Country in Focus



  • Capital:Damascus
  • Population:22.40 million (WB, 2012)
  • Languages:Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian, French
  • Head of State:President Bashar Al Assad


  • Capital:Damascus
  • Population:22.40 million (WB, 2012)
  • Languages:Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian, French
  • Head of State:President Bashar Al Assad

Country Data

France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria after World War I. Syria was granted independence in 1946. Due to its lack of political stability, the newly independent country experienced several upheavals. In 1958, Syria and Egypt formed United Arab Republic which collapsed in 1961 paving way to the reestablishment of Syrian Arab Republic. Following this, Syria suffered another series of coups and political instability. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel.In 1971, Hafez Al Assad became president following a bloodless coup. Under his thirty-year presidency, he established an authoritarian regime that brought cohesion and stability to the government. After his death in 2000, his son Bashar Al Assad became the president. Bashar’s election led to Damascus spring and hope for reforms. In 2005, Syria pulled out its troops in Lebanon – stationed since 1976 - following intense pressure from international community after the death of Rafik Hariri.In May 2007 Bashar al-ASAD's second term as president was approved by popular referendum. Inspired by Arab Spring, anti-government protests broke out in the southern province of Dar'a in March 2011. Demonstrations and unrest have spread to nearly every city in Syria since then.The government responded to unrest with a mix of concessions and force. However, the response has failed to meet opposition demands for Al Assad to step down and the government's security campaigns to quell unrest and widespread armed opposition activity have led to extended violent clashes between government forces and oppositionists...


Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and

35 00 N, 38 00 E

185,180 sq km

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

Primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains
in west


22.40 million (WB, 2012)

Republic under an authoritarian regime


GDP (current US$)
$73.67 billion (WB, 2012)

GDP growth (annual %) 
3.2% (WB, 2012)

GNI per capita (current US$)
$2,610 (WB, 2010)


With paved runways : 29
With unpaved runways : 61
Total : 90 (2013)

Total : 69,873 km

Ports and terminals   
Major seaport(s): Baniyas, Latakia, Tartus


Crude oil
Production : 182,500 bbl/day (2012 est.)
Exports : 152,400 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Proved reserves : 2.5 billion bbl (1 January 2013 es)

Refined petroleum products
Production:  253,600 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Consumption :  258,800 bbl/day (2011 est.)
Exports : 36,210 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Imports: 104,800 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Natural gas
Production :  7.87 billion cu m (2011 est.)
Consumption : 9.63 billion cu m (2010 est.)
Imports : 250 million cu m (2011 est.)
Proved reserves : 240.7 billion cu m (1 January 2013 es)


Main lines in use: 4.425 million (2012)
Mobile cellular: 12.928 million (2012)


Military branches  
Syrian Armed Forces: Land Forces, Naval Forces, Air Forces (includes Air Defense Forces) (2013)
Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation is 18 months; women are not conscripted but may volunteer to serve; re-enlistment obligation 5 years, with retirement after 15 years or age 40 (enlisted) or 20 years or age 45 (NCOs) (2012)
Manpower available for military service
Males age 16-49: 5,889,837
Females age 16-49: 5,660,751 (2010 est.)
Manpower fit for military service
Males age 16-49: 5,055,510
Females age 16-49: 4,884,151 (2010 est.)


International Disputes
Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied with the almost 1,000-strong UN Disengagement Observer Force patrolling a buffer zone since 1964; lacking a treaty or other documentation describing the boundary, portions of the Lebanon-Syria boundary are unclear with several sections in dispute; since 2000, Lebanon has claimed Shab'a Farms in the Golan Heights; 2004 Agreement and pending demarcation settles border dispute with Jordan
Refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)
Refugees (country of origin): 87,741 (Iraq) (2012); 499,189 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA)) (2013)
IDPs: 6.5 million (ongoing civil war since 2011) (2013)
stateless persons: 221,000 (2012); note - Syria's stateless population is composed of Kurds and Palestinians; stateless persons are prevented from voting, owning land, holding certain jobs, receiving food subsidies or public healthcare, enrolling in public schools, or being legally married to Syrian citizens; in 1962, some 120,000 Syrian Kurds were stripped of their Syrian citizenship, rendering them and their descendants stateless; in 2011, the Syrian Government granted citizenship to thousands of Syrian Kurds as a means of appeasement; however, resolving the question of statelessness is not a priority given Syria's ongoing civil war
Trafficking in persons 
Due to Syria's political uprising and violent unrest, hundreds of thousands of Syrians, foreign migrant workers, and refugees have fled the country and are vulnerable to human trafficking; the lack of security and inaccessibility of the majority of the country makes it impossible to conduct a thorough analysis of the ongoing conflict and the scope and magnitude of Syria's human trafficking situation; prior to the uprising, Syria was principally a destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor or sex trafficking; thousands of women - the majority from Indonesia, the Philippines, Somalia, and Ethiopia - were recruited to work as domestic servants but were subsequently subjected to forced labor; Filipina domestic workers continue to be sent to Syria and are vulnerable to forced labor; the Syrian armed forces and opposition forces are using Syrian children in combat and support roles and as human shields; Iraqi women and girls continue to be sexually exploited, and Syrian children still face conditions of forced labour

Tier rating
Tier 3 - the government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government does not demonstrate evidence of increasing efforts to investigate and punish trafficking offenses, provide protective services to victims, inform the public about human trafficking, or provide much-needed anti-trafficking training to law enforcement and social welfare officials; the government does not refer any victims to NGO-operated shelters and has failed to institute procedures for the identification, interview, and referral of trafficking victims; the status of the national plan of action against trafficking is unknown (2013)
Illicit drugs   
A transit point for opiates, hashish, and cocaine bound for regional and Western markets; weak anti-money-laundering controls and bank privatization may leave it vulnerable to money laundering
Complied by Gulf News Archives
Sources: The World Fact Book, World Bank