The Middle Eastern country of Syria has been in the news a lot this week.
Here are a few facts about this amazing country.
1. Syria is officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic.
2. Syria is bordered by Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest.
3. The population of Syira is 18 million people.
4. Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians,Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Mandeans and Yazidis. Sunni Arabs make up the largest population group in Syria.
5. Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000. He took over from his father who was president from 1979.
6. The capital city is Damascus, – 2.65 million people.
What is happening in Syria?
Syria’s civil war is the worst humanitarian disaster of our time. The number of innocent civilians suffering currently stands at more than 11 million people.
When did the crisis start?
Anti-government demonstrations began in March of 2011, part of the Arab Spring. But the peaceful protests quickly escalated after the government’s violent crackdown, and rebels began fighting back against the regime.
By July, a group called the Free Syrian Army and many civilian Syrians took up arms to join the opposition. Now the civil war has covered the entire country.
What is happening to Syrians caught in the war?
The civil war has killed over 220,000 people. It is estimated that half of these are believed to be civilians. Bombings are destroying crowded cities and horrific human rights violations are widespread. Basic necessities like food and medical care are sparse.
The U.N. estimates that 7.6 million people are displaced.