SYRIA



Syrian Arab Republic

Al-Jumhuriyah al-'Arabiyah as-Suriyah

CAPITAL : Damascus (Dimashq)

FLAG : The national flag is a horizontal tricolor of red, white, and black stripes; in the white center stripe are two green five-pointed stars.

ANTHEM : An-Nashid as-Suri (The Syrian National Anthem) begins "Protectors of the nation, peace be upon you."

MONETARY UNIT : The Syrian pound ( S £) is a paper currency of 100 piasters. There are coins of 25 and 50 piasters and 1 Syrian pound and notes of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, and 500 Syrian pounds. S £1 = $0.0194 (or $1 = S £51.50) as of January 2003.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is the legal standard, but local units are widely used.

HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Revolution Day, 8 March; Egypt's Revolution Day, 23 July; Union of Arab Republics Day, 1 September; National Day, 16 November. Muslim religious holidays include 'Id al-Fitr, 'Id al-'Adha', Milad an-Nabi, and Laylat al-Miraj. Christian religious holidays include Easter (Catholic); Easter (Orthodox); and Christmas, 25 December.

TIME : 2 PM = noon GMT.


ETHNIC GROUPS

Racially, the Syrians are varied, and except where ethnic distinctions have found religious expression, racial types are generally intermixed. It is estimated that Arabs make up about 90.3% of the population. Other ethnic groups make up the remaining 9.7%, including Kurds, Armenians, and others.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Syria is divided into 14 provinces (muhafazat) ; every province has a governor (muhafiz) and council. Each province is in turn divided into districts (mantiqat), each headed by a qaimmaqam. Each district is further subdivided into subdistricts, each in the charge of a mudir. Governors are appointed by and are directly responsible to the authorities in Damascus.

FISHING

There is some fishing off the Mediterranean coast and from rivers and fish farms. The commercial catch was 6,572 tons in 2000, with common carp and tilapias from inland waters accounting for 20%.

INSURANCE

All insurance in Syria was nationalized in 1963 and is controlled by the government-owned General Insurance Organization of Syria (formerly the Syrian Insurance Co.). Motor vehicle insurance is compulsory. In 1999, 337.2 million dollars of premium was written in Syria. Twenty-two million was spent on these premiums, making the insurance sector's share of the Gross Domestic Product .40%.

HOUSING

The 1981–85 development plan allocated S £2.6 billion to construction projects, including housing. According to the latest available information for 1980–88, total housing units numbered 1,670,000 with 6.4 people per dwelling.

DEPENDENCIES

Syria has no territories or colonies.

Read about the Culture of Syria. More about Syria's Culture.

Read about the Geography of Syria.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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Haddad, Robert M. Syrian Christians in a Muslim Society. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1970.

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Tauber, Eliezer. The Formation of Modern Syria and Iraq. Ilford, U.K.: Frank Cass, 1994.

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