Glossary -- Syria
- Member of a Shia (q.v.) sect that is the largest
religious minority in Syria. President Hafiz al Assad and many other
leaders of the ruling political party are adherents. Alawis believe
in divine incarnation and the divinity of Ali, and hence they are
viewed as heretical by most other Muslims.
- see Alawi.
- Literally, commander. Frequently used as title by tribal chief.
Also used by rulers of principalities or small states and governors
of provinces. In Saudi Arabia and elsewhere used by princes of the
- See barrels per day.
- barrels per day
- Production of crude oil and petroleum products is frequently
measured in barrels per day, often abbreviated bpd. A barrel is a
volume measure of forty-two United States gallons. Conversion of
barrels to metric tons depends on the density of the special
product. About 7.3 barrels of average crude oil weigh one metric
ton. Heavy would be about seven per metric ton. Light products, such
as gasoline and kerosine, would average close to eight barrels per
- See Syrian pound.
- Member of a religious community located in the southern part of
Syria that is the third largest religious group of the country.
Druze beliefs contain elements of Shia (q.v.) Islam,
Christianity, and paganism.
- fiscal year (FY)
- Same as calendar year since 1963.
- GDP (gross domestic product)
- A value measure of the flow of domestic goods and services
produced by an economy over a period of time, such as a year. Only
output values of goods for final consumption and intermediate
production are assumed to be included in final prices. GDP is
sometimes aggregated and shown at market prices, meaning that
indirect taxes and subsidies are included; when these have been
eliminated, the result is GDP at factor cost. The word gross
indicates that deductions for depreciation of physical assets have
not been made. See also GNP.
- GNP (gross national product)
- GDP (q.v.) plus the net income or loss stemming from
transactions with foreign countries. GNP is the broadest measurement
of the output of goods and services by an economy. It can be
calculated at market prices, which include indirect taxes and
subsidies. Because indirect taxes and subsidies are only transfer
payments, GNP is often calculated at factor cost removing indirect
taxes and subsidies.
- Greater Syria
- Term used by historians and others to designate the region that
includes approximately the present-day states of Jordan, Israel,
Lebanon, and Syria before those states were formed.
- Tradition based on the precedent of Muhammad's nondivinely
revealed deeds and words that serves as one of the sources of
Islamic law (sharia).
- Literally to migrate, to sever relations, to leave one's tribe.
Throughout the Muslim world hijra refers to the migration of
Muhammad and his followers to Medina. In this sense the word has
come into European languages as hegira and is usually and somewhat
misleadingly translated as flight.
- A word used in several senses. In general use and lowercased, it
means the leader of congregational prayers; as such it implies no
ordination or special spiritual powers beyond sufficient education
to carry out this function. It is also used figuratively by many
Sunni (q.v.) Muslims to mean the leader of the Islamic
community. Among Shias (q.v.) the word takes on many
complex and controversial meanings; in general, however, it
indicates that particular descendant of the House of Ali who is
believed to have been God's designated repository of the spiritual
authority inherent in that line. The identity of this individual and
the means of ascertaining his identity have been the major issues
causing divisions among Shias.
- International Monetary Fund
- Established along with the World Bank (q.v.) in 1945,
the IMF is a specialized agency affiliated with the United Nations
and is responsible for stabilizing international exchange rates and
payments. The main business of the IMF is the provision of loans to
its members (including industrialized and developing countries when
they experience balance of payments difficulties. These loans
frequently carry conditions that require substantial internal
economic adjustments by the recipients, most of which are developing
- Member(s) of a branch of Shia (q.v.) Islam. Ismailis
recognize seven Imams (q.v.) and venerate Ismail as the
Seventh; other Shias recognize Musa al Kazim as Seventh Imam.
Ismailis are often called Seveners, and other Shias are known as
- The struggle to establish the law of God on earth, often
interpreted to mean holy war.
- See Syrian pound.
- Leader or chief. Word of Arabic origin used to mean a tribal,
political, or learned religious leader. Also used as an honorific.
- Shia (from Shiat Ali, the Party of Ali)
- A member of the smaller of the two great divisions of Islam. The
Shias supported the claims of Ali and his line to presumptive right
to the caliphate and leadership of the Muslim community, and on this
issue they divided from the Sunnis (q.v.). Shias revere
Twelve Imams, the last of whom is believed to be in occultation.
- See Shia.
- Sunni (from sunna, orthodox)
- A member of the larger of the two great divisions of Islam. The
Sunnis supported the traditional method of election to the caliphate
and accepted the Umayyad line. On this issue they divided from the
Shias (q.v.) in the first great schism within Islam.
- Syrian pound (LS)
- Has consisted of 100 piasters since first issued by the French
in 1920. Par value of LS2.19 to US$1 was established with the
International Monetary Fund in 1947. Par value was the official
exchange rate until 1954 when it became LS3.58 to US$1. In the 1960s
and 1970s the official exchange rate ranged between LS3.82 to US$1
in 1962 to LS3.95 to US$1 in 1978. In 1981 Syria returned to a
multitier exchange rate, establishing a parallel rate for the pound
to float freely against major world currencies. In 1987 there were
four government-established exchange rates for the Syrian pound: the
official rate (used for imports) LS3.9=$US1; the parallel rate (used
for commercial ventures) LS5.4=$US1; the tourist rate (used by
tourists but also diplomats and for commercial transactions) LS9.75
to $US1; and the "neighboring country" rate (private sector imports
and the trading rate of the pound in other countries and illegally
inside Syria) LS21.50 to $US1.
- World Bank
- Informal name used to designate a group of three affiliated
international institutions: the International Bank for
Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Development
Association (IDA), and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
The IBRD, established in 1945, has the primary purpose of providing
loans to developing countries for productive projects. The IDA, a
legally separate loan fund but administered by the staff of the
IBRD, was set up in 1960 to furnish credits to the poorest
developing countries on much easier terms than those of conventional
IBRD loans. The IFC, founded in 1956, supplements the activities of
the IBRD through loans and assistance specifically designed to
encourage the growth of productive private enterprises in the less
developed countries. The president and certain senior officers of
the IBRD hold the same positions in the IFC. The three institutions
are owned by the governments of the countries that subscribe their
capital. To participate in the World Bank group, member states must
first belong to the International Monetary Fund (IMF--
- Member(s) of a small religious group. The religion is little
known to outsiders but contains elements of Islam, Judaism, and
Christianity, and also includes the veneration of the Peacock Angel.