Syria facts on every entity in the world

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 peace talks over its return. 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. 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 Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005.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's second term as president was approved by popular referendum.

Influenced by major uprisings that began elsewhere in the region, antigovernment protests broke out 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. Since then, demonstrations and violent unrest spread to nearly every city in 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 military force. However, the government's response has failed to meet opposition demands for ASAD's resignation, and the government's ongoing violence to quell unrest and widespread armed opposition activity has led to extended clashes between government forces and oppositionists. International pressure on the ASAD regime has intensified since late 2011, as the Arab League, EU, Turkey, and the US expanded economic sanctions against the regime. In December 2012, the Syrian National Coalition, was recognized by more than 130 countries as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Peace talks between the Coalition and Syrian regime at the UN-sponsored Geneva II conference in 2014 failed to produce a resolution of the conflict. Unrest continues in Syria, and according to a January 2015 UN estimate, the death toll among Syrian Government forces, opposition forces, and civilians had reached 220,000. As of January 2016, approximately 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria, with 6.5 million people displaced internally, and an additional 4.4 million Syrian refugees, making the Syrian situation the largest humanitarian crisis worldwide.



Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey

Geographic coordinates

35.00° N, 38.00° E

Area 89/257

total: 185,180 sq km

land: 183,630 sq km

water: 1,550 sq km

note: includes 1,295 sq km of Israeli-occupied territory

Area - comparative

slightly more than 1.5 times the size of Pennsylvania

Land boundaries

total: 2,363 km

border countries (5): Iraq 599 km, Israel 83 km, Jordan 379 km, Lebanon 403 km, Turkey 899 km


193 km

Maritime claims

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm


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


mean elevation:

elevation extremes:

lowest point: unnamed location near Lake Tiberias -200 m

highest point: Mount Hermon 2,814 m

Natural resources

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

Land use

agricultural land: 75.8%

arable land 25.4%; permanent crops 5.8%; permanent pasture 44.6%

forest: 2.7%

other: 21.5% (2011 est.)

Irrigated land

13,410 sq km (2010)

Total renewable water resources

16.8 cu km (2011)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)

total: 16.76 cu km/yr (9%/4%/88%)

per capita: 867.4 cu m/yr (2005)

Natural hazards

dust storms, sandstorms

volcanism: Syria's two historically active volcanoes, Es Safa and an unnamed volcano near the Turkish border have not erupted in centuries

Environment - current issues

deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining wastes; inadequate potable water

Environment - international agreements

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification

Geography - note

the capital of Damascus - located at an oasis fed by the Barada River - is thought to be one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities; there are 42 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (2014 est.)

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)


Muslim 87% (official; includes Sunni 74% and Alawi, Ismaili, and Shia 13%), Christian 10% (includes Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), Druze 3%, Jewish (few remaining in Damascus and Aleppo)

Population 65/238

17,064,854 (July 2014 est.)

note: approximately 18,900 Israeli settlers live in the Golan Heights (2012) (July 2015 est.)

Age structure

0-14 years: 32.49% (male 2,841,760/female 2,701,998)

15-24 years: 19.85% (male 1,713,286/female 1,673,560)

25-54 years: 38.57% (male 3,283,267/female 3,298,387)

55-64 years: 5.07% (male 427,655/female 438,105)

65 years and over: 4.02% (male 309,947/female 376,889) (2015 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 70%

youth dependency ratio: 63.1%

elderly dependency ratio: 6.9%

potential support ratio: 14.5% (2015 est.)

Median age

total: 23.8 years

male: 23.3 years

female: 24.1 years (2015 est.)

Population growth rate 213/233

-0.16% (2015 est.)

Birth rate 74/224

22.17 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Death rate 208/225

4 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)

Net migration rate 220/222

-19.79 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2015 est.)


urban population: 57.7% of total population (2015)

rate of urbanization: 1.37% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major urban areas - population

Aleppo 3.562 million; DAMASCUS (capital) 2.566 million; Hims 1.641 million; Hamah 1.237 million; Lattakia 781,000 (2015)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.82 male(s)/female

total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2015 est.)

Maternal mortality rate 87/184

68 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)

Infant mortality rate 103/224

total: 15.61 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 17.95 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 13.13 deaths/1,000 live births (2015 est.)

Life expectancy at birth 114/224

total population: 74.69 years

male: 72.31 years

female: 77.21 years (2015 est.)

Total fertility rate 74/224

2.6 children born/woman (2015 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

53.9% (2009/10)

Health expenditures 176/191

3.3% of GDP (2013)

Physicians density

1.46 physicians/1,000 population (2010)

Hospital bed density

1.5 beds/1,000 population (2012)

Drinking water source


urban: 92.3% of population

rural: 87.2% of population

total: 90.1% of population


urban: 7.7% of population

rural: 12.8% of population

total: 9.9% of population (2015 est.)

Sanitation facility access


urban: 96.2% of population

rural: 95.1% of population

total: 95.7% of population


urban: 3.8% of population

rural: 4.9% of population

total: 4.3% of population (2015 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.01% (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

900 (2014 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths

less than 100 (2014 est.)

Obesity - adult prevalence rate 41/191

21.6% (2014)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight 70/138

10.1% (2009)

Education expenditures 70/173

4.9% of GDP (2007)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 12 years

male: 12 years

female: 12 years (2012)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24 58/134

total: 35.8%

male: 26.6%

female: 71.1% (2011 est.)


Country name

conventional long form: Syrian Arab Republic

conventional short form: Syria

local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah

local short form: Suriyah

former: United Arab Republic (with Egypt)

Government type

republic under an authoritarian regime


name: Damascus

geographic coordinates: 33.30° N, 36.18° E

time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins midnight on the last Friday in March; ends at midnight on the first Friday in November

Administrative divisions

14 provinces (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Hasakah, Al Ladhiqiyah (Latakia), Al Qunaytirah, Ar Raqqah, As Suwayda', Dar'a, Dayr az Zawr, Dimashq (Damascus), Halab, Hamah, Hims (Homs), Idlib, Rif Dimashq (Damascus Countryside), Tartus


17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)

National holiday

Independence Day, 17 April (1946)


several previous; latest issued 15 February 2012, passed by referendum 26 February 2012 (2015)

Legal system

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

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: the father must be a citizen of Syria; if the father is unknown or stateless, the mother must be a citizen of Syria

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 10 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President Bashar al-ASAD (since 17 July 2000); Vice President Farouk al-SHARA (since 21 February 2006); Vice President Najah al-ATTAR (since 23 March 2006)

head of government: Prime Minister Wael al-HALQI (since 9 August 2012); Deputy Prime Ministers Fahd Jasim al-FURAYJ, Lt. Gen. Walid al-MUALEM

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president

elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a 7-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 3 June 2014 (next to be held in June 2021); the president appoints the vice presidents, prime minister, and deputy prime ministers

election results: Bashar al-ASAD approved as president; percent of vote - Bashar al-ASAD (Ba'th Party) 88.7%, Hassan al-NOURI (independent) 4.3%, Maher HAJJER (independent) 3.2%, other/invalid 3.8%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral People's Assembly or Majlis al-Shaab (250 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)

elections: last held on 7 May 2012 (next to be held in 2016)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA

Judicial branch

highest court(s): Court of Cassation (organized into civil, criminal, religious, and military divisions, each with 3 judges); Supreme Constitutional Court (consists of 4 members)

judge selection and term of office: Court of Cassation judges appointed by the Supreme Judicial Council or SJC, a judicial management body headed by the minister of justice with 7 members including the national president; judge tenure NA; Supreme Constitutional Court judges nominated by the president and appointed by the SJC; judges appointed for 4-year renewable terms

subordinate courts: courts of first instance; magistrates' courts; religious and military courts; Economic Security Court

Political parties and leaders

legal parties/alliances: Arab Socialist Union of Syria or ASU [Safwan al-QUDSI]

National Progressive Front or NPF [Bashar al-ASAD, Suleiman QADDAH] (alliance includes Arab Socialist Renaissance (Ba'th) Party [President Bashar al-ASAD], Socialist Unionist Democratic Party [Fadlallah Nasr al-DIN]

Syrian Communist Party (two branches) [Wissal Farha BAKDASH, Yusuf Rashid FAYSAL]

Syrian Social Nationalist Party or SSNP [As'ad HARDAN]

Unionist Socialist Party [Fayez ISMAIL])

Kurdish parties (considered illegal): Kurdish Azadi Party

Kurdish Democratic Accord Party (al Wifaq)

Kurdish Democratic Party (al Parti-Ibrahim wing)

Kurdish Democratic Party (al Parti-Mustafa wing)

Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria or KDP-S

Kurdish Democratic Patriotic/National Party

Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party or KDPP-Darwish

Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party or KDPP-Muhammad

Kurdish Democratic Union Party or PYD [Salih Muslim MOHAMMAD]

Kurdish Democratic Unity Party

Kurdish Democratic Yekiti Party

Kurdish Future Party [Rezan HASSAN]

Kurdish Left Party

Kurdish Yekiti (Union) Party

Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party

other: Syrian Democratic Party [Mustafa QALAAJI]

Political pressure groups and leaders

Free Syrian Army

Syrian Muslim Brotherhood or SMB [Muhammad Riyad al-SHAQFAH] (operates in exile in London)

Syrian Opposition Coalition or National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces [al-Asi- al-JARBAL]

note: there are also hundreds of local groups that organize protests and stage armed attacks

International organization participation


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

note: similar to the flag of Yemen, which has a plain white band, Iraq, which has an Arabic inscription centered in the white band, and that of Egypt, which has a gold Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band

National symbol(s)

hawk; national colors: red, white, black, green

National anthem

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

lyrics/music: Khalil Mardam BEY/Mohammad Salim FLAYFEL and Ahmad Salim FLAYFEL

note: adopted 1936, restored 1961; between 1958 and 1961, while Syria was a member of the United Arab Republic with Egypt, the country had a different anthem


Economy - overview

Syria's economy continues to deteriorate amid the ongoing conflict that began in 2011, declining by 62% from 2010 to 2014. The government has struggled to 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.

During 2014, the ongoing conflict and continued unrest and economic decline worsened the humanitarian crisis and elicited a greater need for international assistance, as the number of people in need inside Syria increased from 9.3 million to 12.2 million, and the number of Syrian refugees increased from 2.2 million to more than 3.3 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, rapid population growth, industrial expansion, water pollution, and widespread infrastructure damage.

GDP (purchasing power parity) 106/230

$55.8 billion (2011 est.)

$61.9 billion (2010 est.)

$97.5 billion (2009 est.)

note: data are in 2011 US dollars

the war driven deterioration of the economy resulted in a disappearance of quality national level statistics in 2012-13

GDP (official exchange rate)

$24.6 billion (2011 est.)

GDP - real growth rate 219/225

NA% -9.9% (2012 est.)

-36.5% (2011 est.)

-30.9% (2010 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP) 167/230

$5,100 (2011 est.)

$5,100 (2010 est.)

$5,200 (2010 est.)

note: data are in 2011 US dollars

Gross national saving

NA (2015 est.)

-16.7% of GDP (2014 est.)

NA (2013 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 100.9%

government consumption: 28.1%

investment in fixed capital: 10.9%

investment in inventories: 3%

exports of goods and services: 18.1%

imports of goods and services: -60.8%

(2015 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 19.5%

industry: 18.9%

services: 61.6% (2015 est.)

Agriculture - products

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


petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, automobile assembly

Industrial production growth rate 188/202

-4.8% (2015 est.)

Labor force 96/233

3.798 million (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 17%

industry: 16%

services: 67% (2008 est.)

Unemployment rate 202/207

57.7% (2015 est.)

49.7% (2014 est.)

Population below poverty line

82.5% (2006 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%


revenues: $3.9 billion

expenditures: $5.7 billion

note: government projections for FY2016

Taxes and other revenues 186/219

15.9% of GDP (2015 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) 194/220

-7.3% of GDP (2015 est.)

Public debt 66/176

57.2% of GDP (2015 est.)

51.1% of GDP (2014 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 223/226

33.6% (2015 est.)

29.2% (2014 est.)

Central bank discount rate 125/156

0.75% (31 December 2015)

5% (31 December 2014)

Commercial bank prime lending rate 23/184

17.5% (31 December 2015 est.)

17% (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of narrow money 106/192

$4.009 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$5.536 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Stock of broad money 107/193

$11.05 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$12.71 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Stock of domestic credit 126/191

$4.009 billion (31 December 2015 est.)

$6.119 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares

Current account balance 160/197

-$3.148 billion (2015 est.)

-$3.667 billion (2014 est.)

Exports 141/224

$1.849 billion (2015 est.)

$3.015 billion (2014 est.)

Exports - commodities

crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat

Exports - partners

Iraq 63.8%, Saudi Arabia 11.1%, Kuwait 7%, UAE 6%, Libya 4.5% (2014)

Imports 115/223

$6.557 billion (2015 est.)

$8.028 billion (2014 est.)

Imports - commodities

machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, paper

Imports - partners

Saudi Arabia 24.5%, UAE 12%, Turkey 10%, Iran 8.9%, Iraq 7.3%, China 5.5% (2014)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold 133/170

$967.6 million (31 December 2015 est.)

$1.428 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

Debt - external 126/206

$5.812 billion (31 December 2014 est.)

$4.753 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

Syrian pounds (SYP) per US dollar -

234.5 (2015 est.)

153.7 (2014 est.)

153.7 (2013 est.)

64.39 (2012 est.)

48.37 (2011 est.)


Electricity - production 65/220

29.48 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - consumption 67/219

25.7 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - exports 200/218

0 kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - imports 58/219

1.234 billion kWh (2012 est.)

Electricity - installed generating capacity 59/214

8.958 million kW (2012 est.)

Electricity - from fossil fuels 93/214

82.9% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from nuclear fuels 185/214

0% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from hydroelectric plants 100/214

16.8% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Electricity - from other renewable sources 106/212

0.3% of total installed capacity (2012 est.)

Crude oil - production 66/214

22,660 bbl/day (2014 est.)

Crude oil - exports 192/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - imports 130/214

0 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Crude oil - proved reserves 32/215

2.5 billion bbl (1 January 2015 est.)

Refined petroleum products - production 60/214

168,800 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - consumption 57/212

224,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)

Refined petroleum products - exports 73/214

18,940 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Refined petroleum products - imports 72/213

63,820 bbl/day (2012 est.)

Natural gas - production 50/216

5.3 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - consumption 57/215

5.65 billion cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - exports 187/215

0 cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - imports 68/214

350 million cu m (2013 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves 44/212

240.7 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)

Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy 60/212

50.92 million Mt (2012 est.)


Telephones - fixed lines 41/219

total subscriptions: 3.99 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 22 (2014 est.)

Telephones - mobile cellular 66/217

total: 15.6 million

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 87 (2014 est.)

Telephone system

general assessment: fair system currently undergoing significant improvement and digital upgrades, including fiber-optic technology and expansion of the network to rural areas; the armed insurgency that began in 2011 has led to major disruptions to the network and has caused telephone and Internet outages throughout the country

domestic: the number of fixed-line connections has increased markedly since 2000; mobile-cellular service growing with telephone subscribership nearly 60 per 100 persons in 2011

international: country code - 963; submarine cable connection to Egypt, Lebanon, and Cyprus; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey; participant in Medarabtel (2011)

Broadcast media

state-run TV and radio broadcast networks; state operates 2 TV networks and a satellite channel; 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 (2007)

Radio broadcast stations

AM 14, FM 15, shortwave 26 (2010)

Television broadcast stations

44 (plus 17 repeaters) (1995)

Internet country code


Internet hosts 187/232

416 (2012)

Internet users 71/217

total: 4.8 million

percent of population: 26.7% (2014 est.)


Airports 62/236

90 (2013)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 29

over 3,047 m: 5

2,438 to 3,047 m: 16

914 to 1,523 m: 3

under 914 m: 5 (2013)

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 61

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 12

under 914 m: 48 (2013)


6 (2013)


gas 3,170 km; oil 2,029 km (2013)

Railways 72/136

total: 2,052 km

standard gauge: 1,801 km 1.435-m gauge

narrow gauge: 251 km 1.050-m gauge (2014)

Roadways 67/223

total: 69,873 km

paved: 63,060 km

unpaved: 6,813 km (2010)

Waterways 68/107

900 km (navigable but not economically significant) (2011)

Merchant marine 95/156

total: 19

by type: bulk carrier 4, cargo 14, carrier 1

registered in other countries: 166 (Barbados 1, Belize 4, Bolivia 4, Cambodia 22, Comoros 5, Dominica 4, Georgia 24, Lebanon 2, Liberia 1, Malta 4, Moldova 5, North Korea 4, Panama 34, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 9, Sierra Leone 13, Tanzania 23, Togo 6, unknown 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals

major seaport(s): Baniyas, Latakia, Tartus

Military and Security

Military branches

Syrian Armed Forces: Land Forces, Naval Forces, Air Forces (includes Air Defense Forces) (2013)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for compulsory and voluntary military service; conscript service obligation is 18 months; women are not conscripted but may volunteer to serve; re-enlistment obligation 5 years, with retirement after 15 years or age 40 (enlisted) or 20 years or age 45 (NCOs) (2012)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

Golan Heights is Israeli-occupied with the almost 1,000-strong UN Disengagement Observer Force patrolling a buffer zone since 1964; lacking a treaty or other documentation describing the boundary, portions of the Lebanon-Syria boundary are unclear with several sections in dispute; since 2000, Lebanon has claimed Shab'a Farms in the Golan Heights; 2004 Agreement and pending demarcation settles border dispute with Jordan

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 526,744 (Palestinian Refugees) (2014); undetermined (Iraq) (2015)

note: the ongoing civil war has created nearly 4.6 million Syrian refugees - dispersed in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey - as of February 2016

IDPs: 6,563,462 (ongoing civil war since 2011) (2015)

stateless persons: 160,000 (2014); note - Syria's stateless population consists of Kurds and Palestinians; stateless persons are prevented from voting, owning land, holding certain jobs, receiving food subsidies or public healthcare, enrolling in public schools, or being legally married to Syrian citizens; in 1962, some 120,000 Syrian Kurds were stripped of their Syrian citizenship, rendering them and their descendants stateless; in 2011, the Syrian Government granted citizenship to thousands of Syrian Kurds as a means of appeasement; however, resolving the question of statelessness is not a priority given Syria's ongoing civil war

Illicit drugs

a transit point for opiates, hashish, and cocaine bound for regional and Western markets; weak anti-money-laundering controls and bank privatization may leave it vulnerable to money laundering