The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          



Syrian Arab Republic

National name: Al-Jamhouriya al Arabiya As-Souriya

President: Bashar al-Assad (2000)

Prime Minister: Muhammad Mustafa Miro (2000)

Area: 71,498 sq mi (185,180 sq km)

Population (2001 est.): 16,728,808 (average annual rate of natural increase: 2.5%); birth rate: 30.6/1000; infant mortality rate: 33.8/1000; density per sq mi: 234

Capital (1994 est.): Damascus, 1,549,932

Largest cities: Aleppo, 1,591,400; Homs, 644,204; Latakia, 306,535; Hama, 229,000

Monetary unit: Syrian pound

Languages: Arabic (official), French and English widely understood

Ethnicity/race: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%

Religions: Islam 90%, Christian 10%

Literacy rate: 65% (1990)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (1999 est.): $42.2 billion; per capita $2,500. Real growth rate: 0%. Inflation: 2.3%.

Unemployment: 12%15% (1998 est.).

Arable land: 28%.

Agriculture: wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk. Labor force: 4.7 million (1998 est.); agriculture; 40%; industry, 20%; services, 40% (1996 est.).

Industries: petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining.

Natural resources: petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower.

Exports: $3.3 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.): petroleum, textiles, manufactured goods, fruits and vegetables, raw cotton, live sheep, phosphates.

Imports: $3.2 billion (f.o.b., 1999 est.): machinery and equipment, foodstuffs/animals, metal and metal products, textiles, chemicals.

Major trading partners: Germany, Turkey, Italy, France, Lebanon, Spain, Ukraine, South Korea, Japan, U.S.


Telephones: main lines in use: 930,000 (1995); mobile cellular: n.a..

Radio broadcast stations: AM 14, FM 2, shortwave 1 (1998).

Radios: 4.15 million (1997).

Television broadcast stations: 54 (of which 36 are low-power and repeater stations) (1997). Televisions: 1.05 million (1997).

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): n.a.


Railways: total: 2,750 km.

Highways: total: 36,377 km; paved: 26,299 km (including 877 km of expressways); unpaved: 10,078 km (1999 est.).

Waterways: 870 km; minimal economic importance.

Ports and harbors: Baniyas, Jablah, Latakia, Tartus.

Airports: 104 (1999 est.).

International disputes: Golan Heights is Israeli occupied; dispute with upstream riparian Turkey over Turkish water development plans for the Tigris and Euphrates rivers; Syrian troops in northern, central, and eastern Lebanon since October 1976.

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