|Yasser al-Azma • Ghada Shouaa • Wafa Sultan • Sabah Fakhri • Muhammed Faris • Sanharib Malki|
|Syria: 17,951,639 (2014 est.)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Arabic (Syrian Arabic, North Syrian Arabic), Aramaic (Western Neo-Aramaic, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, Surayt), Kurdish, South Azeri and Armenian|
|Islam, mostly Sunni, and a minority of Shi'as and Alawites
Christianity, mostly Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic and a minority of Syrian Orthodox
|Related ethnic groups|
|Lebanese people, Jordanian people, Palestinian people|
The Syrian people (Arabic: الشعب السوري / ALA-LC: al-sha‘ab al-Sūrī) are the inhabitants of the Syrian Arab Republic and their ancestors who share a common Levantine Semitic ancestry (mainly Aramaic and Arab). The term also refers to the citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic, regardless of ancestry, mother tongue, ethnic identity, or culture.
The cultural and linguistic heritage of the Syrian people is a blend of both indigenous elements and the foreign cultures that have come to rule the land and its people over the course of thousands of years.
The Syrian republic has a population of 17,951,639 (2014 est.), including ethnic minorities mainly Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Turkmens, Circassians and Greeks. the dominant racial group is Syrians descendants of the old indigenous peoples who mixed with Arabs and identify themselves as such in addition to ethnic Aramean Syriacs.
The Syrian diaspora consists of over 18 million people of Syrian ancestry who emigrated to North America (United States and Canada), Europe (including Sweden, France and Germany), South America (mainly in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela and Colombia), Australia and Africa.
Syrians was the name used by the Greeks and Romans to denote the inhabitants of Syria; however, those inhabitants called themselves Arameans. The ethnic designation "Syrian" is derived from the word "Assyrian" and appeared in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The Greeks used the terms "Syrian" and "Assyrian" interchangeably to indicate the indigenous Arameans, Assyrian and other inhabitants of the Near East, Herodotus considered "Syria" west to the Euphrates. starting from the 2nd century BC onwards, ancient writers referred to the Seleucid ruler as the King of Syria or King of The Syrians, The Seleucids designated the districts of Seleucis and Coele-Syria explicitly as Syria and ruled the Syrians as indigenous populations residing west of the Euphrates (Aramea) in contrast to Assyrians who had their native homeland in Mesopotamia east of the Euphrates, yet the interchangeability between Assyrians and Syrians persisted during the Hellenistic period.
In one instance, the Ptolemies of Egypt reserved the term "Syrian Village" as the name of a settlement in Fayoum. Here the term Syrians is under debate whether it referred to Jews or to Arameans, as the Ptolemies referred to all peoples originated from Modern Syria or Palestine as Syrian.
The term Syrian was imposed upon Arameans of the modern-day Levant by the Romans. Pompey created the province of Syria, which included modern-day Lebanon and Syria west of the Euphrates, framing the province as a regional social category with civic implications, Plutarch described the Syrians, so did Strabo who observed that Syrians resided west of the Euphrates in roman Syria, and he explicitly mentions that those Syrians are the Arameans whom he calls Aramaei indicating an extant ethnicity.
The Arabs called Syria and the Levant Al-Sham. The national and ethnic designation "Syrian" is one that has been reused, accepted, and espoused by the Syrian people since the advent of modern-day nationalism, which emanated from Europe and began with the culmination of the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s.
The Syrian people is split in between two identities, that is the Arabic identity and the Syriac identity, Muslims and Arabic speaking Christians describe themselves as Arabs while Aramaic speaking Christians majority and Muslims minority prefer to describe themselves as Syriacs or Arameans, also a few, mainly Syrian nationalists, describe themselves as only Syrians.
The inhabitants of Syria are descendents from the ancient Semitic peoples of antiquity, mainly the Arameans and Phoenicians, as well as to the pre-conquest, post-conquest Arabs of the 7th century AD. The majority of the Syrian people who refer to themselves as Arabs are the result of mixing between the indigenous tribes and the Arabs who entered Syria in the Classical antiquity. Syrian Muslims show more Arabian genetic influx than their fellow Christians as shown by genetic studies.
Syria was Arabised and Islamised in the seventh century, it took several centuries for Islam, the Arabic identity and language to spread, Syrians welcomed the Arabs as liberators which made arabisation and conversion faster. The Arabs had a policy of segregating indigenous Syrians from the Arabic tribes, they built new settlements to accommodate the new tribes which limited the ethnic assimilation of the original arabised Arameans. Caliph Uthman ibn Affan specifically ordered his governor Muawiyah I to settle the new tribes away from the original population, yet the Arabic language status as the formal language of the state prompted the cultural linguistic assimilation of Syrian converts.
While the Umayyad caliphs showed religious tolerance, The Abbasids had a different approach, and by the time of the Crusades most of the Syrians adopted Islam and were culturally and linguistically fully arabised, The new Muslim converts mixed with the Arabs and shifted to an Arabic racial identity although the mixing didn't change the genetic pool dramatically,
The indigenous Christians who didn't keep their identity, adopted an Arab racial identity, and became indistinguishable from the Arab Christians of pre-conquest era, while those who kept their racial characteristics maintained the Syrian identity and are mainly divided between two groups :
1- Followers of the Western Rite Syriac Orthodox Church : Those Aramaic Syriac-speaking Christians kept the Syrian (Syriac) Identity throughout the ages, today most of them speaks the Arabic language while retaining their racial identity, Syriac is still the liturgical language for most of the different Syriac churches in Syria, More recently, the Syriac Orthodox Church which has been historically called "Syrian" changed its English name officially to "Syriac" in 2000,
2- The Western Aramaic Speaking Group : the inhabitants of Bakh'a, Jubb'adin and Ma'loula, retained their racial and linguistic characteristics, the residents of Bakh'a and Jubb'adin are Muslims, while Ma'loula is split in between a Christian majority that belong to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch and the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in addition to a Muslim minority.
In the frame of Genetic studies conducted by genetic researcher Pierre Zalloua in order to identify the Lebanese population's origins and migration patterns in the region that may have influenced the genetic make-up, Samples from Syrians were also tested, Syrians genes were also studied in other genetic analysis conducted to learn about Contrasts in Affinities of Modern Middle Eastern Populations with European and African Populations, another analysis was conducted to learn about the Geographical Structure of the Y-chromosomal Genetic Landscape of the Levant and the coastal-inland contrast, those studies focused on human genome segments, the Y chromosome (inherited only by males and passed only by fathers) and mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA, which passes only from mother to child). Both segments are unaffected by recombination, thus they provide an indicator of paternal and maternal origins, respectively.
The genetic marker which identifies descendants of the ancient Levantines is found among members of all of Lebanon's religious communities as well as some Syrians and Palestinians, the most common Haplogroup is J represented by its subclades (branches) J1 and J2
The paternal Y-DNA haplogroups J1 (which reach it highest frequencies in Yemen 72.6% and Qatar 58.3%) accounted for 33.6% of the Syrians, indicating the gene flow form the Arabian peninsula, J1 has its highest frequency in people belonging to the Ismailis of Damascus with 58.8%, while reaching its lowest frequency among the arameans of Ma'loula with only 6.8%, other frequencies is 14.7% for Druze, 47.2% for Sunnis of Hama, 14.3% for Syriac Catholics of Saidnaya and 26.7% among the Alawites population.
The Syrian people cluster the closest with the Lebanese then Palestinians then the Jordanians.
Arabic is the mother tongue of some 90% of Syrians as well as the official state language. The Syrian dialect, which belongs to the same Eastern Mediterranean-Levantine family tree of dialects, varies little from Modern Standard Arabic. The standardized form of Arabic, used in formal settings throughout the Arab world, contains the same vocabulary and grammar for all Arab countries. Kurdish, Armenian, Turkish, and Circassian are also spoken in Syria by their respective minority communities. A direct descendant of the Aramaic of Jesus Christ, is still spoken in ancient Christian village of Ma'loula by Muslim and Christian Arameans residents. Aramaic is further widely understood by Syrian-Christian communities — all of whom use Syriac as a liturgical language. English, and to a lesser extent French, is widely understood and used in interactions with tourists and other foreigners.
Religious differences in Syria have historically been tolerated, and religious minorities tend to retain distinct cultural, and religious identities. Sunni Islam is the religion of 74% of Syrians. The Alawites, an ancient off-shoot of Shia Islam that is distinct from Sunni Islam, make up 12% of the population and mostly live in and around Latakia. Christians make up 10% of the country. Most Syrian Christians adhere to the Byzantine liturgical rites, the two largest are the Greek Orthodox and the Greek Catholic churches. The Druze, are a mountainous people who reside in Jebel Druze. The Druze, who helped spark the Great Syrian Revolt, are known as fierce soldiers. The Ismailis are an even smaller sect, that originated in Asia. Many Armenian and Assyrian Christians fled Turkey during the Armenian Genocide and Assyrian Genocide and settled in Syria. The Kurds, although Sunni Muslim, are very secular and have a distinct language. The Circassians, are of North Caucasus origin and are mostly Sunni Muslim, following the Hanafi school of thought. The Circassians number about 100,000 and mostly live in northern Syria. The nomadic Beduoin lead a lifestyle that keeps them largely separated from the rest of society, herding sheep and moving through the desert, although some have settled in towns and villages. There are roughly 500,000 Palestinian refugees, who were expelled from their homeland in 1948 after the creation of Israel. The community of Syrian Jews inside Syria once numbered 30,000 in 1947 but has only 200 today.
The Syrian people's beliefs and outlooks, similar to those of most Arabs and people of the wider Middle-East, are a mosaic of West and East. Conservative and liberally minded people will live right next to each other, and hold debates with each other. Like the other countries in the region, religion permeates life; the government registers every Syrian's religious affiliation.
Syrian cuisine is dominated by ingredients native to the region. Olive oil, garlic, olives, peppermint, and sesame oil are some of the ingredients that are used in many traditional meals. Traditional Syrian dishes enjoyed by Syrians include, tabouleh, labaneh, shanklish, wara enab, makdous, kebab, sfiha, moutabal, hummus, manaeesh, bameh, and fatoush. Before the main courses, Syrians eat maza, which is basically an appetizer. Maza is usually served with Arab-style tea - highly concentrated black tea, which is highly sweetened and served in small glass cups. Another popular drink, especially with Christian and non-practicing Muslim men, is the Arabian Liquor Arak, which is produced from grapes or dates and flavored with aniseed, and can have an alcohol content of over 90% ABV (however, most commercial Syrian Arak brands are about 40-60% ABV).
Famous people with Syrian ancestry
- Paul Anka, Canadian singer and songwriter.
- Paula Abdul, is a singer and successful as an original judge on American Idol in the 2000s.
- Rosemary Barkett (born 1939), was the first woman to serve on the Florida Supreme Court, and the first woman Chief Justice of that court. She currently serves as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
- Hala Gorani (born March 1, 1970), is a news anchor and correspondent for CNN International.
- Teri Hatcher, is an actress most famous for her roles in Desperate Housewives and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Her mother is part Syrian.
- Steve Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011), was the co-founder and former CEO of Apple, the largest Disney shareholder, and a member of Disney's Board of Directors. Jobs was considered a leading figure in both the computer and entertainment industries.
- Bob Marley was of part Syrian descent
- Carlos Menem (born July 2, 1930), former president of Argentina (1989-1999)
- Jerry Seinfeld is of maternal Syrian Jewish descent.
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- , Ma'loula Aramaic speaking Muslims
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- Derhally, Massoud A. (7 February 2011). "Jews in Damascus Restore Synagogues as Syria Tries to Foster Secular Image". Bloomberg. Retrieved 8 May 2011. "The project, which began in December, will be completed this month as part of a plan to restore 10 synagogues with the backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and funding from Syrian Jews."
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to People of Syria.|
- Syrian people, Every Culture
- Photos and images of Syrian people, Syrian History - Online
- Collections of images of Eastern Mediterranean people, including Syrian people, Mideast Image
- Syrian people, Encyclopedia Britannica