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1. Geography
2. Political situation
3. Economy
a. Figures
4. Health
5. Education
a. Universities
6. Demographics
7. Religions
a. Freedom
8. Peoples
9. Languages
10. History
11. Cities and Towns

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Index / Peoples
Open map of SyriaFlag of SyriaSyria /

Ethnic groups
17,000 84.0%
14,600 72.0%
1,300 6.4%
500 2.5%
400 2.0%
100 0.5%
70 0.3%
40 0.2%
2,000 10.0%
300 1.5%
250 1.3%
150 0.7%
130 0.6%
75 0.4%
65 0.4%
60 0.3%
60 0.3%
45 0.2%
20 0.1%
30 0.2%
Temporary *)
1,300 6.0%

*) These figures are added figures. Whereas the total population for Syria is 20,18 million, the calculations for temporary inhabitants from Iraq is added to this, and the percentage is calculated from 21.5 million.

Syria has several people groups with distinguishable identities. In the case of Syria, "ethnic group" is misleading, as identities have been shaped and reshaped to the point where ethnical kinship do not correspond with cultural and language identities. Although Syria is a country of much tolerance and acceptance for minorities, statistical data is poor. Estimates vary a lot, and in some cases estimates almost only reflect political interests. This seems to be the case for Assyrians and Turks.

The largest group of modern Syria are the Arabs. This is to the largest extent the group that do not correspond to ethnicity, most Syrian Arabs are ancestors of Syrian peoples before the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century: Over several centuries, local peoples have adopted Arabic language, and taken an Arab identity.
A sizeable part of the Arab community are Palestinians, representing around half a million. The Palestinians uphold a distinct identity. They are far less integrated in Syria than in Jordan, but better than in Lebanon.

Kurds is an ethnic group of strong identity, easily distinguishable from the Arab majority. They dominate the northeastern parts of the country. Kurds of Syria speak Kurdish, although most of them communicate well in Arabic.

Contrary to other countries where they live, Druze are identified as an ethnic group in Syria. The dominate in a small region in the south the country; centered to the Druze Mountain and the town of Suweida.

Little research has been done on the Dom population of Syria. The little information available indicate that they are dispersed across western Syria, sometimes establishing camps in rural areas.

The size of the Bedouins population is hard to assess, estimates of their numbers vary immensely, from 0.5% to 15.0% of the total Syrian population. Syria's Bedouins have largely abandoned their old ways, and do not lead their traditional nomadic and semi-nomadic lives anymore.

Armenians of Syria live largely in the north, the largest community is in Aleppo, there is also a substantial community in Damascus. Armenians form the majority in one small town, Kesab in the very north, a town of only 3,500 inhabitants. There are smaller variations for estimates, generally ranging from 150,000 to 190,000.

Turkmens of Syria live mainly in Aleppo, Damascus and Latakia. There are considerable variations in estimates, ranging from 80,000 to 130,000. Somewhat more than half of Turkmens speak Azerbaijani language, somewhat less than half speak Arabic.

Assyrians of Syria live all across the country, but with larger representations in the east. Their largest communities are in Qamishli and Hassake. There is much confusion over their exact number. LookLex estimate of 75,000 corresponds well with other data, but a respected source like Ethnologue states that they in 1995 formed a community of 700,000. Ethnologue's figure is quite impossible and must be seen in conjunction with the claims of an Assyrian genocide in the early 20th century. A high Assyrian population in Syria would disprove that there ever was such a genocide.

Aramaics is a people group causing some challenges in classification. They are one of the main contributors to the Syrian Arabs. But Aramaic identity is today linked to knowledge about the Aramaic language. Aramaics form the majority in a few villages in the mountains north of Damascus.

Turks of Syria live mainly along the border to Turkey. Their number is uncertain, estimates vary a lot, from 0.3% (as LookLex has chosen) to 5% of Syria's population. This is a matter of politics, Turkey has an interest in making the number high, Syria making it low. LookLex choses a low number since there have been plenty of chances for Turks to relocate to Turkey, especially to the Hatay province (cities like Antakya and Iskenderun), claimed by Syria.

Other peoples
There are more, and smaller, ethnic groups: Ossetes, Circassians and Persians. The estimates of Circassians also varies a lot, one 1987 estimate set their numbers to 100,000. They constutite a whole district in Damascus, and have a few majority villages.

Syrians abroad
Syria (together with Lebanon) have been major contributors to emigration to the Americas. Some estimates make the populations with Syrian and Lebanese background higher than 10 million in countries like Brazil and Argentina.

By Tore Kjeilen