Syria

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GENERAL INFORMATION

 

Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Population


Total population (millions): 17.8
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 50%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 2.3%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km˛) : 185,180


Population origin

Origin of the population% Of the population
Arabic90 %
Kurdish 6.5 %
Other 3.5 %



Main Cities Population
Aleppo 1 582 930
Damascus 1 394 322
Homs 540 133
Al Ladhiqiyah 311 784
Hama 264 348
Ar-Raqqah 165 195



Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in Damascus (GMT+2 in winter, GMT+3 in summer).
Summer time from March to October



Languages
Official language: Arabic
Spoken languages: Kurdish (spoken in the North and Northeast), Armenian (mainly in Haleb), Turkish (east of the Euphrates) and Aramean (biblical language spoken in the North of Damascus). French is little spoken, English prevails in huge cities.
Business language: Arab, French and English.

Free translation tools

Arjeeb
Free English-Arabic-English translation of texts and web pages

Ectaco
Free Arabic-English-Arabic dictionary





Religion
Religious practises : Sunni Muslims 74%
Christians 10%
Others 16% (especially alawites, druzes and jews).


Political context

Officially Syria is a republic based on parliamentary democracy but in reality it is controlled by an authoritarian, military dominated regime where President and his ruling party have immense powers. The official name of the Syria is Syrian Arab Republic.
President is the chief of state and is elected by a popular referendum for a seven-year term. President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and holds the executive powers. He can declare the war, issue the laws, amend the constitution, and appoint civil and military personnel. President appoints the Prime Minister (as head of the government) and his cabinet, to serve for any period of time he wishes.
The legislature is unicameral in Syria. The parliament consists of People's Council having 250 seats, with its members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. 167 out of 250 seats are reserved for the ruling party. Syria has been under a state of emergency since 1963 due to its status of war with Israel, which gives President special powers including dissolving of the parliament if he wishes. The people of Syria have very limited political rights.
Judiciary is not independent in Syria; it is highly controlled by the ruling party. The main source of law in Syria is the constitution of 1973. The country’s legal system is based on a combination of French and Ottoman civil law; religious law being used in the family courts. Syria has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction. Arabic is the judicial language used in the country, having an interpreter is possible.
Syria is not ruled by law. Political and civil liberties in Syria continued to deteriorate. Foreign nationals cannot expect an impartial trial from the country’s judicial system. A high degree of corruption exists in the country. The regime officials and their offsprings monopolize many lucrative industrial sectors within the country and benefit from a range of other illicit economic activities.


Major political parties

Though not a single-party state formally, all political life in Syria is controlled by the ruling Ba'th Party (a radical, secular Arab nationalist political party which has been in power since 1963) through a political alliance called ‘National Progressive Front’. The most important party of this front is Arab Socialist Movement - supports the socialist and Arab nationalist orientation of the government.


Major political leaders

President : Bashar al-ASAD (since July 2000) - Ba'th Party
Prime Minister : Muhammad Naji al-UTRI (since September 2003) - Ba'th Party


Next political election dates

Presidential : Year 2014 ( (through referendum)
People's Council: Year 2011




Climate

 

 

 


Tourism


Number of visitors in Syria 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 3,032 3,368 4,422
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005

 

Tourist sites
-In Damascus: old fortified city with the Bab-as-Salama door and the Touma door. There is also the Qala' At fortress of Damascus and the Ommayad Mosque.
- Lattakia is the main port of Syria. The tourist sector shows a sharp dynamism. Beaches must be seen.
At 16 kilometres from Lattakia, there is a famous historic site: Ras-Shamra (headquarters of the monarchy of Ugarit).
-In Aleppo: it is the second biggest city of the country. It is mainly an industrial and commercial area. Do not forget to visit the Aleppo's old citadel, the big Jami'a Zakariyyeh mosque as well as Meoliné.
-Crac of the Knights: a 13 towers fortress.
-Palmyre: Ruins of temples. Very tourist site located right in the desert.

For more information about tourism in Syria , check out the following web site(s) :
Ministry of Tourism in Syria



Food


Traditional dishes
The Syrian specialties are very close to the Lebanese, Greek and Turkish ones.
Kubbehs: beef balls stuffed with onions and nuts.
Yabrak: vine leaves stuffed with rice and beef crumbs.
The food is usually rather spicy and very varied.


Food-related taboos
Alcohol is not subject to any limitation except during the period of the Ramadan when it is forbidden to drink alcohol drinks in public places even for non-muslims.

Last modified on December 2006

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