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Fast Facts
Official Name: Syrian Arab Republic
Population: 22 million
Capital: Damascus
Government: Authoritarian republic
Leaders: Bashar al-Asad
Religion: Sunni Muslim 74%, other Muslim 16%, Christian 10%
Languages: Arabic is the official language. Worth mentioning is that some communities speak Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus.
GDP: $107.4 billion (CIA 2010 est.)
GDP/Capita: $4,800 (CIA 2010 est.)
Main exports: Crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
Time zone: GMT +2
International dialing code: +963
Currency: 1 Syrian Pound (SYP) = USD 8
Country briefing
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The ruling Asad family has remained in office since 1970, with Hafiz al-Asad leading the way to his son Bashar al-Asad who grabbed the stick after his father’s death in 2000. When President al-Asad was elected for a second 7-year term in 2007, he did so without opposition and with 97.6% support. However, the regime became subject to massive popular protests as revolutions spread across the Middle East in the spring of 2011. It met the uprising with massive brutality. Over 100,000 have lost their lives in the conflict.