
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
refugees (country of origin): 413,827 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA))
IDPs: 170,000 (most displaced from Golan Heights during 1967 Arab-Israeli War) (2004)
Illicit drugs:
a transit point for opiates and hashish bound for regional and Western markets; weak anti-money-laundering controls, bank privatization may leave it vulnerable to money-laundering

This page was last updated on 1 November, 2005


 

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