POPULATION 22.5 million
LANGUAGES Arabic, Kurdish
GOVERNMENT Bashar Assad, president since 2000, holds all the power.
HISTORY France controlled Syria until 1946. After gaining its independence, the small desert country went through a long period of political instability. Hafiz Assad seized control of the country in 1970, and stabilized it. His son, Bashar Assad, took control of the country following his father's death in 2000.
To read about why Syria has been in the news lately, check out the September 13, 2013 issue of TIME FOR KIDS: Edition 5-6