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Publié le : 4/5/2013 -Format: Document en format HTML protégé

Syria - country.
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Syria - country.
I

INTRODUCTION

Syria (Arabic Suriyah), officially Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah (Syrian Arab Republic), republic in southwestern Asia, bounded on the north by Turkey, on the
east by Iraq, on the south by Jordan and Israel, and on the west by Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea. Syria has an area of 185,180 sq km (71,498 sq mi). The
capital and largest city is Damascus, also spelled Dimashq.

II

LAND AND RESOURCES

Syria has an extreme east-west distance of about 830 km (about 515 mi) and an extreme north-south distance of about 740 km (about 460 mi). Along the
Mediterranean coast, which is 193 km (120 mi) long, lies a narrow plain extending inland as far as 32 km (20 mi). Parallel to this plain is the Jabal an Nu? ayr?yah, a
narrow range of mountains and hills. To the south, along the border of Syria and Lebanon, are the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, the site of Mount Hermon, the highest point
in the country at 2,814 m (9,232 ft). The Anti-Lebanon range tapers off into a hilly region called the Golan Heights (captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War) in the
southwestern corner of Syria. Much of the rest of the country consists of a plateau, which is bisected in the northeast by the valley of the Euphrates (known in Syria as
Al Fur?t) River. The plateau area north of the Euphrates is called the plain of Al Jaz?rah. The semicircular plateau area in the southeast is in the Syrian Desert.
The Euphrates, the longest river in Syria, flows diagonally across the country from Turkey in the north to Iraq on the east. The second longest river, the Orontes,
originates in the Lebanese portion of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains and flows north through western Syria to Turkey.

A

Climate

West of the Jabal an Nu?ayr?yah, Syria has a Mediterranean climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Yearly rainfall ranges from about 510 to
1,020 mm (about 20 to 40 in) in the coastal area, from about 255 to 510 mm (about 10 to 20 in) between ?alab (Aleppo) and Damascus, and from 127 mm (5 in) to
less than 25 mm (1 in) in the desert area in the southeast. Regional variations in temperature are comparatively slight. At ? alab, in the northwest, the average August
temperature is 30°C (86°F) and the average January temperature is 4°C (40°F). At Tudmur, in the central region at the edge of the Syrian Desert, the corresponding
temperatures are 31°C (88°F) and 7°C (44°F).

B

Natural Resources

Petroleum, natural gas, phosphate rock, asphalt, and salt are the main Syrian minerals found in sufficiently large quantities for commercial exploitation. Small deposits
of coal, iron ore, copper, lead, and gold exist, primarily in mountainous regions. Good farmland is located in the coastal region and in parts of the valleys of the Orontes
and Euphrates rivers.

C

Plants and Animals

Syria has comparatively limited areas of abundant natural vegetation. On the whole the nonarable areas are too dry to support extensive plant life, and virtually all of
the arable areas have been stripped of natural cover. Only 2.5 percent of the country's land area is forested. Along the coast, however, are found some reed grasses,
wildflowers, trees, and shrubs, including buckthorn and tamarisk. In the Anti-Lebanon Mountains are forests of Aleppo pine and Syrian and valonia oak.
The mammalian wildlife of Syria includes the antelope, deer, wildcat, porcupine, squirrel, and hare. Birds native to the country include the flamingo, pelican, bustard,
ostrich, eagle, and falcon. Lizards and chameleons are found in the desert.

D

Environmental Issues

Syria's farmland suffers from desertification and soil erosion due in part to decades of poor land management. Since the 1980s the government has been educating
farmers about soil-enriching practices such as crop rotation. Irrigation projects are gradually making more of the country agriculturally productive, but most farmers
continue to depend on rainfall to water their crops.
Wastes generated during oil-refining processes have polluted the Euphrates, Orontes, and Barrada river basins. Raw sewage flowing from urban centers is also
degrading Syria's supply of fresh water.

III

POPULATION

Syria is populated chiefly by Arabs, who constitute about 90 percent of the population. The largest non-Arab minorities are Kurds, most of whom are pastoral people
concentrated along the Turkish border, and Armenians, who dwell chiefly in the larger cities. The Syrian Desert is the most sparsely populated part of Syria. The most
densely settled area of the country is in the west.

A

Population Characteristics

The population of Syria (2008 estimate) is 19,747,586, giving the country an overall population density of 107 persons per sq km (278 per sq mi). Population growth in
2008 was estimated at 2.2 percent a year.

B

Political Divisions and Principal Cities

Syria is divided into 13 governorates and the municipality of Damascus. The capital and largest city of the country is Damascus, with a population of 2,228,000 (2003
estimate). Major cities include ?alab (3,970,000), ?im? (1,577,000), Al L?dhiq?yah (311,784), and ?am?h (264,348).

C

Religion

The overwhelming majority of the Syrian population adheres to the religion of Islam. About 73 percent of the population are Sunni Muslims (see Sunni Islam). Other
Muslims include Ismailis, Shia Muslims (see Shia Islam), and Alawites (a schism of Shia Islam). Of the non-Muslims in Syria, most are Christians, primarily Greek and
Armenian Orthodox. Religious minorities include Druze, who follow a religion related to Islam, and a very small community of Jews.

D

Education

Primary education is free and compulsory for all children aged 6 through 12. Some 78 percent of the adult Syrian population was estimated to be literate in 2005.
Primary schools enrolled 2.8 million pupils in the 2000 school year, and 1.1 million students attended secondary schools and vocational institutes.
In 1998, 94,110 Syrian students were enrolled in institutes of higher education. Syria has universities in Damascus, ?alab, ?im?, and Al L?dhiq?yah. Also in Damascus is
the Arabic Languages Academy (1919), which is devoted to the study of Arabic language, literature, history, and culture. Other institutes and colleges specialize in social
work, agriculture, industry, technology, and music.

E

Libraries and Museums

The public libraries in ? alab, Damascus, ?im?, and Al L?dhiq?yah house the principal collections of the country. Other major repositories include the Damascus University
Library and the Assad National Library, also in Damascus. The most notable museum is the National Museum (1919), in Damascus, which has collections that include
Asian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic art. The museums at the site of the ancient city of Palmyra and in ?alab are noted for their archaeological holdings.

IV

ECONOMY

Syria's economy depends heavily on its agricultural production. The country has 4.9 million hectares (12 million acres) of cultivated land, accounting for 27 percent of its
total land area. About one-fifth of the tilled acreage is irrigated, but extensive areas lie unused for lack of water. Irrigation is necessary even in many regions that
receive substantial annual rainfall, because most of the rainfall occurs during the winter rather than during the growing season. Much of the acreage under cultivation
suffers from soil exhaustion because of insufficient use of fertilizers and failure to rotate crops. The estimated national budget in 1999 included $17.5 billion in domestic
revenue and $17.5 billion in expenditure. Syria is heavily dependent on aid from the major Arab oil-producing states.

A

Agriculture

Despite climatic handicaps, Syria produces a wide variety of crops, some in sufficient quantity for export. The major crops are cereals, primarily wheat and barley. Other
important crops include sugar beets, grapes, olives, citrus fruits, vegetables, and cotton. Cotton accounted for more than half the national export revenues before the
ascendancy of oil in the mid-1970s. Syrian farmers also raise sheep, chickens, goats, and cattle.

B

Mining

Oil was first discovered in Syria in the 1950s. Significant output began after the 1968 completion of a pipeline linking the oil fields in the northeast to refineries in the
west. Government efforts to encourage exploration by foreign oil companies further increased output, and by the mid-1970s petroleum had become Syria's leading
export. Since then, however, the sector has suffered from periodic declines in world oil prices and from wider Syrian economic troubles. Existing reserves are depleting
rapidly and may be exhausted in the early 21st century. The Syrian government is encouraging foreign companies to explore for new oil fields near the Iraqi and
Turkish borders. Production of crude petroleum was 169 million barrels in 2004. Syria also produces smaller amounts of natural gas.

C

Manufacturing

The Syrian government nationalized most major industries by the late 1960s. Large-scale heavy industry continues to be dominated by the state, but since the early
1990s Syria has encouraged the development of privately owned light industries. Textiles--cotton yarn and cotton, woolen, and silk fabrics--constitute the largest single
manufacturing industry in Syria. As in centuries past, Syrian artisans continue to be noted for the fine quality of their silk brocades and rugs and for their artistic
metalwork in brass, copper, silver, iron, and steel. Other major manufactured goods include cement, fertilizers, glass, olive oil, and household ap...


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