Mired in a nine-year long conflict, Syria had an estimated population of 18.2 million in 2018, down from 20.8 million in 2011. The Syrian population is quite young, as almost 52.2 percent were below 30 years old in 2015.[1] Over 5.7 million refugees have fled Syria since 2011, mainly towards Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.[2] As the conflict widened into a fully-fledged war, 6.2 million Syrians were internally displaced by the end of 2018.[3]


Syria was ranked as the least peaceful country worldwide, according to the 2018 Global Peace Index, a position it has held for the past five years.[4] The conflict in Syria has taken a heavy toll on the economy, eroding livelihoods and disrupting services’ provision. In 2018, around 13 million people were considered in need of humanitarian assistance in the world’s second worst humanitarian crisis, after Yemen,[3] and four out of five people lived in poverty.[5] Moreover, 1.2 million people were living in hard to reach and besieged areas, of whom 35 percent relied on unsafe water sources to satisfy their water needs.[6]


Syria incurred the largest economic cost of violence in the world, estimated at 68 percent of GDP in 2017 and the largest economic impact of violence at USD 42 billion (Purchasing Power Parity).[4] Between 2010 and 2016, inflation increased by 600 percent.[7] With the rise in the staple food prices, especially in the hard-to-reach and besieged areas, 6.5 million people were food insecure in 2018, with another 4 million facing a high food insecurity risk.[6] Over 50 percent of Syrians were unemployed in 2015, with youth unemployment reaching 78 percent.[8][9] Syria’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita (Purchasing Power Parity, constant 2011 prices) amounted to a low of USD 2,337 billion in 2017, compared to a regional average of USD 15,837.[10]


Given the continuous displacement, exposure to violence, increasing poverty and persistent lack of access to basic services and necessities, the wellbeing of children has been particularly affected in Syria, with 5.3 million under-18 children in need of humanitarian assistance in 2018.[5] Around 84,200 under-five children were acutely undernourished, of which 18,700 being severely undernourished.[5] With the ongoing violence, one out of three schools were either damaged, destroyed or used as collective shelters for the internally displaced people.[6] In the same context, over 2 million school-age children were out of schools in the 2016-2017 academic year.[5] In regard to immunization, 37 percent and 33 percent of one-year-old children lacked DPT and measles immunization in 2017, respectively, compared to 12 percent and 15 percent for their cohorts in the region.[10]

This overview was last updated in January 2019. Priority is given to the latest available official data published by national statistical offices and/or public institutions.


[1] Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat.  2017. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].
[2] United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). January 2019. Syria Regional Refugee Response. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].
[3] United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. (UNOCHA). 2019. Key Figures. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].
[4] Institute for Economics and Peace. 2018. Global Peace Index: Measuring Peace in a Complex World. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].
[5] United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). 2018. UNICEF’s Response to the Syria Crisis. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].
[6] Whole of Syria Strategic Steering Group (SSG). January 2018. 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). Syrian Arab Republic. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].
[7] International Monetary Fund (IMF). De Imus, P., Pelle, G. and Rother, B. December 2017. The Cost of Conflict: Middle East Strife is Extracting a Heavy Toll on Regional Economies. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].
[8] United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UNESCWA) and the University of St. Andrews. Abu-Ismail, K, et al. 2016. Syria at War: Five Years on. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].
[9] International Labour Organization (ILO). 2019. ILOSTAT. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].
[10] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 2018. Human Development Indices and Indicators: 2018 Statistical Update. Available at: [Accessed 07 February 2019].

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Data Highlights

  • The spread and amplification of Syria’s armed conflict have led to a humanitarian crisis with 6.5 million internally displaced persons and 4.8 million refugees by the end of 2015, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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