This is Part 2 of a multi-part series. Click here to read Part 1 first.
Now that you know where Syria is, let’s talk about what Syria is.
So what is Syria? Is it just another Middle Eastern country that is undergoing conflict?
The short answer is “yes.” Syria is Middle Eastern country in the midst civil war. This war is similar to other wars that have happened in the Middle East in the last few decades. That said, Syria’s conflict affects millions of more people than a typical Middle Eastern conflict. Also, the Syrian War is likely to effect the whole region for decades. This is because Syria is not your standard Arab country. It is different to the rest of the Arab World in more ways than not.
One thing that makes Syria special is that it is a very diverse country. For thousands of years various groups of people have settled in Syria.
Unless your colour-blind this map gives you an idea of how diverse Syria can be. In truth, Syria is much more diverse than this map shows but these are most of the main ethnicities that live in Syria. Below are a few examples of different Syrian ethnicities:
These are Kurds that live in Syria. The Kurds’ culture and language is totally different from Arabic and Arab culture. I will write more about the Kurds later.
This in an Armenian family from Syria. They also speak Armenian and have their own culture, separate from the Arab world. As the the Jesus picture in the background implies, most Armenians are Christian.
These girls are Christian Arabs. They speak Arabic and have an Arab culture. Syria’s population is currently around 10% Christian.
This wedding party is Druze. The Druze are a little more ancient and mysterious than most cultures in Syria. Druze believe in the same single God as Christians, Muslims, and Jews, but with a lot of differences. Druze have been around for 1000 years. There are currently around 700,000 Druze in Syria.
Most of Syria’s population is Arab and Muslim. That said, Syria is governed as a secular country. This is like how the United Sates is mostly Christian but it’s governed as a secular country. This gives a lot of room for people to choose how “strongly” they wish to worship. For example, unlike other Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, many women in Syria don’t wear headscarves.
Though most of Syria is Muslim, there are lots of different kinds of Muslims in Syria. Just as there are lots of different kinds of Christians in the United States. Unlike the United States, tensions between the different groups is one of the main causes of the current war. This is not to say that everyone within a religious group has a problem with a different religious group. It is just that enough people from one group have a problem with another that they are able to fight a war with them.