Syria Politics

Syria Politics, Population and Geography

Background: After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire as a result of the First World War, Syria was ruled by France until independence in 1946. In the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, Syria lost the Golan Heights, occupied by Israel. Syrian troops have been in Lebanon since 1976 under the pretext of maintaining peace. Negotiations with Israel on the return of the Golan Heights have recently been resumed.


Location: Middle East, Mediterranean coast between Lebanon and Turkey.
Geographic coordinates: 35° 00′ N. latitude, 38° 00′ E
Reference map: Middle East.
Area: total: 185,180 km2; land surface area: 184,050 km2; water surface area: 1,130 km2; note: including 1,295 sq. km. territory occupied by Israel.
Comparative area: slightly larger than the state of North Dakota.
Land borders: total: 2,253 km; with neighboring states: with Iraq 605 km, with Israel 76 km, with Jordan 375 km, with Lebanon 375 km, with Turkey 822 km.
Coastline: 193 km.
Maritime claims: neutral waters: 41 nautical miles; territorial waters: 35 nautical miles.
Climate: mostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and mild, rainy winters (December to February) along the coast; cold weather with snow or sleet periodically occurs in the Damascus region.
Terrain: predominantly semi-arid and desert plateaus; narrow coastal plain; mountains in the west.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: unnamed area near Lake Tiberias -200 m; highest point: Mount Hermon 2,814 m.
Natural resources: oil, phosphates, chromium and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower.
Land use: arable land: 28%; cultivated land: 4%; pastures: 43%; forests and plantations: 3%; others: 22% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 9,060 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural Hazards: Dust and sand storms.
Current environmental issues: deforestation; overgrazing by livestock; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution by sewage and oil refining wastes; insufficient supply of drinking water.
International environmental agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate change, Desertification, Hazardous waste, Nuclear test ban, Ozone layer protection, Marine pollution from ships, Wetlands; signed but not ratified: Environmental change.
Geography Note: There are 42 Israeli settlements and civilian landholdings in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (August 1999 est.).


Population: 16,728,808; note: in addition, about 38,200 people. live in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights: 18,200 Arabs (16,500 Druze and 1,700 Alawites) and approximately 20,000 Israeli settlers (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 39.92% (male 3,440,060; female 3,238,576); 15 to 64 years old: 56.87% (male 4,868,816; female 4,644,870); over 65: 3.21% {male 261 036; female 275 450) (2001 est.);
Population growth: 2.54% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 30.64 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 5.21 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0 people /1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.06 male/female; under 15: 1.06 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 1.05 male/female; over 65: 0.95 male/female; for the general population: 1.05 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 33.8 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 68.77 years; men: 67.63 years; women: 69.98 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 3.95 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of adults infected with HIV: 0.01% (1999 est.).
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: Syrian; adjective: Syriac.
Ethnic groups: Arabs 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians and others 9.7%.
Believers: Sunni Muslims 74%, Alawites, Druze and members of other Islamic sects 16%, Christians (various sects) 10%, Jews (small communities in Damascus, Qamishli and Aleppo).
Language(s): Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian is widely spoken; some French and English are spoken.
Literacy: definition: persons aged 15 and over who can read and write; for the general population: 70.8%; men: 85.7%; women: 55.8% (1997 est.).


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).
State structure: republic with a regime of military dictatorship since March 1963; See to know more about Syria Political System.
Capital: Damascus.
Administrative division: 14 provinces (mu-hafazah): Damascus, Deir ez-Zor, Daraa, Idlib, Latakia, Raqqa, Rif Damascus, Tartus, Aleppo, Hama, Hasakah, Homs, Al Quneitra, Es Suwayda.
Independence: April 17, 1946 (until 1946 – ruled by France under a League of Nations mandate).
National holiday: Independence Day, April 17 (1946).
Constitution: adopted March 13, 1973
Legal system: based on Islamic law and civil legal system; special religious courts; does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 18 years old; universal.
chief of state: President Bashar al-ASAD (since 17 July 2000) Vice Presidents Abel al-Halim ibn Said KHADDAM (since March 11, 1984) and Muhammad Zuhayr MASHARIQA (since March 11, 1984);
head of the government: Prime Minister Mohammad Mustaf MIRU (since March 13, 2000), Deputy Prime Ministers Lieutenant General Mustafa TALAS (Lt. Gen. Mustafa TALAS) (since March 11, 1984), Khalid RAD (Khalid RA’D) (since March 13, 2000), Muhammad NAJI UTRI (since March 13, 2000);
government: the council of ministers is appointed by the president; elections: the president is elected by popular vote for a 7-year term; elections last held in the form of a referendum on 10 July 2000 after the death of President Hafiz al-ASAD, father of Bashar al-ASAD (next to be held in 2007); vice presidents are appointed by the president; the prime minister and deputy prime ministers are appointed by the president; election results: Bashar al-Assad elected president; Percentage of votes received: Hafiz ASAD 97.29%; note – Hafiz Assad died on 10 June 2000; On June 20, 2000, the Ba’ath Party nominated Bashar al-Asada for President and submitted his candidacy to the People’s Council on June 25, 2000.
Legislature: unicameral People’s Council (Majlis al-shaab) (250 seats; members are elected by popular vote for 4 years); elections: last November 30-December 1, 1998 (next to be held in 2002); election results: distribution of votes by party: NPF 67%, other 33%; distribution of seats among parties: NPF 167, independents 83; note – the constitution guarantees the Ba’ath Party (part of the NPF) half the seats.
Judiciary: Supreme Constitutional Court, judges are appointed for 4 years by the president; Supreme Judicial Council; Court of Cassation; state security courts.
Political parties and leaders: National Progressive Front (NPF) (includes Ba’ath Party, ASU, Arab Socialist Party, Socialist Trade Union Democratic Party, ASP, SCP) (Bashar ASAD); Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba’ath) Party (ruling) (Bashar al-Assad, general secretary of the party, chairman of the National Progressive Front); Arab Socialist Trade Union Movement (ASU) (Sami SOUFAN); Arab Socialist Party (Abd al-Ghani KANNUT [Abd al-Ghani KANNUT]); Socialist Trade Union Democratic Party (Ahmad al-ASAD [Ahmad al-ASAD]); Syrian Arab Socialist Party (ASP) (Safwan KUDSI [Safwan KOUDSI]); Syrian Communist Party (SCP) (Yusuf FAYSAL) [ineffective].
Political influence groups and their leaders: conservative religious leaders; the Muslim Brotherhood (active in exile in Jordan and Yemen); all parties except the Ba’ath play a minor role in political life.
Participation in international organizations: ABEDA, AFESD, AL, AMF, CAEU, CCC, ESCWA, FAO, G-24, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OAPEC, 0IC, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNRWA, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WToO.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: head of mission: Ambassador Rustam al-ZUBI (Rustum al-ZU’BI); office: 2215 Wyoming Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; telephone; [1] (202) 232-6313; fax: [C (202) 234-9548.
US Diplomatic Mission: Chief of Mission: Ambassador Ryan CROCKER; Embassy: Abou Roumaneh, Al-Mansur Street, No. 2, Damascus; postal address: R. O. Box 29, Damascus; phone: [963] (11) 333-2814; fax: [963] (11) 224-7938.
Description of the flag: three equal horizontal stripes of red (top), white and black with two small green five-pointed stars on a horizontal line in the center of the white stripe; similar to the flag of Yemen, which has a pure white stripe, and Iraq, which has three green stars (and an Arabic script) on a horizontal line in the center of the white stripe; also similar to the flag of Egypt, which has a heraldic eagle in the center of the white stripe.

Syria Politics