|الجمهورية العربية السورية|
al-Jumhūriyya al-ʿarabiyya as-sūriyya
|Syrian Arab Republic|
|State and form of government||semi-presidential republic with one-party system|
|Head of state||President Bashar al-Assad|
|Head of government||Prime Minister Hussein Arnus|
|population||20,960,588 (2010) , of which more than 5 million fled abroad (3/2017)|
|Population density||112.5 inhabitants per km²|
|Gross domestic product nominal (2008)||$ 30.7 billion (69th)|
|Gross domestic product per inhabitant||US $ 2,579 (112.)|
|Human Development Index||0.567 ( 151. ) (2019)|
|currency||Syrian Lira (SYP)|
|independence||of France on April 17, 1946|
|National anthem||Humat ad-Diyar|
|Time zone||UTC + 2 / UTC + 3 (around April to October)|
|ISO 3166||SY , SYR, 760|
|All information includes the parts of the Golan Heights occupied by Israel .|
Syria (officially Syrian Arab Republic , Arabic الجمهورية العربية السورية al-Jumhūriyya al-ʿarabiyya as-sūriyya ) is a state in the Middle East and part of the Mashrek . Syria borders Israel and Jordan to the south, Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the northand Iraq to the east. The island of Cyprus is located about 125 km as the crow flies from the Syrian coast. With around 185,000 km², Syria is roughly half the size of Germany . In 2010 almost 21 million people lived in the country, most of them in Aleppo , the capital region of Damascus , in Homs , Hama and Latakia .
The 63 BC The Roman province of Syria , founded in BC, was rich and important, after the Islamization in 634 the area switched between claims to rule. The Syrian Republic was first established in 1930 and became independent in 1946. Since a coup d'état in 1963 , the Arab socialist Ba'ath party has ruled the country dictatorially.
Since spring 2011, demonstrations against the Syrian government have developed into the civil war in Syria , which so far (as of 3/2017) has claimed more than 465,000 lives according to estimates by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights . More than 5 million Syrians (as of 3/2017) fled the country, mostly to neighboring countries or to Europe . 6.3 million more are on the run within Syria. The civil war led to a de facto partition of the country. In May 2015, the terrorist organization Islamic State controlled over half of Syrian territory, in which barely 15% of the population live, while the capital Damascus , 10 of the 13 provincial capitals and the densely populated areas in the west of the country, where the majority of the population live remains under the control of Syrian government forces. The remaining areas are controlled by rebel groups such as the Free Syrian Army , Kurdish militias and the al-Qaida offshoot al-Nusra Front .
In addition to Sunni Muslims, there are around 12% Alawis in Syria . Christians lived in Syria as early as pre-Islamic times ; they still make up around 10% of the population today. There are eight state and several private universities in the country , including the German-Syrian Wadi International University . Economically important for Syria are agriculture, the extraction and export of crude oil as well as the production of textiles and food. Due to the civil war, however, economic output plummeted, and the Syrian lira was subject to strong inflation at times .
The name Syria is in the bilingual Çineköy inscription from the 8th century BC. BC, where it occurs in Phoenician as ʾšr , "Assur" and ʾšrym , "Assyrian", and in Luwish as Sura / i . Some researchers believe that it is a derivative of the Greek Σύριοι (Sýrioi) or Σύροι (Sýroi), which as Ἀσσυρία (Assyria) could be derived from the Akkadian Aššur.
In the Behistun inscription , Syria is listed under the term Syria (Surija) as the 16th satrap of the ancient Persian Empire and includes Cyprus, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Phenicia, Palestine, i.e. the entire Canaan up to the borders of Egypt and Arabia. The seat of the satrap was Damascus. According to some researchers, the name is therefore not derived from Assyria . A derivation of Tire (Ṣūr) is assumed from them. In Kurdish, “Soryan” is a possible derivative and is translated as “white source”, which perhaps leads to the origin.
There is also evidence of an Akkadian name Šubartum / Subartum (Sumerian KUR SU.BIR4 KI ; Assyrian mât Šubarri and mât su-bar-te), which, however, can only be localized imprecisely north of Babylon and, according to Naram-Sin, probably the entire region northwest of Describes Mesopotamia to the Amanus Mountains . He can be found among others. again in Ugarit as Šbr and in the Armana letters of the New Kingdom of Egypt. The Subartu language is called Akkadian as Su KI /SU.BIR 4 AKI and could mean a North Semitic language. Since the end of the Neo-Assyrian period, and especially in the Neo-Babylonian period, Šubartu has also been used as the name for Assyria, when Assyria gained control over large areas of Asia Minor. Aššur-uballit is said to have subjugated the Šubaraeans (Subaeans). Accordingly, the name would have been handed down for at least 5500 years and has developed into its current form during this time both regionally and linguistically. The Arabic short form comes in two forms: Sūriyā (سوريا) and Sūriya (سورية, when pronouncing the ending Sūriyatun ), in each case without an article.
From ancient Greece the name Koilesyrien ("Hollow or High Syria") is known, which was located south of the Eleutheris River (Greek name, now Nahr al-Kabir al-Janoubi) a border river between Jordan and Syria and next to the provinces of Syria and Syria Palestine have also been named by Pliny. The Syrian language das ( Eastern Aramaic ) was in the 1st millennium BC. Raised to the language of trade and therefore still much more widespread.
Apparently, with the rule of the Assyrians (New Assyrian Empire 911-605 BC), Assyria and Syria were equated, but under the New Babylonian Empire (612-539 BC) as the New Babylonian Ebir-nari (Aramaic Abar -Nahara, Syriac 'Ābēr Nahrā) was redefined and adopted by the Old Persian Empire (539–332 BC). Syria now encompassed the entire Canaanite coast and has been used in ancient Greece since Alexander's victory over the Persians in 325 BC. And lasted into the Middle Ages through the spread of Christianity and finally Islam. This Syria describes a considerably larger area than the present-day state, which is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and Taurus in the north and the Arabian Peninsula and Mesopotamia in the south. Today's localization is essentially based on Islam and its administrative units.
Syria received its current borders after the First World War through the division of the Arab East, which had been ruled by the Ottoman Empire until then, between the victorious powers Great Britain and France through the secretly negotiated Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. Originally, Syria was understood to mean the entire western branch of the fertile Crescent , as Arthur Ruppin wrote in 1916:
“Syria in the broader sense of the word, in which it also includes Palestine, extends from the Egyptian border and the Arabian desert in the south (31st and 30th parallel) to the north to Amanus (37th parallel), which it from Asia Minor separates. In the west the Mediterranean is the border, in the east the Syrian Desert and the Euphrates. The north-south extension of this area is 700 to 800 km, the west-east 100 to 300 km, the total area around 200,000 km². "
Syria reaches the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea for about 193 km , directly north of the state of Lebanon. A narrow plain stretches along this coast. The Alawiten Mountains run parallel to it - at a distance of about 20 km from the coast - the eastern slope of which drops steeply to the fertile Orontes plain. The north Syrian limestone massif rises on its east side, geologically representing the upturned western edge of the central Syrian plain and gently sloping in an easterly direction. This plain is further south of the Antilebanon Mountains with the 2814 m high snow-capped summit of Hermon ( Arabic جبل الشيخ Jebel al-Sheikh ) shielded from the west. Small rivers originate here that carry water all year round and enable oasis to form; including the two rivers Barada and Aaouaj, whichirrigate the Ghouta oasis surrounding Damascus .
On the plateau in the east and south-east of Syria, the Syrian Desert extends, which is interrupted in its center by smaller chains of hills and gradually slopes down towards the Euphrates Depression. In northeast Syria, the Euphrates cuts through the foothills of the desert. A fertile plain joins them to the north, the Jazira . In the southwest lies the Hauran area with the volcanic massif of the Jebel ad-Duruz as the eastern boundary to the desert steppe. The most important rivers in Syria are the Euphrates (676 km) and the Orontes (325 km).
Syria has only one island in the Mediterranean, Aruad .
Along the coast there is a winter-humid Mediterranean climate with precipitation of more than 1000 mm in the heights of the Jebel Ansariye . The winters are mild and the summers are dry and hot. Precipitation decreases rapidly inland. In the Orontes valley , which adjoins it to the east, annual rainfall is less than 500 mm. This semi-arid steppe zone continues in the north in a strip along the Turkish border to the east, where rain-fed agriculture is possible in Qamishhli with similar amounts of rainfall. Most of the country east of Damascus and south of the Euphrates has an arid climate . In the Syrian Desert , precipitation falls below 250 mm and in the southeast of the country below 100 mm.
In Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, the maximum temperature in the summer months is 29 ° C and the minimum in January / February 9 ° C. In the interior of the country there are larger temperature differences between summer and winter, in Palmyra the temperature is 38 ° C in July and 3 ° C in December / January. In the mountain regions, temperatures drop below freezing in winter.
In Syria, climate change, with rising temperatures and decreasing rainfall, has a particular impact on agriculture in areas that are dependent on rain-fed agriculture. In an extreme drought from 2006 to 2011, only a third of the usual rainfall fell. Because of the halved grain harvest, around 800,000 people lost their livelihood between 2006 and 2009. The persistent water shortage is exacerbated by the lower water table and the less water-bearing rivers.
Flora and fauna
The animal and plant world of Syria is severely impoverished due to the millennia of settlement in the country. Apart from farm animals, there are no longer any larger mammals. Even dromedaries can hardly be found today. Only the bird world is still diverse. 354 bird species have been documented in Syria. Syria is an important transit country for migratory birds. The northern bald ibis , which was only rediscovered in Syria in 2002 and is one of the most endangered bird species, is remarkable . The natural flora has been severely degraded by deforestation and overgrazing since ancient times. You can hardly find any forest in the country. The Aleppo pine and Lebanon cedar still occur in remnants. In contrast, olive and fig trees are often found planted. Golden hamsters are also found naturally in the Aleppo plateau .
There are 23 species of bat in Syria .
Syria is the most densely populated country in the Middle East after the Palestinian Territories , Israel and Lebanon . There are considerable regional differences within the country; the areas with the highest population density include Damascus with the surrounding Ghouta oasis, Aleppo and the mountainous region north and west as far as the Afrin . From there, the fertile old settlements continue via Idlib in a south-westerly direction on the northern edge of the Jebel Ansariye to Latakia on the coast. The coastal strip in front of this mountainous region, which was still sparsely populated at the beginning of the 20th century, the Akkar plain to the south and the Orontes basin to the east of it , also has a high population density .
Settled as early as 1860 and now with average population figures, was the broad strip of the old Syrian settlement, which runs from the southwest of Hauran to the north to the Turkish border and to the east to the area between the Turkish border in the north, the Euphrates in the south and the Belich in the East adjoins, which was predominantly settled between 1860 and 1930. Irrigation farming along the Euphrates and the Chabur has an ancient tradition . Since the first half of the 20th century, the population has been growing in the northeast region of al-Jazeera due to resettlement and irrigation projects . In the Syrian desert, people only live in a few oases with near-surface groundwater all year round. In general, urbanization is increasing rapidly.
The population of Syria has grown rapidly over the course of the 20th century. After the First World War the population was just over 1.5 million. The 1938 census showed 2,487,027 inhabitants in the nine provinces (including Latakia and Jebel ad-Duruz). In 1970 the population had grown to 6,299,000. That number does not include the 340,000 Bedouins and the roughly 240,000 Palestinian refugees. For 2010, 20,960,588 inhabitants were calculated. Syrians abroad live mainly in South America ( Argentina , Venezuela and Brazil ), the Gulf States and Europe .
The American double continent has long been a destination for Arab Christians to emigrate , and Syrians have been coming to the various countries since the 19th century. The greatest concentration of Syrians outside the Arab world is in Brazil , where several million people of Syrian-Arab origin live. The majority of Argentinians of Arab descent are either Lebanese or Syrian.
The individual population groups define their ethnic affiliation via their mother tongue and religious affiliation , whereby religious differences within the common language can cause a quasi-ethnic demarcation. In order to develop a Syrian national awareness that goes beyond the existing feeling of belonging to ethnic groups and family clans, census records include religious affiliation , but not ethnic groups. This has not led to cultural and social equality for the Kurds in everyday life.
The majority population in Syria, around 90%, is made up of Arabs , who feel culturally as a community with the Arab-speaking population of neighboring countries. Most of them are Sunni , their minority being Muslims of other Islamic faiths or Christians.
The second largest ethnic group with their own language are the Kurds . In 1979, their share was estimated at around 9% of the total population. The Kurds, together with the Armenians and members of other ethnic groups, now make up around 10% of the total population of Syria. Many Kurds came to the country from Turkey between 1924 and 1938 when there were several uprisings by the Kurds against their political and economic discrimination . who were crushed by the Turkish military. A Kurdish settlement focus is along the Turkish border . Almost half of the Syrian Kurds live in the Kurd Dagh region northwest of Aleppo. They make up the majority there and in the northeastern province of al-Hasakah . Due to high unemployment in the rural mountain regions, many Kurds settled in the large cities of Aleppo and Damascus. 10 to 15% of the Kurds live in Hayy al-Akrad, a district of Damascus at the foot of the Jabal Qāsiyūn .
Most Armenians came to Syria as refugees from Turkey between 1925 and 1945. About three quarters of them live in Aleppo and almost 20% in Damascus. The rest are spread across the larger cities, especially in the Jazira region. Most of the Armenians belong to the Armenian Apostolic Church , others are Armenian Catholics . Most of them are economically successful in trade, small industry and handicrafts.
The mostly Sunni Turkmens were traditionally semi-nomadic cattle breeders in the Jazira and on the lower Euphrates as well as arable farmers around Aleppo. They have largely assimilated into Arab society .
Circassians , also Sunnis, were expelled from the Caucasus at the end of the 19th century and settled in the Hauran region, especially around Quneitra , where they specialized in the cultivation of grain and cattle breeding. For 1979 their number was estimated at 55,000. Since many of them had served in the French army during the French colonial period, they were watched with suspicion by the Arabs for a long time.
The Arameans and Assyrians belong to one of the Christian religious communities, the majority of the Syriac Orthodox Church . Assyrians in the narrower sense belong to the Nestorian Christians . Liturgy and everyday language is Aramaic , the regional branch of which is called Syrian . Most of them live in al-Hasakah province . Many fled Iraq from persecution between 1933 and 1936 and were settled in Tell Tamer (on the Chabur, northwest of al-Hasakah ) by the French and with the support of the League of Nations . By the 1970s they had founded around 20 villages on irrigated land in the area. Because of the difficult economic situation, many emigrated. Arameans and Assyrians often refer to themselves as Syriacs .
Tens of thousands of Syrian citizens also have Russian citizenship . Since many Russians live in Syria and many Syrians in Russia, there are also many Russian-Syrian couples. Between Syria and the Soviet Union and Russia, bilateral relations have been strong since the 1950s and economic relations are stable.
There are also around 476,000 (2002) Palestinian refugees and since the Iraq war 200,000 (2009) refugees from Iraq. There are many Assyrians among the Iraqis, a large number of whom have settled in Jaramana .
The country's official language is Standard Arabic , which is spoken by the vast majority of the local population. Colloquial language, however, is a regional dialect of the Arabic language, Syrian Arabic . It differs in vocabulary, grammar and especially in pronunciation from the standard variety of Arabic. Syrian Arabic is closely related to Lebanese Arabic , Jordanian Arabic, and Palestinian Arabic . The latter is mainly spoken of by the many Palestinian refugees in the country. Speakers of Iraqi Arabic have also been added lately, which, however, results in a mixture of different dialects and in the end the standard language can prevail.
Furthermore, the native population speaks the languages of the respective national minorities, but their use in public and in education is severely restricted due to the nationalist-pan-Arab political ideology of the state: Syrian (by the Arameans / Assyrians), Western Armenian (by the immigrants Armenians), Kurdish dialects , Turkoman and occasionally Circassian . A dialect of the New West Aramaic language is spoken in the small town of Maalula and two other places on the eastern slope of the Qalamun Mountains .
The French language had (and still has) a special position due to the mandate; it used to be of great importance in education and administration. As everywhere, however, the English language is establishing itself as the supraregional language of communication in Syria . Today, English is compulsory from the 1st grade onwards and French or Russian (of your choice) as a second foreign language from the 7th grade onwards. The German language, on the other hand, has not yet been offered as a foreign language in secondary schools; However, there should be plans to introduce German as a third foreign language in secondary schools. So far there are no German schools in Syria. However, there are French private schools where the German language is taught.
About 74% of the population are Sunni Muslims , whose understanding of the faith differs from region to region. The inhabitants of Hama , Palmyra and some smaller cities such as Jisr asch-Shugur are considered to be particularly conservative, the western-oriented port city of Latakia is relatively liberal. In remote regions of the western mountainous countries, some Sunnis cultivated popular Islamic customs in which local saints are venerated; some of these pilgrimage sites are equally visited by Christians. In the 1980s only a minority of women in Damascus wore the headscarf ( hijab ); In 2006, however, it carried the majority.
Alawites (Nusairians) make up about 12% of the total population. The presumed ancestors of the Alawites were resident in the region since pre-Christian times. After the introduction of Christianity in the 4th century, they withdrew into their traditional religion and survived the Islamic Middle Ages as closed communities in the mountain regions of Jebel Ansariye . The Ottomans saw them as non-Muslims and charged them with high taxes. Until the middle of the 20th century, the Alawites lived in seclusion as small farmers in mountain villages, some of which were at war with one another. Many military officers and a large part of the ruling political elite now come from the Alawite religious community, to which the al-Assad family also belong.
With 2%, Shiites are a small, less influential minority in Syria. Its most important place of worship is the Saiyida Zainab Mosque in Damascus. The Ismailis (about 1%) fled after the Mongol invasion in the 13th century in refuges in the Jebel Ansariye from where it until the end of the 19th century in their original center Al-Salamiyah were allowed to return on the edge of the Syrian desert.
About 10% of the population are Christians of various denominations; In 1920 it was 30%. These traditionally live in their villages in the Damascus , Homs and Aleppo area. Syrian Orthodox communities , which make up the largest Christian community, mostly live in northeast Syria. The Melkite churches are mainly found inland. The patriarch, Youhanna X. , resides in Damascus. Others are committed to the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Syrian Catholic and Greek Catholic Churches united with Rome . Believers of the Assyrian Church of the East , also known as the Apostolic Church of the East, number around 30,000 and live mainly along the Chabur in the northeast, where the Chaldean Church also exists. The head of the Chaldean Christians is Antoine Audo , Bishop of Aleppo in northern Syria. Around 14,000 profess this denomination in Syria. Maronites make up just over 2%, around 424,000. There are also various Protestant and Roman Catholic communities. Many Syrian Christians emigrated to Lebanon , Sweden and the USA .
The founder of the Pan-Arab Ba'ath Party, Michel Aflaq, was of Christian descent. Although there have been interdenominational disputes a few times in history, such as in Damascus in 1860 , coexistence is predominantly peaceful. The most important Syrian imam preaches that Muslims, Christians and Jews are brothers and that, as a good Muslim, Christians and Jews should also be treated as one's brothers. President Bashar al-Assad paid a Christmas visit to the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch in 2006. It was the first Christmas visit by a Syrian president to the patriarch since the country gained independence in 1946. With the constitutional referendum in Syria in 2012 , freedom of belief is still guaranteed, which is why Christians can practice their faith openly under the Ba'ath Party. Christian holidays in Syria are recognized as a symbol of religious tolerance. The building of churches is also supported, whereby all churches - as well as mosques - are exempt from the tax for their internal church purchases. As Syrian Christianity suffered neither state nor social discrimination under the Ba'ath regime, Syria not only exerted a great attraction, but also had a long reputation for being the safest country for Christians in the Middle East .
The Yazidis are usually attributed to the Kurds. This religious minority of several thousand members lives in the mountains between Aleppo and Afrin and in villages around Amude and Qamishli in the extreme northeast.
The few remaining Jews in Syria live in Aleppo and Damascus. In 1943 their number was estimated at 43,000, in 1978 it was around 4,500. Most were expelled to Israel in the 1940s , some fled via Beirut . There were riots against the Jewish minority, such as the Aleppo pogrom in 1947 or the attack on the Menarsha synagogue in 1949. The Jewish Syrians do not differ from the Muslims in language or clothing.
Prehistory and early history
The oldest archaeological finds in what is now Syria are around a million years old and come from the Acheuleans . The Neolithic begins in the 8th millennium BC. From the middle of the 3rd millennium BC Semitic-speaking peoples are suspected: Arameans , Amorites and Canaanites . Its location between Mesopotamia, Anatolia and Egypt caused alternating supremacy by Akkadians , Mitanni , Hittites , Egyptians, Assyrians and Persians .
After the conquest by Alexander the Great , Syria belonged from 301 to 64 BC. To the Seleucid Empire . In the Roman Empire (from 64 BC) Syria was the richest and most influential province of the empire alongside Aegyptus . The Byzantine rule ended n. Chr in the 7th century. Conquered by the Arab Umayyad .
Islamization and Arabization
After the Arab-Muslim conquest in 634, Syria gained central importance under the governor and later Umayyad caliph Mu'awiya (661–680). He was the first to build an Arab fleet and in 661 moved the caliphate from Medina to Damascus, which became the third holy city of Islam alongside Mecca and Jerusalem. In 877, Syria became dependent on Egypt, which, with interruptions, lasted more than 600 years. During this period, the Crusader states remained on Syrian soil, which also included the north (Aleppo and Antioch). The second crusade (1147–1149) with the failed siege of Damascus took place mainly in Egypt. In 1260 the Mongols conquered the country, but suffered a defeat against the Mamluks , who united Syria with Egypt.
Turkish and French rule
The rule of the Mamluks lasted until 1516. Then Syria became part of the Ottoman Empire , to which it belonged until 1918, with the exception of a relatively brief Egyptian occupation (1831-1840). The first Arab nationalist opposition to the Ottoman government after 1840 was immediately suppressed. After the revolution of the Young Turks in 1908, relations between Arabs and Turks continued to deteriorate. The Arabs - with the exception of the Palestinians fighting on the German side, for example - took part in the First World War on the side of the Entente against Turkey, since the British had assured them of all the areas they helped liberate. The hope of the Hashemite prince Faisal to preserve the planned kingdom " Greater Syria " failed because of France, which received the League of Nations mandate for Syria and Lebanon and its rule in Syria - "today's Syria is a creation of the French colonial times" ( Bassam Tibi ) - was maintained until April 17 (national holiday) 1946, when the Syrian Republic ( Arabic الجمهورية السورية al-dschumhūriyya as-sūriyya ) was proclaimed. During the Second World War, Syria was occupied by the Allies.
Independence, union with Egypt
The history of Syria after the Second World War was dominated by the Arab-Israeli conflict. In 1949, Syria's participation in the attack without a declaration of war on the newly founded state of Israel by a UN resolution ended immediately after its establishment, with a severe defeat of the Arab alliance forces in northern Palestine (see also section Syrian Offensive → Palestine War ) and in a separate ceasefire agreement on 20th of July. Syria has been plunged into a permanent internal crisis for over 20 years, of which numerous coups are testimony.
The rise of the pan-Arabist Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt also raised hopes for the creation of a common Arab state in Syria. In the run-up to the Suez War , the two countries formed a joint high command. After severe tensions between the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party and the Communist Party , a delegation was sent to Egypt for fear of a Communist takeover, and on February 1, 1958, the merger of Egypt and Syria to form the United Arab Republic (UAR) was announced.
Since the Egyptian side dominated from the beginning and determined the most important political areas, dissatisfaction in Syria grew. There were also economic problems. A coup by Syrian officers in September 1961 ultimately marked the end of the United Arab Republic on the Syrian side. After another coup in May 1963 , the Ba'ath Party, which was still divided, came to power in Syria for the first time.
Syrian Arab Republic
After the six-day war against Israel in June 1967 and the loss of the Golan Heights , a period of general dejection followed. On November 16, 1970, Hafiz al-Assad emerged victorious from the years of power struggles within the Baath party . Assad, who was still defense minister under Salah Jadid , had the former president and some of his supporters arrested in this so-called corrective movement after he himself had to spend some time in prison for political reasons. In 1971 he was elected President of the Republic with 99.2% of the vote (with no opposing candidates); in the same year he became general secretary of the Ba'ath Party.
In the 1973 Yom Kippur War , the Syrian army briefly managed to retake a small part of the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. One of the hallmarks of Assad's policy was the suppression of the Islamist opposition. Among other things, there were terrorist attacks that were carried out by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood . After another attack in the Aleppo Military Academy in 1979, which killed 50 or more Alawite cadets, the government stepped up against the Muslim Brotherhood.
A momentous uprising, again initiated by the Muslim Brotherhood, broke out in February 1982 in the central Syrian city of Hama . The military intervened with tanks and fighter planes and fierce fighting broke out, in the course of which large parts of the old town were destroyed. Around 1,000 soldiers and between 10,000 and 30,000 civilians lost their lives. The crackdown on the uprising known as the Hama Massacre was followed by a massive wave of arrests that broke the backbone of the fundamentalist opposition. As a result, Assad's position of power was very strong and hardly at risk.
During the first Gulf War (1980–1988), Syria supported Iran against Iraq under Saddam Hussein, which was also ruled by the Baath Party . After Iraqi troops marched into Kuwait , Syria was militarily involved in its liberation during the second Gulf War . Relations with the neighboring country to the east were not partially normalized until 1997, but the diplomatic relations that had broken off in 1980 were only resumed in November 2006. In 1994, Assad's eldest son, Basil al-Assad , who was to become his successor, was killed in a car accident near Damascus airport.
After the death of Syrian President Hafiz al-Assad on June 10, 2000, his second youngest son Bashar al-Assad became the next president with a majority of 97.29% (official election result) after a constitutional amendment regarding the minimum age of a president elected. The Damascus Spring began under him and aimed at democratic reforms.
Baschār was initially considered to be more liberal than his father, as he studied and married in London , among other places . The first sign of a new political course was the release of 600 political prisoners in November 2000. The use of the Internet was permitted under Bashar. However, in September 2001, well-known opposition figures were arrested again. In the spring of 2004, hundreds of Syrian Kurds, including children, were arrested and killed after demonstrations and clashes with the security services. These demonstrations took place in Qamishli, Amudah and Afrin, where most of the Kurds live.
In February 2005, an attack was carried out in Beirut on the vehicle convoy of Rafiq Hariri , the former and long-time head of government of Lebanon. As there were indications of secret service activities, the pressure on Syria increased. The United States in particular blamed its leadership for the attack. But France, too, demanded that Syria return full sovereignty to Lebanon . In May 2005, President Assad gave in to some of these demands.
In the course of his reign, Bashar al-Assad also built up a distinctive personality cult around himself.
Civil war since 2011
From March 2011 protests against the Assad government broke out , which over the months developed into a civil war . The United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura estimated in April 2016 that 400,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the war . Around 12.9 million Syrians are on the run inside or outside Syria. Several massacres were committed, equally against the opposition as well as the civilian population loyal to the government, and in many places against employees of public institutions. The various opposition groups also fight each other. The massacre in the Hula region at the end of May 2012 caused a sensation . These crimes are assigned on the one hand to the state and the militias close to the state ( Shabiha ) or on the other hand to the opposition forces such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other warring groups. The FSA is supplied with weapons by the Turkish government and the US government. In 2013 there were extensive missions in Syria by the International Committee of the Blue Shield (Association of the National Committees of the Blue Shield, ANCBS) based in The Hague to protect cultural assets (museums, archives, excavation sites) threatened by civil war, unrest and theft , Monuments, buildings etc.), because in many cases the conflicting parties consciously try to destroy the cultural heritage and memory of the opponent. "No-strike lists" were also drawn up.
|Name of the index||Index value||Worldwide rank||Interpretation aid||year|
|Fragile States Index||110.7 out of 120||4 of 178||Stability of the country: very alarming
0 = very sustainable / 120 = very alarming
|Democracy index||1.43 out of 10||164 of 167||Authoritarian regime
0 = authoritarian regime / 10 = complete democracy
|Freedom in the World||1 of 100||---||Freedom status: not free
0 = not free / 100 = free
|Freedom of the press ranking||72.75 out of 100||174 of 180||Very serious situation for freedom of the press
0 = good situation / 100 = very serious situation
|Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)||14 of 100||178 of 180||0 = very corrupt / 100 = very clean||2020|
According to the constitution of 2012, Syria is a multi-party system with a semi-presidential system of government . However, it has a de facto one- party system , as the Ba'ath Party dominates the entire political system of the country and is only formally in a coalition with smaller bloc parties (in the National Progress Front ). In addition, the political system is largely focused on the president. The Syrian government is therefore usually viewed and referred to as the dictatorship and Bashar al-Assad as the dictator. In the 2020 Democracy Index, Syria ranks 164th out of 167 countries.
The head of state, the holder of executive power and the commander in chief of the armed forces is the president, who has extensive powers and is nominated by parliament according to the constitution and directly elected for seven years. He determines the guidelines of politics, appoints or dismisses the government under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister and has the right of initiative and veto. The president must also be of Muslim faith. The minimum age of the president was lowered from 40 to 34 years, so that after the death of the long-time president Hafiz al-Assad, his son Bashar could take over the political leadership of the country.
The nominal legislature lies with the People's Council , whose 250 members are elected for four years. According to Article 3 of the Constitution, fiqh is a major source of legislation. The applicable marriage and family law in Syria is determined by religious affiliation. The Sharia is only applicable to Muslims , for Catholic Christians the codex iuris canonici is authoritative.
The regime following the coup d'état of Colonel Husni az-Za'im in 1949 provided limited suffrage for women with some education as part of a series of political and social reforms. On September 10, 1949, active and passive women's suffrage was introduced for all women who had completed the sixth grade of the school . It was later extended to all women who could read and write, and in 1953 all educational restrictions that had curtailed women's suffrage were lifted. After another coup in the same year, the voting rights were screwed back to the 1949 basis. Only in 1973 did women regain full voting rights.
The strongest party at the moment is the Ba'ath Party. The General Secretary of the Ba'ath Party is also the President. There are also smaller parties such as the Communist Parties and the Arab Socialist Union , which are bloc parties with the Baath Party to form the National Front coalition , and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP). Parties representing an ethnic minority or a religious group are prohibited.
Syria has been divided into 14 governorates ( muḥāfaẓāt , singular: muḥāfaẓa ) since 1987 :
The governorates are further subdivided into districts ( manāṭiq , Sg. Minṭaqa ), these further into nawāḥī (Sg. Nāḥiya ).
The largest cities are (official figures as of January 1, 2005): Damascus 4,139,714 inhabitants, Aleppo 2,576,797 inhabitants, Homs 1,124,871 inhabitants, Latakia 431,606 inhabitants and Hama 348,862 inhabitants. The agglomeration around Damascus has about six million inhabitants, the one around Aleppo about 2.5 million.
Human rights situation
According to a report by Human Rights Watch in 2012 the Syrian government began systematically torture one, within the meaning of crimes against humanity . The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay , asked the International Criminal Court to prosecute these crimes . Those responsible for the torture centers are on the European Union's sanctions list against Syria.
In 2012, Human Rights Watch released GPS data from 27 intelligence centers and prisons where torture was taking place. The torture centers can be divided into four branches: the military secret service , the air force secret service , the directorate for political security and the general secret service .
Syria traditionally has close contacts with Hamas , Hezbollah , the Amal movement and the Islamic Republic of Iran . From the perspective of the West, Syria therefore played a strategic role as a mediator in the region until 2011.
Relationship with Israel
Since the establishment of the Israeli state, Syria has not recognized the Jewish state and has waged war against Israel on several occasions. 1948 in the Palestinian War as a result of Israel's declaration of independence . In Syrian atlases , the area on the south-eastern coast of the Mediterranean, including the Israeli territory, is only referred to as " Palestine ".
In the course of the Six Day War in 1967, Israel occupied a large part of the Golan Heights , from where Syrian shelling had repeatedly occurred. Since then there has only been a ceasefire between the two countries. The conclusion of a peace treaty, which could include recognition under international law, is closely linked to the return of the Golan Heights for the Syrian side, which in turn are of immense strategic importance for Israel for security reasons.
Israel accuses the Syrian government of sheltering terrorists. After an Islamic Jihad suicide attack in a pub in Haifa , in which 19 people were killed, the Israeli Air Force launched the first air strike on Syria in 30 years in October 2003. The target was a suspected terrorist training camp south of Damascus, in which, according to Israeli information, members of Islamic Jihad were also trained.
On September 6, 2007, the Israel Defense Forces carried out an air strike on the Al Kibar military facility ( ) in Syria. So far, the Israeli government has not provided any further information about the attack. Video recordings published by the New York Times corroborate suspicions that the target was a North Korean-style nuclear facility under construction. The US government accuses Syria of having a cooperative nuclear program with North Korea . Syria denies this and asserts that the facility was an empty military building.
In February 2009, however, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a report that traces of uranium were found in samples from the facility. At the end of May 2011, the organization published the assessment that it was "very likely" a nuclear reactor. This report stated that this was the result of all the information available to the authority and the technical analysis of the same.
In May 2008, Israel and Syria announced that they would start peace negotiations. The talks were preceded by indirect negotiations between the states, which had taken place under Turkish mediation since 2004. Also in the controversial question of the return of the occupied territories of the Golan Heights one has already come closer. With the Gaza conflict at the end of 2008, talks with Israel were suspended.
Relationship with Lebanon
Syria has long viewed itself as the protective power of the small neighboring state of Lebanon, which shares almost the entire eastern land border with Syria. The long-term occupation of large parts of Lebanon was officially considered support against Israel and was advocated until the end by the pro-Syrian government of Omar Karame . The last units of the Syrian army left Lebanon at the end of April 2005 when there were serious allegations against the Syrian secret service and mass protests that lasted for days following the murder of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (February 14). They also led to the resignation of the Karame government.
In April 2005 the United Nations commissioned its top diplomat Detlev Mehlis to investigate the as yet unsolved murder of ex-Prime Minister Hariri in Beirut. On October 20, 2005, Mehlis reported to the Security Council that Syrian intelligence circles were clearly complicit in the attack in Beirut , in which 21 people besides Hariri were killed. Syria had always denied any involvement and spoke of a plot by the West - especially because the USA also suspected contacts with the attackers on September 11th . On October 31, the United Nations Security Council demanded full cooperation from Syria in a unanimous UN resolution to investigate the Hariri murder. Although he waived the long-discussed sanctions, he reserved further steps and an investigation by UN investigators. The main demand was that all suspects, including the brother and brother-in-law of Syrian President Assad , must be questioned.
According to UN chief investigator Mehlis (see October 20), Syria has "so far kept the thumb on a lot of important information" and prevented him from being questioned. The resolution introduced by the USA, Great Britain and France was passed unanimously after being mitigated and obliges all states to refuse entry to suspects and to freeze their bank balances. While Syria's Foreign Minister al-Scharaa caused a scandal in New York and demonstrations against the resolution were taking place in Damascus, Lebanon and Arab states agreed to it.
The moderation of the resolution proposed by the West came under pressure from Russia and China . The open threat of sanctions against Syria was waived, but the Security Council reserved “further measures” if Syria did not comply with the guidelines. The request to the Syrian leadership to end all support for terrorism has also been removed.
The violent wave of protests in Syria against the UN resolutions and the USA was seen as controlled by the West. The speeches by the Syrian foreign minister also contributed to the further isolation of the country, which had only recently called for stricter border controls with Iraq against the transfer of terrorists.
Detlev Mehlis' successor is Serge Brammertz , who arrived in Lebanon on January 19, 2006. Like Detlev Mehlis, he is supposed to investigate the murder of ex-Prime Minister Hariri, with the President of Syria, Bashar Assad, promising to support him in the investigation.
In October 2008, the two countries agreed to establish full diplomatic relations; ambassadors were to be exchanged for the first time in the history of both states. This step was seen as the official recognition of Lebanon by Syria. The Syrian embassy opened in Beirut in December 2008, and the Lebanese embassy began work in March 2009.
The armed forces of Syria before the civil war had a total strength of 420,000 soldiers. They were made up of the army , navy and air force . All male Syrians under the age of 18 must do 24 months of military service if they are not covered by the one-son rule: the only son in a family is not required to do military service. The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces is the country's President. The military budget for 2006 was approximately $ 921 million .
Syria has been accused of secretly working on a nuclear project. Diplomats said in November 2008 that uranium discovered in the El Kibare plant had been processed, suggesting a link to a secret Syrian nuclear program. The US government accuses Syria of nuclear cooperation with North Korea .
The Syrian economy is predominantly state-controlled, but structural change has been occurring for several years. Agriculture can, under favorable conditions, account for up to a third of economic output and is particularly important for the country. Oil , textiles and food are Syria's main exports, but they are not enough to make up for the slight trade deficit. In 2010, imports valued at approx. 13.57 billion US dollars were compared with exports valued at approx. 12.84 billion US dollars.
In light of the civil war and the economic sanctions imposed, it was reported that the country's economic situation was deteriorating. The currency reserves, estimated at around 17 billion US dollars, are said to have almost been used up in mid-2012. In August 2012, Syria asked Russia for a hard currency loan. In the course of the war, the Syrian pound lost about 70% of its value, the inflation rate was estimated at 213% in July 2013.
For 2017, the CIA estimates the unemployment rate at 50%.
Since the oil reserves in Syria will probably be exhausted in a few years and the Syrian rulers want to establish a more diversified economy, they are striving for structural change and the conversion to a functioning market economy . This is to be financed with annual private investments of up to five billion US dollars, additional income from oil exports and investments from abroad. Economic politicians see the best opportunity for structural changes in the next five to ten years. The far-reaching changes set out in the new five-year plan include a comprehensive tax reform, privatization, the dismantling of monopolies, deregulation of important sectors and the reduction of the public sector.
The most important natural resource in Syria is oil . Natural gas also plays a larger role, while Syria was the world's fifth largest exporter of phosphate in the 2000s . Syria also extracts iron , chromium , manganese , asphalt and rock salt in smaller quantities .
In the 1960s, the first oil that belonged to the heavier types of oil was discovered in the northeast of the country . Light, low-sulfur oil was also discovered in the Deir ez-Zor area in the 1980s . In 1995, however, the country already reached its production maximum with a daily production of 610,000 barrels . After that, the production rate fell steadily and in 2008 still reached 379,000 barrels per day. In January 2009, the remaining reserves were estimated at 2.5 billion barrels, with experts agreed that despite recent discoveries, Syria would become a net importer of oil and oil products by 2020 at the latest. In 2008, on the other hand, 150,000 barrels were exported daily.
In 2008 oil exports accounted for 20% of exports, revenues covered 23% of the state budget and made up 22% of the gross national product . In 2006, revenues from the oil sector had contributed 33 to 40% of the state budget. The largest company in the field of oil production and processing is the Syrian Petroleum Company .
In addition, Syria produced around 22 million cubic meters of natural gas per day in 2012; the reserves were then estimated at 240 billion cubic meters. Although there was cooperation with international energy companies , Syria did not export any natural gas at the time, as the rapidly increasing domestic energy demand absorbed all the increases in production, just as Syria also consumed 10% more electricity every year .
Before the civil war, international tourism was mainly limited to cultural and language tourists, while the almost 200 km long coastline was mainly visited by locals. In addition to the metropolises of Damascus and Aleppo, the main tourist attractions were the ancient oasis city of Palmyra , the medieval castles in the western hill country and, more recently, the scenic Hauran area in the south with the ruins of Bosra . The infrastructure was well developed in the tourist centers, but significantly less in other zones, such as around the Simeon Monastery northwest of Aleppo or at the ancient archaeological sites on the Euphrates.
The national budget in 2009 comprised expenditures of the equivalent of 14.3 billion US dollars , which was offset by income of the equivalent of 11.4 billion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 5.3% of GDP .
The national debt in 2009 was $ 17.5 billion, or 31.9% of GDP.
In 2006 the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was in the following areas:
- Damas – Hama et Prolongements
The first railway line in the area that is now Syria and was then part of the Ottoman Empire was built by the Damas – Hama et Prolongements (DHP) railway . It had the rare gauge of 1050 mm, which came from the French colonial tradition , as the concessionaire was a French company.
The lines of the railway led from Beirut via Anti-Lebanon to Damascus and from there to Muzeirib . The crossing of the mountains was technically complex; so there was as sharp turns , the achievable speeds and the attachable load per train were very limited and the capacity of the railway low.
The Damascus - Muzeirib connection was dismantled as early as World War I in order to use the material for the southern extensions of the Hejaz Railway in Palestine . The Beirut - Damascus connection was destroyed during the Lebanese civil war between 1975 and 1990.
- Hejaz Railway
The construction of the Hejaz Railway began in 1900. The gauge of the DHP (1050 mm) was chosen because, on the one hand, the Ottoman state negotiated a takeover with the operators - which failed - and on the other hand, rolling stock for the new construction of the Hejaz Railway was unproblematic Damascus could be driven - a logistical advantage that should not be underestimated given the lack of roads.
The main route will be used in its section in Syria. The historic railway terminus Damascus Kanawat but was closed. A shopping center is being built on its track field , into which an underground train station is also to be integrated.
- Standard gauge network
Incidentally, the 2,460 km long standard gauge network - with the exception of the short section of the Baghdad Railway in the far east of the country - is relatively new. Most of the network did not emerge until after 1970 and was initially set up with Soviet help.
- The 750 km long route from the port of Latakia via Aleppo to the oil fields near Kamechli in the northeast was put into operation in stages between 1974 and 1978.
- The transport of phosphate - the mining area is in the desert around Palmyra - to the port of Tartus is served by the route via Homs, which was opened in 1980.
- In 1983, the capital Damascus was also connected to the standard gauge network by a branch line.
- The 80 km long gap on the Mediterranean between Latakia and Tartus was closed in 1992.
- Starting in 1981, a 150 km long route was to be built from Deir Ezzor to Abou Kemal and on to Baghdad. For political reasons, Syria stopped work the following year, but has now started again.
- The 203 km long line from Deir Ezzor to Palmyra has so far only existed on the drawing board.
- From 1996, parallel to the Hejaz Railway, a 160 km / h route to Dera'a and on to Jordan was to be built. To this day, however, Jordan has not been able to make a decision to accept construction.
- A new underground train station in Damascus is also still a long way off. In anticipation of this, the Damascus-Kanawat terminus was closed.
Syria's railway lines are single-track and not electrified.
The standard gauge network is operated by the CFS, the Syrian Railway Company (Chemins de Fer Syriens), the narrow gauge network by the Hejaz Railway Company. The narrow-gauge network still operates the Damascus – Amman / Jordan route and, branching off from here, the Dar'a – Muzeirib route.
Iran delivers freight cars in large numbers.
- Locomotives and railcars
Apart from the four-axle French B&L locomotives of the LDE 650 series, the standard-gauge CFS diesel locomotive fleet consists only of six-axle diesel-electric machines . The LDE 1200 series (built in 1972) and LDE 2800 (1974 and 1984) come from the Soviet Union, the LDE 1800 series (1976) from General Electric and the LDE 1500 series from ČKD. From 1999 the outdated locomotive stock was rejuvenated by the delivery of 30 French Alstom locomotives ("Prima"). After the millennium, the CFS began with a modernization program for the series LDE 2800, with General Electric - diesel engines equipped.
For the traffic between Damascus and Aleppo, five five-part railcars for a maximum speed of 160 km / h from Korean production were delivered in 2006.
- passenger traffic
As a result of the strong competitive pressure from the road, the number of passenger trains offered by CFS is low. Between 16 and 20 passenger trains run on a subnet every day. The passenger numbers are trending upwards. There are international connections to Jordan, Turkey and Iran. The Damascus – Amman passenger train, which runs twice a week, is the only regular passenger service offered by the two railways , with the train running at the border in Dar'a being broken so that the vehicles can return to the station of departure on the same day.
Syria has six airports , of which Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia airports offer international connections.
The Syrian airline Syrian Arab Airlines flies to national and international destinations in Europe, Africa and Asia. The private airline Cham Wings Airlines flies from Damascus to the destinations Baghdad, Najaf , Malmö, Sharm El-Sheikh and Jeddah , as well as seasonal charter destinations such as Antalya.
After the outbreak of the revolution and the increase in the number of demonstrations, according to a report by Doctors Without Borders in February 2012, the number of demonstrators wounded by attacks by the state security forces, the regular army and the Shabiha militias also rose dramatically. However, these wounded could not be cared for in state hospitals and clinics, as it quickly became apparent that the wounded were arrested, tortured or killed in the hospitals. Doctors who tried to care for the demonstrators were also arrested or even murdered. This led to provisional clinics being set up in the locations where the demonstrations took place, where medical personnel cared for the wounded - even if their lives were at risk.
There are 8 public and 22 private universities in Syria. The Ministry of Higher Education in Damascus is responsible for this. Compulsory schooling lasts up to the age of eleven. Thereby v. a. the lower levels of education free of charge, while private paid education dominates in the higher levels of education.
The education system is subject to strict government supervision. Of the population over 15 years of age, 81% of women and 92% of men can read and write, but among young people between the ages of 15 and 24, the illiteracy rate is relatively low at 5.5%, which is due to the fact that they have time have grown up after the introduction of compulsory schooling. English is taught from 1st grade onwards.
The state universities are : Damascus University, Aleppo University, Tischrin University, Albaath University, Al Furat University, Tartus University, Hama University, Syrian Virtual University.
There are both national and religious holidays in Syria. The basis for the national holidays is, as in the meantime in almost all Arab countries, the Gregorian calendar , which from the Muslim point of view is often wrongly connoted as Christian.
The Hijra calendar according to the lunar calendar applies to the Islamic holidays . Since the lunar year is eleven days shorter than the solar year, the Islamic holidays "move forward" accordingly each year.
Syrian food culture
Syrian cuisine is regionally shaped in a variety of ways . The courts reflect the influences of the courts of the surrounding countries, Turkey, Greece and the Middle East and the mandate power of France. Important dishes are bulgur , Kibbeh , Hummus , Tabbouleh , Fattoush , Laban , shawarma , Mujaddara , shanklish , Pastirma , Sucuk and baklava .
Independent media coverage in Syria is not possible. In the 2017 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders , Syria was ranked 177th out of 180 countries. The Syrian authorities have refused entry to journalists and independent observers. Syrian independent and opposition journalists have also been expelled from the country or arrested.
Four online activists and citizen journalists were killed in Syria in 2017. According to the Reporters Without Borders report, the victims' deaths are directly related to their journalistic activities. There are also 15 online activists and citizen journalists in custody.
- Abū l-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī , writer
- Michel Aflaq , politician
- Moustapha Akkad , film producer and director
- Sadiq al-Azm , thinker / philosopher
- Mahmoud Dahoud , football player
- Julia Domna , wife of Septimius Severus
- Elagabal , Roman Emperor
- Osama Esber , writer
- Hala Gorani , journalist
- Yusuf al-Khal , writer
- Michel Kilo , writer
- Ahmad Kuftaru , religious leader
- Kamal al-Labwani , opposition politician, doctor
- Muhammad al-Maghut (1934-2006), writer
- Rami Machluf , entrepreneur close to the regime
- Sanharib Malki , soccer player
- Ghassan Massoud , actor
- Fadi Merza , Thai boxer
- Hanna Mina , writer
- Faisal al-Miqdad , Deputy Foreign Minister
- Abd ar-Rahman Munif , writer
- Philip Arabs , Roman Emperor
- Nizar Qabbani , poet
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- Ghada Shouaa , sportswoman
- Wafa Sultan , author, psychiatrist
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- Bassam Tibi , cultural scientist
- George Wassouf , musician
- Saadallah Wannous , playwright
- Helîm Yûsiv , writer
- Zenobia , Palmyrene Queen
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