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Books and Reports

Comparative Demography of the Syrian Diaspora: European and Middle Eastern Destinations

Barely a decade ago, the population of Syria stood at 21 million—a population similar to the state of Florida, or in between the population totals for Romania and Australia. In less than 10  years, this population has been fractured by a perfect storm of demographic, economic, political, ethnic, and sectarian forces. Today, about one-fourth of Syria’s people have been scattered across other countries as refugees, asylum seekers, and self-settled migrants. Another one-fourth of them live as internally displaced persons inside the country, driven from their homes by violence and economic and political chaos. Syria furnishes one of the most terrible lessons in recent history about just how disrupted life can become in a country and how quickly it can happen.

Who are the six million or more Syrians who have fled the country? These pages provide a factual demographic portrait of the Syrian diaspora, now found for the most part in the neighboring states of Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, but also including a sizeable minority who shelter in more distant destinations concentrated predominantly in Europe.

Chapters contributed by population experts provide demographic details about Syrian residents in each country, including age distributions, sex ratios, and information about education, marital status, and family living arrangements where available. We show the salience of families with young children in this exodus from Syria and highlight the concentration of these migrants in a few countries in particular as a result of both varying national policies toward refugees and the preferences of these Syrian exiles themselves. While there are demographic similarities in Syrian populations in different countries, we also document clear and systematic differences distinguishing the populations of Syrians in some countries from those in other places. Above all, we seek to reveal the variety of human faces behind this most dramatic and terrible demographic upheaval so far witnessed in the twenty-first century.