Country Listing

Syria Table of Contents



The 1981 census, the last official count for which full details were available in early 1987, showed a population of 8,996,000, not including approximately 340,000 beduin and some 263,000 Palestinian refugees. The growth rate was calculated at about 3.35 percent a year.

According to Syrian government reports available in 1987, the population in mid-1986 was 10,612,000 and was growing at an annual rate of 3.36 percent. Various international agencies and United States government sources, however, estimated the annual rate of population increase at between 3.7 and 3.8 percent, one of the highest in the world, and calculated the population at between 10,310,000 and 10,500,000.

Both the 1970 and the 1981 censuses suggest that men outnumber women by over 4 percent, but this statistic must be viewed from the perspective of some sociological and biological factors characteristic of the area. Chief among these are the underreporting of women, particularly unmarried women, and the high mortality rate among women of childbearing age.

The 1970 census indicated that there were 104.6 men to every 100 women. The corresponding ratio in 1986 was estimated at 104.2 men to 100 women. A regional analysis of the sex ratio according to official 1986 population estimates shows that in the southern provinces of Al Qunaytirah, As Suwayda, and Dar'a, provinces close to the Israeli border, the ratio of men to women is equal. These ratios illustrate the probable decline of males in refugee groups that have men involved in military operations or otherwise separated from their families. The ratio of males is higher in urban than in rural areas. In the cities of Damascus, Latakia, and Aleppo, there are, respectively, 197, 105, and 108 men per 100 women. However, women outnumber men in the rural areas of Aleppo Province, and in rural Al Hasakah, As Suwaydah, and Dar'a. This imbalance occurs at least in part because males go to the cities in search of employment, leaving the women and children in the villages.

Syria's rapid population growth is reflected in the youthfulness of its population. Age-related data from Syria's 1986 population estimate indicated that about 49 percent of the population was under 15 years old, and 36 percent was under 10 years old. An analysis of the same data showed that the proportion of people of working age (15 to 59 years) was just over 44 percent of the total. Therefore, the working population supported a large number of inactive youths, to which were added elderly dependents or retirees over the age of 60, whose numbers were slowly rising because of improved health conditions.

Data as of April 1987