According to the census of September 1981, the population of the Syria was 9,052,628 residents; according to the most recent estimates (1993) it is close to 13.4 million, including 140,000 nomads and about 270,000 Palestinian refugees, with an annual growth coefficient which until 1991 remained at the level of 3.3%. The Muslim community is clearly in the majority (75% Sunni, 11% Alawites), flanked by about 10% Christians (mostly Greek Orthodox), 3% Druze and a few hundred Jews. The urbanization process (which affected 50% of the residents in 1993) has slowed somewhat thanks to the efforts made to raise the standard of living in the countryside. Agriculture absorbed over a quarter of the active population in 1991, compared to 16% of industry, 24% of services, 16% of construction and
Fundamental pillar of the Syrian economy continues to be agriculture, whose contribution to GDP is around 29-30%; the sector hosts 28% of the total active population (1991). Ambitious irrigation projects aimed at reducing production fluctuations linked to rainfall trends should increase the irrigated area by 640,000 ha by 2000, thanks to a series of dams on the Euphrates, Yarmūk (in collaboration with Jordan) and H̱ābūr rivers, but the delays that occurred in the execution (also due to the excessive exploitation of the waters of the Euphrates in Turkish territory) have led the government to rely more on that 84% of the cultivated area which can only rely on rainwater. While the area planted with cotton is in decline (250. 000 ha in 1971-72, 170,000 ha in 1991), the focus was on increasing the cultivation of beet (35,700 ha in 1984, but only 23,000 in 1991), which, however, is hampered by the inadequacy of the sugar factories, as well as by the crisis world. Almost half of the cultivated land produces wheat and barley with considerable variations from one year to the next (30.5 million q of wheat in 1992) which make it essential to resort to imports (11 million q in 1992). Other products include tobacco (240,000 q in 1992), fruit (5.3 million q of grapes, 800,000 q of apricots, 2.5 million q of apples and 500,000 q of plums) and citrus fruits, for whose production (1.5 million q of oranges and mandarins) is expected to double within a few years. 28% in value of agricultural production is represented by breeding, which can count on 762,000 cattle, just under a million goats and 15.7 million sheep; milk production reached 13 million quintals. For Syria 2002, please check commit4fitness.com.
The hydrocarbon sector has been the most vital part of the Syrian economy since the 1970s, and oil represents the main export item (almost 60% of the products released in 1992); the most promising fields are those discovered around 1985 in the Dayr al-Zawr region; in total, around 30 million tonnes of crude oil were extracted in 1992. Still in the mining sector, another important resource is represented by phosphates (1,265,000 t in 1992). The industrial sector as a whole (including, therefore, mining, manufacturing, construction and energy) contributed 20% to the formation of GNP in 1992; between 1980 and 1990 this sector had an annual increase of 6.4%. It, however,
Foreign trade, which for years has been chronically passive, has registered, since 1989, a turnaround which is attributable not only to the expansion of the oil sector and cereal crops, but also to the strict policy of containing imports. by the government. The main import flows originate in Germany, France, Japan and Italy (together they contribute almost 40% to total imports), while Italy represents the first market for exports (34%). Other important trading partners are Lebanon and the Netherlands.
Poetry, the literary art par excellence for the Arabs, continues to be cultivated, in its classical forms and contents, in the work of Muḥammad Sulaymān al-Aḥmad, called Badawī al-Ǧabal, ” the nomad of the mountain ” (no. 1903). But the presence of Palestinian poets who constantly testify to the problems of their land and Syrian ideological currents determine changes in content and forms. Thus we can schematically identify two currents: a nationalist-socialist and a Marxist. The first group includes Sulaymān al-῾Īsa (b. 1922), one of the founders of the Ba῾ṯ party, classical author of numerous nationalistic poems and, after 1972, of verses for music and children. The second group includes Šawqī Baġdādī (b. 1928), Wasfī Qurunfulī (d. 1973) and Aḥmad Sulaymān Aḥmad (b. 1926), brother of the aforementioned Badawī al-Ǧabal. These are flanked by more individualistic poets. In addition to Nizār Qabbānī (see in this Appendix) there are ῾Alī al-Ǧundī (b. 1928), one of the founders of the Union of Arab Writers and whose committed and mystical poetry at the same time is clothed with new formal experiences; and Muḥammd al-Māġūṭ (b. 1934), a poet and playwright who was among the first to adopt the free verse. To the most recent generation belong ῾Alī Kan῾ān (b.1936), Mamdūḥ ῾Adwān (b.1941) and Fāyiz H̱aḍḍūr (b.1942).
In the context of fiction, the novella continues to have a greater development than the novel. The latter genre, under the influence of the internal political situation and the complex Palestinian question, is pervaded by pessimism, as in Fāris Zarzūr (b.1922) and George Sālim (1933-1976), or by a sense of the absurd, as in Walīd Iẖlāsī (b. 1935). The use of a precise and clear language to represent society realistically is a peculiarity of Hannā Mīna (b. 1924). Society with its taboos and injustices, violence and hunger is the central theme of the stories by the aforementioned George Sālim, Yāsīn Rifā῾iyya (b. 1934) and Zakariyyā Tāmir (b. 1931); while the female condition constitutes the fulcrum of the works of numerous writers, including Colette Suhayl al-H̱ūrī (b. 1937) and the prolific Gāda al-Sammān (b. 1942).
The first Syrian theater texts, written by Ma῾rūf al-Arnā’ūt (1892-1948), were historical in argument. The past has on the other hand continued to provide subjects until recent times, as in the works of the aforementioned Sulaymān al-῾Īsa. The non-historical theater, which initially encountered various difficulties, was conventionally created in 1950, the year in which a competition was launched, won by Mumtāz Rikābī (d. 1970), for the best opera in one act. Since then, authors of comedies such as Ḥasīb Kayyālī (b.1921) or of both realist and Kafkaesque dramas, such as ῾Alī ῾Aqla ῾Irsān (b.1940) and Farḥān Bulbul, have developed a formal and conceptual research of their own after a period in which F. Kafka, Syria Beckett and E. Ionesco were the most analyzed and followed Western authors. New experiments based on use of theatrical artifices, such as the use of theater in the theater, become frequent, finding their most organic realization in the works of Sa῾adallāh Wannūs (b.1941): a fruitful playwright and committed theorist, he tries to actively involve the public and arouse them political and social conscience; goal achieved by the author, whose works have sometimes been banned in most Arab countries.
Even non-fiction and literary criticism are dominated by the clash-confrontation with Israel and, at the same time, by the relationship between old and new, between form and content. These are the themes of lively cultural debates in which poets, novelists and critics participate. Among these should be mentioned ῾Umar al-Daqqāq (b.1927), George Ṭarābīšī (b.1939), Muḥyī al-Dīn Ṣubçhī (b.1935) and H̱aldūn al Šam῾a (b.1941).