About Syria

Advertise here
Click here
to see the prices
of advertisement.
National Institutions
Office of the Prime Minister
Ministry of Tourism
Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Transport
Ministry of

Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade
Arabic News
Federation of Syria Chamber of Commerce
General Organization For Food Industry
General Company for Electrical & Communication Works
National Information

Arab News Agency

Damascus Chamber of Industry
Ministry of Irrigation
Bulgarian Syrian Embassy
Syria-Cafe Leaders of Syria
Damascus Online Ministry of Education
Elections in Syria
Politics of Syria
Albaath Newspaper
Syria Business
Syria Report
Syrian Railways
The country and The People
Mission Economique
ICC Syria
Syrian jobs
Index of Economic Freedom
General Information
The World Factbook
Atlapedia Online
Information Please: Countries of the World
Political Parties
Reform Party of Syria
Democratic Party of Syria
Syrian Studies Association
Information from Encyclopedias
Columbia Encyclopedia
Touristic Information
World Travel Guide
Lonely Planet Destinations
Information on Human Rights
Amnesty International Publications
Other Information
Human Development Report
Ethnologue: Languages of the World
Flags Of The World
World Flag Database
Advertise here
Click here
to see the prices
of advertisement.
Syria -- Geography --

Official Name: Syria Arab Republic
Capital City: Damascus
Languages: Arab, Kurdish, others
Official Currency: Syrian Pound(SYP)
Religions: Muslims - 88.7 %, Christians - 11.1 %, other – 0,2 %
Population: 18 448 800
Land Area: 185 180 sq km
Landforms: The area of Syria is deserts, plains, and mountains. It is divided into a coastal zone--with a narrow, double mountain belt enclosing a depression in the west-- and a much larger eastern plateau. Inland and farther south, the Anti-Lebanon Mountains rise to peaks of over 2,700 meters on the Syrian-Lebanese frontier and spread in spurs eastward toward the plateau region. The eastern slopes have little rainfall and vegetation and merge eventually with the desert.In the southwest is lofty Mount Hermon (Jabal ash Shaykh), which is the highest peak.
Land Divisions: 14 Muhafaz

Syria -- History --

The modern state of Syria can trace its roots to the Eblan civilization in the third millennium BC. As far as Ibn-Assaker, a medieval historian, is concerned Damascus` s fortresses were one of the first to be built after the great deluge of all. XVI c. BC most of Syria’s territory was part of the kingdom of Egypt. Two centuries later Syria became part of the flourishing at that time Hitties. 1100 BC the Arameans tribes united and established a great kingdom, whose capital became Damascus. It lost its freedom 732 BC when Syria was conquered by the Assyrian Empire. 333 BC Alexander the Great took over Damascus. The Hellenistic Empire combined both Western and Eastern cultures but with a predominantly Greek system and outlook. After Alexander's death, Greater Syria was divided into two empires one under Ptolemy, the other under Seleucus. Contemporary Syria was under the Seleucids. At that time Christianity began to flourish and ancient Syria became one of the earliest religious centres. From then on it spread throughout Europe. In 395 Syria was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire and remained so until the Arab invasion. Many people were turned into Muslims then. In 1096 the country was conquered by the crusaders. During the twelfth century Syria was taken over by the Mamelukes. In 1516 Sultan Selim I, who defeated the Mamelukes in North Aleppo, conquered Syria and it was part of the Ottoman Empire for four centuries. Syria regained its independence in 1941. However, Syria has been a sovereign country from 1946 when the foreign troupers deserted its territory. The exact date is April 17th which is a national holiday. Between 1946 and 1956, Syria had 20 different cabinets and drafted four separate constitutions. In 1948, Syria was involved in the Arab-Israeli War, aligning with the other local Arab nations who were attempting to prevent the establishment of Israel. Although rapid economic development followed the declaration of independence, Syrian politics from independence through the late 1960s were marked by upheaval. Between 1946 and 1956, Syria had 20 different cabinets and drafted four separate constitutions. In 1948, Syria was involved in the Arab-Israeli War, aligning with the other local Arab nations who were attempting to prevent the establishment of Israel. Syria's political instability during the years after the 1954 coup, the parallelism of Syrian and Egyptian policies, and the appeal of Egyptian President Gamal Abdal Nasser's leadership in the wake of the Suez crisis created support in Syria for union with Egypt. On 1 February 1958, Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli and Nasser announced the merging of the two countries, creating the United Arab Republic, and all Syrian political parties, as well as the Communists therein, ceased overt activities. In 1962 however it dissolved and in 1963 the Syrian Baath Party took control. In 1967 the Six Day War broke down. It was was fought between Israel and Arab neighbors Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Israel was victorious but the result was 600 000 Arab captives who remained in the newly occupied territories: The West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights. During the October War (1973) Syria has tried to regain The Golan Heights unsuccessfully. Since the beginning of the Arab-Israeli negotiations in 1991 to establish peace in the Near East until 2001 Syria and Israel fail to reach an agreement.

Syria -- Economy --

Syria is a middle-income, developing country with a diversified economy based on agriculture, industry and energy. It is characterized by strong state intervention in all aspects of the economy. Private banking operations were not allowed till 2001.In 2004 3 bank institutions appeared. The agricultural sector dominates. Its main products are wheat, barley, cotton, sugar beet, tobacco, and olives. Syria is among the ten countries with biggest production of cotton. ( 1.1 million tons). The Syrian economy is highly dependent on production and export of crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas. The country has sufficient reserves that are used inefficiently. Stores of crude oil have the estimated amount of 2, 5 billion c. m. National gas reserves are 270, 7 milliard c. m. Important industrial regions are those near Haleb and Damascus, and Homs and Hama as well. Approximately half of the crude oil is exported and it ensures 70-80% of the country’s income of solid currency. Other developed industrial sectors are the oil processing industry, textile industry, and tobacco industry. 20% of GDP is determined by industry. However, Syria's economy faces serious problems and challenges and impediments to growth, including: a large and poorly performing public sector; declining rates of oil production; widening non-oil deficit; wide scale corruption; weak financial and capital markets; and high rates of unemployment tied to a high population growth rate. As a result of an inefficient and corrupt centrally planned economy, Syria has low rates of investment, and low levels of industrial and agricultural productivity. Its GDP growth rate was approximately 2.9% in 2005, according to IMF statistics. The two main pillars of the Syrian economy have been agriculture and oil. Agriculture, for instance, accounts for 25% of GDP and employs 42% of the total labor force. The government hopes to attract new investment in the tourism, natural gas, and service sectors to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil and agriculture. The government has begun to institute economic reforms aimed at liberalizing most markets, but reform thus far has been slow and ad hoc. For ideological reasons, privatization of government enterprises is explicitly rejected. Therefore major sectors of the economy including refining, ports operation, air transportation, power generation, and water distribution, remain firmly controlled by the government. The Gross Domestic Product ( 2007) is 87.091 billion dollars, real GDP growth is 3.3% and GDP per capita is 4,488 $. The country’s reserves are estimated on 5 milliard dollars and the foreign debt- 4 billion dollars.Syria has a population of approximately 19 million people, and Syrian Government figures place the population growth rate at 2.45%, with 75% of the population under the age of 35 and more than 40% under the age of 15. Approximately 200,000 people enter the labor market every year. According to Syrian Government statistics, the unemployment rate is 7.5%, however, more accurate independent sources place it closer to 20%. Government and public sector employees constitute over one quarter of the total labor force and are paid very low salaries and wages. Government officials acknowledge that the economy is not growing at a pace sufficient to create enough new jobs annually to match population growth. The UNDP announced in 2005 that 30% of the Syrian population lives in poverty and 11.4% live below the subsistence level.
Transport.For a relatively under developed country Syria's railway infrastructure is of a high quality with many high speed services.Syria has two principal airports - Damascus and Aleppo which serve as hubs for Syrian Air and are also served by a variety of foreign carriers.The majority of Syrian cargo is carried by CFS (the Syrian Railway company) and TCDD (the Turkish counterpart).
Foreign trade.Given the policies adopted from the 1960s through the late 1980s, which included nationalization of companies and private assets, Syria failed to join an increasingly interconnected global economy. Syria withdrew from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1951 because of Israel's accession. It is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), although it submitted a request to begin the accession process in 2001. Syria is developing regional free trade agreements. As of 1 January 2005, the Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement (GAFTA) came into effect and customs duties were eliminated between Syria and all other members of GAFTA. In addition, Syria has signed a free trade agreement with Turkey, which came into force in January 2007, and initialed an Association Agreement with the European Union, which has yet to be signed. Although Syria claims a recent boom in non-oil exports, its trade numbers are notoriously inaccurate and out-of-date. Syria's main exports include crude oil, refined products, raw cotton, clothing, fruits, and grains. The bulk of Syrian imports are raw materials essential for industry, vehicles, agricultural equipment, and heavy machinery. Earnings from oil exports as well as remittances from Syrian workers are the government's most important sources of foreign exchange.
Currency. The Syrian pound is the official currency used in Syria. Pound is translated in Arabic as lira. One pound can be divided into 100 piastres. Originally part of the Ottoman Empire, Syria's official currency was the Turkish lira. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Syria was placed under a mandate, and all the states under the French and British mandates, including Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine began using the Egyptian pound. The French placed Syria under its mandate and they decided to give Syria their Lebanon and Syria. The bank issued a Franc based Lebanese-Syrian currency, that would last for 15 years starting in 1924. Two years before the expiration, the BSL split the Lebanese-Syrian currency that could be used interchangeably in either state. Today, these two currencies have split and own currency by establishing a commercial bank, Banque de Syrie. Later, this bank was renamed the Banque de Syrie et Liban (BSL), and began to act as the official bank for differentiated completely, as the Lebanese pound is approximately 30 times weaker than the Syrian pound.In 2001, Syria legalized private banking. In 2004, four private banks began operations. In August 2004, a committee was formed to supervise the establishment of a stock market. Beyond the financial sector, the Syrian Government has enacted major changes to rental and tax laws, and is reportedly considering similar changes to the commercial code and to other laws, which impact property rights.

Syria -- Culture --

Evidence of Syria’s cultural importance are Philip Hitti’s words that claimed, "The scholars consider Syria as the teacher for the human characteristics," and Andrea Parrout writes, "each civilized person in the world should admit that he has two home countries: the one he was born in, and Syria.” Syria is often called “the biggest smallest country in the world”. Its territory does not differ much from that of Bulgaria. However, not many countries can boast about such unique cultural heritage by contrast with Syria. Archaeologists have discovered extensive writings and evidence of material culture around Ugarit and Ebla IV-III BC. The scribes of the city of Ugarit created a cuneiform alphabet in the fourteenth century BC. The alphabet was written in the familiar order we use today. At that time the territory of Syria was occupied by Semitic tribes, which established strong cities. Some of them remain an enigma for today’s historians. Syria is the name that was given to the region by the Greeks and Romans and probably derives from the Babylonian suri. Arabs traditionally referred to Syria and a large, vaguely defined surrounding area as Sham, which translates as "the northern region," "the north," "Syria," or "Damascus." Arabs continued to refer to the area as Sham up until the twentieth century. That name still is used to refer to the entire area of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and the West Bank and has become a symbol of Arab unity. Syria is ethnically fairly homogeneous (80 percent of the population is Arab). Religious differences are tolerated, and minorities tend to retain distinct ethnic, cultural, and religious identities. The Alawite Muslims (about a half-million people) live in the area of Latakia. The Druze, a smaller group that resides in the mountainous region of Jebel Druze, are known as fierce soldiers. The Ismailis are an even smaller sect, that originated in Asia. The Armenians from Turkey are Christian. The Kurds are Muslim but have a distinct culture and language, for which they have been persecuted throughout the Middle East. The Circassians, who are Muslim, are of Russian origin and generally have fair hair and skin. The nomadic Beduoin lead a lifestyle that keeps them largely separated from the rest of society, herding sheep and moving through the desert, although some have settled in towns and villages. Another group that remains on the outside of society both politically and socially, is the roughly 100,000 Palestinian refugees, who left their homeland in 1948 after the founding of Israel. Syria is a culturally gifted country and has a traditional society. Strong moral and ethical values are placed on family, religion, education and self discipline and respect. Syrians place a high degree on tradition and present themselves well both at home and abroad. It is normal to find Syrian families all over the world who still live their lives as if they were in the Old Country. Traditional thinking is also represented by the way women are treated , wives in towns are responsible for running the household and are restricted to the home. Rural women often work in the fields in addition to performing domestic tasks. While women are legally allowed to work outside the home, there are significant obstacles. Another aspect of tradition is the stratification of people. People from different classes generally do not socialize with one another, and people in the lower classes often adopt a humble attitude and an acceptance of their position. Class lines tend to coincide with racial differences, as lighter-skinned people hold higher economic and political positions and most of the people in the lower-ranked professions are darker-skinned.Traditional Houses of the Old Cities in Damascus, Aleppo and the other Syrian cities are preserved and traditionally the living quarters are arranged around one or more courtyards, typically with a fountain in the middle supplied by spring water, and decorated with citrus trees, grape vines, and flowers. Outside of larger city areas such as Damascus, Aleppo or Homs, residential areas are often clustered in smaller villages. The buildings themselves are often quite old (perhaps a few hundred years old), passed down to family members over several generations. Residential construction of rough concrete and blockwork is usually unpainted, and the palette of a Syrian village is therefore simple tones of greys and browns. The focal point of any Middle Eastern city is the souk, or marketplace, a labyrinthine space of alleys, stalls, and tiny shops that also include ancient mosques and shrines. Traditionally, the residential quarters of a city were divided along ethnic and religious lines. Today, this system has been largely replaced by divisions along class lines, with some wealthier neighborhoods and some poorer ones Syrians have contributed to Arabic literature and music and have a proud tradition of oral and written poetry. Syrian writers, many of whom immigrated to Egypt, played a crucial role in the nahda or Arab literary and cultural revival of the nineteenth century. Prominent contemporary Syrian writers include, among others, Adonis, Muhammad Maghout, Haidar Haidar, Ghada al-Samman, Nizar Qabbani and Zakariyya Tamer.There was a private sector presence in the Syrian cinema industry until the end of the 1970s, but private investment has since preferred the more lucrative television serial business. Syrian soap operas, in a variety of styles (all melodramatic, however), have considerable market penetration throughout the eastern Arab world. Although declining, Syria's world-famous handicraft industry still employs thousands. Syrian food mostly consists of Southern Mediterranean, Greek, and Southwest Asian dishes. Some Syrian dishes also evolved from Turkish and French cooking. Dishes like shish kebab, stuffed zucchini, yabra' (stuffed grape leaves, the word yapra' der?ves from the Turkish word 'yaprak' meaning leaf), shawarma, and falafel are very popular in Syria as the food there is diverse in taste and type. Restaurants are usually open (food is served outdoors). Food is an important part of many celebrations. During Ramadan, each day's fast is broken with an evening meal called iftar. This meal begins in silence and is consumed rapidly. Eid al-Fitr, the final breaking of the Ramadan fast, entails the consumption of large quantities of food, sweets in particular. Food is also a central element at weddings, parties, and other festivities.

Syria -- Political system, law and government --

President: Bashar al-Assad Prime Minister: Muhammad Naji al-Otari
Executive body: Syria has the following executive branches of government: the president, two vice presidents, prime minister, Council of Ministers (cabinet).
Legislature: Syria’s legislative branch is the unicameral People's Council.
Judiciary: Syria’s judicial branches include the Supreme Constitutional Court, the High Judicial Council, the Court of Cassation, and the State Security Courts. Islamic jurisprudence is a main source of legislation and Syria's judicial system has elements of Ottoman, French, and Islamic laws. Syria has three levels of courts: courts of first instance, courts of appeals, and the constitutional court, the highest tribunal. Religious courts handle questions of personal and family law.
Political parties: the Arab Socialist Resurrection (Baath) Party (Baath Party) it's the main party which controls the other parties, Syrian Arab Socialist Party, Arab Socialist Union, Syrian Communist Party, Arab Socialist Unionist Movement, Democratic Socialist Union Party, and around 15 very small tolerated political parties and there are 14 Kurdish political parties which are not allowed by the law but they exist and are active. .
Constitution and Government: Syria's constitution was adopted 13 March 1971. It vests the Baath Party with leadership functions in the state and society. The president is approved by referendum for a 7-year term. The President Bashar al-Assad was reelected after a referendum on 27th May 2007 for another mandate. He received 97, 62% votes. He was the only candidate and the Minister of internal affairs told that only 19 635 out of 12 million people voted against him. The suffrage age is 18. The president also serves as Secretary General of the Baath Party and leader of the National Progressive Front. The National Progressive Front is a coalition of 10 political parties authorized by the government. The constitution requires the president to be a Muslim, but does not make Islam the state religion. The constitution gives the president the right to appoint ministers, to declare war and state of emergency, to issue laws (which, except in the case of emergency, require ratification by the People's Council), to declare amnesty, to amend the constitution, and to appoint civil servants and military personnel.The constitution gives the president the right to appoint ministers, to declare war and state of emergency, to issue laws (which, except in the case of emergency, require ratification by the People's Council), to declare amnesty, to amend the constitution, and to appoint civil servants and military personnel.
Emergency Law: Since 1963 the Emergency Law has been in effect, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for Syrians. Syrian governments have justified the state of emergency in the light of the continuing war with Israel and the threats posed by terrorists. Syrian citizens approve the President in a referendum. Syria does not hold multi-party elections for the legislature.
Military service: The President of Syria is commander in chief of the Syrian armed forces, comprising some 400,000 troops upon mobilization. The military is a conscripted force; males serve 30 months in the military upon reaching the age of 18. About 20,000 Syrian soldiers were deployed in Lebanon until April 27, 2005, when the last of Syria's troops left the country after three decades. In 2005 military expenditures amounted to 5.9% percent of the GDP. Syria received significant financial aid from Persian Gulf Arab states as a result of its participation in the Persian Gulf War, with a sizable portion of these funds earmarked for military spending. In addition, Syria is buying additional weapons to either counter Israel's abilities to attack it or as preparation to take back the Golan Heights at some point in the future.