Syria Facts
Syria Facts

46 Interesting Syria Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published August 30, 2017Updated October 4, 2019
  • Syria is an ancient Middle Eastern country that has stood as the gateway between Asia and the Western world. Over the centuries, it has been home to Roman, Greek, Arab, and Turkish empires.[5]
  • After surviving ISIS and a civil war, a group of Syrian women built a female-only village. Named "Jinwar" (women's land), the village welcomes women and children regardless of religion, ethnicity, and political views.[2]
  • Syria does not have an official religion, and its constitution guarantees freedom of religion. However, Islam influences all areas of Syrian life, and the constitution states that Syria’s president must be a Muslim.[6]
  • Since 2011, Syria has been in the grips of a civil war. The war began when Assad, whose family has governed for 4 decades, began to crackdown on Arab Spring protesters.[12]
  • Most researchers agree that the word “Syria” derives from “Assyria,” which comes from the Akkadian “Ashur,” meaning prince.[10]
  • Interesting Steve Job Facts
    Steve Jobs's biological father, Abdulfattah "John" Jandal grew up in Homs, Syria
  • Syrians have a long history of immigrating to the United States. Celebrities with Syrian roots include Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Jobs, Paula Abdul, F. Murray Abraham (who played Salieri in the 1984 movie Amadeus), and hockey player Brandon Saad.[7]
  • Syria has become the world’s deadliest country for journalists, primarily because of its ongoing civil war. In 2014, at least 17 journalists were killed.[8]
  • Syria’s civil war is complicated, partly because various groups and foreign backers are fighting for control, including Assad’s regime (which is backed by Russia and Iran), the Free Syrian Army (which has received some Western support), and a host of other militias, including Islamists such as ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and Kurdish forces.[9]
  • About 87% of Syrians are Muslim (74% are Sunni), 10% are Christian (Orthodox, Uniate, and Nestorian), 3% are Druze, and a few are Jewish (mainly in Damascus and Aleppo).[11]
  • The population of Syria is 17,064,854, with about 18,900 Israeli settlers living in the Golan Heights.[11]
  • Syria is slightly more than 1.5 times the size of Pennsylvania.[11]
  • Over 10 million Syrians have been forced outside of their homes due to the civil war. They have become either internally displaced or have left the country altogether.[1]
  • Satellite images show that Syria became 83% darker at the night after the civil war began in 2011. This is partly because people are fleeing and partly because the infrastructure has completely collapsed.[3]
  • The world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.

    - J.R.R. Tolkein

  • Of the 4. 5 million people who have fled Syria since 2011, over 75% of them are women and children.[9]
  • Syria’s capital, Damascus is derived from an old Aramaic name “Darmeseq,” which means “a well-watered place.”[6]
  • About 10% of Syrian refugees have sought safety in Europe, which has caused political bickering about which country should help them.[13]
  • Approximately 60% of Syrians are jobless. Around the same proportion live in extreme poverty and cannot afford the basics they need to live.[11]
  • The official name of Syria “Syrian Arab Republic.”[11]
  • Some of Syria’s roads are over 4,000 years old and are still used today.[6]
  • Since the beginning of Syria’s civil war in 2011, life expectancy has fallen by 20 years.[11]
  • The Syrian civil war is the worst humanitarian crisis in the 21st century.[4]
  • Syria Refugee Fact
    In 2014, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that the Syrian crisis has become the biggest humanitarian emergency of our era

  • Turkey has over 2.5 million Syrian refugees, more than any other country. Lebanon has 1.1 million Syrian refugees, which constitutes about 1 in 5 people in the country.[13]
  • Ebla, one of the earliest kingdoms in Syria, is home to one of the earliest libraries in the world. In 1964, Italian archaeologists discovered about 20,000 tablets, which show signs of being classified on shelves according to subject.[5]
  • Iraq, where about 3.9 million people are already internally displaced, hosts 245,022 refugees from Syria.[13]
  • Since the Syrian crisis started in March 2011, over 250,000 people have died in Syria. That is over 130 people killed every day, of every week, for the past 5 years.[1]
  • As of 2016, Syrians are the largest refugee population in the world. This is the worst exodus since the Rwandan genocide 20 years ago.[4]
  • More than half of all Syrian refugees are under the age of 18.[13]
  • Interesting Queen Zenobia Fact
    Queen Zenobia was ultimately exiled to Rome, where she spent the remainder of her life
  • Known as the “warrior queen,” Queen Zenobia, (240-274 A.D.) reigned over the Palmyrene Empire in Syria. She spoke several languages and fiercely created an empire that was both independent of, and consequently threatened to Rome.[6]
  • High-income countries, including Russia, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea have offered zero resettlement places for Syrian refugees.[13]
  • The Gulf Cooperation Council’s oil-rich states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates accept very few refugee and asylum seekers from Syria. Amnesty International has called their lack of involvement “shocking.”[13]
  • Between April 2011 and July 2015, Germany and Serbia received 57% of Syrian asylum applications in Europe. While EU nations may increase the number of resettlement places in the future, for now, Germany takes most of the refugees entering Europe.[13]
  • According to the UN, over half of Syria’s prewar population of 23 million needs urgent humanitarian assistance.[9]
  • As of 2016, 60% of all the hospitals in Syria are closed or minimally operating.[11]
  • In 1951, 145 nations ratified the Refugee Convention that governs the treatment of those fleeing persecution. Just a fraction of those have offered to help Syrian refugees.[13]
  • Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire for 400 hundred years, until it came under French mandate in 1920 and then gained independence in 1946.[5]
  • Historically, Syria included Jordan, Israel, and Lebanon and has played an incomparable role in history. Described as one of the states that constitute the Cradle of Civilization, it is home to many of the greatest human achievements, such as the advent of writing, trade, agriculture, and religion.[6]
  • Damascus is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. It was first mentioned in an Egyptian document that dated from 1500 B.C., and carbon dating suggests the site has been occupied as far back as 6300 B.C.[5]
  • Interesting Damascus Fact
    The city is considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world

  • The ancient city of Bosra in Syria houses an incredibly well preserved Roman theater, complete with tall stage buildings. Built in the 2nd century AD, the theater can seat up to 15,000 people.[6]
  • The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has identified four World Cultural Heritage sites in Syria. They are the Ancient City of Damascus, the Ancient City of Bosra, the Ancient City of Aleppo, and the ruins of Palmyra.[6]
  • The Church of Saint Simeon Stylites in Syria is the oldest surviving Byzantine church, dating back to the 5th century. The church is named after St. Simeon Stylites, a famed hermit monk who lived atop of a pillar to avoid throngs of people who came to him for prayers and advice.[6]
  • In 1967, Israel fought Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the Six-Day War. Israel defeated the Arab countries and took bits of lands from each of them, including Golan Heights from Syria. The return of Golan Heights remains Syria’s condition for a lasting peace treaty with Israel.[6]
  • Syria’s current violent conditions have allowed human trafficking to flourish. Children are forcibly recruited to fight for various military groups or to become human shields, and women are trafficked for exploitative marriages or prostitution.[11]
  • Maaloula, Syria is one of only three places in the world where Western Aramaic is spoken, which was the language spoken by Jesus Christ. The other two places are nearby villages.[5]
  • Interesting Crac de Chevaliers Fact
    Built in 1142, the magnificent Crac de Chevaliers in Syria may not survive the war presently engulfing it
  • The Crac des Chevaliers is a Crusader castle in Syria and is one of the most well-preserved and important medieval castles in the world. The Knights Hospitallers used the castle as a military base during the crusades until it fell to the Muslims in 1271.[6]
  • The Umayyad Mosque is the most famous mosque in Syria and is one of the oldest and most famous mosques in the world. Considered by many Muslims to be the 4th holiest place in the world, it was built on the site of a Christian church dedicated to John the Baptist, who is honored by both Christians and Muslims alike.[6]
  • The red, white, and black horizontal bands on the Syrian flag represent the road to freedom, peace, and the country’s colonial history, respectively. The two green stars in the middle white stripe represent Syria, Egypt, and Arab independence.[11]
  • Timeline of Important Events[5][6]
    148,000 B.C.People first live in Syria
    3000 B.C.Damascus and Aleppo are founded
    2200-1200 B.C.Amorties, Hittites, Egyptians, Hebrews, Cannaanites, Aramaeans, and others move into Syria
    539 B.C.Syria becomes part of the Persian Empire
    332 B.C.Alexander the Great Conquers Syria
    64 B.C.Syria comes under Roman rule
    A.D. 635Arab Muslims take control of Syria
    661Damascus becomes the capital of the Umayyad caliphate
    1098European Christian Crusaders invade Syria
    1250The Mamelukes gain control of Syria
    1516The Ottoman Turks take control of Syria
    1920France is given control of Syria
    1946Syria becomes independent
    1948-1949Syria fights a war against Israel
    1958Syria joins Egypt to form the United Arab Republic (UAR)
    1961Syria withdraws from the UAR
    1963The Baath Party takes over Syria
    1967During the Six Days War with Israel, Syria loses the Golan Heights
    1970Hafiz al-Asad takes control of Syria during a military coup
    1975Syria and Egypt attack Israel
    1976Syria intervenes in the Lebanese civil war
    1990Syria sends troops to Saudi Arabia to assist in the Gulf War against Iraq
    1992Many Jews leave Syria
    2000Hafiz al-Asad dies, Bashar al-Assad becomes president
    2005Syria signs trade agreements with the European Union and withdraws all troops from Lebanon
    2011Syrian civil war begins

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