Syria’s Country Profile
Official country name: Syrian Arab Republic.
Area: 71,062 sq miles (185,180 sq km), including 805 square miles (1,295 sq km) of Israeli-occupied territory.
Population: 19.3 million (2007), not including 1.4 million Iraqi refugees and 500,000 Palestinian refugees.
Median age: 21.1
Ethnic Groups: Arab, 90 percent; Kurds, Armenians and others, 10 percent.
GDP and GDP per capita: $24.3 billion and $4,100
Read a complete country profile of Syria
Syria’s Olympic History
First time represented at Summer Olympics: 1948
Gold medals won: 1
Athletes at the Beijing Olympics: 8
Number of Sports competing in at Beijing Olympics: 5
Medals at 2008 Beijing Olympics: 0
Syria’s Olympic Playbook
On the list of unfree and rather drab countries, Syria ranks pretty high. Or low. Frustration makes for good boxers: Syria’s last Olympic medals, one of three since its first Games in 1948, was a bronze, won by heavyweight boxer Naser Al Shami in Athens.
Ghada Shouaa won Syria a gold in the heptathlon in 1996 (one of the only two women in the Arab world to win a gold, ever, and one of just three in the greater Middle East to do so. Nawal El Moutawakel won a gold for Morocco in the 400m hurdles in Los Angeles in 2004. Turkish eighlifter Nurcan Taylan won a gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004. That just about wraps it up for women and gold in the Mideast, unfortunately). Joseph Atiyeh won a silver in freestyle wrestling in 1984.
Syria has recently been sending a few swimmer to the Olympics, and will send three to Beijing, the largest contingent of its delegation of eight, but the swimmers will be missing 25-year-old Rafed El-Masri. He swam for Syria in Athens. This time around the 2006 Asian champion will be swimming for Germany.
Syria’s Athletes at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
Track & Field/Athletics
Majed Aldin Gazal