Country Profile: Syria
Capital and largest cityDamascus
LanguagesArabic, Aramaic, Armenian, Kurdish, Turkmen
Area185, 180 sq km
Population19, 405, 000 (2007 est.)
The most widely spoken language in Syria is Arabic, which is also the country's official language. English and French are also spoken by the educated proportion of the population. Other languages spoken include Armenian, Turkmen, Aramaic, Turoyo, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Western Neo-Aramaic.
Syria's economy is middle-income, and is based on agriculture, industry, tourism and oil. Agricultural produce includes barley, cotton, wheat, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets, mutton, beef, eggs, milk and poultry. Petroleum, textiles, beverages, food processing, tobacco and phosphate rock mining are the country's main industries. Syria's natural resources are phosphates, petroleum, chrome, manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock, salt, marble, gypsum and hydropower. Syria's main trading partners are Italy, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, China, Ukraine, Russia, South Korea and the US.
Syria put in a request to join the World Trade Organization in 2001. The country also has a free trade agreement with Turkey, and has put forward an Association Agreement with the EU.
Large quantities of petroleum were discovered in Syria in 1956. For this reason, oil has been the country's chief export for the past years. However, there is also the potential for the less environmentally damaging forms of energy, hydropower and wind, to be harvested in the country in the future years, which would provide a more secure and sustainable solution to the energy problem.
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