Syrian Arab Republic

al-Jumhuriyah al-‘Arabiyah al-Suriyah

Political Status: Republic proclaimed in 1941; became independent April 17, 1946; under military regime since March 8, 1963.

Area: 71,586 sq. mi. (185,408 sq. km.).

Population: 13,782,315 (1994C); 17,980,000 (2004E). Both figures include Palestinian refugees, numbering approximately 400,000.

Major Urban Centers (1994C): DAMASCUS (1,494,322), Aleppo (1,582,930), Homs (540,133), Latakia (311,784), Hama (264,348).

Official Language: Arabic.

Monetary Unit: Syrian Pound (principal rate July 1, 2005: 51.98 pounds = $1US; market rate September 1, 2002, 48.85 pounds = $1US).

President: Lt. Gen. Bashar al-ASSAD (Baath Party); sworn in for a seven-year term on July 17, 2000, following endorsement by the People's Assembly on June 27 and by a national referendum on July 10 of a successor to Lt. Gen. Hafiz al-ASSAD, who had died on June 10.

Vice Presidents: ‘Abd ...

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