Syria Demography and Economic Geography 2015

By | December 17, 2021

Syria is a state of Southwest Asia. Since 2011, the country has been devastated by the civil war and any analysis of the social, economic and geographical situation of Syria is extremely difficult, also in consideration of the fact that the control of the territory is fragmented among several actors fighting each other. A unitary discourse is therefore impossible to do, although an indicative framework can be attempted. Even the population can only be estimated, given that the last official census dates back to 1994. In 2012 the residents were 21,117,690, while for 2014 UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) estimated a population of 21,986,615 individuals. Due to the growing number of refugees and war-related deaths, new estimates place the combined population at 18 million. The fertility rate decreased during the war by almost one point, reaching averages slightly higher than those of Western countries (2.68 in 2014). The age pyramid shows that the population is still largely young, despite a significant gap in the 20 to 35 age group. In total, half of the population is under the age of 25. The refugee issue is serious both because of the internal conflict and because of the numerous wars that have occurred in the area since the end of the Second World War.

A strong Palestinian community persists in Syria, made up of 517,255 refugees, largely without citizenship rights. Granting citizenship, which also involves access to social services, has been a tool of political pressure from the Syrian government for decades. An example are the Kurds (7.3% of the total population), deprived of citizenship in 1962 and then reinstated in 2011 at the outbreak of the civil war, in an attempt by the regime to attract consensus. Iraqi refugees are also present, about 146,200. The civil war then led to over 4,000,000 Syrian refugees (as of October 2014), mainly scattered in the countries of the area, namely Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, ῾Irāq and Egypt. Among the most serious problems for the population is the housing shortage: it is estimated that at least 6,500,000 people have been left homeless due to the damage caused by the war. The demographic picture is completed by the Golan Heights, which have remained firmly in the hands of Israel since 1967, with 41 settlements for mixed civil and military use and almost 20,000 settlers. Before the outbreak of the war, essential services in Syria were almost universally guaranteed, although the unemployment rate was quite high (20% in 2010, including refugees; 8.6%, referring to Syrian citizens). For Syria geography, please check

Syria’s environmental problems are the same as those typical of populous Arab countries: water scarcity, soil erosion due to over-exploitation, groundwater pollution linked to oil extraction and deforestation. In an attempt to make the country as independent as possible from abroad, a large consumption of water reserves has been made for primary food needs. Economic activities are severely compromised due to the conflict. To support the emergency, the government was forced to resort to a large budget deficit and the erosion of gold reserves, while imports exceed exports by five times and lead to a sharply negative trade balance. In 2011 the import-export activities had generated a turnover of 27 billion dollars, in 2013 the same value was less than half. The sanctions imposed by the international community also weighed on the sharp decrease, with the consequent weakening of the governmental authority, but also of the civilian population. The extraction activities in the hydrocarbon sector were the subject of military confrontation with the IS (see), which led the latter to control some production stations. To evaluate its relative importance, consider that Syrian oil production represented almost half the value of exports in 2010. The humanitarian crisis caused by the war increasingly requires the intervention of subsidies from abroad to guarantee the basic needs of the population, from nutrition to health. It is estimated that 56% of the population lives in poverty and almost half of school-age children cannot attend school, as school buildings have been reused to make up for the serious housing shortage of refugees. The economic situation is made extremely difficult by the fact that over 60% of the workforce before the conflict was employed in the service sector and only 20% in agriculture. In the service sector, tourism was a determining sector, which still in 2011 marked about 5,000,000 entries and today is completely inactive. The collapse of the infrastructural system has led some economic activities to move to neighboring countries to save production. Finally, the strong reduction in the control of the territory has caused a substantial increase in illegal trafficking.

Syria Demography