History: Syria, the seat of an ancient civilization, became a fully independent sovereign republic in 1946.

Syria joined with Egypt in 1958 in the United Arab Republic but seceded in 1961. Principal towns are Damascus, Aleppo and homs.

Syria has been involved in the Arab-israeli conflict since 1948. Syria’s negotiations with Israel haven’t made much headway.

Economy: Agriculture and cattle-breeding comprise the major occupations of the people. The chief crops are cotton, wheat, tobacco and olives. Minerals: oil, phosphate, gypsum. Industries include oils, soap, textiles, leather, tobacco, sugar and glassware.

Recent Events: On April 26, 2005 Syria withdrew all its troops from Lebanon.


History: A former Soviet republic that became independent in 1991, Tajikistan is bordered by Uzbekistan, China and Afghanistan.

People who speak an Iranian dialect similar to Persian are considered to be the descendants of the original Aryan population of Turkestan.

In Nov. ’92, Parliament voted to abolish presidency and install a parliamentary republic. A pro-communist regime came in Jan. ’93. In Nov. ’94, a constitution establishing a presidential system was approved. Muslim rebels continued to fight the regime.

In June ’97, government and opposition leaders signed a peace treaty ending five years of bloody civil war. In August, fighting was reported among pro-government warlords. Russia supported president Rakhmonov.

Economy: Farming, horticulture and cattle breeding are the main occupations. Products: Grain, potatoes, vegetable, fruit, grapes, meat, milk, eggs, wool, cotton. Natural resources: Brown coal, lead, zinc, oil uranium, radium, arsenic. Industry: Mining, engineering, food, textile, clothing, silk, bricks, ferroconcrete, knitwear, footwear.


History: The United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar was constituted on April 26, 1964 (named Tanzania on Oct. 29), when the Republic of Tanganyika in East Africa and the island Republic of Zanzibar (‘the Isle of Cloves’), off the coast of Tanganyika, joined into a single nation.

Three of Africa’s best-known lakes-victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa-and Mount Kilimanjaro – the highest in Africa – are in Tanzania.

President Julius K. Nyerere dominated Tanzanian politics until he resigned in 1985. In 1967, the government set on a socialist course, and nationalized banks and many industries.

The country firmly abandoned socialist policies and switched over to a market-based system more than 14 years ago. Privatization of the economy was undertaken in the 1990s. the process of economic recovery, however, has been painfully slow.

Economy: The economy is agricultural. The chief cash crops are sisal, sugarcane, cotton, tea, tobacco and coffee. Cloves are grown on the islands, chiefly in Pemba. Livestock is extensively raised. Diamonds are an important export. Other minerals include gold, tin and salt. Industry: Food processing and clothing.

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