Syria Travel Guide
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Syria Ethnic Groups
Modern-day Syrians are an overall indigenous Levantine people. Genetically, they are most closely related to their immediate Levantine neighbours.Syrians also descend largely from a blend of the various groups indigenous to their country, in the case of Syria, most of whom were of the Christian faith and speakers of Aramaic; a language introduced by an earlier conquest. Syrians today, whether Muslim, Christian or other, are therefore a thoroughly Arab people, and it is these Syrian Arabs, together with some 400,000 UNRWA Palestinian Arabs which make up over 90% of the population.
Syria also hosts non-Arab ethnic minorities. The largest of these groups, the Kurds, constitute about 9% of the population. Most Kurds reside in the northeastern corner of Syria and many still speak the Kurdish language. Sizeable Kurdish communities live in most major Syrian cities as well. The majority of Syrian Turkmen live in Aleppo, Damascus and Latakia. Assyrians are a significant Christian minority that live in the north and northeast and number around 700,000 in Syria. Although their numbers have been boosted by many Iraqi refugees since the Iraq War. The Assyrian Democratic Organization, is also banned in Syria by the current Syrian government. Armenians number approximately 190,000. Syria holds the 7th largest Armenian population in the world. In addition, approximately 1,300,000 Iraqi refugees were estimated to live in Syria in 2007. Roughly 50 percent of these refugees were Sunni Arab Muslims, 24 percent Shi'a Arab Muslim, and 20 percent Christian. During the Mandate years, there was a significant French population, many of whom left Syria after the end of French rule. As of 1987, approximately 100,000 Circassians lived in Syria.
The Americas have long been a destination for Arab migration, with Syrians arriving in some countries at least as early as the 19th century. The largest concentration of Syrians outside the Middle East is in Brazil, which has over 9 million Brazilians of Arab ancestry. The majority of the 3.5 million Arab Argentines are from either Lebanese or Syrian background.
I still make sure to go, at least once every year, to a country where things cannot be taken for granted, and where there is either too much law and order or too little. Christopher Hitchens
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