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People and Society






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, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades. 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 November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the Socialist Ba'th Party and the minority Alawi sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional peace talks over its return. Following the death of President 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 Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005.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 was elected to his second term as president.


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People And Society

Noun Syrian(s)
Adjective Syrian

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

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

Sunni Muslim (Islam - official) 74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Druze) 16%, Christian (various denominations) 10%, Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)

Population World Ranking: 52
22,530,746 (July 2012 est.)
Approximately 18,100 Israeli settlers live in the Golan Heights (2010) (July 2012 est.)

Age structure
0-14 years
35.2% (male 4,066,109/female 3,865,817)
15-64 years
61% (male 6,985,067/female 6,753,619)
65 years and over
3.8% (male 390,802/female 456,336) (2011 est.)

Median age
Total 22.3 years
Male 22.1 years
Female 22.5 years (2012 est.)

Population growth rate World Ranking: 225
-0.797% (2012 est.)

Birth rate World Ranking: 69
23.52 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Death rate World Ranking: 208
3.67 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)

Net migration rate World Ranking: 218
-27.82 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)

Urban population 56% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization
2.5% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major cities - population
Aleppo 2.985 million; DAMASCUS (capital) 2.527 million; Hims 1.276 million; Hamah 854,000 (2009)

Sex ratio
At birth 1.06 male(s)/female
Under 15 years 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years 1.03 male(s)/female
65 years and over 0.85 male(s)/female
Total population
1.03 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal mortality rate World Ranking: 88
70 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)

Infant mortality rate World Ranking: 115
Total 15.12 deaths/1,000 live births
Male 17.38 deaths/1,000 live births
12.72 deaths/1,000 live births (2012 est.)

Life expectancy at birth World Ranking: 93
Total population 74.92 years
Male 72.53 years
Female 77.45 years (2012 est.)

Total fertility rate World Ranking: 69
2.85 children born/woman (2012 est.)

Health expenditures World Ranking: 180
2.9% of GDP (2009)

Physicians density
1.5 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital bed density
1.5 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Hiv/aids - adult prevalence rate World Ranking: 157
Less than 0.1% (2001 est.)

Hiv/aids - people living with hiv/aids World Ranking: 150
Fewer than 500 (2003 est.)

Hiv/aids - deaths World Ranking: 114
Fewer than 200 (2003 est.)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight World Ranking: 66
10% (2006)

Education expenditures World Ranking: 61
4.9% of GDP (2007)

Age 15 and over can read and write
Total population 79.6%
Male 86%
Female 73.6% (2004 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
Total 11 years
Male 12 years
Female 11 years (2007)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 World Ranking: 61
Total 19.1%
Male 13.1%
Female 49.1% (2007)


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  Syria (Damascus):

  GPS points from Syria (Damascus)

Sbaihiye Aleppo

Az Zarah Homs

`ayn An Nadi Tartus

Kazek Alab

Bayt Ar Rahib Tartus

Qazliyah Latakia

Quata Es Said Aleppo
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