Country Listing

Syria Table of Contents



Gross Domestic Product (GDP): LS75.1 billion (for value of the Syrian pound--see Glossary) in 1984 (LS7,600 per capita). Real growth rate of GDP 6.3 percent a year from 1953 to 1976, but averaged 9.7 percent a year throughout 1970s. Real growth peaked at 10.2 percent in 1981 but declined sharply to 3.2 percent in 1982 and -2.1 percent in 1984 as falling world oil prices, drought, and physical and financial constraints slowed economic growth.

Agriculture: Historically most important source of employment. Agriculture's share of labor force declined from 53 percent in 1965 to 30 percent in 1984 as service and commercial sectors dominated economy. Agriculture's contribution to GDP fell from 30 percent in 1963 to 17.7 percent in 1985. Irrigated area less than 10 percent of that cultivated. Sharp swings in production because of differences in rainfall. Main products: cotton, wheat, and barley. Farming primarily by private sector.

Industry: Growth rate of industrial sector 8.3 percent between 1953 and mid-1970s. Manufacturing (including extractive industries) contributed 22.4 percent of GDP in 1976 but fell to 13.4 in 1984. Crude oil production small by world standards but important to industrial growth and development. Discovery of high-quality oil at Dayr az Zawr in mid-1980s gives hope for economic recovery in 1990s. New emphasis on phosphate production in mid-1980s. Industry based on chemicals, cement, food processing, and textiles. Most large-scale industry owned by state.

Imports: LS16.2 billion in 1984. Public sector accounted for 79 percent of imports in 1984. Major imports: oil, machinery, metal products, materials for processing, and foods.

Exports: LS7.4 billion in 1984. Major exports: crude oil, cotton, and phosphates.

Major Trade Areas: Eastern Europe, Soviet Union, Western Europe, Arab states, and Iran.

Balance of Payments: Heavily dependent on foreign economic credits and grant aid from Arab states and Iran.

Exchange Rates: Official (used generally for government imports) LS3.92 to US$1 in early 1987. Parallel (used for commercial deals, but gradually being replaced by tourist rate) LS5.40 to US$1. Tourist (previously available only to visitors, in 1987 applied to many commercial and diplomatic transactions) LS9.75 to US$1. "Neighboring country" (exchange rate of Syrian pound in Jordanian and Lebanese markets and inside Syria; also applied to private sector imports under barter trade agreements) LS21.50 to US$1 (August 1986).

Data as of April 1987