(from the CIA World Factbook
185,180 sq km, slightly larger than North Dakota
Arab 90.3%, Kurds
, Armenians and other 9.7%
Religion: Muslim 87%, Christian 10% and Druze 3%
GDP (purchasing power parity): $55.8 billion (2014 estimate)
GDP per capita: $5,100 (2011 estimate)
Unemployment: 57.7% (2014 estimate)
1517-1918 - Part of the Ottoman Empire.
1920 - The League of Nations puts Syria under French control.
April 17, 1946 - Independence is declared after French troops leave the country.
1949-1958 - A series of coups leads to instability in the country.
February 1, 1958 -
Syria and Egypt
merge, creating the United Arab Republic.
September 28, 1961 - Syria secedes from the United Arab Republic.
1967 - Syria loses the Golan Heights to Israel during the Six Day War.
November 13, 1970 - Minister of Defense Hafez al-Assad stages a bloodless coup.
1976-2005 - Approximately 17,000 Syrian troops are stationed in neighboring Lebanon.
1979-present - Syria is placed on the US State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.
June 10, 2000 - Hafez al-Assad dies.
July 10, 2000 - Bashar al-Assad
is elected president by referendum, winning 97% of the vote. He is reelected in 2007.
March 2011-present -
Civil war in Syria.
June 3, 2014 - President Bashar al-Assad is re-elected receiving 88.7% of the vote in the country's first election since civil war broke out in 2011. The election is criticized by opposition groups and many Western countries.
September 22-23, 2014 -
The US and allies launch airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria for the first time.
May 2015 -
ISIS takes control of the ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back 2,000 years, and destroys its temples and shrines
in the months that follow.
August 17, 2015 -
The UN says the humanitarian crisis in Syria is worsening
and estimates that at least 250,000 Syrians have been killed, more than a million have been injured, and almost half the population displaced since the civil war began in 2011.
February 4, 2016 -
Donor countries have pledged more than $10 billion for Syria
at an international conference in London, British Prime Minister David Cameron announces.