It is a small area—approximately 10,000 square miles, or about the size of the state of Maryland.
The People's Assembly nominates the president, whose candidacy is then approved by a popular referendum.
Current President Bashar Al-Asad and his father, Hafiz Al-Asad, who served as president for 30 years before his death in 2000, have run unopposed in all elections.
That same name was also used to designate a less well-defined “Holy Land” by the three monotheistic religions.
Following the war of 1948–1949, this land was divided into three parts: the State of Israel, the West Bank (of the Jordan River) and the Gaza Strip.
Syrians do not have the right to change their government.
The Syrian constitution, ratified in 1973, guarantees the Ba'ath Party's dominance in the People's Assembly – Syria's parliament – by reserving assembly seats for members of the Ba'ath Party and the National Progressive Front (NPF), the umbrella group of Syrian parties of which the Ba'ath Party is the legal head.Jewish claims to this land are based on the biblical promise to Abraham and his descendants, on the fact that the land was the historical site of the ancient Jewish kingdoms of Israel and Judea, and on Jews’ need for a haven from European anti-Semitism.Palestinian Arab claims to the land are based on their continuous residence in the country for hundreds of years and the fact that they represented the demographic majority until 1948. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content.Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.The conflict between Palestinian Arabs and Zionist (now Israeli) Jews is a modern phenomenon, dating to the end of the nineteenth century.