Syria Fast Facts

The ancient oasis city of Palmyra, Syria, in March 2014.

(CNN)Syria is a Middle Eastern country sharing a border with Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey.

About Syria:
(from the CIA World Factbook)
Area: 185,180 sq km, slightly larger than North Dakota
Population: 18,028,549 (July 2017 estimate)
Median age: 24.3 years old
    Capital: Damascus
    Ethnic Groups: Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians and other 9.7%
    Religion: Muslim 87%, Christian 10% and Druze 3%
    GDP (purchasing power parity): $50.28 billion (2015 estimate)
    GDP per capita: $2,900 (2015 estimate)
    Unemployment: 50% (2017 estimate)
    Timeline:
    1517-1918 - Part of the Ottoman Empire.
    1920 - The League of Nations puts Syria under French control.
    April 17, 1946 - Independence is declared after French troops leave the country.
    1949-1958 - A series of coups leads to instability in the country.
    February 1, 1958 - Syria and Egypt merge, creating the United Arab Republic.
    September 28, 1961 - Syria secedes from the United Arab Republic.
    1967 - Syria loses the Golan Heights to Israel during the Six Day War.
    November 13, 1970 - Minister of Defense Hafez al-Assad stages a bloodless coup.
    1976-2005 - Approximately 17,000 Syrian troops are stationed in neighboring Lebanon.
    1979-present - Syria appears on the US State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.
    June 10, 2000 - Hafez al-Assad dies.
    July 10, 2000 - Bashar al-Assad is elected president by referendum, winning 97% of the vote. He is re-elected in 2007.
    March 2011-present - Civil war in Syria. The United Nations estimates that 400,000 people have been killed in Syria, since the beginning of the civil war.
    June 3, 2014 - President Assad is re-elected, receiving 88.7% of the vote in the country's first election since civil war broke out in 2011. The election is criticized by opposition groups and many Western countries.
    September 2015 - Claiming to target ISIS, Russia conducts its first airstrikes in Syria.
      April 6, 2017 - The United States launches a military strike on a Syrian government airbase in response to a chemical weapon attack on civilians.
      October 26, 2017 - A joint report from the United Nations and international chemical weapons inspectors finds that the Assad regime was responsible for an April 2017 sarin attack that killed more than 80 people. Syria has repeatedly denied it had anything to do with the attack and also denies it has any chemical weapons.