Middle East :: Syria
  • Introduction :: Syria
  • Background:

    Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946. The new country lacked political stability and experienced a series of military coups. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights region to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional, albeit unsuccessful, peace talks over its return. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the socialist Ba'ath Party and the minority Alawi sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. Following the death of President Hafiz al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah. In May 2007, Bashar al-ASAD's second term as president was approved by popular referendum.

    Influenced by major uprisings that began elsewhere in the region, and compounded by additional social and economic factors, antigovernment protests broke out first in the southern province of Dar'a in March 2011 with protesters calling for the repeal of the restrictive Emergency Law allowing arrests without charge, the legalization of political parties, and the removal of corrupt local officials. Demonstrations and violent unrest spread across Syria with the size and intensity of protests fluctuating. The government responded to unrest with a mix of concessions - including the repeal of the Emergency Law, new laws permitting new political parties, and liberalizing local and national elections - and with military force and detentions. The government's efforts to quell unrest and armed opposition activity led to extended clashes between government forces, their allies, and oppositionists.

    International pressure on the ASAD regime intensified after late 2011, as the Arab League, the EU, Turkey, and the US expanded economic sanctions against the regime and those entities that support it. In December 2012, the Syrian National Coalition, was recognized by more than 130 countries as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. In September 2015, Russia launched a military intervention on behalf of the ASAD regime, and government-aligned forces recaptured Aleppo city in December 2016, shifting the conflict in the regime’s favor. Political negotiations between the government and opposition delegations at UN-sponsored Geneva conferences since 2014 have failed to produce a resolution of the conflict. Russia, Iran, and Turkey since early 2017 have held negotiations in Astana to establish de-escalation zones to reduce violence in Syria. Unrest continues in Syria, and according to an April 2016 UN estimate, the death toll among Syrian Government forces, opposition forces, and civilians was over 400,000, though other estimates have placed the number well over 500,000. As of December 2017, approximately 13.1 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria, with 6.3 million people displaced internally, and an additional 5.4 million registered Syrian refugees, making the Syrian situation among the largest humanitarian crises worldwide

  • Geography :: Syria
  • Location:
    Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey
    Geographic coordinates:
    35 00 N, 38 00 E
    Map references:
    Middle East
    Area:
    total: 185,180 sq km
    land: 183,630 sq km
    water: 1,550 sq km

    note: includes 1,295 sq km of Israeli-occupied territory

    country comparison to the world: 90
    Area - comparative:
    slightly more than 1.5 times the size of Pennsylvania
    Area comparison map: Area comparison map
    Land boundaries:
    total: 2,363 km
    border countries (5): Iraq 599 km, Israel 83 km, Jordan 379 km, Lebanon 403 km, Turkey 899 km
    Coastline:
    193 km
    Maritime claims:
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    contiguous zone: 24 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:
    mean elevation: 514 m
    elevation extremes: -208 m lowest point: unnamed location near Lake Tiberias
    2814 highest point: Mount Hermon (Jabal a-Shayk)
    Natural resources:
    petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower
    Land use:
    agricultural land: 75.8% (2011 est.)
    arable land: 25.4% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 5.8% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 44.6% (2011 est.)
    forest: 2.7% (2011 est.)
    other: 21.5% (2011 est.)
    Irrigated land:
    14,280 sq km (2012)
    Population distribution:
    significant population density along the Mediterranean coast; larger concentrations found in the major cities of Damascus, Aleppo (the country's largest city), and Hims (Homs); more than half of the population lives in the coastal plain, the province of Halab, and the Euphrates River valley

    note: the ongoing civil war has altered the population distribution

    Natural hazards:

    dust storms, sandstorms

    volcanism: Syria's two historically active volcanoes, Es Safa and an unnamed volcano near the Turkish border have not erupted in centuries

    Environment - current issues:
    deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining wastes; inadequate potable water; depletion and pollution of water resources
    Environment - international agreements:
    party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
    signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
    Geography - note:
    the capital of Damascus - located at an oasis fed by the Barada River - is thought to be one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities; there are 42 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (2017)
  • People and Society :: Syria
  • Population:
    19,454,263 (July 2017 est.) (July 2018 est.)

    note: approximately 22,000 Israeli settlers live in the Golan Heights (2016)

    country comparison to the world: 62
    Nationality:
    noun: Syrian(s)
    adjective: Syrian
    Ethnic groups:
    Arab 90.3%, Kurdish, Armenian, and other 9.7%
    Languages:
    Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian, French, English
    Religions:
    Muslim 87% (official; includes Sunni 74% and Alawi, Ismaili, and Shia 13%), Christian 10% (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), Druze 3%, Jewish (few remaining in Damascus and Aleppo)
    Age structure:
    0-14 years: 31.39% (male 3,132,619 /female 2,974,394)
    15-24 years: 19.52% (male 1,933,185 /female 1,863,991)
    25-54 years: 39.26% (male 3,807,664 /female 3,829,150)
    55-64 years: 5.52% (male 531,455 /female 542,738)
    65 years and over: 4.31% (male 379,360 /female 459,707) (2018 est.)
    population pyramid: population pyramid
    Dependency ratios:
    total dependency ratio: 72.8 (2015 est.)
    youth dependency ratio: 65.8 (2015 est.)
    elderly dependency ratio: 7 (2015 est.)
    potential support ratio: 14.3 (2015 est.)
    Median age:
    total: 24.5 years
    male: 24 years
    female: 25 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
    Population growth rate:
    7.37% NA (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 1
    Birth rate:
    20.7 births/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 76
    Death rate:
    4 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 210
    Net migration rate:
    NA
    Population distribution:
    significant population density along the Mediterranean coast; larger concentrations found in the major cities of Damascus, Aleppo (the country's largest city), and Hims (Homs); more than half of the population lives in the coastal plain, the province of Halab, and the Euphrates River valley

    note: the ongoing civil war has altered the population distribution

    Urbanization:
    urban population: 54.2% of total population (2018)
    rate of urbanization: 1.43% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Major urban areas - population:
    2.32 million DAMASCUS (capital), 1.754 million Aleppo, 1.295 million Hims (Homs), 894,000 Hamah (2018)
    Sex ratio:
    at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    Maternal mortality rate:
    68 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    Infant mortality rate:
    total: 14.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    male: 16.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    female: 12.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Life expectancy at birth:
    total population: 75.2 years (2018 est.)
    male: 72.8 years (2018 est.)
    female: 77.8 years (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 112
    Total fertility rate:
    2.44 children born/woman (2018 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 80
    Contraceptive prevalence rate:
    53.9% (2009)
    Health expenditures:
    3.3% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 180
    Physicians density:
    1.55 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
    Hospital bed density:
    1.5 beds/1,000 population (2014)
    Drinking water source:
    improved: urban: 92.3% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 87.2% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 90.1% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 7.7% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 12.8% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 9.9% of population (2015 est.)
    Sanitation facility access:
    improved: urban: 96.2% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 95.1% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 95.7% of population (2015 est.)
    unimproved: urban: 3.8% of population (2015 est.)
    rural: 4.9% of population (2015 est.)
    total: 4.3% of population (2015 est.)
    HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
    NA
    HIV/AIDS - deaths:
    NA
    Obesity - adult prevalence rate:
    27.8% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
    10.1% (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 63
    Education expenditures:
    5.1% of GDP (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 73
    Literacy:
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write (2015 est.)
    total population: 86.4% (2015 est.)
    male: 91.7% (2015 est.)
    female: 81% (2015 est.)
    School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
    total: 9 years (2013)
    male: 9 years (2013)
    female: 9 years (2013)
    Unemployment, youth ages 15-24:
    total: 35.8% (2011 est.)
    male: 26.6% (2011 est.)
    female: 71.1% (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 20
  • 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)
    etymology: name ultimately derived from the ancient Assyrians who dominated northern Mesopotamia, but whose reach also extended westward to the Levant; over time, the name came to be associated more with the western area
    Government type:
    presidential republic; highly authoritarian regime
    Capital:
    name: Damascus
    geographic coordinates: 33 30 N, 36 18 E
    time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
    daylight saving time: +1hr, begins midnight on the last Friday in March; ends at midnight on the last Friday in October
    Administrative divisions:
    14 provinces (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Hasakah, Al Ladhiqiyah (Latakia), Al Qunaytirah, Ar Raqqah, As Suwayda', Dar'a, Dayr az Zawr, Dimashq (Damascus), Halab (Aleppo), Hamah, Hims (Homs), Idlib, Rif Dimashq (Damascus Countryside), Tartus
    Independence:
    17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
    National holiday:
    Independence Day (Evacuation Day), 17 April (1946); note - celebrates the leaving of the last French troops and the proclamation of full independence
    Constitution:
    history: several previous; latest issued 15 February 2012, passed by referendum and effective 27 February 2012 (2016)
    amendments: proposed by the president of the republic or by one-third of the People’s Assembly members; following review by a special Assembly committee, passage requires at least three-quarters majority vote by the Assembly and approval by the president (2016)
    International law organization participation:
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    Citizenship:
    citizenship by birth: no
    citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Syria; if the father is unknown or stateless, the mother must be a citizen of Syria
    dual citizenship recognized: yes
    residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years
    Suffrage:
    18 years of age; universal
    Executive branch:
    chief of state: President Bashar al-ASAD (since 17 July 2000); Vice President Najah al-ATTAR (since 23 March 2006)
    head of government: Prime Minister Imad Muhammad Dib KHAMIS (since 22 June 2016); Deputy Prime Minister Walid al-MUALEM (since 23 June 2012)
    cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
    elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 7-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 3 June 2014 (next to be held in June 2021); the president appoints the vice presidents, prime minister, and deputy prime ministers
    election results: Bashar al-ASAD elected president; percent of vote - Bashar al-ASAD (Ba'th Party) 88.7%, Hassan al-NOURI (independent) 4.3%, Maher HAJJER (independent) 3.2%, other/invalid 3.8%
    Legislative branch:
    description: unicameral People's Assembly or Majlis al-Shaab (250 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by simple majority preferential vote to serve 4-year terms)
    elections: last held on 13 April 2016 (next to be held in 2020)
    election results: percent of vote by party - NPF 80%, other 20%; seats by party - NPF 200, other 50; composition - men 217, women 33, percent of women 13.2%
    Judicial branch:
    highest courts: Court of Cassation (organized into civil, criminal, religious, and military divisions, each with 3 judges); Supreme Constitutional Court (consists of 7 members)
    judge selection and term of office: Court of Cassation judges appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council or SJC, a judicial management body headed by the minister of justice with 7 members including the national president; judge tenure NA; Supreme Constitutional Court judges nominated by the president and appointed by the SJC; judges appointed for 4-year renewable terms
    subordinate courts: courts of first instance; magistrates' courts; religious and military courts; Economic Security Court; Counterterrorism Court (established June 2012)
    Political parties and leaders:
    legal parties/alliances: Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party [Bashar al-ASAD, regional secretary];
    Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'th) Party [President Bashar al-ASAD];
    Arab Socialist Union of Syria or ASU [Safwan al-QUDSI];
    National Progressive Front or NPF [Bashar al-ASAD, Suleiman QADDAH] (alliance includes Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'th) Party, Socialist Unionist Democratic Party;
    Socialist Unionist Democratic Party [Fadlallah Nasr al-DIN];
    Syrian Communist Party (two branches) [Wissal Farha BAKDASH, Yusuf Rashid FAYSAL];
    Syrian Social Nationalist Party or SSNP [Ali HAIDAR];
    Unionist Socialist Party [Fayez ISMAIL];
    Kurdish parties (considered illegal): Kurdish Azadi Party;
    Kurdish Democratic Accord Party (al Wifaq) [Fowzi SHINKALI];
    Kurdish Democratic Left Party [Saleh KIDDO];
    Kurdish Democratic Party (al Parti-Ibrahim wing) [Nasr al-Din IBRAHIM];
    Kurdish Democratic Party (al Parti-Mustafa wing);
    Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria or KDP-S [Saud AL-MALA];
    Kurdish Democratic Patriotic/National Party;
    Kurdish Democratic Peace Party [Talal MOHAMMED];
    Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party or KDPP-Darwish;
    Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party or KDPP-Muhammad;
    Kurdish Democratic Union Party or PYD [Shahoz HASAN and Aysha HISSO];
    Kurdish Democratic Unity Party [Kamiron Haj ABDU];
    Kurdish Democratic Yekiti Party [Mahi al-Din Sheikh ALI];
    Kurdish Equality Party [Namet DAOUD];
    Kurdish Future Party [Rezan HASSAN];
    Kurdish Green Party [ Laqman AHMI];
    Kurdish Left Party [Shallal KIDDO];
    Kurdish National Democratic Rally in Syria;
    Kurdish Reform Movement in Syria [Amjad OTHMAN];
    Kurdish Reform Movement Party [Feisal AL-YUSSEF];
    Kurdish Yekiti (Union) Party;
    Kurdistan Communist Party [Nejm al-Sin MALA’AMIR];
    Kurdistan Democratic Party in Syria [Abdul Karim SAKKO];
    Kurdistan Liberal Union [Farhad TILO];
    Socialist Unionist Democratic Party [Fadlallah Nasr al-DIN];
    Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party;
    Tiyar al-Mustaqbal [Narin MATINI];
    other: Syrian Democratic Party [Mustafa QALAAJI]
    International organization participation:
    ABEDA, AFESD, AMF, CAEU, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAS, MIGA, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)
    Diplomatic representation in the US:
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant)
    chancery: 2215 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 232-6313
    FAX: [1] (202) 234-9548

    note: Embassy ceased operations and closed on 18 March 2014

    Diplomatic representation from the US:
    chief of mission: ambassador (vacant); note - on 6 February 2012, the US closed its embassy in Damascus; Czechia serves as protecting power for US interests in Syria
    embassy: Abou Roumaneh, 2 Al Mansour Street, Damascus
    mailing address: P. O. Box 29, Damascus
    telephone: [963] (11) 3391-4444
    FAX: [963] (11) 3391-3999
    Flag description:
    three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; two small, green, five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; the band colors derive from the Arab Liberation flag and represent oppression (black), overcome through bloody struggle (red), to be replaced by a bright future (white); identical to the former flag of the United Arab Republic (1958-1961) where the two stars represented the constituent states of Syria and Egypt; the current design dates to 1980

    note: similar to the flag of Yemen, which has a plain white band, Iraq, which has an Arabic inscription centered in the white band, and that of Egypt, which has a gold Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band

    National symbol(s):
    hawk; national colors: red, white, black, green
    National anthem:
    name: "Humat ad-Diyar" (Guardians of the Homeland)
    lyrics/music: Khalil Mardam BEY/Mohammad Salim FLAYFEL and Ahmad Salim FLAYFEL

    note: adopted 1936, restored 1961; between 1958 and 1961, while Syria was a member of the United Arab Republic with Egypt, the country had a different anthem

  • Economy :: Syria
  • Economy - overview:

    Syria's economy has deeply deteriorated amid the ongoing conflict that began in 2011, declining by more than 70% from 2010 to 2017. The government has struggled to fully address the effects of international sanctions, widespread infrastructure damage, diminished domestic consumption and production, reduced subsidies, and high inflation, which have caused dwindling foreign exchange reserves, rising budget and trade deficits, a decreasing value of the Syrian pound, and falling household purchasing power. In 2017, some economic indicators began to stabilize, including the exchange rate and inflation, but economic activity remains depressed and GDP almost certainly fell.

    During 2017, the ongoing conflict and continued unrest and economic decline worsened the humanitarian crisis, necessitating high levels of international assistance, as more than 13 million people remain in need inside Syria, and the number of registered Syrian refugees increased from 4.8 million in 2016 to more than 5.4 million.

    Prior to the turmoil, Damascus had begun liberalizing economic policies, including cutting lending interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating multiple exchange rates, raising prices on some subsidized items, and establishing the Damascus Stock Exchange, but the economy remains highly regulated. Long-run economic constraints include foreign trade barriers, declining oil production, high unemployment, rising budget deficits, increasing pressure on water supplies caused by heavy use in agriculture, industrial contaction, water pollution, and widespread infrastructure damage.

    GDP (purchasing power parity):
    $50.28 billion (2015 est.)
    $55.8 billion (2014 est.)
    $61.9 billion (2013 est.)
    note: data are in 2015 US dollars
    the war-driven deterioration of the economy resulted in a disappearance of quality national level statistics in the 2012-13 period
    country comparison to the world: 110
    GDP (official exchange rate):
    $24.6 billion (2014 est.) (2014 est.)
    GDP - real growth rate:
    -36.5% (2014 est.)
    -30.9% (2013 est.)

    note: data are in 2015 dollars

    country comparison to the world: 224
    GDP - per capita (PPP):
    $2,900 (2015 est.)
    $3,300 (2014 est.)
    $2,800 (2013 est.)

    note: data are in 2015 US dollars

    country comparison to the world: 194
    Gross national saving:
    17% of GDP (2017 est.)
    15.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
    16.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 121
    GDP - composition, by end use:
    household consumption: 73.1% (2017 est.)
    government consumption: 26% (2017 est.)
    investment in fixed capital: 18.6% (2017 est.)
    investment in inventories: 12.3% (2017 est.)
    exports of goods and services: 16.1% (2017 est.)
    imports of goods and services: -46.1% (2017 est.)
    GDP - composition, by sector of origin:
    agriculture: 20% (2017 est.)
    industry: 19.5% (2017 est.)
    services: 60.8% (2017 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, cement, oil seeds crushing, automobile assembly
    Industrial production growth rate:
    4.3% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    Labor force:
    3.767 million (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 95
    Labor force - by occupation:
    agriculture: 67% (2008 est.)
    industry: 16% (2008 est.)
    services: 67% (2008 est.)
    Unemployment rate:
    50% (2017 est.)
    50% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 217
    Population below poverty line:
    82.5% (2014 est.)
    Household income or consumption by percentage share:
    lowest 10%: NA
    highest 10%: NA
    Budget:
    revenues: 1.162 billion (2017 est.)
    expenditures: 3.211 billion (2017 est.)

    note: government projections for FY2016

    Taxes and other revenues:
    4.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 219
    Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-):
    -8.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 203
    Public debt:
    94.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
    91.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 23
    Fiscal year:
    calendar year
    Inflation rate (consumer prices):
    28.1% (2017 est.)
    47.3% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 220
    Central bank discount rate:
    0.75% (31 December 2017)
    5% (31 December 2016)
    country comparison to the world: 135
    Commercial bank prime lending rate:
    14% (31 December 2017 est.)
    22% (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 49
    Stock of narrow money:
    $7.272 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $4.333 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 88
    Stock of broad money:
    $7.272 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $4.333 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 90
    Stock of domestic credit:
    $9.161 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $5.786 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 109
    Market value of publicly traded shares:

    NA

    Current account balance:
    -$2.123 billion (2017 est.)
    -$2.077 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 167
    Exports:
    $1.85 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.705 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 144
    Exports - commodities:
    crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
    Exports - partners:
    Lebanon 31.5%, Iraq 10.3%, Jordan 8.8%, China 7.8%, Turkey 7.5%, Spain 7.3% (2017)
    Imports:
    $1.451 billion (2017 est.)
    $5.496 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 172
    Imports - commodities:
    machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, paper
    Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
    $407.3 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $504.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 159
    Imports - partners:
    Russia 32.4%, Turkey 16.7%, China 9.5% (2017)
    Debt - external:
    $4.989 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $5.085 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 133
    Exchange rates:
    Syrian pounds (SYP) per US dollar -
    514.6 (2017 est.)
    459.2 (2016 est.)
    459.2 (2015 est.)
    236.41 (2014 est.)
    153.695 (2013 est.)
  • Energy :: Syria
  • Electricity access:
    population without electricity: 1.6 million (2013)
    electrification - total population: 96% (2013)
    electrification - urban areas: 100% (2013)
    electrification - rural areas: 81% (2013)
    Electricity - production:
    16.83 billion kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 82
    Electricity - consumption:
    13.96 billion kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 80
    Electricity - exports:
    262 million kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 71
    Electricity - imports:
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 206
    Electricity - installed generating capacity:
    9.61 million kW (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 61
    Electricity - from fossil fuels:
    84.4% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    Electricity - from nuclear fuels:
    0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 190
    Electricity - from hydroelectric plants:
    15.6% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    Electricity - from other renewable sources:
    0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 207
    Crude oil - production:
    28,670 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 63
    Crude oil - exports:
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 201
    Crude oil - imports:
    83,140 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 46
    Crude oil - proved reserves:
    2.5 billion bbl (1 January 2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    Refined petroleum products - production:
    111,600 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    Refined petroleum products - consumption:
    140,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 72
    Refined petroleum products - exports:
    12,500 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    Refined petroleum products - imports:
    41,120 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 90
    Natural gas - production:
    4.3 billion cu m (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 53
    Natural gas - consumption:
    4.3 billion cu m (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    Natural gas - exports:
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 195
    Natural gas - imports:
    249.2 million cu m (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 66
    Natural gas - proved reserves:
    240.7 billion cu m (1 January 2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 41
    Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy:
    49 million Mt (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 57
  • Communications :: Syria
  • Telephones - fixed lines:
    total subscriptions: 2,726,193 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 15 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 51
    Telephones - mobile cellular:
    total subscriptions: 15.65 million (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 87 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 65
    Telephone system:
    general assessment: the armed insurgency that began in 2011 has led to major disruptions to the network and has caused telephone and Internet outages throughout the country (2016)
    domestic: the number of fixed-line connections increased markedly prior to the civil war in 2011; mobile-cellular service stands at about 70 per 100 persons (2016)
    international: country code - 963; submarine cable connection to Egypt, Lebanon, and Cyprus; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey; participant in Medarabtel (2016)
    Broadcast media:
    state-run TV and radio broadcast networks; state operates 2 TV networks and a satellite channel; roughly two-thirds of Syrian homes have a satellite dish providing access to foreign TV broadcasts; 3 state-run radio channels; first private radio station launched in 2005; private radio broadcasters prohibited from transmitting news or political content (2007)
    Internet country code:
    .sy
    Internet users:
    total: 5,476,850 (July 2016 est.)
    percent of population: 31.9% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 71
    Broadband - fixed subscriptions:
    total: 1,154,909 (2017 est.)
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 6 (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 68
  • Transportation :: Syria
  • National air transport system:
    number of registered air carriers: 2 (2015)
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 11 (2015)
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 475,932 (2015)
    annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,517,388 mt-km (2015)
    Civil aircraft registration country code prefix:
    YK (2016)
    Airports:
    90 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 62
    Airports - with paved runways:
    total: 29 (2013)
    over 3,047 m: 5 (2013)
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 16 (2013)
    914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2013)
    under 914 m: 5 (2013)
    Airports - with unpaved runways:
    total: 61 (2013)
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 (2013)
    914 to 1,523 m: 12 (2013)
    under 914 m: 48 (2013)
    Heliports:
    6 (2013)
    Pipelines:
    3170 km gas, 2029 km oil (2013)
    Railways:
    total: 2,052 km (2014)
    standard gauge: 1,801 km 1.435-m gauge (2014)
    narrow gauge: 251 km 1.050-m gauge (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 75
    Roadways:
    total: 69,873 km (2010)
    paved: 63,060 km (2010)
    unpaved: 6,813 km (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    Waterways:
    900 km (navigable but not economically significant) (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    Merchant marine:
    total: 21 (2017)
    by type: bulk carrier 1, general cargo 7, other 13 (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 137
    Ports and terminals:
    major seaport(s): Baniyas, Latakia, Tartus
  • Military and Security :: Syria
  • Military branches:

    Syrian Armed Forces: Land Forces, Naval Forces, Air Forces (includes Air Defense Forces), Intelligence Services (Air Force Intelligence, Military Intelligence),

    , Ministry of Interior: Political Security Directorate, General Intelligence Directorate, National Police Force

    (2017)
    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 (2017)
  • Terrorism :: Syria
  • Terrorist groups - home based:
    al-Nusrah Front:
    aim(s): overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD's regime, absorb like-minded Syrian rebel groups, and ultimately, establish a regional Islamic caliphate
    area(s) of operation: headquartered in the northwestern Idlib Governorate, with a minor presence in Halab Governorate; operational primarily in northern, western, and southern Syria; installs Sharia in areas under its control; targets primarily Syrian regime and pro-regime forces, some minorities, other Syrian insurgent groups, and occasionally Western interests (April 2018)
    Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS):
    aim(s): replace the Syrian Government with a Sunni Islamic state; implement ISIS's strict interpretation of sharia
    area(s) of operation: ISIS has lost most of the territory it once controlled and now its overt territorial control is limited to pockets of land along the Syria-Iraq border and in southern Syria (April 2018)
    Terrorist groups - foreign based:
    Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB):
    aim(s): disrupt and attack Shia Muslim and Western interests in Syria
    area(s) of operation: remains operational; conducts attacks against primarily Shia Muslim organizations and individuals, including Hizballah members, and Westerners and their interests (April 2018)
    al-Qa'ida (AQ):
    aim(s): overthrow President Bashar al-ASAD's regime; establish a regional Islamic caliphate and conduct attacks outside of Syria
    area(s) of operation: operational primarily in Idlib Governorate and southern Syria, where it has established networks and operates paramilitary training camps (April 2018)
    Ansar al-Islam (AAI):
    aim(s): remove Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD from power and establish a government operating according to sharia
    area(s) of operation: operationally active in Syria since 2011; launches attacks on Syrian Government security forces and pro-Syrian Government militias; some AAI factions combat ISIS, while others are aligned with ISIS (April 2018)
    Hizballah:
    aim(s): preserve Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD's regime
    area(s) of operation: operational activity throughout the country since 2012; centered on providing paramilitary support to President Bashar al-ASAD's regime against armed insurgents (April 2018)
    Kata'ib Hizballah (KH):
    aim(s): preserve Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD's regime
    area(s) of operation: deploys combatants to Syria to fight alongside Syrian Government and Lebanese Hizballah forces (April 2018)
    Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK):
    aim(s): advance Kurdish autonomy, political, and cultural rights in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran
    area(s) of operation: operational in the north and east; majority of members inside Syria are Syrian Kurds, along with Kurds from Iran, Iraq, and Turkey (April 2018)
    Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC):
    aim(s): destroy the state of Israel; enhance its networks in Syria
    area(s) of operation: maintains limited networks for operational planning against Israel (April 2018)
    Palestine Liberation Front (PLF):
    aim(s): enhances its networks and, ultimately, destroy the state of Israel and establish a secular, Marxist Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital
    area(s) of operation: maintains a recruitment and training presence in many refugee camps (April 2018)
    PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC):
    aim(s): preserve Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD's regime
    area(s) of operation: maintains a political base in Damascus; fights with President al-ASAD's forces and Hizballah in areas where anti-regime paramilitary groups are active (April 2018)
    Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP):
    aim(s): enhance its recruitment networks in Syria
    area(s) of operation: maintains a recruitment and limited training presence in several refugee camps (April 2018)
  • Transnational Issues :: Syria
  • Disputes - international:
    Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied with the almost 1,000-strong UN Disengagement Observer Force patrolling a buffer zone since 1964lacking a treaty or other documentation describing the boundary, portions of the Lebanon-Syria boundary are unclear with several sections in disputesince 2000, Lebanon has claimed Shab'a Farms in the Golan Heights2004 Agreement and pending demarcation would settle border dispute with Jordan
    Refugees and internally displaced persons:
    refugees (country of origin): 438,000 (Palestinian Refugees) (2017), 16,879 (Iraq)
    IDPs: 6.784 million (ongoing civil war since 2011) (2017)
    stateless persons: 160,000 (2017); note - Syria's stateless population consists 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

    note: the ongoing civil war has resulted in just over 5.6 million registered Syrian refugees - dispersed in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey - as of October 2018

    Trafficking in persons:
    current situation: as conditions continue to deteriorate due to Syria’s civil war, human trafficking has increased; Syrians remaining in the country and those that are refugees abroad are vulnerable to trafficking; Syria is a source and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; Syrian children continue to be forcibly recruited by government forces, pro-regime militias, armed opposition groups, and terrorist organizations to serve as soldiers, human shields, and executioners; ISIL forces Syrian women and girls and Yazidi women and girls taken from Iraq to marry its fighters, where they experience domestic servitude and sexual violence; Syrian refugee women and girls are forced into exploitive marriages or prostitution in neighboring countries, while displaced children are forced into street begging domestically and abroad
    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; in 2014, Syria’s violent conditions enabled human trafficking to flourish; the government made no effort to investigate, prosecute, or convict trafficking offenders or complicit government officials, including those who forcibly recruited child soldiers; authorities did not identify victims and failed to ensure victims, including child soldiers, were protected from arrest, detention, and severe abuse as a result of being trafficked (2015)
    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