Geography

Geography
Area: 185,170 sq. km. (71,504 sq. mi.), including 1,295 sq. km. of Israeli-occupied territory; about the size of North Dakota. Cities: Capital--Damascus (1.7 million). Other cities--Metropolitan Damascus (excluding city) (2.7 million), Aleppo (4.6 million), Homs (1.7 million), Hama (1.5 million), Idleb (1.4 million), al-Hasakeh (1.4 million), Dayr al-Zur (1.1 million), Latakia (1 million), Dar'a (1 million), al-Raqqa (900,000), and Tartus (800,000). Terrain: Narrow coastal plain with a double mountain belt in the west; large, semiarid and desert plateau to the east. Climate: Mostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast.

 

 

People and Economy

People
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Syrian(s).
Population (2009 est.)*: 21 million.
Population growth rate (2009 est.): 2.37%.
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), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood, French, English somewhat understood, principally in major cities.
Education (2008 est.): Years compulsory--primary, 6 yrs. Attendance--97.9%. Literacy--90.8%, illiteracy--9.2%.
Health (2009 est.): Infant mortality rate--17/1,000. Life expectancy--69.8 yrs. male, 72.68 yrs. female.
Work force (5.5 million, 2008 est.): Services (including government) 26%, agriculture 19%, industry 14%, commerce 16%, construction 15%, transportation 7%, and finance 3%.
Unemployment (2008 est.): 9.8%.

Economy
GDP*: $59.4 billion.
Real growth rate*: 5.0%.
Per capita GDP*: $2,664.
Natural resources: petroleum, phosphates, iron, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower.
Agriculture: Products--wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets, and other fruits and vegetables; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, and other dairy products. Arable land--33%.
Industry: Types--petroleum, textiles, pharmaceuticals, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seed extraction, and car assembly.
Trade: Exports (2008 est.)--$13.6 billion: crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat. Major markets(2007)--Italy 22%, France 11%, Saudi Arabia 10%, Iraq 5%, Egypt 4%, Jordan 4%. Imports(2008 est.)--$17.2 billion f.o.b.: machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, and paper. Major suppliers (2007)--Russia 10%, China 8%, Saudi Arabia 6%, Ukraine 6%, South Korea 5%, Turkey 4%.

*according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) statistics

 

 

Government

Government

Currently under the Martial law or lack thereof under President Assad and now partly influenced by ISIL.

Before the unrest the Government was:
Type: Republic, under authoritarian military-dominated Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party regimes since March 1963.
Independence: April 17, 1946.
Constitution: March 13, 1973. Since 1963, Syria has been under Emergency Law, which effectively suspends most constitutional protections.
Branches: Executive--president, two vice presidents, prime minister, Council of Ministers (cabinet). Legislative--unicameral People's Council. Judicial--Supreme Judicial Council, Supreme Constitutional Court, Court of Cassation, Appeals Courts, Economic Security Courts, Supreme State Security Court, Personal Status and local levels courts.
Administrative subdivisions: 14 provinces
Political parties: The National Progressive Front, an umbrella organization for several parties permitted by the government including the Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'ath) Party; Socialist Unionist Democratic Party; Syrian Arab Socialist Union or ASU, Syrian Communist Party (two branches); Syrian Social Nationalist Party; Unionist Socialist Party; and other parties not legally recognized but quasi-tolerated, generally considered opposition-oriented but enfeebled and reluctant to challenge the government. There are also several illegal Kurdish parties.
Suffrage: Universal at 18.

 

 

Syria

Idlib Was Their Last Refuge. They Couldn’t Hide From the Bombs. (Mon, 18 May 2020)
Millions of Syrians have fled to Idlib Province seeking safety. During a rare reporting trip, The Times found that President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies are still bombing them.
>> Read more

Tragedy in the Middle East (Tue, 12 May 2020)
Noah Feldman’s “The Arab Winter” tries to find hope in a grim turn of events.
>> Read more

U.S. Military Killed 132 Civilians in Wars Last Year, Pentagon Says (Thu, 07 May 2020)
The tally has changed little since the previous year’s report, which put the total at 120 civilians killed. Civilian deaths in Afghanistan again eclipsed those in Syria and Iraq.
>> Read more

Germany Takes Rare Step in Putting Syrian Officers on Trial in Torture Case (Thu, 23 Apr 2020)
Activists have described the case, which involves charges of crimes against humanity in the early stages of the Syrian civil war, as a first, limited step toward justice.
>> Read more

Warning Shots: Israel Spares Hezbollah Fighters to Avert a War (Wed, 22 Apr 2020)
Israel and Hezbollah have adopted informal rules of engagement as both sides prepare for possible war while trying to avoid setting it off.
>> Read more

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