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Syrian Arab Republic
Geography, climate and population
The Syrian Arab Republic, with a total area of 185 180 km2, is bordered in the north by Turkey, in the east and southeast by Iraq, in the south by Jordan, in the southwest by Israel and in the west by Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea. Administratively the country is divided into 14 mohafazats (governorates), one of which is the capital Damascus.
The country can be divided into four physiographic regions:
- the coastal region between the mountains and the sea;
- the mountains and the highlands extending from north to south parallel to the Mediterranean coast;
- the plains or interior, located east of the highlands and including the plains of Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Hassakeh and Dara;
- the Badiah and the desert plains in the southeastern part of the country, bordering Jordan and Iraq.
In 2005, total cultivable land was estimated at 5.91 million ha, or 32 percent of the total area of the country and the cultivated land was 5.74 million ha (Table 1). Of the 5.53 million ha of cultivated land in 2004, temporarily fallow land represented 0.80 million ha and the effective cultivated land 4.73 million ha, of which over 30 percent was irrigated. Hassakeh, Aleppo and Raqqa are the main agricultural mohafazats accounting for 28, 21 and 12 percent respectively of the effective cultivated land in the country. The private sector owns 54 percent of the effective cultivated area, cooperatives 45 percent and the public sector less than 0.5 percent (CBS, 2006).
The Syrian Arab Republic’s climate is Mediterranean with a continental influence: cool rainy winters and warm dry summers, with relatively short spring and autumn seasons. Large parts of the Syrian Arab Republic are exposed to high variability in daily temperature. The maximum difference in daily temperature can be as high as 32 °C in the interior and about 13 °C in the coastal region. Total annual precipitation ranges from 100 to 150 mm in the northwest, 150 to 200 mm from the south towards the central and east-central areas, 300 to 600 mm in the plains and along the foothills in the west, and 800 to 1 000 mm along the coast, increasing to 1 400 mm in the mountains. The average annual rainfall in the country is 252 mm.
Total population is just over 19 million (2005), of which almost 50 percent is rural (Table 1). The average annual demographic growth rate was estimated at 2.5 percent during the period 2000–2005. The average population density is about 103 inhabitants/km2.
In 2006, 92 percent of the population had access to improved sanitation (96 and 88 percent in urban and rural areas respectively) and 89 percent had access to improved water sources (95 and 83 percent in urban and rural areas respectively).