Al-Jamhuriya al ‘Arabiya as-Suriya
Area: 185,227 sq. km.
Neighbouring countries: Turkey to the North, Lebanon and Israel to the West, Jordan to the South, Iraq to the East
Capital City: Damascus
Other Cities: Aleppo, Homs
Ethnic groups: Arabs, Kurds, Armenians
Currency: Syrian Pound
Member of: Arab League, OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) and UN
(De Agostini, Jan. 2008)
From 1920 to 1946, together with Lebanon, Syria is under French mandate. After independence in 1946, Syria was united to Egypt for 3 years (under the name of United Arab Republic); today Syria is a Presidential Republic.
The Constitution states that the Islamic law is one of the bases of legislation and that the Head of State must be a Muslim; it also provides for the recognition of other religions and for freedom of faith and worship.
The population is about 20 million (UN Statistics 2008). The Christians, half of whom are Catholics, are about 4.5%. (Statistical Yearbook of the Church 2008 and Dossier of the French Episcopal Conference on the Synod for the Middle East)
Relations with the Holy See
Syria has diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The Apostolic Nuncio is Mgr. Mario Zenari, tit. archbishop of Zuglio (30th Dec. 2008).
BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS OF CELRA – CONFERENCE OF LATIN BISHOPS OF THE ARAB REGION: Nevertheless, it is essential to give firm support and encouragement to those who choose to remain faithful to their homeland in order to prevent it from becoming an archaeological site deprived of ecclesial life