Syria has a young and rapidly growing population. Most of the people are of Arab descent and speak Arabic, the country's official language; French and English are understood by many, and Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, and Circassian are spoken in some areas. The chief minority is the Kurds; others include the Armenians, Turkmen or Turkomans (Turks), Circassians, and Assyrians (Nestorian Christians). About 75% of the country's inhabitants are Sunni Muslims. There are also significant numbers of Alawite Muslims, who live in the Jabal al-Nusayriyah; Druze , who live in the south, principally in the Jabal al-Duruz; and smaller Muslim sects; all of these groups comprise about 16% of Syria's population. The largest Christian groups are the Greek Orthodox, the Armenian Orthodox, and the Syrian Orthodox, together comprising about 10% of the population. Before 1992, Syria had a Jewish community of more than 4,000; all but a few hundred left the country after emigration restrictions were lifted in that year.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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