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Countries > Syria Syria Flag

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Capital: Damascus
Population: 14,700,000
Click to Listen Play the National Anthem
Syria Map


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

Geographic coordinates: 35 00 N, 38 00 E

Map references: Middle East

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:
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 hitting 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

Land use:
arable land: 28%
permanent crops : 4%
permanent pastures: 43%
forests and woodland: 3%
other: 22% (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 dumping of raw sewage and wastes from petroleum refining; inadequate supplies of potable water

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

Geography - note: there are 42 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (August 1996 est.)


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:
total population:69.08 years
male: 67.9 years
female :70.32 years (2002 est.)

Total fertility rate: 3.84 children born/woman (2002 est.)

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, French widely understood

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


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)

Data code: SY

Government type: republic under military regime since March 1963

National 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: National 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 Mustafa MIRU (since 13 March 2000), Deputy 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)
elections:last held 30 November-1 December 1998 (next to be held NA 2002)
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: 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: ABEDA, AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission : Ambassador Rustum al-ZU'BI
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 Theodore H. KATTOUF
embassy: Abou Roumaneh, Al-Mansur Street No. 2, Damascus
mailing address : P. O. Box 29, Damascus
telephone: [963] (11) 333-2814, 333-0788, 332-0783
FAX: [963] (11) 224-7938

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 symbolic eagle centered in the white band


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.)

Inflation rate - consumer price index: 0.3% (2001 est.)

Labor force:
total: 4.7 million (1998 est.)
by occupation: services 40%, agriculture 40%, industry 20% (1996 est.)

Unemployment rate: 20% (2000 est.)

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: 4.3% (1994)

Electricity - capacity: 4.16 million kW (1994)

Electricity - production:19.7 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - consumption per capita: 17.671 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products: wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas; beef, lamb, eggs, poultry, milk

total value: $5 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
commodities:crude oil 68%, textiles 7%, fruits and vegetables 6%, raw cotton 4% (1998 est.)
partners: Germany 27%, Italy 12%, France 10%, Turkey 10%, Saudi Arabia 7% (2000 est.)

total value : $4 billion (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
commodities: machinery and transport equipment 21%, food and livestock 18%, metal and metal products 15%, chemicals and chemical products 10% (2000 est)
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: 1 Syrian pound (SYP) = 100 piastres

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

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 1.313 million (1997)

Telephone system: fair system currently undergoing significant improvement and digital upgrades, including fiber-optic technology
domestic: coaxial cable and microwave radio relay network
international: 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)


total :2,750 km
broad gauge: 2,423 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 327 km 1.050-m gauge

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
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
914 to 1,523 m:2
under 914 m: 1 (2001)

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

Heliports: 2 (2001)


Military branches: Syrian Arab Army, Syrian Arab Navy, Syrian Arab Air Force, Syrian Arab 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 : 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

Disputes - international: Golan Heights is Israeli occupied; Hatay question with Turkey; 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

Illicit drugs: a transit point for Lebanese and Turkish refined cocaine going to Europe and heroin and hashish bound for regional and Western markets

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