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Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in West Asia located in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Levant. It is bounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east and southeast, Jordan to the south, and Israel and Lebanon to the southwest. Cyprus lies to the west across the Mediterranean Sea. It is a unitary republic that consists of 14 governorates (subdivisions). A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including the majority Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Assyrians, Circassians, Armenians, Albanians, Greeks, and Chechens. Religious groups include Muslims, Christians, Alawites, Druze, and Yazidis. The capital and largest city is Damascus, followed by Aleppo, Homs, Latakia, Hama, Deirezor, and Raqqa. Arabs are the largest ethnic group, and Sunni Muslims are the largest religious group. Syria is now the only country that is governed by Ba'athists, who advocate Arab socialism and Arab nationalism.
Syrian Arab Republic
الجمهورية العربية السورية (Arabic)
al-Jumhūriyya al-ʿArabiyya as-Sūriya
|Motto: وَحْدَةٌ ، حُرِّيَّةٌ ، اِشْتِرَاكِيَّةٌ|
Waḥda, Ḥurriyya, Ishtirākiyya
"Unity, Freedom, Socialism"
|Anthem: حُمَاةَ الدِّيَارِ|
"Guardians of the Homeland"
and largest city
|Ethnic groups||74–75% Arabs|
15–16.5% Others (including Turkomans, Assyrians, Circassians, Armenians and others)
|Government||Unitary presidential republic under a totalitarian hereditary dictatorship|
|8 March 1920|
|1 December 1924|
|14 May 1930|
• De jure independence
|24 October 1945|
• De facto independence
|17 April 1946|
• Left the United Arab Republic
|28 September 1961|
|8 March 1963|
|27 February 2012|
|185,180 km2 (71,500 sq mi) (87th)|
• Water (%)
• 2023 estimate
|118.3/km2 (306.4/sq mi) (70th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2015 estimate|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2020 estimate|
• Per capita
|HDI (2021)|| 0.577|
medium · 150th
|Currency||Syrian pound (SYP)|
|Time zone||UTC+3 (Arabia Standard Time)|
|Date format||dd/mm/yyyy (AD)|
|ISO 3166 code||SY|
The name "Syria" historically referred to a wider region, broadly synonymous with the Levant, and known in Arabic as al-Sham. The modern state encompasses the sites of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the 3rd millennium BC. In the Islamic era, Damascus was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt. The modern Syrian state was established in the mid-20th century after centuries of Ottoman rule. After a period as a French mandate (1923–1946), the newly created state represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman-ruled Syrian provinces. It gained de jure independence as a democratic parliamentary republic on 24 October 1945 when the Republic of Syria became a founding member of the United Nations, an act which legally ended the former French mandate (although French troops did not leave the country until April 1946).
The post-independence period was tumultuous, with multiple military coups and coup attempts shaking the country between 1949 and 1971. In 1958, Syria entered a brief union with Egypt called the United Arab Republic, which was terminated by the 1961 Syrian coup d'état. The republic was renamed as the Arab Republic of Syria in late 1961 after the December 1 constitutional referendum of that year. A significant event was the 1963 coup d'état carried out by the military committee of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party which established a one-party state. It ran Syria under emergency law from 1963 to 2011, effectively suspending constitutional protections for citizens. Internal power-struggles within Ba'athist factions caused further coups in 1966 and 1970, which eventually resulted in the seizure of power by General Hafiz al-Assad. Assad assigned Alawite loyalists to key posts in the armed forces, bureaucracy, Mukhabarat and the ruling elite; effectively establishing an "Alawi minority rule" to consolidate power within his family.
After the death of Hafiz al-Assad in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad inherited the presidency and political system centered around a cult of personality to the al-Assad family. The Ba'ath regime is a totalitarian dictatorship that has been internationally condemned for its political repression alongside its numerous human rights abuses, including summary executions, massive censorship, forced disappearances, mass-murders, barrel-bombings, chemical attacks and other war-crimes. Following its violent suppression of the Arab Spring protests of the 2011 Syrian Revolution, the Syrian government was suspended from the Arab League in November 2011 for over 11 years, until its reinstatement in 2023. Since July 2011, Syria has been embroiled in a multi-sided civil war, with involvement of different countries. Organisation of Islamic Cooperation suspended Syria in August 2012 citing "deep concern at the massacres and inhuman acts" perpetrated by forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad. As of 2020, three political entities – the Syrian Interim Government, Syrian Salvation Government, and Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria – have emerged in Syrian territory to challenge Assad's rule.
Syria is a member of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Arab League. Being ranked third last on the 2022 Global Peace Index and 5th highest in the 2023 Fragile States Index, Syria is one of the most violent countries in the world. The country is amongst the most dangerous places for journalism and is ranked 6th worst in 2023 World Press Freedom Index. Syria is the most corrupt country in the MENA region and was ranked the second lowest globally on the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index. The country has also become the epicentre of a state-sponsored multi-billion dollar illicit drug cartel, the largest in the world. The Syrian civil war has killed more than 570,000 people, with pro-Assad forces causing more than 90% of the total civilian casualties. The war led to the Syrian refugee crisis, with an estimated 7.6 million internally displaced people (July 2015 UNHCR figure) and over 5 million refugees (July 2017 registered by UNHCR), making population assessment difficult in recent years. The war has also worsened economic conditions, with more than 90% of the population living in poverty and 80% facing food insecurity.
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