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

Turkey Threatens Incursion Into Syria, Raising U.S. Concerns (Fri, 14 Dec 2018)
Turkey moved troops to the border, raising the possibility of an inadvertent confrontation with American forces in the same area.
>> Read more

Battered ISIS Keeps Grip on Last Piece of Territory for Over a Year (Sun, 09 Dec 2018)
Despite Kurdish, Iraqi and American forces arrayed against it, ISIS has been hanging onto its final patch in Syria — and still exporting trouble.
>> Read more

Lego Foundation and Sesame Street Team Up to Help Refugee Children (Wed, 05 Dec 2018)
A $100 million grant from the Lego Foundation will allow Sesame Workshop and aid groups to develop education programs for Syrian and Rohingya children.
>> Read more

Nearly 132 Million People Will Need Aid, U.N. Says in 2019 Appeal (Tue, 04 Dec 2018)
The U.N. is seeking about $25 billion, an increase of about 10 percent, even though relief agencies are becoming more efficient.
>> Read more

ISIS Official Known for Caging Foes Is Captured by Iraq (Fri, 30 Nov 2018)
The captured operative was a midlevel official best known for having paraded captured Kurdish soldiers in cages.
>> Read more

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