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Syria-Energy and Natural Resources

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Syria Index

Although Syria's crude oil reserves were small and production minor by Arab and international standards, in the 1970s and 1980s petroleum extraction played a vital role in Syria's economy, generating much-needed foreign exchange. However, the size of Syria's proven crude oil reserves remained secret. In 1977 United States government figures placed Syria's proven oil reserves at 2.2 billion barrels. International sources estimated that Syria's crude oil reserves had fallen to 1.5 billion barrels by the end of 1983, indicating a life span of no more than twenty-years at 1984 production levels. Some publications listed substantially higher reserves (perhaps reflecting total rather than recoverable reserves) that appeared large in relation to Syrian production data in the 1980s.

Although Syria awarded its first oil concession to foreign firms in the 1930s, it did not emerge as an oil producer until the late 1960s. In 1956 an American company discovered oil at Qarah Shuk (Karachuk) in the northeast near the Iraqi border. In 1959 a West German firm discovered the Suwaydiyah field, located about fifteen kilometers south of the first oil discovery. The Syrian government nationalized the oil industry in 1964, and in the late 1960s the Syrian General Petroleum Company (SGPC),the national oil company, brought the two fields on stream with Soviet assistance. Although Suwaydiyah initially averaged 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) and Qarah Shuk produced 30,000 bpd, the oil from both fields carried American Petroleum Institute (API) quality ratings of 25.5 and 19, respectively. Both had high sulfur contents, confirming the poor quality of Syrian oil. Syria became an oil exporter in 1968 with the completion of a 663- kilometer pipeline to transport oil to a terminal at Tartus on the Mediterranean coast. Both the Qarah Shuk and Suwaydiyah fields continued to produce oil into the 1980s.

Oil exploration intensified in the 1970s. SGPC discovered the Rumaylan field, about ten kilometers southwest of Qarah Shuk, which had produced over thirty-nine million barrels of oil by mid-1984. Smaller fields also produced minor amounts of heavy crude in the 1970s. The Jubaysah field, located about 150 kilometers southwest of Qarah Shuk, came on stream in 1975. It had a 40.2 API crude oil rating but a 0.6 percent sulfur content, suggesting that Syria might look forward to discovering major quantities of light crude. In 1974 the government eased the way for the return of foreign contractors, granting a Romanian company a production-sharing concession. Western companies returned in 1977 when Pecten, a Shell subsidiary, won a 20,000- square-kilometer exploration concession in northcentral Syria. The Syrian American Oil Company and Samoco, a subsidiary of the American-based Coastal States Gas Corporation, won the 15,570- square-kilometer concession to exploit the resources of Dayr az Zawr Province in 1977. Deminex, a West German company, joined the group in 1979. In 1983, after Samoco dropped out, Deminex joined Pecten in an expanded concession of 21,800 square kilometers. Pecten held 31.25 percent, Royal Dutch Shell 31.25 percent, and Deminex the remaining 37.5 percent. Chevron, Pennzoil, and Marathon Oil also won exploration concessions in the 1980s. Marathon's two wells at Sharifah, nears Homs, produced promising results for gas exploitation from 1983 to 1985. Syria's state- owned oil company also continued exploration and drilling to bring the small, newly discovered Qayrik, Wahab, Sa'id, and As Safih fields on stream by the mid-1980s. The 1984 discovery of large quantities of light, sweet crude oil at the Pecten consortium's Thayim field near Dayr az Zawr gave a much-needed boost to the Syrian oil industry and economy. The Dayr az Zawr oil, ranked at API 36 with a low sulfur content, offered the prospect that Syria could cut by up to $200 million its own imports of light crude oil required for use in domestic refineries in the 1990s. Early production estimates confirmed an initial output of 50,000 bpd when the Thayim field came on stream in late 1986. In 1985 the Syrian General Petroleum Company and Pecten formed the Furat Oil Company to operate the concession with the state. In 1986 Czechoslovakia's Technoexport completed a ninety-two-kilometer spur line linking the Thayim field to the currently unused Iraqi-Syrian pipeline. Syrian government officials estimated that production levels at Dayr az Zawr would rise to 100,000 bpd in 1988.

Syria's oil production remained virtually static in the mid- 1980s. The IMF put production at 162,000 bpd for 1985 (see table 10, Crude Oil Production, Appendix). Excluding the new Dayr az Zawr discovery, however, Syria claimed production of approximately 170,000 bpd in 1985, blending one-third of its heavy sulfurous domestic crude with two-thirds imported light oil. Domestic consumption of oil products averaged around 190,000 bpd in the mid-1980s, with up to 120,000 bpd of this total coming from Iran in 1985. Oil contributed about 10 percent to Syria's GDP through the 1980s. Following the rapid rise of world oil prices in 1973, oil became Syria's chief source of foreign exchange. The value of Syria's oil exports rose from LS291 million in 1973 to LS1.6 billion in 1974 and almost doubled to LS2.6 billion in 1976, accounting for 63 percent of total exports. In 1979 the total export value of oil reached 68.9 percent before declining to 51.4 percent in 1982 and rising slightly to about 55 percent in 1984 and 1985. However, Syria's oil and petroleum products trade surplus of the late 1970s (and 1980) turned into a deficit in the 1980s. The 1980 surplus of LS2.42 billion fell to a deficit of LS767 million in 1984, making Syria's ability to boost domestic production and reduce oil imports an economic imperative of the 1990s.

Since 1982, when Syria closed its oil pipeline from Iraq and stopped purchasing Iraqi oil as a show of support for Iran in the Iran-Iraq War (see Regional Foreign Relations , ch. 4), Iran has supplied large quantities of oil to Syria on concessionary terms and as outright gifts. In 1984 Iran provided Syria with 6.4 million tons of oil, discounted by US$2.50 per barrel, and 1.6 million tons free, for a total of 8 million tons. In 1985 Iran supplied Syria with six-million tons of oil, including a one-million ton gift. However, Iran interrupted supplies in October 1985 because of Syria's estimated US$1.5-billion payment arrears and price disagreements. Syria turned briefly to Arab suppliers on the spot market, further depleting foreign exchange reserves, before Iran negotiated a new agreement with Syria in July 1986, guaranteeing the supply of 2.5 million tons of oil between October 1986 and March 1987.

Until oil prices jumped in the early 1970s, Syria earned more from the international pipelines that crossed its territory than from domestic oil production. In the early 1950s, the Tapline (Trans-Arabian Pipeline)--running from the oil fields in Saudi Arabia across Jordan and the southwest corner of Syria to a sea terminal on the Lebanese coast--was completed. Capacity was 25 million tons of crude oil a year. Syria earned small amounts of foreign exchange from transit fees (reportedly US$2.8 million in the mid-1970s) for the oil crossing the country via Tapline. Various interruptions of pipeline operations, escalating transit fees, and the reopening of the Suez Canal in June 1975 reduced use of Tapline in the 1970s. Pumping via Tapline was suspended in 1977, while Syria negotiated a new arrangement with Lebanon. In 1987 observers were pessimistic about the future uses of Tapline.

The larger and more important pipeline carried crude oil from the former Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) fields across Syria via Homs, after which the pipeline branched, with one spur leading to Tripoli in Lebanon and the other spur leading to the Syrian terminal at Baniyas. The IPC pipeline (actually three separate lines) had a capacity of about 55 million tons a year in the 1970s. The pipeline began operation in the early 1950s, providing transit fees as well as the crude that was refined at the Homs refinery into products for Syrian consumption. In the 1960s, Syria frequently used its control at the pipeline for political leverage over Iraq, which depended on the pipeline across Syria until the late 1970s, when its pipeline through Turkey began operation.

Transit rates increased substantially after 1966. In the early 1970s, earnings from the pipelines were more important than direct taxes and one of the most important sources of budget revenue. These earnings peaked in 1974 at LS608 million and were estimated at LS575 million in the 1975 budget. In April 1976, however, Iraq cancelled the transit agreement because of price disputes and cut off oil supplies to Syria. Saudi Arabia supplied oil for the Homs refinery until February 1979, when Iraq and Syria negotiated a new agreement, setting transit fees at $0.35 per barrel compared to $0.45 when the pumping stopped. In 1979 Iraq pumped ten million tons of oil through the pipeline, approximately two-thirds less than the average amount pumped between 1971 and 1976. The outbreak of the Iran-Iraq War in September 1980 again interrupted pumping, but it put Syria in a stronger position vis-a-vis the pipeline, given Iraq's need for revenues to finance the war. Although pumping resumed in February 1981, Syria argued that the pipeline cost more to operate (US$31 million in 1981) than it brought in transit fees (US$25.7 million in 1981). In April 1982, after negotiating an agreement to purchase oil from Iran, Syria closed the pipeline to Iraqi petroleum exports.

By the mid-1980s, Syria had two domestic pipeline systems and two refineries. A crude oil line, with a capacity of fifteen million tons a year in 1977, led from the fields in the northeast to a sea terminal at Tartus, with a spur to the refinery at Homs. Three pipelines for refined products from Homs (each with a capacity of 350,000 tons a year) led to the major consumption centers of Damascus, Aleppo, and Latakia. In 1984 the Syrian Company for Oil and Transport (state-owned) carried 9.5 million tons of crude through its pipeline, up from 8.9 million tons in 1983. In 1979 the new Baniyas refinery was also connected to the domestic crude oil and products pipeline system.

The refinery at Homs was completed in 1959 and began processing Iraqi crude oil for local consumption. In 1977 the refinery's capacity stood at about 2.7 million tons, but after the sixth planned expansion in 1985, its capacity doubled to 5.4 million tons per year. The US$143-million project contracted to Czechoslovakia's Technoexport included the construction of a 480,000-ton-per-year hydrogenation unit, a 380,000-ton-per-year catalytic reformer, and two steam-and power-generating units. Four hundred Syrian workers received training in Czechoslovakia in 1985 in connection with the sixth expansion of the refinery. The seventh expansion of the refinery, scheduled to be completed in the late 1980s, involved the construction of a 100,000-ton- per-year base lube oil complex located at the Homs refinery. The Homs refinery used a blend of crude oil in the 1970s, mixing light Iraqi oil with heavy Syrian crude. Israeli bombing raids on Syria during the October 1973 War severely damaged the operating capacity of the Homs refinery, and the desulfurization unit was not fully repaired until 1976. After 1982 Syria used imported Iranian oil with domestic products at the Homs refinery. In 1985 it processed 5.064 million tons, up from 5.197 million tons in 1984.

The Baniyas refinery was completed in 1979 at a cost of LS1.1 billion. The refinery's maximum capacity was six million tons. In its first year of production, the refinery produced only 1.7 million tons, but this figure more than doubled in 1982 to 4.4 million tons. In 1984 and 1985, the refinery operated at 95 percent of capacity, refining approximately 5.7 million tons of crude oil for an annual production value of LS4 billion. Principal products included high octane and regular gasoline, butane gas, jet fuel, asphalt, and sulfur. The plant employed 2,250 workers in 1984, including 73 Romanian technicians--a sharp decline from the 450 Romanian technical advisers who assisted operations at the Baniyas refinery in 1982.

Syria's natural gas was discovered in conjunction with oil- exploration operations in the northeast part of the country. In 1984 proven gas reserves were estimated at 98.8 billion cubic meters with associated gas reserves of 33.3 billion cubic meters. Although into the 1980s most natural gas was flared, Syria began exporting small quantities of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) in late 1981. Marathon Oil made two promising gas discoveries in 1982 and 1985, finding a gas potential of 450 million cubic meters a day in 1982 at Sharif-2 and 400 million cubic meters a day at Ash Shair I. The economic viability of Marathon's gas discoveries combined with uncertain market forces to cloud future exploitation of these resources. In 1982 Syria awarded major contracts to Technoexport of Czechoslovakia to build a gas treatment plant at Jubaysah and a gas transmission line to Homs for use in the Homs ammonia-urea plant. France also began construction on a gas treatment plant at Rumaylan.

Phosphate was the country's other major mineral resource. The government claimed reserves of one billion tons. The first government-operated mine near Tadmur (Palmyra) began producing in 1971, and two others began operating in 1974. Syrian phospate was low grade (about 30 percent concentration) and high in moisture. Installation of a drying plant in one government-run mine in 1978 helped improve the quality and quantity of output. Production grew from 800,000 tons in 1978 to 1.5 million tons in 1984, but fell slightly to 1.3 million tons in 1985. Syria exported about two-thirds of its phosphate in the 1980s, largely to East European countries as part of barter arrangements concluded between the governments. Although Syrian government officials anticipated that output would triple by 1988 to five million tons and by 2000 equal the output of Morocco, the world's largest producer, production levels have remained well below projected targets. In 1981 Syria's giant triple super phosphate (TSP) plant, built by Romanian contractors at Homs, began production with a capacity of 450,000 tons of TSP, and 800,000 tons of phosphate and phosphoric acid. Syria's production of phosphatic fertilizer more than doubled from 1981 to 1984, rising from 68,333 tons to 191,176 tons.

The other products of the extraction industries were minor. Natural asphalt was extracted at a coastal site and in the central part of the country. In 1976 production amounted to 125,000 tons--a tremendous jump from the 31,000 or less produced in 1975; however, by 1984 production had declined to 52,000 tons. Pure rock salt deposits, totaling over 100 million tons, existed northwest of Dayr az Zawr. Expansion of the mine facilities in the early 1970s raised the potential capacity to over 250,000 tons a year, but production hovered around 50,000 tons through the mid-1970s. Production peaked at 102,000 tons in 1982, but fell back to 38,000 tons in 1984. In addition, construction materials (sand, gravel, stone, and gypsum) were mined in various parts of the country. In 1986 Syria signed an agreement with Turkey establishing joint ventures for mineral exploration, and Soviet and Polish scientific missions discovered sizable iron ore deposits near Az Zabadani and Tadmur. In late 1986, the government also announced the discovery of significant quantities of diamonds.

Data as of April 1987

BackgroundFollowing World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946. The new country lacked political stability, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the Socialist Ba'th Party and the minority Alawite sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional peace talks over its return. Following the death of President al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah. In May 2007 Bashar al-ASAD was elected to his second term as President.
LocationMiddle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey
Area(sq km)total: 185,180 sq km
land: 183,630 sq km
water: 1,550 sq km
note: includes 1,295 sq km of Israeli-occupied territory
Geographic coordinates35 00 N, 38 00 E
Land boundaries(km)total: 2,253 km
border countries: Iraq 605 km, Israel 76 km, Jordan 375 km, Lebanon 375 km, Turkey 822 km

Coastline(km)193 km

Climatemostly 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

Elevation extremes(m)lowest point: unnamed location near Lake Tiberias -200 m
highest point: Mount Hermon 2,814 m
Natural resourcespetroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower
Land use(%)arable land: 24.8%
permanent crops: 4.47%
other: 70.73% (2005)

Irrigated land(sq km)13,330 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources(cu km)46.1 cu km (1997)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)total: 19.95 cu km/yr (3%/2%/95%)
per capita: 1,048 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazardsdust storms, sandstorms
Environment - current issuesdeforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; water pollution from raw sewage and petroleum refining wastes; inadequate potable water
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification
Geography - notethere are 42 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (August 2005 est.)
note: in addition, about 40,000 people live in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights - 20,000 Arabs (18,000 Druze and 2,000 Alawites) and about 20,000 Israeli settlers (July 2009 est.)
Age structure(%)0-14 years: 35.9% (male 3,724,770/female 3,510,182)
15-64 years: 60.8% (male 6,285,866/female 5,980,029)
65 years and over: 3.4% (male 318,646/female 358,992) (2009 est.)
Median age(years)total: 21.7 years
male: 21.6 years
female: 21.9 years (2009 est.)
Population growth rate(%)2.129% (2009 est.)
Birth rate(births/1,000 population)25.9 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
Death rate(deaths/1,000 population)4.61 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)

Net migration rate(migrant(s)/1,000 population)NA (2009 est.)
Urbanization(%)urban population: 54% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 3.1% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
Sex ratio(male(s)/female)at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.89 male(s)/female
total population: 1.05 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
Infant mortality rate(deaths/1,000 live births)total: 25.87 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.13 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 25.59 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)

Life expectancy at birth(years)total population: 71.19 years
male: 69.8 years
female: 72.68 years (2009 est.)

Total fertility rate(children born/woman)3.12 children born/woman (2009 est.)
Nationalitynoun: Syrian(s)
adjective: Syrian
Ethnic groups(%)Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%

Religions(%)Sunni Muslim 74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Druze) 16%, Christian (various denominations) 10%, Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)
Languages(%)Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood; French, English somewhat understood

Country nameconventional long form: Syrian Arab Republic
conventional short form: Syria
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah
local short form: Suriyah
former: United Arab Republic (with Egypt)
Government typerepublic under an authoritarian military-dominated regime
Capitalname: Damascus
geographic coordinates: 33 30 N, 36 18 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins 1 April; ends 30 September
Administrative divisions14 provinces (muhafazat, singular - muhafazah); Al Hasakah, Al Ladhiqiyah (Latakia), Al Qunaytirah, Ar Raqqah, As Suwayda', Dar'a, Dayr az Zawr, Dimashq, Halab, Hamah, Hims, Idlib, Rif Dimashq (Damascus), Tartus

Legal systembased on a combination of French and Ottoman civil law; Islamic law is used in the family court system; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: President Bashar al-ASAD (since 17 July 2000); Vice President Farouk al-SHARA (since 11 February 2006) oversees foreign policy; Vice President Najah al-ATTAR (since 23 March 2006) oversees cultural policy
head of government: Prime Minister Muhammad Naji al-UTRI (since 10 September 2003); Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdallah al-DARDARI (since 14 June 2005)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president approved by popular referendum for a second seven-year term (no term limits); referendum last held on 27 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2014); the president appoints the vice presidents, prime minister, and deputy prime ministers
election results: Bashar al-ASAD approved as president; percent of vote - Bashar al-ASAD 97.6%

Legislative branchunicameral People's Council or Majlis al-Shaab (250 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held on 22-23 April 2007 (next to be held in 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NPF 172, independents 78

Judicial branchSupreme Judicial Council (appoints and dismisses judges; headed by the president); national level - Supreme Constitutional Court (adjudicates electoral disputes and rules on constitutionality of laws and decrees; justices appointed for four-year terms by the president); Court of Cassation; Appeals Courts (Appeals Courts represent an intermediate level between the Court of Cassation and local level courts); local level - Magistrate Courts; Courts of First Instance; Juvenile Courts; Customs Courts; specialized courts - Economic Security Courts (hear cases related to economic crimes); Supreme State Security Court (hear cases related to national security); Personal Status Courts (religious; hear cases related to marriage and divorce)

Political pressure groups and leadersDamascus Declaration National Council [Riyad SEIF, secretary general] (a broad alliance of opposition groups and individuals including: Committee for Revival of Civil Society [Michel KILO, Riyad SEIF]; Communist Action Party [Fateh JAMOUS]; Kurdish Democratic Alliance; Kurdish Democratic Front; Liberal Nationalists' Movement; National Democratic Rally; and Syrian Human Rights Society or HRAS [Fawed FAWUZ]); National Salvation Front (alliance between former Vice President Abd al-Halim KHADDAM, the SMB, and other small opposition groups); Syrian Muslim Brotherhood or SMB [Sadr al-Din al-BAYANUNI] (operates in exile in London; endorsed the Damascus Declaration, but is not an official member)
Flag descriptionthree equal horizontal bands of red (top), white, and black, colors associated with the Arab Liberation flag; two small, green, five-pointed stars in a horizontal line centered in the white band; former flag of the United Arab Republic where the two stars represented the constituent states of Syria and Egypt; similar to the flag of Yemen, which has a plain white band, Iraq, which has an Arabic inscription centered in the white band, and that of Egypt, which has a gold Eagle of Saladin centered in the white band; the current design dates to 1980

Economy - overviewSyrian economic growth slowed in 2009 to 2.2% in real terms as the global economic crisis affected oil prices and the economies of Syria's key export partners and sources of investment. Damascus has implemented modest economic reforms in the past few years, including cutting lending interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating all of the multiple exchange rates, raising prices on some subsidized items, most notably gasoline and cement, and establishing the Damascus Stock Exchange - which is set to begin operations in 2009. In addition, President ASAD signed legislative decrees to encourage corporate ownership reform, and to allow the Central Bank to issue Treasury bills and bonds for government debt. Nevertheless, the economy remains highly controlled by the government. Long-run economic constraints include declining oil production, high unemployment and inflation, rising budget deficits, and increasing pressure on water supplies caused by heavy use in agriculture, rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and water pollution.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$99.06 billion (2008 est.)
$94.26 billion (2007 est.)
$88.65 billion (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$55.02 billion (2008 est.)
GDP - real growth rate(%)5.1% (2008 est.)
6.3% (2007 est.)
5.2% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$4,600 (2008 est.)
$4,600 (2007 est.)
$4,600 (2006 est.)
note: data are in 2008 US dollars
GDP - composition by sector(%)agriculture: 18.5%
industry: 26.9%
services: 54.6% (2008 est.)
Labor force5.593 million (2008 est.)

Labor force - by occupation(%)agriculture: 19.2%
industry: 14.5%
services: 66.3% (2006 est.)
Unemployment rate(%)8.6% (2008 est.)
9% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line(%)11.9% (2006 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share(%)lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Investment (gross fixed)(% of GDP)21.7% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $11.23 billion
expenditures: $12.85 billion (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)(%)15.7% (2008 est.)
12.2% (2007 est.)

Stock of money$73.54 billion (31 December 2008)
$15.21 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money$73.93 billion (31 December 2008)
$12.29 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit$84.31 billion (31 December 2008)
$15.19 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares$NA
Economic aid - recipient$213 million (2008 est.)

Public debt(% of GDP)25.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
32% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - productswheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk
Industriespetroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, car assembly

Industrial production growth rate(%)2.3% (2008 est.)

Current account balance-$791 million (2008 est.)
$402 million (2007 est.)
Exports$13.97 billion (2008 est.)
$11.75 billion (2007 est.)

Exports - commodities(%)crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
Exports - partners(%)Iraq 30.9%, Germany 9.8%, Lebanon 9.7%, Italy 6.4%, France 5.5%, Egypt 5.4%, Saudi Arabia 5.1% (2008)
Imports$15.97 billion (2008 est.)
$12.27 billion (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities(%)machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, paper
Imports - partners(%)Saudi Arabia 11.7%, China 8.7%, Russia 6.4%, Italy 5.9%, Egypt 5.8%, UAE 5.8%, Turkey 4.3%, Iran 4.2% (2008)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$6.765 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$6.507 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external$7.167 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
$6.633 billion (31 December 2007 est.)

Exchange ratesSyrian pounds (SYP) per US dollar - 46.5281 (2008 est.), 50.0085 (2007), 51.689 (2006), 50 (2005), 48.5 (2004)
note: data for 2004-06 are the public sector rate; data for 2002-03 are the parallel market rate in 'Amman and Beirut; the official rate for repaying loans was 11.25 Syrian pounds per US dollars during 2004-06,

Currency (code)Syrian pound (SYP)

Telephones - main lines in use3.633 million (2008)
Telephones - mobile cellular7.056 million (2008)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: fair system currently undergoing significant improvement and digital upgrades, including fiber-optic technology
domestic: the number of fixed-line connections has increased markedly since 2000; mobile-cellular service growing with telephone subscribership reaching 40 per 100 persons in 2008;
international: country code - 963; submarine cable connection to Egypt, Lebanon, and Cyprus; satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Intersputnik (Atlantic Ocean region); coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey; participant in Medarabtel
Internet country code.sy
Internet users3.565 million (2008)
Airports104 (2009)
Pipelines(km)gas 2,900 km; oil 2,000 km (2008)
Roadways(km)total: 97,401 km
paved: 19,490 km (includes 1,103 km of expressways)
unpaved: 77,911 km (2006)

Ports and terminalsLatakia, Tartus
Military branchesSyrian Armed Forces: Syrian Arab Army, Syrian Arab Navy, Syrian Arab Air and Air Defense Forces (includes Air Defense Command) (2008)
Military service age and obligation(years of age)18 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation - 30 months (18 months in the Syrian Arab Navy); women are not conscripted but may volunteer to serve (2004)
Manpower available for military servicemales age 16-49: 5,251,875
females age 16-49: 4,966,367 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military servicemales age 16-49: 4,360,934
females age 16-49: 4,344,895 (2009 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annuallymale: 213,513
female: 201,055 (2009 est.)
Military expenditures(% of GDP)5.9% of GDP (2005 est.)
Disputes - internationalGolan Heights is Israeli-occupied with the almost 1,000-strong UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) patrolling a buffer zone since 1964; lacking a treaty or other documentation describing the boundary, portions of the Lebanon-Syria boundary are unclear with several sections in dispute; since 2000, Lebanon has claimed Shabaa farms in the Golan Heights; 2004 Agreement and pending demarcation settles border dispute with Jordan; approximately two million Iraqis have fled the conflict in Iraq with the majority taking refuge in Syria and Jordan

Refugees and internally displaced personsrefugees (country of origin): 1-1.4 million (Iraq); 522,100 (Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA))
IDPs: 305,000 (most displaced from Golan Heights during 1967 Arab-Israeli War) (2007)
Trafficking in personscurrent situation: Syria is a destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor; a significant number of women and children in the large and expanding Iraqi refugee community in Syria are reportedly forced into commercial sexual exploitation by Iraqi gangs or, in some cases, their families; women from Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Ethiopia, and Sierra Leone are recruited for work in Syria as domestic servants, but some face conditions of involuntary servitude, including long hours, non-payment of wages, withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, threats, and physical or sexual abuse
tier rating: Tier 3 - Syria again failed to report any law enforcement efforts to punish trafficking offenses in 2007; in addition, the government did not offer protection services to victims of trafficking and may have arrested, prosecuted, or deported some victims for prostitution or immigration violations; Syria has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2008)
Electricity - production(kWh)36.5 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - production by source(%)fossil fuel: 57.6%
hydro: 42.4%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption(kWh)27.35 billion kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity - exports(kWh)0 kWh (2008 est.)
Electricity - imports(kWh)1.4 billion kWh (2007)
Oil - production(bbl/day)426,100 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - consumption(bbl/day)256,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports(bbl/day)155,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - imports(bbl/day)58,710 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil - proved reserves(bbl)2.5 billion bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
Natural gas - production(cu m)6.04 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - consumption(cu m)6.18 billion cu m (2008 est.)
Natural gas - exports(cu m)0 cu m
Natural gas - proved reserves(cu m)240.7 billion cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate(%)less than 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDSfewer than 500 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsfewer than 200 (2003 est.)
Literacy(%)definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.6%
male: 86%
female: 73.6% (2004 census)

Education expenditures(% of GDP)3.9% of GDP (1999)

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