Country Listing

Syria Table of Contents



Size: About 185,180 square kilometers.

Topography: Country consists of coastal zone divided by narrow double mountain range from large eastern region that includes various mountain ranges, large desert regions, and Euphrates River basin.


Population: Approximately 10.6 million in 1986, including about 250,000 Palestinian refugees. Growth rate estimated at about 3.7 percent per year, one of the world's highest.

Education: Nearly full enrollment in compulsory tuition-free public schools at primary level. School system consists of six years of primary, three years of lower secondary, and three years of upper secondary education. Four major universities and various teacher-training and vocational institutes, all government owned and operated. Adult literacy rate estimated at over 60 percent.

Health: Gastrointestinal ailments, trachoma, and infectious diseases prevalent; considerable progress has been made in control of malaria. Severe shortage of medical and paramedical personnel.

Languages: Official language, Arabic, mother tongue of about 90 percent of population, understood by most others. Kurdish (Kirmanji), Armenian, Turkic, and Syriac spoken by minorities; French and English spoken by educated elites in major urban areas.

Religion: Estimated 85 percent of population adheres to some form of Islam. About 13 to 15 percent of Muslims are Alawis (see Glossary); less than 1 percent, Shias (see Glossary); and remainder, Sunnis (see Glossary). About 10 percent of population observes some form of Christianity, and about 3 percent are Druzes (see Glossary). Small numbers of Jews, Yazidis, and others.

Data as of April 1987