Population. – Independent Syria (see below) is now politically separated from Lebanon (see in this App.): It covers 171,104 sq km. and has 2,901,300 residents, with a density of 16.9 per sq. km. Of these 400,000 are sedentary Bedouins and 300,000 nomadic Bedouins. Syria is now divided into the prefectures of Damascus, Homs, Hamāh, Aleppo, Ḥaurān, Deir ez-Zōr, to which are added Jebel Drusus, the territory of the Alawites and el-Gezīrah. Groups of Assyrian-Chaldeans, coming from northern Irāq, numbering about 9000, settled along the course of the Khābūr, founding 31 villages; they are dedicated to sheep breeding.
Agriculture and industry. – The Syrian economy is mainly based on agriculture, but only 6.6% of the land area is cultivated. Cereal crops by far prevail, covering over a million ha., Especially wheat (750,000 ha.) And barley (350,000 ha.), Which give rise to an average harvest of 6 million q. In progress is the cultivation in el-Gezīrah. Among the tree crops the greatest extension belongs to the vine and the olive tree; the vine covers 56,200 ha. and gives rise to the production of about 1,700,000 q. each year. of grapes, 190.000 q. of dried grapes, 110,000 hl. of wine. The oil product gives rise to large fluctuations (from 21,000 q. In 1945 to 230,000 in 1943). Other crops are those of sesame 117,000 ha.), Citrus fruits (500 ha.), Cotton (17,000 ha.), Apricot trees (200,000 q., especially around Damascus). Breeding is also of some importance and the number of sheep (3.5 million) and goats (1.5) is conspicuous; fewer in number are cattle (730,000), donkeys (180,000), horses (100,000), mules (45,000) and camels (48,000). From sericulture we get 300,000 kg. of cocoons. The textile industry has progressed to the processing of artificial silk, to the modern hosiery and knitting plants of Damascus and Aleppo, where wool is also processed. The main oil mills are located in Ḥamāh and Laodicea, the soap factories and mills in Damascus and Aleppo. Oil was discovered in el-Gezīrah. soap factories and mills in Damascus and Aleppo. Oil was discovered in el-Gezīrah. soap factories and mills in Damascus and Aleppo. Oil was discovered in el-Gezīrah.
Finances. – Syria’s balance sheet increased from 11 million Syrian-Lebanese pounds in 1939 to 50 million in 1944, to 129.8 million in 1946 and 125.8 million in 1947. In September 1947, notes in circulation amounted to 187 million. Lebanese-Syrian pounds. On the basis of the Anglo-Franco-Lebanon-Syrian agreement of 1944, the exchange rate with the pound sterling was fixed at 8.83 and that with the franc at 22.65. Following the various devaluations of the franc, the latter was raised in January 1949 to 120.30. With February 7, 1948, the monetary structure underwent a transformation that led to the separation of the Syrian system from the Lebanese one. Syria has in fact abandoned the French franc area and has manifested the intention to create an independent national currency and to set up its own issuing bank. Since April 1947, Syria has been part of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, with a share of 6.5 million dollars.
History. – The Franco-Syrian treaty of 1936 seemed to have brought Syria to the threshold of independence, but the resistance of the French right and the worsening of the general European situation prevented its ratification by France. A period of ambiguity then began in the relations between the two countries, intending the Syrians to give executive value to the treaty, which the French government could not and did not want to recognize as having entered into force. In 1938, with a unilateral act that raised great resentment and disappointment in Syria, France detached and ceded the Alexandretta (Hatay) sangiaccato to Turkey, in view of political and military cooperation with that country for the now imminent eventuality of a conflict. And in fact, the following year the war with Germany broke out, under the orders of General Weygand, that “armeé d’Orient” was concentrated in Syria, composed of French, metropolitan and colonial elements, Poles, Jews, etc., which in the plans of the Allies should have had a task of defending the Neighbor East and help to Turkey, in case it was involved in the war. The collapse of France in the spring of 1940 upset these plans: the Eastern army was dissolved, except for a tax rate for the defense of the country, and Syria, suffocating isolated degaullist nuclei, remained loyal to the new Vichy regime. Then Great Britain intervened from the outside, and in June 1941, with Anglo-Degaullist forces, attacked Syrian territory from Palestine. For Syria history, please check areacodesexplorer.com.
The resistance of the forces loyal to Pétain, under the command of General H. Dentz, lasted a few weeks: on 21 June the Anglo-degaullists entered Damascus, and on 12 July an agreement was signed in St. John of Acre for the cessation of hostility. In place of Dentz, the representative of Vichy, General G. Catroux took over as the high commissioner of Degaullism. He appointed (18 September) Sheikh Tāǵ ad-dīn el-Ḥasanī as president of the Syrian Republic, and on 27 September he proclaimed the independence of Syria, limited however by the restrictions of the state of war, and by the measures for the freedom of movement and the safety of the allied troops.
In reality, while the formally proclaimed independence was underlined by all sorts of symbolic gestures (recognition of Great Britain and other Eastern states, diplomatic representations, etc.), the practical restrictions retained so much value for the duration of the war that to make people doubt that the declaration of principle had been nothing more than a simple gesture of political propaganda. This impression was accentuated when in June 1943 the Catroux was succeeded as High Commissioner J. Helleu, whose incapacitated and violent attitude caused the Lebanese crisis in November (see Lebanon, in this App.). But just as this, due to the Anglo-American intervention, ended with a failure of the force policy attempted by the French, so too the Syrian parliament hastened, in the same month, to declare the article of the constitution that it granted to the degaullist authorities repealed. the right to interfere in the legislation of the country.
The definitive crisis, which gave the last blow to the remaining French positions in the Levant, occurred in May 1945, with the armed insurrection of Syria and Lebanon against the French presidencies. In Damascus, Aleppo, Ḥamāh, bloody conflicts took place, with hundreds of deaths; Damascus was bombed by artillery and airplanes as it had been twenty years before, and here too it was the British diplomatic and military intervention that imposed the solution. As British troops of the 9th Army entered Syria, forcing French military and civilians to clear out internal garrisons and gather on the coast, the British government was pressing hard on the French to stop hostilities, and the newly formed Arab League took a stand for rights. the effective independence of Syria and Lebanon,
France had to yield. In early July 1945 a French mission liquidated the almost thirty-year French occupation of Syria and Lebanon, stipulating the gradual withdrawal of troops. Further Anglo-French conversations in March 1946 fixed the withdrawal of the last contingents from Syria for the following month, and April 1946 thus saw the ideal of full sovereignty and independence of Syrian nationalism fulfilled.
Meanwhile the international position of the young state was being consolidated. A member of the UN since its foundation, Syria succeeded Egypt in November 1946 as a member of the Security Council, while its position in the Arab League ensured it had a listened voice for all the problems of the settlement of the eastern Mediterranean. With some concern, since the beginning of 1947, it has considered the resumption of the project of a “Greater Syria”, including Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan and the Arab part of Palestine; project in function not of a Syrian expansionism, but of the ambitions of the Hāshimita sovereign of Transjordan. A motion by the Syrian chamber, dated September 29, 1947, took a clear stance against this project as “concealing personal goals and Zionist interests,
Since 1943, Tāǵ ad-dīn el-Ḥasanī has died, Shukrī el-Quwwetlī has been president of the Syrian republic.