Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946. The new country lacked political stability and experienced a series of military coups. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights region to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional, albeit unsuccessful, peace talks over its return. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the socialist Ba'ath Party and the minority Alawi sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. Following the death of President Hafiz al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah. In May 2007, Bashar al-ASAD's second term as president was approved by popular referendum. Influenced by major uprisings that began elsewhere in the region, and compounded by additional social and economic factors, antigovernment protests broke out first in the southern province of Dar'a in March 2011 with protesters calling for the repeal of the restrictive Emergency Law allowing arrests without charge, the legalization of political parties, and the removal of corrupt local officials. Demonstrations and violent unrest spread across Syria with the size and intensity of protests fluctuating. The government responded to unrest with a mix of concessions - including the repeal of the Emergency Law, new laws permitting new political parties, and liberalizing local and national elections - and with military force and detentions. The government's efforts to quell unrest and armed opposition activity led to extended clashes and eventually civil war between government forces, their allies, and oppositionists. International pressure on the ASAD regime intensified after late 2011, as the Arab League, the EU, Turkey, and the US expanded economic sanctions against the regime and those entities that support it. In December 2012, the Syrian National Coalition, was recognized by more than 130 countries as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. In September 2015, Russia launched a military intervention on behalf of the ASAD regime, and domestic and foreign government-aligned forces recaptured swaths of territory from opposition forces, and eventually the country’s second largest city, Aleppo, in December 2016, shifting the conflict in the regime’s favor. The regime, with this foreign support, also recaptured opposition strongholds in the Damascus suburbs and the southern province of Dar’a in 2018. The government lacks territorial control over much of the northeastern part of the country, which is dominated by the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF has expanded its territorial hold over much of the northeast since 2014 as it has captured territory from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Since 2016, Turkey has also conducted three large-scale military operations into Syria, capturing territory along Syria's northern border in the provinces of Aleppo, Ar Raqqah, and Al Hasakah. Political negotiations between the government and opposition delegations at UN-sponsored Geneva conferences since 2014 have failed to produce a resolution of the conflict. Since early 2017, Iran, Russia, and Turkey have held separate political negotiations outside of UN auspices to attempt to reduce violence in Syria. According to an April 2016 UN estimate, the death toll among Syrian Government forces, opposition forces, and civilians was over 400,000, though other estimates placed the number well over 500,000. As of December 2019, approximately 6 million Syrians were internally displaced. Approximately 11.1 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance across the country, and an additional 5.7 million Syrians were registered refugees in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, and North Africa. The conflict in Syria remains one of the largest humanitarian crises worldwide.



35.0° N, 38. 0° E
Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey


187,437 sq km
185,887 sq km
1,550 sq km

land boundaries

2,343 km


193 km


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 in Damascus


primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains in west


514 m
lowest point
unnamed location near Lake Tiberias
-208 m
highest point
Mount Hermon (Jabal a-Shayk)
2,814 m

natural resources

  • petroleum
  • phosphates
  • chrome
  • manganese ores
  • asphalt
  • iron ore
  • rock salt
  • marble
  • gypsum
  • hydropower

land use

arable land
25.4 %
permanent crops
5.8 %
permanent pasture
44.6 %
2.7 %
21.5 %

population distribution

significant population density along the Mediterranean coast; larger concentrations found in the major cities of Damascus, Aleppo (the country's largest city), and Hims (Homs); more than half of the population lives in the coastal plain, the province of Halab, and the Euphrates River valley note: the ongoing civil war has altered the population distribution



  • 19,398,448
  • 63
    global rank


  • Syrian(s)
  • Syrian

ethnic groups

  • Arab ~50%
  • Alawite ~15%
  • Kurd ~10%
  • Levantine ~10%
  • other ~15%


  • Arabic
  • Kurdish
  • Armenian
  • Aramaic
  • Circassian
  • French
  • English


87 %
10 %
3 %

birth rate

  • 23.8
    per 1,000 population
  • 51
    global rank

death rate

  • 4.5
    per 1,000 population
  • 207
    global rank

urban population

55.5 %

major urban areas

  • Damascus
    pop. 2,392,000
  • Aleppo
    pop. 1,917,000
  • Hims
    pop. 1,336,000
  • Hamah
    pop. 922,000

life expectancy

  • 73.7
    total population
  • 143
    global rank

adult obesity rate

  • 27.8%
    percent of adults
  • 35
    global rank


country name


  • Syrian Arab Republic
    long form
  • Syria
    short form


  • Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah
    long form
  • Suriyah
    short form

government type

presidential republic; highly authoritarian regime


33.30 N, 36.18 E


national holidays

  • Independence Day
    17 April

legal system

mixed legal system of civil and Islamic (sharia) law (for family courts)

age of suffrage


flag description

three equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black; two small, green, five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; the band colors derive from the Arab Liberation flag and represent oppression (black), overcome through bloody struggle (red), to be replaced by a bright future (white); identical to the former flag of the United Arab Republic (1958-1961) where the two stars represented the constituent states of Syria and Egypt; the current design dates to 1980

national colors

  • red
  • white
  • black
  • green

national anthem

"Humat ad-Diyar" (Guardians of the Homeland)



Syria's economy has deeply deteriorated amid the ongoing conflict that began in 2011, declining by more than 70% from 2010 to 2017. The government has struggled to fully address the effects of international sanctions, widespread infrastructure damage, diminished domestic consumption and production, reduced subsidies, and high inflation, which have caused dwindling foreign exchange reserves, rising budget and trade deficits, a decreasing value of the Syrian pound, and falling household purchasing power. In 2017, some economic indicators began to stabilize, including the exchange rate and inflation, but economic activity remains depressed and GDP almost certainly fell. During 2017, the ongoing conflict and continued unrest and economic decline worsened the humanitarian crisis, necessitating high levels of international assistance, as more than 13 million people remain in need inside Syria, and the number of registered Syrian refugees increased from 4.8 million in 2016 to more than 5.4 million. Prior to the turmoil, Damascus had begun liberalizing economic policies, including cutting lending interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating multiple exchange rates, raising prices on some subsidized items, and establishing the Damascus Stock Exchange, but the economy remains highly regulated. Long-run economic constraints include foreign trade barriers, declining oil production, high unemployment, rising budget deficits, increasing pressure on water supplies caused by heavy use in agriculture, industrial contaction, water pollution, and widespread infrastructure damage.


50,280,000,000 USD

agriculture products

  • wheat
  • barley
  • cotton
  • lentils
  • chickpeas
  • olives
  • sugar beets
  • beef
  • mutton
  • eggs
  • poultry
  • milk

poverty level



  • 1,162,000,000
    revenue (USD)
  • 3,211,000,000
    expenditures (USD)



    fixed lines

  • 2,740,000
    total subscriptions
  • 50
    global rank

    mobile cellular

  • 17,129,676
    total subscriptions
  • 63
    global rank

broadcast media

state-run TV and radio broadcast networks; state operates 2 TV networks and 5 satellite channels; roughly two-thirds of Syrian homes have a satellite dish providing access to foreign TV broadcasts; 3 state-run radio channels; first private radio station launched in 2005; private radio broadcasters prohibited from transmitting news or political content (2018)


country code


  • 6,077,510
  • 34.25
    % of population
  • 78
    global rank


electricity access



air transport

    national system

  • 2
    registered air carriers
  • 475,932
    annual passenger traffic


  • 90
  • 29


2,052 km
total length


69,873 km
total length


900 km
total length


service age