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: 187,437 sq km
Population: 19,454,263 (July 2018 est.)
Median age: 24.3 years old
    Capital: Damascus
    Ethnic Groups: Arab 50%, Alawite 15%, Kurd 10%, Levantine 10%, other 15% (includes Druze, Ismaili, Imami, Nusairi, Assyrian, Turkoman, Armenian)
    Religion: Muslim 87%, Christian 10%, and Druze 3%, Jewish (few remaining in Damascus and Aleppo)
    GDP (purchasing power parity): $50.28 billion (2015 est.)
    GDP per capita: $2,900 (2015 est.)
    Unemployment: 50% (2017 est.)
    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.
    December 29, 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 begins. Violence flares in Daraa after a group of teens and children are arrested for writing political graffiti. Dozens of people are killed when security forces crack down on demonstrations. 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 chemical weapon attack on civilians days prior.
    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.