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Syria

 
Flag of Syria
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Coordinates:
35.00 N  38.00 E

 
 
Introduction  Geography  People  Government  Economy
 
Communications  Transportation  Military  Transnational Issues

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Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Syria Top of Page
Background:
Definition Field Listing
Following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, France administered Syria until its independence in 1946. The country lacked political stability, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic, but in September 1961 the two entities separated and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the Socialist Ba'th Party and the minority Alawite sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel, and over the past decade Syria and Israel have held occasional peace talks over its return. Following the death of President al-ASAD in July 2000, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April of 2005.
   Geography    Syria Top of Page
Location:
Definition Field Listing
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
35 00 N, 38 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Middle East
Area:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
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:
Definition Field Listing
slightly larger than North Dakota
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 2,253 km
border countries: Iraq 605 km, Israel 76 km, Jordan 375 km, Lebanon 375 km, Turkey 822 km
Coastline:
Definition Field Listing
193 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 41 nm
Climate:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains in west
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: unnamed location near Lake Tiberias -200 m
highest point: Mount Hermon 2,814 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 24.8%
permanent crops: 4.47%
other: 70.73% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
13,330 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
dust storms, sandstorms
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining wastes; inadequate potable water
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note:
Definition Field Listing
there are 42 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (August 2005 est.)
   People    Syria Top of Page
Population:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
18,881,361
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 2006 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 37% (male 3,592,915/female 3,384,722)
15-64 years: 59.7% (male 5,779,257/female 5,500,887)
65 years and over: 3.3% (male 296,070/female 327,510) (2006 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 20.7 years
male: 20.6 years
female: 20.9 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.3% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
27.76 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.81 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
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: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 28.61 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 28.85 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 28.36 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 70.32 years
male: 69.01 years
female: 71.7 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
3.4 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 500 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality:
Definition Field Listing
noun: Syrian(s)
adjective: Syrian
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%
Religions:
Definition Field Listing
Sunni Muslim 74%, Alawite, Druze, and other Muslim sects 16%, Christian (various sects) 10%, Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)
Languages:
Definition Field Listing
Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood; French, English somewhat understood
Literacy:
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.9%
male: 89.7%
female: 64% (2003 est.)
   Government    Syria Top of Page
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
republic under an authoritarian, military-dominated regime since March 1963
Capital:
Definition Field Listing
Damascus
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Independence Day, 17 April (1946)
Constitution:
Definition Field Listing
13 March 1973
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
based on a combination of French and Ottoman civil law; religious law is used in the family court system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
chief of state: President Bashar al-ASAD (since 17 July 2000); Vice President Farouk al-SHARA (since 11 February 2006)
head of government: Prime Minister Muhammad Naji al-UTRI (since 10 September 2003); Deputy Prime Minister Abdallah al-DARDARI (since 14 June 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president approved by popular referendum for a seven-year term (no term limits); referendum last held 10 July 2000 - after the death of President Hafiz al-ASAD, father of Bashar al-ASAD - (next to be held 2007); vice president appointed by the president; prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
election results: Bashar al-ASAD approved as president; percent of vote - Bashar al-ASAD 97.29%
note: Hafiz al-ASAD died on 10 June 2000; on 20 June, the Ba'th Party nominated Bashar al-ASAD for president and presented his name to the People's Council on 25 June; he was approved by a popular referendum on 10 July
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
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 in 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:
Definition Field Listing
Supreme Constitutional Court (adjudicates electoral disputes and rules on constitutionality of laws and decrees; justices appointed for four-year terms by the President); High Judicial Council (appoints and dismisses judges; headed by the President); Court of Cassation (national level); State Security Courts (hear cases related to national security); Personal Status Courts (religious; hear cases related to marriage and divorce); Courts of First Instance (local level; include magistrate, summary, and peace courts)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Kurdish Democratic Alliance (includes several groups but has no designated leader); Kurdish Democratic Front (includes several groups but has no designated leader); Muslim Brotherhood (operates in exile in London) [Sadr al-Din al-BAYANUNI]; National Democratic Front [Hassan Abd al-AZIM]
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
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, IPU, ISO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
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) 224-7938
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
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 Top of Page
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
The Syrian Government estimates the economy grew by 4.5 percent in real terms in 2005, led by the petroleum and agricultural sectors, which together account for about half of GDP. Economic performance and the exchange rate on the informal market were hit by international political developments following the assassination in February of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-HARIRI and the specter of international sanctions. Higher crude oil prices countered declining oil production and exports and helped to narrow the budget deficit and widen the current account surplus. 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, increasing pressure on water supplies caused by rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and water pollution.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$72.33 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
Definition Field Listing
$25.84 billion (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
4.5% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$3,900 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 24.9%
industry: 23%
services: 51.9% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.12 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 30%
industry: 27%
services: 43% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
12.3% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
20% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5% (2005 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
21.9% of GDP (2005 est.)
Budget:
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $6.392 billion
expenditures: $7.613 billion; including capital expenditures of $3.23 billion (2005 est.)
Public debt:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
40.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk
Industries:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining
Industrial production growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
7% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
29.53 billion kWh (2003 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
28.26 billion kWh (2003 est.)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
403,800 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
240,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
285,000 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA bbl/day
Oil - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.5 billion bbl (2005 est.)
Natural gas - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.95 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.95 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
240.7 billion cu m (2005)
Current account balance:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$1.097 billion (2005 est.)
Exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$6.344 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
crude oil, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Iraq 17.1%, Turkey 14.9%, Saudi Arabia 11.8%, Italy 9.3%, Lebanon 6.6%, Germany 6.1% (2005)
Imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$5.973 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, paper
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Ukraine 11%, Turkey 8.7%, Saudi Arabia 6.9%, South Korea 5.9% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$5.363 billion (2005 est.)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$8.566 billion; note - excludes military debt and debt to Russia (2005 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$180 million (2002 est.)
Currency (code):
Definition Field Listing
Syrian pound (SYP)
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
Syrian pounds per US dollar - (public sector rate): 11.225 (2005), 11.225 (2004), 11.225 (2003), 11.225 (2002), 11.225 (2001), (parallel market rate in 'Amman and Beirut): NA (2005), NA (2004), 52.8 (2003), 52.4 (2002), 50.4 (2001), (official rate for repaying loans): 11.25 (2004)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Syria Top of Page
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.66 million (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.345 million (2004)
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
AM 14, FM 2, shortwave 1 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
44 (plus 17 repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
.sy
Internet hosts:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
64 (2005)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
800,000 (2005)
   Transportation    Syria Top of Page
Airports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
92 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 26
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 15
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 2 (2005)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 66
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 54 (2005)
Heliports:
Definition Field Listing
7 (2005)
Pipelines:
Definition Field Listing
gas 2,300 km; oil 2,183 km (2004)
Railways:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 2,711 km
standard gauge: 2,460 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 251 km 1.050-m gauge (2004)
Roadways:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 91,795 km
paved: 18,451 km
unpaved: 73,344 km (2003)
Waterways:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
900 km (not economically significant) (2005)
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 114 ships (1000 GRT or over) 397,014 GRT/578,136 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 7, cargo 100, container 1, livestock carrier 4, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 12 (Egypt 1, Greece 1, Lebanon 7, Romania 3)
registered in other countries: 104 (Cambodia 11, Comoros 3, Cyprus 2, Dominica 2, Georgia 37, Kiribati 1, North Korea 21, Malta 6, Mongolia 2, Panama 9, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 5, Slovakia 2, unknown 2) (2005)
Ports and terminals:
Definition Field Listing
Baniyas, Latakia
   Military    Syria Top of Page
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Syrian Armed Forces: Syrian Arab Army, Syrian Arab Navy, Syrian Arab Air and Air Defense Force (includes Air Defense Command) (2005)
Military service age and obligation:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 30 months (18 months in the Syrian Arab Navy); women are not conscripted but may volunteer to serve (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 4,356,413
females age 18-49: 4,123,339 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 3,453,888
females age 18-49: 3,421,558 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males age 18-49: 225,113
females age 18-49: 211,829 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$858 million (FY00 est.); note - based on official budget data that may understate actual spending
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
5.9% (FY00)
   Transnational Issues    Syria Top of Page
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
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 personnel stationed in Lebanon since October 1976; 2004 Agreement and pending demarcation settles border dispute with Jordan
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Definition Field Listing
refugees (country of origin): 432,048 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)) 14,391 (Iraq)
IDPs: 170,000 (most displaced from Golan Heights during 1967 Arab-Israeli War) (2005)
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
a transit point for opiates and hashish bound for regional and Western markets; weak anti-money-laundering controls and bank privatization may leave it vulnerable to money-laundering

This page was last updated on 20 July, 2006


Source: CIA Factbook