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.
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%.
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
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.
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