Statistical information Syria 1996Syria

Map of Syria | Geography | People | Government | Economy | Energy | Communication
Military | Transportation | Transnational Issues | Year:  | More stats

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Syria in the World

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Syria - Introduction 1996
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Background: Following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire during World War I Syria was administered by the French until independence in 1946. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. Since 1976 Syrian troops have been stationed in Lebanon ostensibly in a peacekeeping capacity. Talks with Israel over the return of the Golan Heights have recently been revived.

Syria - Geography 1996
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Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey

Geographic coordinates

Map reference

Total: 185,180 km²
Land: 184,050 km²
Comparative: slightly larger than North Dakota
Comparative note: Includes 1,295 km² of Israeli-occupied territory

Land boundaries: Total 2,253 km, Iraq 605 km, Israel 76 km, Jordan 375 km, Lebanon 375 km, Turkey 822 km

Coastline: 193 km

Maritime claims
Contiguous zone: 41 nm
Territorial sea: 35 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 hits Damascus

Terrain: Primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains in west

Extremes lowest point: unnamed location near Lake Tiberias -200 m
Extremes highest point: Mount Hermon 2,814 m

Natural resources:
Chrome and manganese ores
Iron ore
Rock salt

Land use

Land use
Arable land: 28%
Permanent crops: 3%
Permanent pastures: 46%
Forests and woodland: 3%
Other: 20%

Irrigated land: 10,000 km² (1992)

Major rivers

Major watersheds area km²

Total water withdrawal

Total renewable water resources

Natural hazards


Syria - People 1996
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15,608,648 (July 1996 est.)
15,451,917 (July 1995 est.)

Note: in addition, there are 31,300 people living in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights_16,500 Arabs (15,000 Druze and 1,500 Alawites) and 14,800 Israeli settlers (August 1995 est.)
Growth rate:
3.37% (1996 est.)
3.71% (1995 est.)

Noun: Syrian(s)
Adjective: Syrian

Ethnic groups:
Arab 90.3%
Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%

Languages: Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian, French widely understood

Sunni Muslim 74%
Alawite, Druze, and other Muslim sects 16%
Christian (various sects) 10%
Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)

Demographic profile
Age structure

Age structure
0-14 years:
47% (male 3,738,671; female 3,557,474) (July 1996 est.)
48% (male 3,826,154; female 3,639,776) (July 1995 est.)

15-64 years:
50% (male 4,013,355; female 3,843,466) (July 1996 est.)
49% (male 3,854,989; female 3,691,862) (July 1995 est.)

65 years and over:
3% (male 227,249; female 228,433) (July 1996 est.)
3% (male 219,885; female 219,251) (July 1995 est.)

Dependency ratios

Median age

Population growth rate:
3.37% (1996 est.)
3.71% (1995 est.)

Birth rate:
39.56 births/1000 population (1996 est.)
43.21 births/1000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate:
5.86 deaths/1000 population (1996 est.)
6.07 deaths/1000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1000 population (1996 est.)
0 migrant(s)/1000 population (1995 est.)

Population distribution


Major urban areas

Current issues: deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution from dumping of raw sewage and wastes from petroleum refining; inadequate supplies of potable water
Current issues Natural hazards: dust storms, sandstorms
International agreements: party to_Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution; signed, but not ratified_Biodiversity, Desertification, Environmental Modification
International agreements note: There are 42 Jewish settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (August 1994 est.)

Air pollutants

Sex ratio
At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1 male(s)/female
All ages:
1.05 male(s)/female (1996 est.) Infant Mortality Rate:40 deaths/1000 live births (1996 est.)
41.1 deaths/1000 live births (1995 est.)

Mothers mean age at first birth

Maternal mortality ratio

Infant mortality rate

Life expectancy at birth
Total population: 67.13 years (1996 est.), 66.81 years (1995 est.)
Male: 65.94 years (1996 est.), 65.67 years (1995 est.)
Female: 68.38 years (1996 est.), 68.01 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate:
5.91 children born/woman (1996 est.)
6.55 children born/woman (1995 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

Drinking water source

Current health expenditure

Physicians density

Hospital bed density

Sanitation facility access


Major infectious diseases

Obesity adult prevalence rate

Alcohol consumption

Tobacco use

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

Education expenditures

Definition: age 15 and over can read and write (1995 est.)
Total population: 70.8%
Male: 85.7%
Female: 55.8%

School life expectancy primary to tertiary education

Youth unemployment

Syria - Government 1996
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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)

Government type: Republic under leftwing military regime since March 1963

Capital: Damascus

Administrative divisions: 14 provinces (muhafazat, singular_muhafazah; Al Hasakah, Al Ladhiqiyah, Al Qunaytirah, Ar Raqqah, As Suwayda', Dar'a, Dayr az Zawr, Dimashq, Halab, Hamah, Hims, Idlib, Rif Dimashq, Tartus

Dependent areas

Independence: 17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)

National holiday: National Day, 17 April (1946)

Constitution: 13 March 1973

Legal system: Based on Islamic law and civil law system; special religious courts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

International law organization participation


Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch
Chief of state: President Hafiz al-ASAD (since 22 February 1971; see note) was reelected for a seven-year term by universal suffrage; election last held 2 December 1991 (next to be held NA December 1998); results_President Hafiz al-ASAD was reelected for a fourth seven-year term with 99.98% of the vote; note_President ASAD seized power in the November 1970 coup, assumed presidential powers 22 February 1971, and was confirmed as president in the 12 March 1971 national elections; Vice Presidents 'Abd al-Halim ibn Said KHADDAM (since NA), Rifaat al-ASAD (since NA), and Muhammad Zuhayr MASHARIQA (since 11 March 1984) were appointed by the president
Head of government: Prime Minister Mahmud ZUBI (since 1 November 1987), Deputy Prime Ministers Lt. Gen. Mustafa TALAS (since 11 March 1984), Salim YASIN (since NA December 1981), and Rashid AKHTARINI (since 4 July 1992) were appointed by the president
Cabinet: Council of Ministers; appointed by the president

Legislative branch: Unicameral People's Council (Majlis Al-Chaab):Elections last held 24-25 August 1994 (next to be held NA; results_percent of vote by party NA; seats_(250 total) National Progressive Front 167, independents 83

Judicial branch: Supreme Constitutional Court, justices are appointed for four-year terms by the president; High Judicial Council; Court of Cassation; State Security Courts

Political parties and leaders

International organization participation: ABEDA, AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, OIC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation

Flag descriptionflag of Syria: Three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black with two small green five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; similar to the flag of Yemen, which has a plain white band and of Iraq, which has three green stars (plus an Arabic inscription) in a horizontal line centered in the white band; also similar to the flag of Egypt, which has a symbolic eagle centered in the white band

National symbols

National anthem

National heritage

Syria - Economy 1996
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Economy overview: During 1990-92 Syria's state-dominated economy benefited from the Gulf war, increased oil production, good weather, and economic reform. Economic growth averaged roughly 10%. The war led to a Syrian aid windfall of nearly $5 billion from Arab, European, and Japanese donors. Most positive economic trends ended in 1993 due to the dissipation of the Gulf war boom, a domestic financial crisis, and economic policy missteps. Economic growth has dropped below 5%, income inequality is increasing, the government budget deficit is growing, and international accounts are weakening. For the long run, Syria's economy is saddled with a large number of poorly performing public sector firms and low industrial productivity. Oil production is likely to ebb by the end of the decade. Unemployment will likely rise as the more than 60% of the population under age 20 moves into the labor force. The economic benefits of any peace treaty with Israel will depend in large part on the pace of economic reform.

Real gdp purchasing power parity

Real gdp growth rate:
4.4% (1995 est.)
4% (1994 est.)

Real gdp per capita ppp

Gross national saving
Gdp composition by sector of origin

Gdp composition by end use

Gdp composition by sector of origin

Agriculture products: Accounts for 30% of GDP and one-third of labor force; all major crops (wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas) grown mainly on rain-watered land causing wide swings in production; animal products_beef, lamb, eggs, poultry, milk; not self-sufficient in grain or livestock products

Food processing
Phosphate rock mining

Industrial production growth rate: Growth rate 5% (1994 est.)

Labor force: 4.7 million (1995 est.)
By occupation Services: 42%
By occupation Agriculture: 22%
By occupation Industry: 36% (1990 est.)
Labor force

Unemployment rate:
8% (1994 est.)
7.5% (1993 est.)

Youth unemployment

Population below poverty line

Gini index

Household income or consumption by percentage share

Distribution of family income gini index

Revenues: $2.5 billion (1994 est.)
Expenditures: $3.4 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1994 est.)

Public debt

Taxes and other revenues


Fiscal year: Calendar year

Current account balance

Inflation rate consumer prices

Central bank discount rate

Commercial bank prime lending rate

Stock of narrow money

Stock of broad money

Stock of domestic credit

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance

Exports: total value. $3.5 billion (f.o.b., 1994 est.)
Petroleum 66%
Textiles 9%
Fruits and vegetables 14%
Industrial products 3%
Animal products 4%

EU 61%
Former CEMA countries
Arab countries 24% (1991)
Serbia and Montenegro 5%
U.S. and Canada 3% (1993 est.)

Imports: total value:$5.4 billion (c.i.f., 1994 est.)
Foodstuffs 12%
Metal products 16%
Machinery 25%
Transport equipment 15%
Textiles 10%

EU 37%
Former CEMA countries
U.S. and Canada 7%
Arab countries 6% (1993 est.)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

Debt external:
$21.2 billion (1995 est.)
$19.4 billion (1993 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment at home

Stock of direct foreign investment abroad

Exchange rates: Syrian pounds (£S) per US$1_11.225 (official fixed rate), 26.6 ("blended rate" used by the UN and diplomatic missions), 42.0 ("neighboring country rate" applies to most state enterprise imports), 48.0_52.0 (offshore rate) (yearend 1993)

Syria - Energy 1996
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Electricity access

Electricity production: 13.2 billion kWh

Electricity consumption
Per capita: 865 kWh (1993)

Electricity exports

Electricity imports

Electricity installed generating capacity

Electricity transmission distribution losses

Electricity generation sources


Refined petroleum

Natural gas

Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy consumption per capita

Syria - Communication 1996
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Telephones fixed lines

Telephones mobile cellular

Telephone system: 541,465 telephones (1992 est.); fair system currently undergoing significant improvement and digital upgrades, including fiber optic technology
Local: NA
Intercity: coaxial cable and microwave radio relay network
International: satellite earth stations_1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); 1 submarine cable; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey; participant in Medarabtel

Broadcast media

Internet country code

Internet users

Broadband fixed subscriptions

Syria - Military 1996
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Military expenditures
Dollar figure: $875 million, 8% of GDP (1994 est.), $2.2 billion, 6% of GDP (1992; note_based on official budget data that understate actual spending

Military and security forces

Military service age and obligation

Terrorist groups

Syria - Transportation 1996
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National air transport system

Civil aircraft registration country code prefix

Airports: 99
With paved runways over 3047 m: 5
With paved runways 2438 to 3047 m: 15
With paved runways with paved runways 1 524 to 2 437 m: 1
With paved runways 914 to 1523 m: 13 (1995 est.)
With paved runways under 914 m: 62
With paved runways 15-24 to 2437 m: 2

Airports with paved runways
Over 3047 m: 5
2438 to 3047 m: 15
With paved runways 1 524 to 2 437 m: 1
914 to 1523 m: 13 (1995 est.)
Under 914 m: 62
15-24 to 2437 m: 2

Airports with unpaved runways

Heliports: 2 (1995 est.)

Pipelines: Crude oil 1,304 km; petroleum products 515 km



Waterways: 870 km; minimal economic importance

Merchant marine
Total: 99 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 294,355 GRT/454,990 DWT
Ships by type: bulk 12, cargo 85, livestock carrier 1, vehicle carrier 1 (1995 est.)

Ports and terminals

Syria - Transnational issues 1996
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Disputes international

Refugees and internally displaced persons

Illicit drugs: A transit country for Lebanese and Turkish refined cocaine going to Europe and heroin and hashish bound for regional and Western markets


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