Photos of Syria

Introduction

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 Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005.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 and eventually civil war 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 domestic and foreign government-aligned forces recaptured swaths of territory from opposition forces, and eventually the country’s second largest city, Aleppo, in December 2016, shifting the conflict in the regime’s favor. With this foreign support, the regime also recaptured opposition strongholds in the Damascus suburbs and the southern province of Dar’a in 2018. The regime continued to periodically regain opposition held territory until early 2020 when Turkish firepower halted a regime advance and forced a stalemate between regime and opposition forces that has prevented any subsequent advances. The government lacks territorial control over much of the northeastern part of the country, which is dominated by the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and a smaller area dominated by Turkey. The SDF expanded its territorial hold beyond its traditional homelands, subsuming much of the northeast since 2014 as it battled the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Since 2016, Turkey has been engaged in northern Syria and has conducted three large-scale military operations to capture territory along Syria's northern border in the provinces of Aleppo, Ar Raqqah, and Al Hasakah. Some opposition forces organized under the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army and Turkish forces have maintained control of northwestern Syria along the Turkish border with the Afrin area of Aleppo Province since 2018. In 2019, Turkey and its opposition allies occupied formerly SDF-controlled territory between the cities of Tall Abyad to Ra’s Al ‘Ayn along Syria’s northern border. The extremist organization Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly the Nusrah Front) in 2017 emerged as the predominate opposition force in Idlib Province, and still dominates an area also hosting additional Turkish forces. Negotiations between the government and opposition delegations at UN-sponsored Geneva conferences since 2014 and separately held discussions between Iran, Russia, and Turkey since early 2017 have failed to produce a resolution to the conflict. According to a September 2021 UN estimate, the death toll resulting from the past 10 years of civil war is more than 350,000, although the UN acknowledges that this is the minimum number of verifiable deaths and is an undercount. According to a June 2022 UN estimate, the death toll resulting from the past 10 plus years of civil war is more than 306,000. As of early 2022, approximately 6.66 million Syrians were internally displaced and 14.6 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance across the country. An additional 5.6 million Syrians were registered refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and North Africa. The conflict in Syria remains one of the two largest displacement crises worldwide (the other is the invasion of Ukraine).

Visit the Definitions and Notes page to view a description of each topic.

Geography

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: 187,437 sq km

land: 185,887 sq km

water: 1,550 sq km

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

comparison ranking: total 89

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

highest point: Mount Hermon (Jabal a-Shayk) 2,814 m

lowest point: Yarmuk River -66 m

mean elevation: 514 m

Natural resources

petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower

Land use

agricultural land: 75.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 25.4% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 5.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 44.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 2.7% (2018 est.)

other: 21.5% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

13,100 sq km (2013)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Euphrates (shared with Turkey [s], Iran, and Iraq [m]) - 3,596 km; Tigris (shared with Turkey, Iran, and Iraq [m]) - 1,950 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Persian Gulf) Tigris and Euphrates (918,044 sq km)

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

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-controlled Golan Heights (2017)

People and Society

Population

22,933,531 (2023 est.)

note: approximately 22,900 Israeli settlers live in the Golan Heights (2018)

comparison ranking: 59

Nationality

noun: Syrian(s)

adjective: Syrian

Ethnic groups

Arab ~50%, Alawite ~15%, Kurd ~10%, Levantine ~10%, other ~15% (includes Druze, Ismaili, Imami, Nusairi, Assyrian, Turkoman, Armenian)

Languages

Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian, French, English

major-language sample(s):
كتاب حقائق العالم، المصدر الذي لا يمكن الاستغناء عنه للمعلومات الأساسية (Arabic)

ڕاستییەکانی جیهان، باشترین سەرچاوەیە بۆ زانیارییە بنەڕەتییەکان (Kurdish)

The World Factbook, the indispensable source for basic information.

Arabic audio sample:
Kurdish audio sample:

Religions

Muslim 87% (official; includes Sunni 74% and Alawi, Ismaili, and Shia 13%), Christian 10% (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), Druze 3%

note:  the Christian population may be considerably smaller as a result of Christians fleeing the country during the ongoing civil war

MENA religious affiliation

Age structure

0-14 years: 33.27% (male 3,914,737/female 3,716,362)

15-64 years: 62.58% (male 7,141,423/female 7,209,386)

65 years and over: 4.15% (2023 est.) (male 445,288/female 506,335)

2023 population pyramid:
2023 population pyramid

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 55.4

youth dependency ratio: 53

elderly dependency ratio: 7.4

potential support ratio: 13.5 (2021 est.)

Median age

total: 23.9 years (2023 est.)

male: 23.3 years

female: 24.5 years

comparison ranking: total 176

Population growth rate

6.39% (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 1

Birth rate

22.2 births/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 57

Death rate

4.1 deaths/1,000 population (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 214

Net migration rate

45.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2023 est.) NA

comparison ranking: 1

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: 57.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 5.38% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Major urban areas - population

2.585 million DAMASCUS (capital), 2.203 million Aleppo, 1.443 million Hims (Homs), 996,000 Hamah (2023)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2023 est.)

Maternal mortality ratio

30 deaths/100,000 live births (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 111

Infant mortality rate

total: 15.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2023 est.)

male: 17.1 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 13.8 deaths/1,000 live births

comparison ranking: total 92

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 74.6 years (2023 est.)

male: 73.1 years

female: 76.1 years

comparison ranking: total population 137

Total fertility rate

2.74 children born/woman (2023 est.)

comparison ranking: 61

Gross reproduction rate

1.33 (2023 est.)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 99.6% of population

rural: 100% of population

total: 99.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.4% of population

rural: 0.7% of population

total: 0.2% of population (2020 est.)

Physicians density

1.29 physicians/1,000 population (2016)

Hospital bed density

1.4 beds/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 99.5% of population

rural: 99.5% of population

total: 99.5% of population

unimproved: urban: 0.5% of population

rural: 0.5% of population

total: 0.5% of population (2020 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

27.8% (2016)

comparison ranking: 35

Alcohol consumption per capita

total: 0.13 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

beer: 0.02 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

wine: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

spirits: 0.11 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

other alcohols: 0 liters of pure alcohol (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total 176

Literacy

definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 86.4%

male: 91.7%

female: 81% (2015)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 9 years

male: 9 years

female: 9 years (2013)

Environment

Environment - current issues

deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; depletion of water resources; water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining wastes; inadequate potable water

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Climate Change-Paris Agreement, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping-London Convention, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification

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

Land use

agricultural land: 75.8% (2018 est.)

arable land: 25.4% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 5.8% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 44.6% (2018 est.)

forest: 2.7% (2018 est.)

other: 21.5% (2018 est.)

Urbanization

urban population: 57.4% of total population (2023)

rate of urbanization: 5.38% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

total population growth rate v. urban population growth rate, 2000-2030

Food insecurity

exceptional shortfall in aggregate food production/supplies: due to civil conflict and economic crisis - the latest available nationwide food security assessment estimated that about 12 million people, 60% of the overall population, were food insecure in 2021, a slight decline from 12.4 million in 2020, but 5 million more than at the end of 2019, mostly due to constrained livelihood opportunities and a rapidly worsening economy (2022)

Air pollutants

particulate matter emissions: 25.14 micrograms per cubic meter (2019 est.)

carbon dioxide emissions: 28.83 megatons (2016 est.)

methane emissions: 12.93 megatons (2020 est.)

Waste and recycling

municipal solid waste generated annually: 4.5 million tons (2009 est.)

municipal solid waste recycled annually: 112,500 tons (2010 est.)

percent of municipal solid waste recycled: 2.5% (2010 est.)

Major rivers (by length in km)

Euphrates (shared with Turkey [s], Iran, and Iraq [m]) - 3,596 km; Tigris (shared with Turkey, Iran, and Iraq [m]) - 1,950 km
note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth

Major watersheds (area sq km)

Indian Ocean drainage: (Persian Gulf) Tigris and Euphrates (918,044 sq km)

Total water withdrawal

municipal: 1.48 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

industrial: 620 million cubic meters (2020 est.)

agricultural: 14.67 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Total renewable water resources

16.8 billion cubic meters (2020 est.)

Government

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+3 (8 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: Damascus is a very old city; its earliest name, Temeseq, first appears in an Egyptian geographical list of the 15th century B.C., but the meaning is uncertain

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; note - UN-sponsored talks, which began in late 2019 between delegates from government and opposition forces to draft a new constitution; in March 2022, the 7th round of the Syrian Constitutional Committee ended in Geneva with no results

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

Legal system

mixed legal system of civil and Islamic (sharia) law (for family courts)

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICC

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 Hussein ARNOUS (since 30 August 2020); Deputy Prime Minister Ali Abdullah AYOUB (Lt. Gen.) (since 30 August 2020)

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 26 May 2021 (next to be held in 2028); the president appoints the vice president, prime minister, and deputy prime minister

election results:  Bashar al-ASAD elected president; percent of vote - Bashar al-ASAD (Ba'th Party) 95.2%, Mahmoud Ahmad MAREI (Democratic Arab Socialist Union) 3.3%, other1.5%

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 19 July 2020 (next to be held in 2024)

election results: percent of vote by party - NPF 80%, other 20%; seats by party - NPF 200, other 50; composition - men 222, women 28, percent of women 11.2%

Judicial branch

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 (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 serve 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]
Democratic Arab Socialist Union [Hassan Abdul AZIM, general secretary] 
National Progressive Front or NPF [Bashar al-ASAD, Suleiman QADDAH] (alliance includes Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'th) Party, Socialist Unionist Democratic Party)
Socialist Unionist Party [Fayiz ISMAIL]
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]

major Kurdish political organizations:
Kurdish Democratic Union Party or PYD [Saleh MUSLIM, Asia ABDULLAH]
Kurdish National Council or KNC [Sa'ud MALA]
Self-Administration of Northeast Syria or SANES [Abd Hamid al-MAHBASH] 
Syrian Democratic Council or SDC [Ilham AHMAD]

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, ICSID, 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, WBG, WCO, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO (observer)

Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); note – embassy closed on 18 March 2014

chancery: 2215 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; note – embassy 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 a protecting power for US interests in Syria

mailing address: 6110 Damascus Place, Washington DC  20521-6110

email address and website:
USIS_damascus@embassy.mzv.cz

https://sy.usembassy.gov/

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

National heritage

total World Heritage Sites: 6 (all cultural)

selected World Heritage Site locales: Ancient City of Damascus; Ancient City of Bosra; Site of Palmyra; Ancient City of Aleppo; Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din; Ancient Villages of Northern Syria

Economy

Economic overview

low-income Middle Eastern economy; prior infrastructure and economy devastated by 11-year civil war; ongoing US sanctions; sporadic trans-migration during conflict; currently being supported by World Bank trust fund; ongoing hyperinflation

Real 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

comparison ranking: 114

Real GDP growth rate

-3.87% (2020 est.)
1.22% (2019 est.)
1.39% (2018 est.)

note: data are in 2015 dollars

comparison ranking: 210

Real GDP per capita

$2,900 (2015 est.)
$3,300 (2014 est.)
$2,800 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

comparison ranking: 198

GDP (official exchange rate)

$24.6 billion (2014 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

28.1% (2017 est.)
47.3% (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 219

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 20% (2017 est.)

industry: 19.5% (2017 est.)

services: 60.8% (2017 est.)

comparison rankings: services 117; industry 154; agriculture 48

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.)

Agricultural products

wheat, barley, milk, olives, tomatoes, oranges, potatoes, sheep milk, lemons, limes

Industries

petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, automobile assembly

Industrial production growth rate

-14.77% (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: 204

Labor force

6.143 million (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: 73

Unemployment rate

10.57% (2021 est.)
10.26% (2020 est.)
8.77% (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 162

Youth unemployment rate (ages 15-24)

total: 26.2% (2021 est.)

male: 21.6%

female: 51.1%

comparison ranking: total 56

Budget

revenues: $1.162 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: $3.211 billion (2017 est.)

note: government projections for FY2016

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-8.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 203

Public debt

94.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
91.3% of GDP (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 31

Taxes and other revenues

4.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

comparison ranking: 218

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$2.123 billion (2017 est.)
-$2.077 billion (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 160

Exports

$1.85 billion (2017 est.)
$1.705 billion (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 161

Exports - partners

Saudi Arabia 23%, Turkey 18%, Egypt 14%, United Arab Emirates 8%, Jordan 7%, Kuwait 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

olive oil, cumin seeds, pistachios, tomatoes, apples, pears, spices, pitted fruits (2019)

Imports

$6.279 billion (2017 est.)
$5.496 billion (2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 132

Imports - partners

Turkey 27%, China 22%, United Arab Emirates 14%, Egypt 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

cigarettes, broadcasting equipment, wheat flours, sunflower oil, refined petroleum (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$407.3 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$504.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 170

Debt - external

$4.989 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.085 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

comparison ranking: 133

Exchange rates

Syrian pounds (SYP) per US dollar -

Exchange rates:
514.6 (2017 est.)
459.2 (2016 est.)
459.2 (2015 est.)
236.41 (2014 est.)
153.695 (2013 est.)

Energy

Electricity access

population without electricity: (2020) 2 million

electrification - total population: 88.8% (2021)

electrification - urban areas: 100% (2021)

electrification - rural areas: 74.5% (2021)

Electricity

installed generating capacity: 10.082 million kW (2020 est.)

consumption: 13,071,080,000 kWh (2019 est.)

exports: 347 million kWh (2019 est.)

imports: 0 kWh (2019 est.)

transmission/distribution losses: 3.687 billion kWh (2019 est.)

comparison rankings: installed generating capacity 65; transmission/distribution losses 157; imports 150; exports 80; consumption 88

Electricity generation sources

fossil fuels: 95.1% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

nuclear: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

solar: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

wind: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

hydroelectricity: 4.8% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

tide and wave: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

geothermal: 0% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

biomass and waste: 0.2% of total installed capacity (2020 est.)

Coal

production: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

consumption: 38,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

exports: 0 metric tons (2020 est.)

imports: 38,000 metric tons (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 0 metric tons (2019 est.)

Petroleum

total petroleum production: 80,800 bbl/day (2021 est.)

refined petroleum consumption: 137,900 bbl/day (2019 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate exports: 0 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil and lease condensate imports: 129,100 bbl/day (2018 est.)

crude oil estimated reserves: 2.5 billion barrels (2021 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production

111,600 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 66

Refined petroleum products - exports

12,520 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 79

Refined petroleum products - imports

38,080 bbl/day (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 92

Natural gas

production: 3,531,077,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

consumption: 3,531,077,000 cubic meters (2019 est.)

exports: 0 cubic meters (2021 est.)

imports: 0 cubic meters (2020 est.)

proven reserves: 240.693 billion cubic meters (2021 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions

26.893 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from coal and metallurgical coke: 46,000 metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from petroleum and other liquids: 19.92 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

from consumed natural gas: 6.927 million metric tonnes of CO2 (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: total emissions 76

Energy consumption per capita

24.567 million Btu/person (2019 est.)

comparison ranking: 130

Communications

Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 2,821,171 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 42

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 16,990,714 (2021 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 80 (2021 est.)

comparison ranking: total subscriptions 66

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: the years of civil war and destruction to infrastructure continue to have a toll on the telecoms sector in Syria; although over the years the major mobile service providers have endeavored to restore and rebuild damaged networks, the operating environment has been difficult; following disputed demands for back taxes, MTN Group in August 2021 exited the country, after its majority stake had been transferred to judicial guardianship; this effectively meant that the mobile market became a monopoly; in February 2022 the regulator awarded a third mobile license following a process which had been ongoing for many years; telecommunication services in Syria are highly regulated; although urban areas can make use of the network built and maintained by the government-owned incumbent, many under served remote areas in the countryside are obliged to rely on satellite communications; the domestic and international fixed-line markets in Syria remain the monopoly of the STE, despite several initiatives over the years aimed at liberalizing the market; mobile broadband penetration in Syria is still quite low, despite quite a high population coverage of 3G networks and some deployment of LTE infrastructure; this may provide potential opportunities for growth once infrastructure and economic reconstruction efforts make headway, and civil issues subside (2022)

domestic: the number of fixed-line connections is 13 per 100; mobile-cellular service is 80 per 100 persons (2021)

international: country code - 963; landing points for the Aletar, BERYTAR and UGART submarine cable connections 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 (2019)

Broadcast media

state-run TV and radio broadcast networks; state operates 2 TV networks and 5 satellite channels; 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 (2018)

Internet users

total: 8,492,468 (2022 est.)

percent of population: 46.6% (2022 est.)

comparison ranking: total 69

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 1,549,356 (2020 est.)

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 9 (2020 est.)

comparison ranking: total 64

Transportation

National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 3 (2020)

inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 11

annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 17,896 (2018)

annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 30,000 (2018) mt-km

Airports

39 (2024)

comparison ranking: 103

Heliports

12 (2024)

Pipelines

3,170 km gas, 2029 km oil (2013)

Railways

total: 2,052 km (2014)

standard gauge: 1,801 km (2014) 1.435-m gauge

narrow gauge: 251 km (2014) 1.050-m gauge

comparison ranking: total 73

Roadways

total: 69,873 km (2010)

paved: 63,060 km (2010)

unpaved: 6,813 km (2010)

comparison ranking: total 71

Waterways

900 km (2011) (navigable but not economically significant)

comparison ranking: 75

Merchant marine

total: 24 (2023)

by type: bulk carrier 1, container ship 1, general cargo 8, oil tanker 1, other 13

comparison ranking: total 144

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Baniyas, Latakia, Tartus

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Syrian Armed Forces: Syrian Arab Army (includes Republican Guard), Syrian Naval Forces, Syrian Air Forces, Syrian Air Defense Forces, National Defense Forces (NDF), and Local Defense Forces (LDF) (2023)

note: NDF and LDF are pro-government militia and auxiliary forces; some militia and auxiliary forces are backed by Iran; the Syrian military is also supported by the Russian armed forces, the Iran-affiliated Hizballah terrorist group, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

Military expenditures

6.5% of GDP (2019 est.)
6.7% of GDP (2018 est.)
6.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
6.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
7.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

comparison ranking: 3

Military and security service personnel strengths

current estimates not available; the Syrian Armed Forces (SAF) are rebuilding after suffering significant casualties and desertions since the start of the civil war in 2011; prior to the civil war, the SAF had approximately 300,000 troops, including 200-225,000 Army, plus about 300,000 reserve forces (2023)

note: pro-government militia and auxiliary forces probably number in the tens of thousands

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the SAF's inventory is comprised mostly of older Russian and Soviet-era equipment; in recent years, Russia has supplied the majority of Syria's imported weapons systems (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-42 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation is 18 months; women are not conscripted but may volunteer to serve, including in combat arms (2023)

note 1: the military is comprised largely of conscripts

note 2: Syrian women have been serving in combat roles since 2013; in 2015, the Syrian military created an all-female commando brigade

Military - note

the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has operated in the Golan between Israel and Syria since 1974 to monitor the ceasefire following the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and supervise the areas of separation between the two countries; UNDOF has about 1,000 personnel 

multiple actors are conducting military operations in Syria in support of the ASAD government or Syrian opposition forces, as well in pursuit of their own security goals, such as counterterrorism; operations have included air strikes, direct ground combat, and sponsoring proxy forces, as well as providing non-lethal military support, including advisors, technicians, arms and equipment, funding, intelligence, and training:

pro-ASAD elements operating in Syria have included the Syrian Arab Army, Lebanese Hizbollah, Iranian, Iranian-backed Shia militia, and Russian forces; since early in the civil war, the ASAD government has relied on Lebanese Hizballah (see Appendix T for further information), as well as Iran and Iranian-backed irregular forces, for combat operations and to hold territory; since 2011, Iran has provided military advisors and combat troops from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (including the Qods Force; see Appendix T for further information), as well as intelligence, logistical, material, technical, and financial support; it has funded, trained, equipped, and led Shia militia/paramilitary units comprised of both Syrian and non-Syrian personnel, primarily from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan; Russia intervened at the request of the ASAD government in 2015 and has since provided air support, special operations forces, military advisors, private military contractors, training, arms, and equipment; Iranian and Russian support has also included assisting Syria in combating the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS; see Appendix T) terrorist group

Turkey has intervened militarily several times since 2016 to combat Kurdish militants and ISIS, support select Syrian opposition forces, and establish a buffer along portions of its border with Syria; Turkey continues to maintain a considerable military presence in northern Syria; it has armed and trained militia/proxy forces, such as the Syrian National Army, which was formed in late 2017 of Syrian Arab and Turkmen rebel factions in the Halab (Aleppo) province and northwestern Syria

the US and some regional and European states have at times backed Syrian opposition forces militarily and/or conducted military operations, primarily against ISIS; the US has operated in Syria since 2015 with ground forces and air strikes; the majority the US ground forces are deployed in the Eastern Syria Security Area (ESSA, which includes parts of Hasakah and Dayr az Zawr provinces east of the Euphrates River) in support of operations by the Syrian Democratic Forces against ISIS, while the remainder are in southeast Syria around At Tanf supporting counter-ISIS operations by the Syrian Free Army opposition force; the US has also conducted air strikes against Syrian military targets in response to Syrian Government use of chemical weapons against opposition forces and civilians; in addition, France, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UK have provided forms of military assistance to opposition forces and/or conducted operations against ISIS, including air strikes

Israel has conducted hundreds of military air strikes in Syria against Syrian military, Hizballah, Iranian, and/or Iranian-backed militia targets

the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of forces comprised primarily of Kurdish, Sunni Arab, and Syriac Christian fighters; it is dominated and led by Kurdish forces, particularly the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia; the SDF began to receive US support in 2015 and as of 2023 was the main local US partner in its counter-ISIS campaign; the SDF has internal security, counterterrorism, and commando units; Turkey views the SDF as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a US-designated terrorist organization (see Appendix T)

the ISIS terrorist group (see Appendix T) lost its last territorial stronghold to SDF forces in 2019, but continues to maintain a low-level insurgency; in addition, the SDF holds about 10,000 captured suspected ISIS fighters in detention facilities across northern Syria, including 2,000 from countries other than Iraq and Syria

the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS; formerly known as al-Nusrah Front) terrorist organization (see Appendix T) is the dominant militant group in northwest Syria and has asserted considerable influence and control over the so-called Syrian Salvation Government in the Iblib de-escalation zone and the Aleppo province (2023)

Space

Space agency/agencies

Syrian Space Agency (created in 2014); General Organization of Remote Sensing (GORS; established 1986 to replace the National Remote Sensing Center, established 1981) (2023)

Space program overview

status unclear; has been handicapped by the impact of the civil war, including the loss of students and scientists who fled the country; had previously focused on satellite development and related space technologies, as well as scientific research; has relations with the space agency and space industries of Russia (2023)

note: further details about the key activities, programs, and milestones of the country’s space program, as well as government spending estimates on the space sector, appear in Appendix S

Terrorism

Terrorist group(s)

Terrorist group(s): Abdallah Azzam Brigades; Ansar al-Islam; Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq; Hizballah; Hurras al-Din; Islamic Jihad Union; Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)/Qods Force; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS); Kata'ib Hizballah; Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK); Mujahidin Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem; al-Nusrah Front (Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham); al-Qa'ida; Palestine Liberation Front; Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP); PFLP-General Command

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Syria-Iraq: none identified

Syria-Israel: Golan Heights is Israeli-controlled with UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) patrolling a buffer zone since 1974; because of ceasefire violations and increased military activity in the Golan Heights, the UN Security Council continues to extend UNDOF’s mandate; since 2000, Lebanon has claimed Shab'a Farms in the Golan Heights

Syria-Jordan: the two countries signed an agreement in 2005 to settle the border dispute based on a 1931 demarcation accord; the two countries began demarcation in 2006

Syria-Lebanon: discussions on demarcating the two countries’ maritime borders were held in April 2021, after Syria signed a contract with a Russian company to conduct oil and gas exploration in a disputed maritime area, but the issue was not resolved

Syria-Turkey: none identified

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 580,000 (Palestinian Refugees) (2022); 11,121 (Iraq) (2023)

IDPs: 6.865 million (ongoing civil war since 2011) (2022)

stateless persons: 160,000 (2022); 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 nearl 5.1 million registered Syrian refugees - dispersed mainly in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey - as of February 2024

Trafficking in persons

tier rating: Tier 3 — Syria does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so, therefore, Syria remained on Tier 3; a government policy or pattern of human trafficking and employing or recruiting child soldiers continued; Syrians were exploited in forced labor under compulsory military service for indefinite periods under threat of detention, torture, familial reprisal, or death; the government did not hold any traffickers criminally accountable nor identify or protect any victims; government actions directly contributed to the population’s vulnerability to trafficking, and it continued to perpetrate human trafficking crimes; government and pro-Syrian militias forcibly recruited and used child soldiers; the government did not prevent armed opposition forces and designated terrorist organizations from recruiting children; authorities continued to arrest, detain, and severely abuse trafficking victims, including child soldiers, and punished them for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked (2023)

trafficking profile: human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Syria, as well as Syrians abroad; more than half of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million have been internally displaced or are refugees in other countries and extremely vulnerable to traffickers; the government continues to force military conscripts to serve indefinitely or risk detention, torture, familial reprisal, or death; children are vulnerable to forced marriages—including by terrorist groups such as ISIS—which can lead to sexual slavery and forced labor; armed groups, community members, and criminal gangs exploit women, girls, and boys in Syria—particularly populations such as IDPs or disabled individuals—in sex trafficking in exchange for food or money; foreign domestic workers from Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia and the Philippines, are subject to forced labor and in some cases victims of fraudulent recruitment; Syrian Government forces, pro-regime militias, and opposition forces use Syrian children in combat and support roles, and sometimes as human shields; terrorist groups reportedly force, coerce, or fraudulently recruit foreigners to join them, including migrants from Central Asia and Western and other women, who are vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor; Syrian refugees in neighboring countries, particularly  Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, are highly vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor; Syrian women, girls, and boys are vulnerable to sex trafficking in Turkey by commercial sex rings or traffickers (2023)

Illicit drugs

increasing drug trafficking particularly the synthetic stimulant captagon, a mixture of various amphetamines, methamphetamine, and/or other stimulants;  drug smuggling of captagon and other stimulants linked to the Syrian government and Hizballah