Syria: country profile

The Syrian Arab Republic is located on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean in the southern west of Asia. It is bordered by Lebanon and the Mediterranean to the west, Turkey, northward, Iraq to the east, Palestine, and by Jordan to the south. It falls in four distinguished geographical areas:

 

•        The coastal region is sandwiched between the mountains  and the sea

•        The mountainous region extends from the northern areas of the mountains to their north, including all mountains and hills overlooking the sea

•        The hinterland region comprises the plains of Damascus, Hama, Homs, Aleppo, al-Hassaka and Daraa. It is situated  to the east of the mountainous area.

•        The desert region ( Badia) is situated to the southern east part of the country on the border with Jordan and Iraq.

Syria  is divided to 14 governorates, with the  Damascus, the capital, the largest in terms of population, then Aleppo ( 4.2 million inhabitants) , Homs ( 1.6 million inhabitants ), Lattakia  (897,018 inhabitants) and Hama ( 1.43 million inhabitants)

Syria 's total area is 185,180 square kilometers, with a population estimated at  23 million. The population growth rate in 2006 was estimated at 2.3 percent.  Its population annual growth rate was 3.1% between the years 1990-2005 and is estimated to be  2.2% between 2005-2015.

As age grouping, the Syrians are distributed as follows:

•        (0- 14)  year old constitute 38.4% of the total population (5.5 million males and 3.36 million females)

•        (15-64) year old constitute 58.1% of the total population (5.5 million males and 5.15 million females)

•        Over than 65 year old constitute 3.5% ( 381.639 males and 257.085 females)

The family planning, reproductive health and birth control concept has become a common practice.

With almost 80% of the population is under 45, Syria is a youthful country. Life expectancy at birth for males is 69 years and for females 72 years. About half of Syria's population is urban.

 

       Syria's economy is heavily dependent on agriculture which  contributes nearly 30% to the GDP and employs one-third of the active population. The area for arable land has increased by more than 50% since 1970, largely because of government incentives and more efficient use of irrigation methods. Main cultivated  crops include wheat, potatoes, sugar beets, and barley. Large numbers of poultry, cattle, and sheep are also raised. The oil and gas sector is very important to the economy and contributes 65% to the country’s exports. The main industrial sectors are: petroleum refining, textiles, food-processing, and chemicals. Handicrafts such as silk, leather, and glass are widely produced. However, manufacturing sector is less productive and contributes nearly 25% to the GDP. Services sector is growing and contributes more than 50% to GDP, with tourism as a main contributor.

The industrial sector – including the oil sector - accounts for just over 20% of GDP. The oil sector alone accounts for nearly 45% of total export earnings, and is the largest single contributor to the budget 's revenues. One third of non-oil industrial sector activities belongs to the public sector and relates to heavy industry, chemicals and basic consumer goods; 85 % of production is generated by small and medium sized enterprises. Government services accounts for just under 10% of the total GDP. More than two thirds of the total labor force is working in the public sector, which only contributes 30% to the GDP.

 The private sector consists mainly of agriculture (almost private) and some light industry, retail trade, transport and communication. The tourism sector is mixed with both public and private operators. Investment Law no. 10 has provided private businesses with a wide range of incentives that led to a marked improvement in the quality of existing products and the emergence of new products that used to be imported before.

With the introduction of this law, the private industrial sector began to play a larger role in the textile, food, leather, paper, chemicals, cement and sugar processing industries, but the highly regulated business environment in terms of access to credit, import and export restrictions, access to hard currency, etc. hampers the necessary growth in this sector.

Syria is the cradle of World civilization; in Syria agriculture began ten thousand years ago, that settlement commenced and civilization emerged. Evidence of ancient arts is found all over Syria. Syria presented the world with major discoveries, including copper, the Bronze civilization came into being at Tel Halaf, At Mari (Tel Hariri), by the Euphrates and elsewhere, there was an abundance of palaces, temples and murals reflecting cultural and commercial activity. The kingdom of Ugarit offered mankind the first alphabet in history. At Ebla , a royal palace was discovered containing one of the largest and most comprehensive documentary archives of the ancient world.

The Amorites, the Canaanites and Phoenicians inhabited the coastal regions, while the Arameans populated the inland areas , and the Nabateans inhabited the south. Successive waves of migrations from the Arab Peninsula gave an Arab identity to Syria, and the country withstood invasions by Hittites, Persians, Greeks and Romans. The Islamic conquest of 636 A. D. confirmed this Arab identity and gave the land its lasting character.

In fact, Syria, as it is today, is the throbbing heart of Arabism and the steadfast bastion of Resistance. The modern Syria of today was indeed modernized at the hands of the late President, Hafez Al-Assad, who was able during his presidency to change it into a pivotal player and decision maker in the region. The legacy and noble task of modernization and reforms of the late president was inherited by the Syrians, under the leadership of their popular President, Bashar Al-Assad, who has been exerting strenuous efforts to pursue the ways of modernization, and reforms. Syria today has a new Constitution, multi-party governance, new media, investment, judicial, agriculture, and housing laws. Nevertheless, Syria is passing through a crisis, mainly caused by foreign-backed armed terrorist groups. The majority of the Syrians, thanks to their unity and to the Syrian Arab Army heroes, have taken their decisive decision to foil the conspiracy, as to continue their Syrian-tailored models of reform, modernization and of construction and building.It is indeed as Andre Parrot, the former Director of Louvers Museum, said that  ''Every person has two homelands: His own and Syria.''

The strategic importance of Syria is due to her unique position as a meeting point between of three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe), and as a crossroad between the Caspian Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Black Sea, and the Nile River. Syria the land of great diversity, starting from the coast, mountains, steppe ending in the Syrian Desert. With about 110 miles (180 kilometers) along the Mediterranean Sea, the coast lies between Turkey and Lebanon, and it includes both areas of sandy shores, cliffs and rocky headlands. From "Ras Al-Basit" to "Ras Ibn Hani" there are rounded gulfs like "Minet El-Baida" that once sheltered the great kingdom of Ugarit. The coastal mountainous range borders the coastal plain and runs from north to south. The mountains have an average width of 35 km, and their altitude declines from a modest 5,673 feet (1,729 m) in the north (east of Lattakia) to 5,256 feet (1,602 m) at Jebel Aqra to 1,969 feet (600 m) in the south, at the gap near Homs. Directly to the east of the mountains is the "Ghab" Depression, a 75 km longitudinal trench that contains the valley of the Orontes River.

The main ridge rises to a maximum height of 8,625 feet (2,629 m) near Al-Nabk, while the average height is between 6,000 and 7,000 feet. Mt. Hermon (Jebel al Shaykh), Syria's highest point, rises to 9,232 feet (2,814 m). This semi circle of fertile land encompasses the Syrian Desert. This is where agriculture first began. Starting from the "Ghab" depression it extends eastward to create the most important geographical feature in Syria. With the addition of the Dam on the Euphrates, and modern irrigation this part of Syria is the area with the biggest production of cotton.

National Symbols

 

The Syrian Flag :

 

 

Each color in the Syrian flag refers to a definite meaning or a period as follows:

 Red Color: The blood of the martyrs.

Black Color: The Abbasids.

 White Color: The Umayyad.

The Green: The Fatimid.

 The two stars represent the previous union between Egypt and Syria.

The Syrian flag is also found as a Shield in the middle of the Syrian Eagle's heart which is derived from the Arabic history, which referred to the flag of "Khaled Bin Al Waleed" that was held  at when he conquered Damascus in 635 AD. At the bottom of the Shield , there are two wheat spikes to represent the country's first crop and its agricultural nature. The eagle grabs in his claws a stripe that has the words "Syrian Arab Republic".

 

The Syrian National Anthem:

 

"Homat el Diyar" (translated Guardians of the Homeland) is the national anthem of Syria, with lyrics written by "Khalil Mardam Bey" and the music by "Mohammed Flayfel". It was adopted in 1936.

English Translation of Syrian National Anthem:

Defenders of our home,

Peace be upon you;

The proud spirits had

refused to subdue.

The lion-abode of Arabism,

A hallowed sanctuary;

The seat of the stars,

An inviolable preserve.

Our hopes and our hearts,

Are entwined with the flag,

Which unites our country...

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