Syria country profile
Once the centre of the Islamic Empire, Syria covers an area that has seen invasions and occupations over the ages, from Romans and Mongols to Crusaders and Turks.
A country of fertile plains, mountains and deserts, it is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Christians, Druze, Alawite Shias and Arab Sunnis, the last of who make up a majority of the Muslim population.
Modern Syria gained its independence from France in 1946
Untied Arab Republic 1958
Economy: The government has made reform of its under-performing, state-run economy a top priority