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                          



Country Profile

Geographic and Cultural Information

Official name : Syrian Arab Republic
Location : Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey
Capital : Damascus
Population : 16,728,808 million (2001 est.)
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 hitting Damascus
Area : 185,180 sq km
Languages : Arabic (official),French, English somewhat spoken
Religions Muslim, Christian, Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)
National holidays : Independence Day (17April 1946)
Religious holidays : Ramadan, Id al Fitr (end of Ramadan), Id al Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice), Hegira Day (Islamic New Year), Id al-Mawled (Prophet's Birthday). Dates vary according to the Islamic lunar calendar.

Institutional and Political Information

Political system : Republic
Legal system : based on Islamic law and civil law system; special religious courts
National government : People's Council or Majlis al-shaab (250 seats, members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
Head of state : President Bashar Al-Assad
Head of government : Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa Miro (since 13 March 2000)
Last elections : November 1998
Next elections : November 2002
Suffrage : 18 years of age, universal

Main Affiliations With International Organizations

Arab Bank for Economical Development in Africa (ABEDA), Arab Fund for Economical and Social Development (AFESD), Leegue of Arab States, Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU), Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United-Nations (FAO), G-24, G-77, International Atomic Enerygy Agency (IAEA), International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Fund for Agricultural Developement ( IFAD), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Maritime Organization (IMO), Intelsat, Interpol, International telecommunications Union (ITU), Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), United-Nations (UN), United-Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United-Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), United-Nations Relief and Works Agency for Pa;estine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Universal Postal Union (UPU), World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), World Health Organization (WHO), World Meteorological Organization (WMO)

Economic Information

Gross domestic product (GDP) : US$ 16.3 billion
GDP structure : Agriculture 29%, Industry 22%, Services 49%
GDP growth : 3.5% (2001 est)
Inflation : 1.5%
Foreign debt : US$ 23.0 billion (2000 est.)
National currency : Syria Pound (SYP)
Exchange rate : $ 1 CAD = 32.2925 SYP (2002)
Natural resources : petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower
Agricultural production : wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets, beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk
Main industries : petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining

Trade Information

Exports : US$ 4.8 billion (2001 est.)
Imports : US$ 3.5 billion (2001 est.)
Main exports : petroleum, textiles, manufactured goods, fruits and vegetables, raw cotton, live sheep, phosphates
Main imports : machinery and equipment, foodstuffs/animals, metal and metal products, textiles, chemicals

- in thousands CAD$ -
  1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001
Exports 21 347 24 251 27 324 21 222 12 347  
Imports 29 155 1 367 11 554 2 442 45 390  

Main Canadian exports: : machinery, wood, iron and steel products, books, newspaper
Main Canadian imports: : knit apparel, preserved food, woven apparel

Development Indicators

Population : 16,728,808 ( 2001 est.)
Population growth : 2.54% (2001 est.)
Fertility rate : 3.95 children born/woman (2001 est.)
Infant mortality rate : 33.80 deaths/1,000 live births (2001 est.)
Life expectancy : 68.77 years
Literacy Rate : 70.8%
Human development index : 97th out of 174 countries worldwide (2000)
HIV/AIDS - people living with the disease : n/a
HIV/AIDS - deaths : n/a

Infrastructure And Communications

Airports : 100 airports (24 with paved runways)
Railway : 2,750 km
Roadways : 41,451km
Main ports : Baniyas, Jablah, Latakia, Tartus
Gas pipelines : crude oil 1,304 km; petroleum products 515 km


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Toronto - Canada
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