The World Factbook (1982)/Syria

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The World Factbook (1982)
by the Central Intelligence Agency


World Factbook (1982) Syria.jpg
(See reference map VI)


186,480 km2 (including 1,295 km 2 of Israeli-occupied territory); 48% arable, 29% grazing, 2% forest, 21% desert

Land boundaries: 2,196 km (1967) (excluding occupied area 2,156 km)


Limits of territorial waters (claimed): 35 nm

Coastline: 193 km


Population: 9,423,000 (July 1982), average annual growth rate 3.4%

Nationality: noun—Syrian(s); adjective—Syrian

Ethnic divisions: 90.3% Arab; 9.7% Kurds, Armenians, and other

Religion: 74% Sunni Muslim, 16% Alawites, Druze, and other Muslim sects, 10% Christians of various sects

Language: Arabic, Kurdish, Armenian; French and English widely understood

Literacy: about 40%

Labor force: 2.2 million; 32% agriculture, 29% industry (including construction), 39% miscellaneous services; majority unskilled; shortage of skilled labor

Organized labor: 5% of labor force


Official name: Syrian Arab Republic

Type: republic; under leftwing military regime since March 1963

Capital: Damascus

Political subdivisions: 13 provinces and city of Damascus administered as separate unit

Legal system: based on Islamic law and civil law system; special religious courts; constitution promulgated in 1973; legal education at Damascus University and University of Aleppo; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Independence Day, 17 April

Branches: executive powers vested in President and Council of Ministers; legislative power rests in the People's Assembly; seat of power is the Ba'th Party Regional (Syrian) Command

Government leader: President Hafiz al-ASSAD

Suffrage: universal at age 18

Elections: People's Assembly election November 1981; presidential election February 1978

Political parties and leaders: ruling party is the Arab Socialist Resurrectionist (Ba'th) Party; the "national front" cabinet is dominated by Ba'thists but includes independents and members of the Syrian Arab Socialist Party (ASP), Arab Socialist Union (ASU), Socialist Unionist Movement, and Syrian Communist Party (SCP)

Communists: mostly sympathizers, numbering about 5,000

Other political or pressure groups: non-Ba'th parties have little effective political influence; Communist Party ineffective; greatest threat to Assad regime lies in factionalism in the military; conservative religious leaders; Muslim Brotherhood

Member of: Arab League, FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMCO, IMF, IOOC, IPU, ISCON, ITU, IWC—International Wheat Council, NAM, OAPEC, UN, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WMO, WSG, WTO


GDP: $12.9 billion (1980), $960 per capita; real GDP growth rate 9.7% (1980)

Agriculture: main crops—cotton, wheat, barley and tobacco; sheep and goat raising; self-sufficient in most foods in years of good weather

Major industries: textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco; petroleum—166,000 b/d production (1980), 220,000 b/d refining capacity

Electric power: 1,971,500 kW capacity (1980); 3.638 billion kWh produced (1980), 406 kWh per capita

Exports: $2.11 billion (f.o.b., 1980); petroleum, textiles and textile products, tobacco, fruits and vegetables, cotton

Imports: $4.01 billion (f.o.b., 1980); machinery and metal products, textiles, fuels, foodstuffs

Major trade partners: exports—Italy, Romania, US, USSR; imports—Iraq, West Germany, Italy, France

Budget: 1981—revenues $3.5 billion (excluding Arab aid payments), expenditures $7.8 billion

Monetary conversion rate: 3.925 Syrian pounds=US$1 (official rate; a parallel market was established in April 1981 with the rate determined by the government guided by supply and demand)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 1,543 km total; 1,281 km standard gauge, 262 km narrow gauge (1.050 m)

Highways: 16,939 km total; 12,051 km paved, 2,625 km gravel or crushed stone, 2,263 km improved earth

Inland waterways: 672 km; of little importance

Pipelines: 1,304 km crude oil; 515 km refined products

Ports: 3 major (Tartus, Latakia, Baniyas), 2 minor

Civil air: 14 major transport aircraft

Airfields: 53 total, 49 usable; 23 with permanent-surface runways; 21 with runways 2,440-3,659 m, 3 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: good international and fair domestic service; 193,000 telephones (2.3 per 100 popl.); 9 AM, no FM, and 21 TV stations; 1 Indian Ocean satellite station


Military manpower: males 15-49, 2,040,000; 1,145,000 fit for military service; about 102,000 reach military age (19) annually

Military budget: for fiscal year ending 31 December 1981, $2,389 million; 31% of central government budget