Country Information


The Syrian pound is the official currency used in Syria. Pound is translated in Arabic as lira. One pound can be divided into 100 piastres. Originally part of the Ottoman Empire, Syria's official currency was the Turkish lira. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Syria was placed under a mandate, and all the states under the French and British mandates, including Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine began using the Egyptian pound. The French placed Syria under its mandate and they decided to give Syria their own currency by establishing a commercial bank, Banque de Syrie. Later, this bank was renamed the Banque de Syrie et Liban (BSL), and began to act as the official bank for Lebanon and Syria. The bank issued a Franc based Lebanese-Syrian currency, that would last for 15 years starting in 1924. Two years before the expiration, the BSL split the Lebanese-Syrian currency that could be used interchangeably in either state. Today, these two currencies have split and differentiated completely, as the Lebanese pound is approximately 30 times weaker than the Syrian pound.

Sovereign Ratings for Syria

Syria is not rated

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Political Structure

On paper, Syria has a republican government, however in reality Syria is an authoritarian government with small indications of a democratic system. Syria's people have the means to voter for their president, as well as for the members of Parliament; however, they are not allowed to change their government if they find it repressive. Over the last few decades, the President has continued to gain strength, in part due to the army's loyalty and Syria's internal security forces. The Ba'ath Party, who follows a written constitution, controls all three branches of the government. Along with the Ba'ath Party, six other political parties are allowed to coexist; the seven parties make up the National Progressive Front, a group of the various political parties that represent the sole framework of legal political party participation for its people. The NPF was created to give the appearance of a multi-party government, however the Ba'ath Party is clearly the dominant of the others, and the government usually acts in a one-party-system mode. The Parliament, also controlled by the Ba'ath Party, is known as the People's Council. It is elected every four years and has no independent authority. They do not have the power to initiate laws, because the executive branch has full control over all legislative processes. The President has most of the effective powers of the government. He is approved by referendum for a 7-year term, and is also Secretary General of the Ba'ath Party and leader of the National Progressive Front. He has the right to appoint ministers, to declare war, to issue laws, to declare amnesty, to amend the constitution, and to appoint civil servants and military personnel. He also has major decision-making powers over economic issues, as the National Progressive Front acts as a forum where economic policies are discussed and the country's political orientation is determined.

Prominent Figures

Chief of State President Bashar al-ASAD (since 17 July 2000); Vice President Farouk al-SHARA (since 11 February 2006) oversees foreign policy; Vice President Najah al-ATTAR (since 23 March 2006) oversees cultural policy Head of Government Prime Minister Muhammad Naji al-UTRI (since 10 September 2003); Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdallah al-DARDARI (since 14 June 2005) Cabinet Council of Ministers appointed by the president Elections president approved by popular referendum for a second seven-year term (no term limits); referendum last held on 27 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2014); the president appoints the vice presidents, prime minister, and deputy prime ministers Election Results Bashar al-ASAD approved as president; percent of vote - Bashar al-ASAD 97.6%

Key Economic Factors

Economic Overview:

Real GDP rose 2.3% percent in 2004, an improvement from 2003, when the economy was negatively impacted by the war in Iraq and other problems in the Middle Eastern region. Because of the recent decline in real GDP rates, Syria has began reforms by cutting interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating some of the multiple exchange rates, and raising prices on subsidized foodstuffs. Nevertheless the government still controls the better part of the economy, and problems, such as declining oil production and exports and pressure on water supplies caused by rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and increased water pollution, still cause major damage to the emerging economy. Syria has a developing economy, which is heavily based on agriculture, industry, and energy. In the 1960's, Syria nationalized a lot of the major enterprises and imposed policies that helped address regional and class disparities. This government intervention has heavily dampened economic growth, especially the financial sector and the country's trade regime. Weak public sector firms, low investment levels, and low industrial and agricultural productivity have continually dampened economic efficiency and growth.


Petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, and phosphate rock mining

Import Commodities:

Machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, and paper.

Export Commodities:

Crude oil, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, clothing, meat and live animals, and wheat.

Major Trading Partners:

Germany, Italy, UAE, and China.

Agriculture - products:

Wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, and milk.

Exchange Rates



Damascus Starting from

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