Syria The People
Syria with a population of 17 million, has one of the world's fastest population growth rates in the world. Almost half of all Syrians are under the age of fifteen. Syrians are well educated by Middle Eastern standards and great strides have been made in reducing illiteracy, especially in urban areas and among females. Over fifty percent of the population live in cities and urban migration has been rapid in recent years.
Arabic is the first language of 85 - 90 percent of the population. As for foreign languages, the older generation often speaks some French, while English is widely understood among the younger and middle-aged groups.
Around 25 percent of Syria's population are estimated to be economically active, creating a labor force of 3.75 million people in 1996. Fifty percent of the total workforce is employed in urban areas. Only 11 percent of the urban workforce are women, compared to around 22 percent in Syria's smaller towns and villages..