Although expats might once have been excited about relocating to a destination steeped in thousands of years of history, the armed conflict in Syria has made it an extremely challenging place to move to.
Since 2011, Syria has been in a state of political upheaval that began with protests and demonstrations against the government. Today the region is embroiled in a complex war involving powerful international allies on both sides. As a result, safety and security is a major concern for expats living in Syria. The British Foreign Office and the US Department of State advise their citizens against all travel to Syria and have also urged those already in the country to leave as soon as possible. The expat population is therefore considerably smaller than it once was.
The threat of terrorism is high and there is serious widespread fighting throughout the country. Bombings are frequent and deadly. There have been a number of cases of abduction and subsequent execution of foreigners, including journalists and aid workers.
In the past, Syria was a popular destination for expats who were relocated to work in its petroleum industry or as diplomatic personnel. Therefore, at one stage the country was well-prepared to cater for expats with a range of international schools to educate expat children and some excellent private hospitals. Due to the fact that most expats have left Syria, many of these institutions have ceased operations.
While Syria is a fascinating country full of history, natural beauty and historical architecture, it is unfortunate that it is not possible for expats to make the most of the opportunities in this vibrant destination. Those offered lucrative employment packages to move to Syria should consider postponing their trip until the political unrest settles down and some of the modern amenities are up and running again.
Population: Around 17 million but prone to fluctuation due to refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries
Capital city (and largest city): Damascus
Neighbouring countries: Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel
Geography: Most of Syria is arid plateau, with a green strip in the northwest along the Mediterranean Sea. The Euphrates River crosses Syria in the east.
Political system: Unitary dominant-party semi-presidential republic
Major religion: Islam
Main languages: Arabic
Money: Syrian pound (SYP), subdivided into 100 qirsh
Time: UTC+2 (UTC+3 from late March to late October)
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz
Internet domain: .sy
International dialling code: +963
Emergency contacts: 110 (ambulance), 112 (police), 113 (fire)
Transport and driving: Drives on the right.