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Assyrian vs. Syrian — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 17, 2024
Assyrian refers to an ancient Mesopotamian civilization and its descendants, while Syrian pertains to the modern nation of Syria and its citizens.
Assyrian vs. Syrian — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Assyrian and Syrian


Key Differences

The Assyrians are an ethnic group originally from ancient Mesopotamia, known for their rich history dating back to 2500 BCE. On the other hand, Syrians are primarily citizens of the modern nation-state of Syria, which gained independence in 1946.
Assyrian culture is characterized by its ancient language, Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, and its historical contributions to art and architecture. Whereas, Syrian culture is a blend of various influences, including Arab, Ottoman, and French, reflecting its complex historical lineage.
Historically, Assyria was a powerful empire known for its military prowess and administrative innovations. Conversely, modern Syria has been shaped by its geopolitical significance in the Middle East, often marked by political instability.
The Assyrian identity is closely tied to Christianity, with many Assyrians adhering to the Assyrian Church of the East and other denominations. In contrast, Syria is predominantly Muslim, with Sunni Islam being the largest religious group, alongside significant Christian and other minority communities.
Assyrians today are often part of a global diaspora, due to historical displacements and recent conflicts. Meanwhile, Syrians have also experienced a diaspora, largely due to the Syrian Civil War that began in 2011.

Comparison Chart


Ancient Mesopotamia
Modern nation of Syria


Assyrian Neo-Aramaic
Arabic (official)

Major Religion

Christianity (various denominations)
Islam (predominantly Sunni)

Historical Period

As early as 2500 BCE to present (as an ethnic group)
1946 to present (as a nation-state)

Cultural Influences

Mesopotamian, Christian
Arab, Ottoman, French

Compare with Definitions


An ethnic group and culture originating from ancient Mesopotamia, historically centered on Christianity.
The Assyrian community continues to celebrate its heritage through language and traditional festivals.


Syria's official language is Arabic, reflecting its Arab cultural identity.
Arabic is used in all official communications and media in Syria.


Known for stone reliefs and ancient architecture, such as the ziggurat.
The historical artifacts from ancient Assyria provide insight into their advanced societal structure.


A citizen of Syria, a country in the Middle East known for its rich historical and cultural mosaic.
Syrian cuisine, like hummus and kebab, is celebrated for its diversity and flavor.


The language spoken by Assyrians is Assyrian Neo-Aramaic, an ancient language still in use today.
Assyrian Neo-Aramaic is taught in community schools to keep the language alive among young Assyrians.


Known for historic sites like Palmyra and the Umayyad Mosque, showcasing diverse cultural influences.
The ruins of Palmyra stand as a testament to Syria's rich historical tapestry.


Of or relating to Assyria or its people, language, or culture.


Of or pertaining to Syria; Syriac.


A native or inhabitant of Assyria.


A native or inhabitant of Syria


See Akkadian.


Of or relating to or characteristic of Syria or its people or culture;
The Syrian government


The Assyrian dialects of Akkadian.


Of or pertaining to Assyria, or to its inhabitants.


An inhabitant of ancient Assyria


An extinct language of the Assyrians regarded as a dialect of Akkadian

Common Curiosities

How do Syrians identify culturally?

Syrians identify with a blend of Arab, Ottoman, and French cultural influences due to the historical rule of these empires.

What is the historical significance of Assyrians?

Assyrians were known for their innovations in governance and military strategy in ancient Mesopotamia.

What languages do Assyrians speak?

Assyrians primarily speak Assyrian Neo-Aramaic.

What is the predominant religion in Syria?

The majority religion in Syria is Sunni Islam.

What are the major historical sites in Syria?

Major sites include Palmyra, the Umayyad Mosque, and Aleppo’s ancient citadel.

What role does religion play in Assyrian identity?

Religion plays a central role, with Christianity being a significant aspect of Assyrian identity.

Are Assyrians and Syrians the same?

No, Assyrians are an ethnic group with ancient roots, while Syrians are citizens of the modern nation of Syria.

How has the Assyrian culture been preserved?

Through religious traditions, language preservation, and diaspora communities.

What caused the Syrian diaspora?

The Syrian Civil War, starting in 2011, led to a massive displacement of Syrian people.

What are typical Assyrian traditions?

Traditions include religious festivals, dance, and music that reflect their ancient heritage.

What are the main economic activities of Assyrians today?

Many Assyrians are involved in business, academia, and various professions across the diaspora.

How do Assyrians maintain their identity in the diaspora?

Through community organizations, churches, and cultural festivals.

How diverse is Syrian society?

It's highly diverse, encompassing various ethnic and religious groups.

What are common misconceptions about Assyrians?

One common misconception is confusing Assyrians with Syrians due to the similarity in names.

What impact has the Syrian Civil War had on its cultural heritage?

Significant damage to historical sites and a profound impact on its cultural landscape.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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