Syria - education
The public education system, which is largely free, has a strong position in
Syria, although illiteracy is still widespread among adults (20%,
1995). approximately 5% go to private schools, including schools run by UNRWA, the
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
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The public education system consists around 2000 of a six-year compulsory
primary school for 6-12-year-olds, which has the affiliation of almost
everyone. This is followed by a voluntary three-year middle school with a
three-year superstructure, which is applied for by approximately 40%.
Higher education, which is free if the student passes the final exams, takes
place at the country's four universities; the oldest is the University
of Damascus, from 1903.
OFFICIAL NAME: al-Jumhuriyya al-Arabiyya al-Suriyya
CAPITAL CITY: Damascus
POPULATION: 17,900,000 (Source: COUNTRYaah)
AREA: 185,200 km²
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE (S): Arabic, Kurdish, Armenian, others
RELIGION: Sunni Muslims 74%, Alawites 12%, Christians 6%, Druze 3%, others 5%
COIN: Syrian pound
CURRENCY CODE: SYP
ENGLISH NAME: Syrian Arab Republic
POPULATION COMPOSITION: Arabs 90%, Kurds 9%, others 1%
GDP PER residents: 5100 $ (2011)
LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 61 years, women 76 years (2014)
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, HDI: 0.473
INDEX OF LIVING CONDITIONS, POSITION: 166
INTERNET DOMAIN NAME: .sew
Syria, a republic in the Middle East. Until the end of World War I, the
country was subject to the Ottomans; it became independent in 1946 and is now an
authoritarian and conservatively ruled republic with a powerful
president; popular protests and unrest, which from 2011 have developed into a
bloody civil war, have, however, cast doubt on the viability of the regime. The
country's oil reserves are quite small, but oil production still plays a major
role. The population is concentrated in a narrow belt to the west, while the
rest of the country is desert and steppe, intersected by the Euphrates. More
than half of the population has either completely fled the country
(approximately 4 million) or also internally displaced persons (2015).
Syria - military
The armed forces are (2006) at 307,600. The service period is 30 months. The
army is at 200,000, the navy 7600 and the air force 100,000. The reserve is
354,000, the army part 280,000, the navy 4000 and the air force 70,000. The
forces have a mix of older and newer Soviet-produced equipment. The army has
7 armored and 3 armored infantry divisions and 1 Republican Guard
Division. The fleet has 2 larger and 20 smaller combat vessels, 5 demining
vessels, 3 landing craft and a naval air force with 25 armed helicopters. The
Air Force and the Air Force have, among other things. 632 fighter jets, 22
transport aircraft, 120 transport helicopters and 71 armed helicopters. The
total security forces are 108,000.
Syria - mass media
In Syria the distribution of the print press is small; Radio and television
are the most important sources of information for the population, and the media
are under strict state control. Syria has only four dailies (2005): in addition
to the Ba'ath party Al-Baath (The Renaissance) the three pro-government Tishrin
(October), Al-Thawra (The Revolution), published in electronic form in Arabic,
French and English, as well as the Syria Times. The Syrian media has a
mobilizing role in the country, and criticism of the president and his family is
banned. Radio and television as well as the news agency SANA are
state-owned. Since 2002, private radio stations are allowed, but they are only
allowed to broadcast entertainment. Satellite TV is popular; especially pan-Arab
TV channels have a large audience. Internet access in the early 21st century is
relatively modest but growing.
Syria - architecture and visual arts
Syria's location on the caravan route between east and west is clearly
reflected in the country's art through the ages. After the conquest of Alexander
the Great in 331 BC. the Dura Europos military colony was established on the
Euphrates with Greek-style temples; the city was later engulfed in the Parthian
Empire, and Hellenistic style features were mixed with Oriental.
Palmyra is the main site of this art, preserved in numerous tomb
monuments; Jewish art is preserved in an extensive synagogue wall decoration in
approximately 400-700 the Byzantine art ruled, and from this period originates
the shrines of Simon the Pillar Saint in Qalat Siman. The art of painting
manifested itself especially in illuminated manuscripts.
One of the main monuments of Islamic art is the
Umayyad Mosque in Damascus (709-15), originally a Roman temple, today the oldest
preserved mosque; an extensive mosaic decoration covers the facade facing the
Two imposing palace structures have been preserved from this early Islamic
period, when the Roman reminiscences slowly disappeared in favor of the new
Islamic idiom, where especially the facade decoration in carved stucco is richly
The fortress Krak des Chevaliers dates from the time of the Crusades. Within
handicrafts, especially the ceramics from Raqqa, enamelled glass and inlaid
metal art as well as damascene steel and damask can be highlighted.
Syria - literature
Modern Syrian literature can be traced back to Fransis Marràsh (1836-73), who
in a poetic prose portrayed his vision of a new Arab society. But the ensuing
era of cultural awakening (al-Nahda) in Syria met strong opposition from the
Ottoman state, and many intellectuals had to emigrate.
In the period between World War I and World War II, a search for national
identity intensified, which was expressed in Maruf Arnaut's (1892-1948)
After independence in 1946, a new generation of patriotic writers
emerged. Said Huraniya (1929-94) was a pioneer of realistic short story art and
co-founder of the Syrian Writers' Union.
The short story became from the middle of the century the preferred genre,
cultivated by Abd al-Salam Udjayli (approximately 1918-2006), known for his exquisite
style and psychological insight, and the self-taught Zakariya Tâmir (b. 1931),
who renewed the short story with inspiration in folk tale, added symbolist and
absurd features. The loneliness of modern man and the search for freedom are
basic motifs in his short stories.
Among the novelists are the well-known names Hanna Mina (b. 1924), who fights
against social injustice, and Halîm Barakât (b. 1936), who in his novels
emphasizes the need for radical changes in Arab society.
The Syrian drama brought with Said Allah Wannûs (1941-97) an original writer
and critic who has dared to address sensitive issues as the deeper causes of the
defeat in the Six Day War with Israel 1967.
Syrian poetry has gained international recognition with Adonis. Among his
successors, Muhammad Maghüt (b. 1934) is the most independent; his prose poetry
is characterized by wild imagination and strong sense of life. In television and
film scripts, he has performed political and social satire.
Syria - music
Syria's music belongs to the eastern area of Arabic music. Art music is to
some extent common to the rest of the Mashriq area, i.e. The Arabian
Peninsula and Egypt.
Folk music is locally oriented with Kurdish music in the north and the
Bedouin's predominantly vocal tradition in the south and east. In both art and
folk music there is often an influence from Turkish music.
The Islamic mystics the Sufis play a certain role in Syria's musical
life; singer Sabah al-Fakri is known far beyond the country's borders. The
liturgical music of the Syrian Christian Church includes eight basic scales,
influenced by Byzantine and Georgian traditions and akin to classical Persian
and Arabic modal systems.