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Syria

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Syria

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Syria Media

Introduction   Geography   People   Government   Economy
Communications   Transportation   
Military

 Map of Syria

 

   Introduction    Syria
Background:
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 Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April of 2005.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
Location:
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey
Geographic coordinates:
35 00 N, 38 00 E
Area:
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:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 41 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 in 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, hydropower
Land use:
arable land: 24.8%
permanent crops: 4.47%
other: 70.73% (2005)
Irrigated land:
13,330 sq km (2003)
Natural hazards:
dust storms, sandstorms
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining wastes; inadequate potable water
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - note:
there are 42 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (August 2005 est.)
   People    Syria
Population:
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:
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:
total: 20.7 years
male: 20.6 years
female: 20.9 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
2.3% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
27.76 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
4.81 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
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:
total population: 70.32 years
male: 69.01 years
female: 71.7 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
3.4 children born/woman (2006 est.)
Nationality:
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 widely understood; French, English somewhat understood
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.9%
male: 89.7%
female: 64% (2003 est.)
   Government    Syria
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)
Government type:
republic under an authoritarian, military-dominated regime since March 1963
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:
Independence Day, 17 April (1946)
Constitution:
13 March 1973
Legal system:
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:
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
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; 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:
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 NA 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:
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:
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:
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:
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
Flag description:
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
Economy - overview:
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):
$63.31 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$25.12 billion (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.5% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$3,400 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 23%
industry: 24%
services: 53% (2004 est.)
Labor force:
5.12 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 30%, industry 27%, services 43% (2002 est.)
Unemployment rate:
12.3% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:
20% (2004 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
2.6% (2005 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
21.1% of GDP (2005 est.)
Budget:
revenues: $6.392 billion
expenditures: $7.613 billion; including capital expenditures of $3.23 billion (2005 est.)
Public debt:
45% of GDP (2005 est.)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk
Industries:
petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining
Industrial production growth rate:
7% (2002 est.)
Electricity - production:
29.53 billion kWh (2003 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
28.26 billion kWh (2003 est.)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
403,800 bbl/day (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption:
240,000 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
285,000 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - proved reserves:
2.5 billion bbl (2005 est.)
Natural gas - production:
6.95 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
6.95 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
240.7 billion cu m (2005)
Current account balance:
$980 million (2005 est.)
Exports:
$6.344 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Exports - commodities:
crude oil, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
Exports - partners:
Italy 22.7%, France 18%, Turkey 12.9%, Iraq 9%, Saudi Arabia 6.2% (2004)
Imports:
$5.973 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, paper
Imports - partners:
Turkey 9.4%, Ukraine 8.7%, China 7.8%, Russia 5.4%, Saudi Arabia 5.2%, US 4.7%, South Korea 4.6%, Italy 4.3% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$4.104 billion (2005 est.)
Debt - external:
$8.59 billion; note - excludes military debt and debt to Russia (2005 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
$180 million (2002 est.)
Currency (code):
Syrian pound (SYP)
Exchange rates:
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:
calendar year
   Communications    Syria
Telephones - main lines in use:
2.66 million (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
2.345 million (2004)
Telephone system:
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:
AM 14, FM 2, shortwave 1 (1998)
Television broadcast stations:
44 (plus 17 repeaters) (1995)
Internet country code:
.sy
Internet hosts:
64 (2005)
Internet users:
800,000 (2005)
   Transportation    Syria
Airports:
92 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways:
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:
total: 66
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 10
under 914 m: 54 (2005)
Heliports:
7 (2005)
Pipelines:
gas 2,300 km; oil 2,183 km (2004)
Railways:
total: 2,711 km
standard gauge: 2,460 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 251 km 1.050-m gauge (2004)
Roadways:
total: 91,795 km
paved: 18,451 km
unpaved: 73,344 km (2003)
Waterways:
900 km (not economically significant) (2005)
Merchant marine:
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:
Baniyas, Latakia
   Military    Syria
Military branches:
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:
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:
males age 18-49: 4,356,413
females age 18-49: 4,123,339 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 3,453,888
females age 18-49: 3,421,558 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually:
males age 18-49: 225,113
females age 18-49: 211,829 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$858 million (FY00 est.); note - based on official budget data that may understate actual spending
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
5.9% (FY00)
 

 

 

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