Middle East :: SYRIA
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  • Introduction :: SYRIA

  • 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'th 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 Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005.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, and Russia has also begun pushing for political negotiations in Sochi. 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. 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

  • Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey
    35 00 N, 38 00 E
    Middle East
    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
    slightly more than 1.5 times the size of Pennsylvania
    Area comparison map:
    total: 2,363 km
    border countries (5): Iraq 599 km, Israel 83 km, Jordan 379 km, Lebanon 403 km, Turkey 899 km
    193 km
    territorial sea: 12 nm
    contiguous zone: 24 nm
    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
    mean elevation: 514 m
    elevation extremes: lowest point: unnamed location near Lake Tiberias -208 m
    highest point: Mount Hermon (Jabal a-Shayk) 2,814 m
    petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower
    agricultural land: 75.8%
    arable land 25.4%; permanent crops 5.8%; permanent pasture 44.6%
    forest: 2.7%
    other: 21.5% (2011 est.)
    14,280 sq km (2012)
    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
    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
    deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining wastes; inadequate potable water
    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
    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

  • 18,028,549 (July 2017 est.)
    note: approximately 20,500 Israeli settlers live in the Golan Heights (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 63
    noun: Syrian(s)
    adjective: Syrian
    Arab 90.3%, Kurdish, Armenian, and other 9.7%
    Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian, French, English
    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)
    religious affiliation:
    0-14 years: 31.62% (male 2,923,814/female 2,777,073)
    15-24 years: 19.54% (male 1,790,360/female 1,732,694)
    25-54 years: 39.22% (male 3,522,653/female 3,547,540)
    55-64 years: 5.41% (male 482,576/female 493,085)
    65 years and over: 4.21% (male 342,407/female 416,347) (2017 est.)
    population pyramid:
    total dependency ratio: 72.8
    youth dependency ratio: 65.8
    elderly dependency ratio: 7
    potential support ratio: 14.3 (2015 est.)
    total: 24.3 years
    male: 23.9 years
    female: 24.8 years (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 163
    21.2 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 75
    4 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 211
    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
    urban population: 58.5% of total population (2017)
    rate of urbanization: 3.59% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
    Aleppo 3.562 million; DAMASCUS (capital) 2.566 million; Hims (Homs) 1.641 million; Hamah 1.237 million; Lattakia 781,000 (2015)
    at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
    0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
    15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
    25-54 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
    55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
    65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female
    total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
    68 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 85
    total: 14.8 deaths/1,000 live births
    male: 17 deaths/1,000 live births
    female: 12.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 101
    total population: 75.1 years
    male: 72.7 years
    female: 77.6 years (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 111
    2.5 children born/woman (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    53.9% (2009/10)
    3.3% of GDP (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 177
    1.55 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
    1.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)
    urban: 92.3% of population
    rural: 87.2% of population
    total: 90.1% of population
    urban: 7.7% of population
    rural: 12.8% of population
    total: 9.9% of population (2015 est.)
    urban: 96.2% of population
    rural: 95.1% of population
    total: 95.7% of population
    urban: 3.8% of population
    rural: 4.9% of population
    total: 4.3% of population (2015 est.)
    NA (2016 est.)
    27.8% (2016)
    country comparison to the world: 35
    10.1% (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    5.1% of GDP (2009)
    country comparison to the world: 70
    definition: age 15 and over can read and write
    total population: 86.4%
    male: 91.7%
    female: 81% (2015 est.)
    total: 9 years
    male: 9 years
    female: 9 years (2013)
    total: 35.8%
    male: 26.6%
    female: 71.1% (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 23
  • Government :: SYRIA

  • 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
    presidential republic; highly authoritarian regime
    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
    14 provinces (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Hasakah, Al Ladhiqiyah (Latakia), Al Qunaytirah, Ar Raqqah, As Suwayda', Dar'a, Dayr az Zawr, Dimashq (Damascus), Halab, Hamah, Hims (Homs), Idlib, Rif Dimashq (Damascus Countryside), Tartus
    17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
    Independence Day (Evacuation Day), 17 April (1946); note - celebrates the leaving of the last French troops and the proclamation of full independence
    history: several previous; latest issued 15 February 2012, passed by referendum and effective 27 February 2012
    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)
    mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law (for family courts)
    has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
    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
    18 years of age; universal
    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%
    description: unicameral People's Assembly or Majlis al-Shaab (250 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation 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
    highest court(s): 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)
    legal parties/alliances: Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party [Bashar al-ASAD, regional secretary]
    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 [President Bashar al-ASAD], 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 [Salih Muslim MOHAMMAD]
    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]
    Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party
    Tiyar al-Mustaqbal [Narin MATINI]
    other: Syrian Democratic Party [Mustafa QALAAJI]
    note: as of December 2017,there were hundreds of political and armed opposition groups that organize protests, provide civilian services, and stage armed attacks
    note: Embassy ceased operations and closed on 18 March 2014
    chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Mounir KOUDMANI (since 1 June 2012)
    chancery: 2215 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
    telephone: [1] (202) 232-6313
    FAX: [1] (202) 234-9548
    chief of mission: ambassador (vacant); US Senior Advisor for Syria Stephanie WILLIAMS (since 2017); 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
    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
    hawk; national colors: red, white, black, green
    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

  • 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 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, rapid population growth, industrial expansion, water pollution, and widespread infrastructure damage.
    $50.28 billion (2015 est.)
    $55.8 billion (2014 est.)
    $61.9 billion (2013 est.)
    notes: 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
    $24.6 billion (2014 est.)
    NA% (2017 est.)
    -36.5% (2014 est.)
    -30.9% (2013 est.)
    note: data are in 2015 dollars
    $2,900 (2015 est.)
    $3,300 (2014 est.)
    $2,800 (2013 est.)
    note: data are in 2015 US dollars
    country comparison to the world: 193
    20.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
    19.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
    20.1% of GDP (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 86
    household consumption: 63.9%
    government consumption: 22.9%
    investment in fixed capital: 18.1%
    investment in inventories: 10.9%
    exports of goods and services: 9.4%
    imports of goods and services: -25.1% (2017 est.)
    agriculture: 20%
    industry: 19.6%
    services: 60.4% (2017 est.)
    wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk
    petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, automobile assembly
    4.4% (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 62
    3.767 million (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 96
    agriculture: 17%
    industry: 16%
    services: 67% (2008 est.)
    50% (2017 est.)
    50% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 215
    82.5% (2014 est.)
    lowest 10%: NA%
    highest 10%: NA%
    revenues: $1.033 billion
    expenditures: $3.177 billion
    note: government projections for FY2016 (2017 est.)
    4.2% of GDP (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 218
    -8.7% of GDP (2017 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 202
    58.4% of GDP (2017 est.)
    55.7% of GDP (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    calendar year
    25.5% (2017 est.)
    43.9% (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 220
    0.75% (31 December 2017 est.)
    5% (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 131
    33.3% (31 December 2017 est.)
    32% (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 5
    $5.795 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $4.488 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 99
    $6.696 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $5.522 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 120
    $6.816 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $5.993 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 119
    -$2.123 billion (2017 est.)
    -$2.077 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 159
    $1.786 billion (2017 est.)
    $1.705 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 143
    crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
    Lebanon 34.6%, Jordan 11.6%, China 9.4%, Turkey 8.2%, Iraq 7.7%, Tunisia 4.9% (2016)
    $5.649 billion (2017 est.)
    $5.496 billion (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 118
    machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, paper
    Russia 22%, Turkey 20%, China 11.3% (2016)
    $407.3 million (31 December 2017 est.)
    $504.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 148
    $5.699 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
    $5.085 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 131
    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

  • population without electricity: 1,600,000
    electrification - total population: 96%
    electrification - urban areas: 100%
    electrification - rural areas: 81% (2013)
    16.83 billion kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 83
    13.96 billion kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 81
    262 million kWh (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 73
    0 kWh (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 205
    9.61 million kW (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 62
    84.4% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 78
    0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 186
    15.6% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 100
    0% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 206
    28,670 bbl/day (2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 64
    0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 195
    83,140 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 46
    2.5 billion bbl (1 January 2017 es)
    country comparison to the world: 33
    111,600 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 66
    140,000 bbl/day (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 73
    12,500 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 79
    41,120 bbl/day (2014 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 91
    4.3 billion cu m (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 54
    4.9 billion cu m (2015 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 65
    0 cu m (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 188
    249.2 million cu m (2011 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 69
    240.7 billion cu m (1 January 2017 es)
    country comparison to the world: 42
    49 million Mt (2013 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 61
  • Communications :: SYRIA

  • total subscriptions: 3,464,846
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 20 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 43
    total: 12,350,927
    subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 72 (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 77
    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
    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
    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)
    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)
    total: 5,476,850
    percent of population: 31.9% (July 2016 est.)
    country comparison to the world: 72
  • Transportation :: SYRIA

  • number of registered air carriers: 2
    inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 11
    annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 475,932
    annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 1,517,388 mt-km (2015)
    YK (2016)
    90 (2013)
    country comparison to the world: 62
    total: 29
    over 3,047 m: 5
    2,438 to 3,047 m: 16
    914 to 1,523 m: 3
    under 914 m: 5 (2013)
    total: 61
    1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
    914 to 1,523 m: 12
    under 914 m: 48 (2013)
    6 (2013)
    gas 3,170 km; oil 2,029 km (2013)
    total: 2,052 km
    standard gauge: 1,801 km 1.435-m gauge
    narrow gauge: 251 km 1.050-m gauge (2014)
    country comparison to the world: 75
    total: 69,873 km
    paved: 63,060 km
    unpaved: 6,813 km (2010)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    900 km (navigable but not economically significant) (2011)
    country comparison to the world: 68
    total: 21
    by type: bulk carrier 1, general cargo 7, other 13 (2017)
    country comparison to the world: 137
    major seaport(s): Baniyas, Latakia, Tartus
  • Military and Security :: SYRIA

  • 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)
    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

  • 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 in Halab Governorate; operational primarily in northern, western, and southern Syria; al-Nusrah's subunit Jund al-Aqsa operates in Idlib and Hama governorates; installs Sharia in areas under its control; targets primarily Syrian regime and proregime forces, some minorities, occasionally other Syrian insurgent groups, and Western interests; openly collaborated with core al-Qa'ida veteran and senior figures until supreme leader Fateh al-JAWLANI announced publicly in mid-2016 that formal ties with al-Qa'ida had been cut and al-Nusrah would henceforth operate under the name Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Front for the Conquest of the Levant); JAWLANI's disaffiliation claim remained unsubstantiated as of early 2017, according to the US Government; engages in effective online and in-person recruitment campaigns in Syria; majority of members are Syrian, with many al-Qa'ida veterans from other jihad theaters; assessed in mid-2016 to have at least 6,000 active fighters
    Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL):
    aim(s): replace the Syrian Government with an Sunni Islamic state and implement ISIL's strict interpretation of Sharia
    area(s) of operation: maintains extensive networks and an operational presence throughout the country, despite losing large swathes of territory since early 2016; ISIL had lost most of its control in its defacto capital, the city of Ar Raqqah, by mid-2017; continues to operate bases in the Ar Raqqah area and along the Syria-Iraq border; thousands of combatants target Syrian and Russian Government interests, religious and ethnic minorities, and all groups or governments that oppose ISIL's hardline Sunni jihadist ideology, including perceived Sunni rivals; exploits natural resources, especially oil and wheat, and levies taxes and fees on companies and individuals in areas under its control; responsible for millions of Syrians fleeing their homes, including the estimated 5 million who had left Syria by early 2017; fighters have ransacked and demolished numerous ancient sites that pre-date Islam, denouncing them as idolatrous; in May 2015, ISIL overran the ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site famed for its well-preserved Graeco-Roman ruins, and went on to destroy its best known structures; has used mustard and chlorine gas against civilian and military targets in Syria, where allies continue to work together to dismantle its chemical weapons production plants; dozens of key leaders have been killed since early 2016, putting ISIL's highly decentralized structure and spawling network of regional affiliates to the test; senior leader Gulmurod KHALIMOV, a former Tajik military officer serving as ISIL's chief recruiter, remains based in Syria; ISIL's chief cleric, Turki al-BINALI, was killed on 31 May 2017 during an airstrike in Al Mayadin, Dayr az Zawr Governorate, near the border with Iraq; al-BINALI's recorded lectures and other propaganda were central in recruiting foreign fighters
    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
    al-Qa'ida (AQ):
    aim(s): support al-Nusrah Front's efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-ASAD's regime and, ultimately, establish a regional Islamic caliphate
    area(s) of operation: operational primarily in Idlib Governorate, with established networks and operating paramilitary training camps; likely continues to collaborate closely with al-Nusrah Front leaders, despite public claims of severing ties; majority of members are not Syrian nationals
    Ansar al-Islam (AAI):
    aim(s): remove Syrian President Bashar al-ASAD from power and install Sharia
    area(s) of operation: operationally active in Syria since 2011; remained operational in Aleppo as of late 2016; launches attacks on Syrian Government and security forces and pro-Syrian Government militias; some AAI factions combat ISIL, while others are aligned with ISIL
    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; tens of thousands of fighters remained active in Syria as of 2017; thousands of fighters have died on the Syrian battlefield
    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
    Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) (Kongra-Gel):
    aim(s): establish Kurdistan, which comprises territory in northern Syria
    area(s) of operation: operational in the north combating ISIL, primarily in the Kurdish-populated region known as Rojava and Syrian Kurdistan; Salih MUSLIM Muhammad leads Kurdistan Workers Party's Syrian wing, the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD); majority of fighters inside Syria are Syrian Kurds, along with Kurds from Iran, Turkey, and Iraq
    Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSC):
    aim(s): enhance its networks in Syria and, ultimately, destroy the state of Israel
    area(s) of operation: maintains limited networks for operational planning against Israel, logistics, transferring funds, and smuggling fighters and arms through Syria from the Gaza Strip and Libya to be used against Israel; by 2017, the majority of veteran members had defected to join other groups
    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 limited training presence in many refugee camps
    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; fighting since early 2012 alongside President al-ASAD's forces and Hizballah in areas where anti-regime paramilitary groups are active; currently, preserving al-ASAD's government is the group's most pressing priority; receives funds and training from the regime
    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
  • Transnational Issues :: SYRIA

  • 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 would settle border dispute with Jordan
    refugees (country of origin): 438,000 (Palestinian Refugees) (2017); 16,879 (Iraq)
    note: the ongoing civil war has resulted in just over 5.6 million Syrian refugees - dispersed in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey - as of March 2018
    IDPs: 6.3 million (ongoing civil war since 2011) (2017)
    stateless persons: 160,000 (2016); 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
    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)
    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