Key Facts on Syria
Area: 185,180 Km2.
Religion: 87% Muslim (75% Sunni, 7% Druze, 5% Alawite) and 13% Christians
Official Language: Arabic
Geography and Population
Lebanon and Israel are to the west, Jordan to the South. Iraq lies to the East and Turkey to the North. In earlier time, greater Syria included Jordan, Lebanon and Israel.
Syria has access to major source of water: the Euphrates and Orontes Rivers and their tributaries.
A warm climate and a rainy season from November until April enhance Syria's agricultural capability. Main crops are cotton, wheat, barely and tobacco.
Industrial growth took place primarily after WW II and Syria's independence in 1945.
A petroleum industry has grown up around Syria's modest oil reserves, located in the Northeast region of the country.
In 1974 oil replaced cotton as the nation's main export; by 1979, oil accounted for 58% of export earnings.
History and politics
Its capital Damascus, 1st settled about 2500 BC, was successively dominated by Aramaean, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Nabatean, and Byzantine conquerors.
Syria was all Christian until 636 AD when the Byzantines were defeated by the Arab army. Here Syria was Islamized and Damascus came under Muslim occupation.
When this happened, colonists descendants fled from Syria to Lebanon, and fought against Arabs.
Shortly after, Syria rose to its historic peak of power and prestige as the capital of the Umayyad Empire, which stretched from India to Spain from 661 to 750.
From 1260 to 1516, Damascus was a provincial capital of the Mamlouk Empire, before coming under the 400-year rule of the Ottomans Turks in 1516.
Syria fell in 1918 to British forces.
The Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 divided the Middle East between Britain and France.
In 1917, the Balfour declaration, favoring the...