Country Governance

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POGAR > Countries > Syria In Brief

Basic Information

Country Flag:
Country Map: United Nations Maps: Syria
Country Name: Arab Republic of Syria (Al Jumhuriyah al Arabiyah as Suriyah)
Name of Capital City: Damascus
Date of Independence: Syria gained independence on April 17, 1946, from a League of Nations mandate under French administration.

Administrative Divisions

Regions, Provinces or Governorates: 14 provinces (muhafazat): Al Hasakah, Al Ladhiqiyah, Al Qunaytirah, Ar Raqqah, As Suwayda', Dar'a, Dayr az Zawr, Dimashq, Halab, Hamah, Hims, Idlib, Rif Dimashq, Tartus.
Country Area (sq km): 185180
Population (million): 20.5 (2007)
Population, annual growth rate (%) 1975-2005: 3.1
Population, estimated growth rate (%) 2005-2015: 2.2

Political System

Type of State: Republic/unitary
Date of Constitution: The constitution was adopted on March 13, 1973.

Head of State

Type: The head of state is an elected president.
Name of Current: Bashar al-Assad has been the President since July 10, 2000. He was re-elected for a new 7-year term in a public referendum conducted on May 17, 2007.

Executive Branch

About: The powers of the executive branch are vested in the cabinet and Prime Minister, appointed by the President.
Name of Current: Naji Otri became Prime Minister on September 9, 2003.

Legislative Branch

Type: Unicameral legislature
- People Council [Arabic]


Suffrage: Suffrage universal for Syrian nationals over the age of 18.
- See Also: Syria - Election Calendar and Results

Human Development Indicators

Human development index (HDI): 0.589 (2010)
HDI rank (worldwide): 111 (2010)
Adult literacy rate (% aged 15 and older): 83.1 (2007)
Female secondary gross enrollment (%): 70.9 (2007)
Gross enrollment, tertiary level education (%): 17.9 (1991)
Life expectancy at birth (years): 10.455 (2010)
Poverty index (HP1-1) value (%): 12.6 (2007)
GDP per capita (PPP US$): 4759.935 (2010)
GDP per capita (PPP US$) rank minus HDI rank: -9 (2010)
* See more human development indicators on Arab Statistics (external link)

Judiciary Branch

Legal system and codification: Civil Law traditions, as well as Islamic and Egyptian legal traditions.
Administration: Administrative authority of the judiciary, including the powers to appoint, promote, and transfer judges, is vested in the Supreme Judicial Council, presided over by the Minister of Justice.
Supreme Court: Decisions rendered by the Courts of Appeal may not be appealed, but may be nullified by the Court of Cassation, the highest Court in the judicial structure.
The Court of Cassation, located in Damascus, is subdivided into specialized branches. These divisions—including civil, criminal, canonical, and military branches—are composed of three judges each.
Constitutional Court: The Supreme Constitutional Court is empowered to decide on the constitutionality of laws, hear election disputes, and try the president if he is accused of criminal offenses. The Court is composed of five members who are appointed by the President of the Republic for renewable four-year terms.
Shari'a or Personal Status: The judiciary is comprised of separate secular and religious courts.

Membership in International Organizations

United Nations (UN): October 24, 1945
International Monetary Fund (IMF): April 10, 1947
World Trade Organization (WTO): Not a member
Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC): Signed November 29, 2000, but not ratified.
World Bank – International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD): April 10, 1947
World Bank – International Finance Corporation (IFC): June 28, 1962
World Bank – Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA): May 14, 2002
World Bank – International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID): Not a member

Ratification of International Conventions

- Human Rights Conventions
- International Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions
- UN Conventions against Corruption and Transnational Organized Crime
- Environment Treaties