World Travelling Guide
World Travelling Guide



Accommodation in Southern Africa and South Africa including accommodation in Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo Province, North West Province, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga

List of Countries
Map of The Middel East

Syria Travelling Guide
Syria Travelling Guide

General 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. In recent years, Syria and Israel have held occasional peace talks over the return of the Golan Heights.

Area comparative: Slightly larger than North Dakota.

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 in Damascus.

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

Population: 17,155,814 (July 2002 est.)

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

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

Language: Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood; French, English somewhat understood

Government type: Republic under military regime since March 1963.

Capital: Damascus

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

Economic overview: Syria's predominantly statist economy has been growing slower than its 2.5% annual population growth rate, causing a persistent decline in per capita GDP. President Bashar AL-ASAD has made little progress on the economic front after one year in office, but does appear willing to permit a gradual strengthening of the private sector. His most obvious accomplishment to this end was the recent passage of legislation allowing private banks to operate in Syria, although a private banking sector will take years and further government cooperation to develop. ASAD's recent cabinet reshuffle may improve his chances of implementing further growth-oriented policies, although external factors such as the international war on terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and downturn in oil prices could weaken the foreign investment and government revenues Syria needs to flourish. A long-run economic constraint is the pressure on water supplies caused by rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and increased water pollution.

Communication/Telephone system: Fair system currently undergoing significant improvement and digital upgrades, including fiber-optic technology.

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