June 3, 2016
Ancient Syria was home to the Canaanites, Assyrians, Persians and Babylonians.
Antioch (now in Turkey) was the Christian centre of the eastern part of the Roman empire.
With the Arab conquest and Islamization in the 7th century, Christians became a minority. Syria was part of the Ottoman empire until 1918, and under French rule until it achieved independence in 1946.
After a brief union with Egypt (1958-61), the socialist Ba-ath party seized power and established a radical regime. A military coup in 1970 brought president Hafiz al-Asad into power, until his death in 2000. He was succeeded by his son.
Syria’s economy is based on agriculture, some manufacturing industry, and oil production and export.
The main Orthodox churches in Syria are the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, which is Arab and uses the Arab liturgy, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate (Oriental), and the Armenian Apostolic Church, also Oriental.
There are six Catholic rites: Melkite, Armenian, Syrian, Maronite, Latin and Chaldean.
The Ancient Church of the East (Assyrian) is also present, and is part of the WCC through its patriarchate in the USA.
The main Protestant churches are the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, and the Union of Evangelical Armenian Churches.
The churches in Syria are also portrayed on the Keeping the Faith website.