Syria Overview

By | May 24, 2021

Before the outbreak of civil war, the population in Syria was estimated at around 21 million people. More than 7 million people left Syria as a result of the civil war. According to the UNHCR, around 6 million Syrians outside Syria were registered as refugees. The war made between eight and nine million people internally displaced.

According to UNHCR, over 2.7 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, which Turkey is increasingly trying to prevent. Sometimes, according to Amnesty International, Syrian refugees are even sent back to Syria. However, the actual number of Syrian refugees could even be 3.2 million. The children in particular suffer from the situation, many do not go to school and see no future for themselves.

According to the UNHCR, the situation is even worse for the more than one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The Lebanese government is even assuming 1.5 million Syrian refugees. This means that around a third of the Lebanese population today consists of displaced persons, be they Syrian or old and new Palestinian refugees.

In Jordan, the Zaatari refugee camp is now the fourth largest Jordanian city. The camp is said to accommodate 80,000 Syrian refugees. In Jordan, too, the figures from the UNHCR and the government differ widely: while the UNHCR assumes 650,000 Syrian refugees, according to the Jordanian government there are around 1.4 million, as not all Syrian refugees register here, as in Lebanon and Turkey.

According to thesciencetutor, more than 15 religious and ethnic groups live in Syria. Next to the Arab majority live Armenians (less than 1 percent) – who came from Turkey as refugees at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries – Turkmen and Circassians (around 9 percent), Arameans and Assyrians (around 4.5 percent) as well as Kurdeb in Syria. With a share of ten to twelve percent, the Kurds form the largest ethnic minority. Well-known Kurdish cities and villages are al-Hasakah, al-Qamishli, Amuda, Afrin and Kurd Dagh. The ethnic and religious composition of the Syrian population has changed significantly as a result of the war. current figures are not available.

There are also Palestinian and Iraqi refugees living in Syria. About half a million Palestinians are at home in Syria today, they came from Palestine in several waves with the establishment of Israel; Iraqi refugees came to the country after the Iraq war in 2003, and thousands stayed.

The country’s official language is Arabic. However, the ethnic minorities also speak Kurdish, Aramaic, Armenian, Turkmen, Circassian or other minority languages in everyday life.

Three quarters of all Syrians today are Sunni Muslims, a minority of eight to twelve percent belong to Alawis. other religious communities in Syria are:

– Druze: 4 percent

– Ishmaelites: 1 percent

– Shiite Muslims: around 60,000

– Yazidis (small community in the northeast)

– Jews: approx. 200 (before 1948, 15,000 to 30,000 Arab and Sephardic Jews lived in Syria)

– Christians 10 percent who are divided into more than ten different denominations. The Greek Orthodox, Maronite, Syrian Orthodox and Syrian Catholic, Chaldean, Assyrian, Armenian Catholic and Armenian Orthodox as well as Protestant churches are recognized by the state.

The level of literacy and education in Syria before the outbreak of the civil war was comparatively high compared to other Arab countries (in 2005 74.4 percent – men: 90.6, women: 66.1). No current figures are currently available.

Syria Overview

Current information about Syria can be found on various websites, which are updated regularly:

  • CIA World Factbook
  • UNDP
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • United Nations
  • World bank
  • Bertelsmann Foundation

Since the possibilities of statistical data collection and analysis have been particularly difficult since the outbreak of the civil war, the statistics of different organizations differ considerably. Most of the available figures are estimates.

Big cities

The largest cities in Syria are the capital Damascus, whose population is estimated at over 4 million. The second largest city is Aleppo, with about two million residents, which competes with Damascus for the status of the longest inhabited city in the world. Other large cities are Homs and Hama and the two Mediterranean cities of Latakia and Tartus.

Precise information on the population cannot be made because the Syrian government has not carried out a census for decades.

In addition, according to the UNHCR, the number of internally displaced persons was 6 million, and the number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher. Hundreds of thousands have fled some cities, other cities have grown rapidly due to the influx of internally displaced people.


The information about the road network varies between approx. 50,000 and almost 95,000 kilometers, of which asphalted between almost 20,000 and 38,000. The railway network has around 3000 kilometers of rail. The length of the waterways is approx. 900 km, but they are of no economic importance.

The main ports are Latakia, Tartus and Banjas. There are civil airports in Damascus, Aleppo, Latakia, Kamishli and Deir al-Zor.

Syria covers 90 percent of its drinking water needs and 75 percent of its electricity needs through the Euphrates. To date, more than 130 dams have been completed on the Euphrates. The Thaura Dam with an area of 640 square kilometers is the lifeline of Syria’s economic and social development. Today, 241,000 hectares of land are irrigated with 6 billion kmĀ³ of Euphrates water. Syria already intends to double both the irrigated area and the water required for irrigation from the Euphrates. However, Syria’s irrigation methods are completely out of date, causing great water loss.