Primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains in west
Mostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast; cold weather with snow or sleet periodically in Damascus
Language: Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian (widely understood); French, English (somewhat understood)
Islam (Shi'ah, 54 percent; Sunni, 41 percent); Christianity; Judaism
Religious Tensions & Pres. Assad (1:04)
Despite modest economic growth and reform prior to the outbreak of unrest, Syria's economy continues to suffer the effects of the ongoing conflict that began in 2011. The economy further contracted in 2012 because of international sanctions and reduced domestic consumption and production.
THE IMPACT OF CIVIL WAR ON OIL EXPORTS (1:33)
Syria is not a wealthy country; most people have a mediocre standard of living at best. City dwellers live in apartments. Those who are wealthy enough build villas or large vacation homes in the mountains or on the sea coast. Villagers live in small, one-to three-room houses with a small courtyard.
Syrian Arab Republic
US Military Presence/Support
Since 2011, civil war has claimed 146,000+ lives with the U.S. contributing $2.9 billion in humanitarian assistance. ISIS terrorists have further undermined stability by forcibly taking over large territories in both Iraq and Syria and committing numerous human rights atrocities. In Sept. 2014, the U.S. and partner nations began conducting air strikes against ISIS targets in Syria, training and equipping the Syrian rebels and working to cut off financing to the ISIS terrorists.
Humanitarian Aid to Civil War Victims & Refugees (late 2013-early 2014) (1:43)