Fact Sheet: Syria


  • Location: Middle East
  • Area: 185,180 km2
  • Bordering countries: Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey
  • Population (2013): 22,457,336
  • Median age (2013): 22.7 years
  • Life expectancy at birth (2013): 75.14 years
  • Government type: republic under an authoritarian regime


  • Damascus, the capital of Syria, was an important trade route in ancient times. The modern history of Syria starts in 1918 when Arab and British armies captured Damascus, ending 400 years of Ottoman occupation.
  • Despite being declared an independent kingdom in 1918, Syria was put under French mandate as part of the Sykes-Picot agreement. Syria would remain under French control during World War II, and, with the fall of France in 1940, Syria too would come under the control of the Axis Powers.
  • In 1941, the British army, with the support of Free French troops, occupied the country. Charles de Gaulle promised to end the French mandate and to grant Syria full independence after the end of WWII. However, France was slow in withdrawing the troops. It wasn’t until a UN Security Council resolution demanding France’s full withdrawal, in 1946, that the last French troops left the country. Syria declared independence on April 17, 1946.
  • In 1967, Syria was involved in the Six Days War with Israel. They would face each other again in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War.
  • In 1975, the Lebanese civil war erupted. The Syrian army intervened at the request of the Lebanese government.
  • In 2000, Bashar al-Assad succeeded his father, Hafez al-Assad upon his death. In 2011, when many Syrians took part in the Arab Spring and protested the Bashar government, security forces began kidnapping, torturing, and killing activists. Many civilians organized into armed militias to fight back the government forces, and a civil war ensued. This struggle continues today.


Millions of Syrians are currently displaced or are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. Syrian refugees are now the second largest group of refugees in the world behind those from Afghanistan.

Refugees have been fleeing to neighbouring countries such as Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. While these host countries are doing their best to accommodate the refugees, most of them have limited resources to spare.

Lebanon, which currently houses most of the Syrian refugees, is itself coming out of a 15-year civil war and a 2006 war with Israel. Egypt is still emerging from a revolution and the associated political and social turmoil. Iraq continues to be relatively unstable.

As of 2012, Syria was hosting about 486,900 Palestinian refugees and 87,700 Iraqi refugees; refugees who now face the challenge of looking for food and shelter a second time.


In 2008, ACF launched programs in Syria to assist both Iraqi refugees and Syrian residents. With violence erupting in 2011, ACF quickly established additional food security programs at three key locations in Syria (Hassakeh, Der Ezzor, Raqqa) to help the new refugees access food.

ACF is committed to helping displaced families, including those who have fled to  neighbouring countries such as Jordan and Kurdistan.


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