In 2011, the internal protests in the country developed into real civil war (see also Syrian civil war). As a result, the country’s economy and infrastructure have been wasted.
|Gross domestic product (GDP)||$ 50,280,000,000|
|GDP growth rate||-36.50%|
|GDP per capita||$ 2,900|
|GDP by sector|
|Proportion of the population below the national poverty line||11.9%|
|Distribution of household income|
|Top 10%||k. A.|
|Lower 10%||k. A.|
|Industrial production growth rate||-2.40%|
|Investment volume||17.8% of GDP|
|National debt||94.80% of GDP|
|Foreign exchange reserves||$ 407,300,000|
|Number of visitors||5,070,000|
Before the civil war, Syria had a mixed economy where agriculture, retail and some light industry are privately owned, while the state controlled most of the other business. In 2011, the country had a per capita GDP of USD 3,050. Agriculture (including forestry and fishing) accounted for 18 percent of GDP and employed 17 percent of the labor force; the corresponding figures for the industry (including the mining and energy industries) were 27 and 16 percent, respectively. About 50 percent of the country’s income comes from oil and gas production.
Even before the civil war, the country’s economic development was hampered by a number of factors; the confrontation policy against Israel and the military involvement in Lebanon led to military spending devouring more than half of government spending during periods. In addition, there were internal unrest and corruption and inefficiency in government and state-owned companies.
Topography and climatic conditions have been crucial for agriculture. An important cultivation area is the narrow land strip along the Mediterranean coast between Lebanon and Turkey, where mainly olives, fruits, tobacco and cotton are grown. The valley of the Nahr al-Asi valley is another important agricultural district. A new cultivation area in the northeast, al-Jazira, has been created through the construction of the Tabaqa Dam in the Euphrates. This has enabled large-scale irrigation, mainly for cotton cultivation. The ongoing expansion of irrigation as well as investments in modern technology are expected to both increase and stabilize production. Pastures cover just over 40 percent of the land area, and livestock farming is of great economic importance.
Several years of drought have posed major problems for the agricultural sector, and many farmers have been forced to move into the cities. The drought has also led to a shortage of food in some areas, especially in the northeastern part of the country.
Natural resources and energy
Syria’s most important raw materials are oil and gas, but the deposits are considered small. Production of heavy, sulfur-containing oil began in 1968. Production has been at a low level, but new discoveries of light oil with low sulfur content at Dayr az-Zawr have increased both production and export. In the 1980s, natural gas was also found and during the 00s, exports of natural gas increased.
Syria has invested a lot to increase electricity generation. Despite this, the country suffers from chronic energy shortages and is often affected by interruptions in electricity generation. In addition to oil and natural gas, hydropower also contributes to electricity generation. The Tabaqa Dam (completed in 1978) in the Euphrates is the country’s largest electric power plant. However, problems with the water flow in the Euphrates have meant that the power plant has failed to deliver the expected amount of electricity.
Following rapid industrialization in the 1950s, mainly in textile production, Syria’s industrial production stagnated during the 1970s. Many heavier industries were nationalized between 1958 and 1965, but since 1970, private investment has been encouraged. The country’s industry is still dominated by large state companies. In some industries, e.g. however, private companies have become an increasingly important role.
The most important industrial sectors are fertilizer, iron and cement industry, textile, food, glass and paper production, as well as the installation of tractors, refrigerators and TV sets. The most important industrial cities are Aleppo, Damascus, Hama and Hums.
Syria’s foreign trade showed a surplus from the mid-1990s to the mid-1990s. Subsequently, the country has experienced a growing deficit, mainly as a result of falling oil exports and increased imports of consumer goods. Prior to 1990, the Soviet Union and other eastern states were the main exporting countries, but after 1991 Syria’s exports were increasingly directed at EU and other Middle Eastern countries. However, as a result of extensive smuggling, there is considerable uncertainty about trade statistics.
According to Countryaah, Syria mainly exports oil, food and textiles. Imports mainly comprise machinery and transport equipment, food and industrial goods. The most important trading partners are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Lebanon and Germany.