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Syria

Background

Syria

Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over the northern portion of the former Ottoman Empire province of Syria. The French administered the area as Syria until granting it independence in 1946. The new country lacked political stability, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic. In September 1961, the two entities separated, and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished. In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the Socialist Ba'th Party and the minority Alawite sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel. During the 1990s, Syria and Israel held occasional peace talks over its return. Following the death of President al-ASAD, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum in July 2000. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April 2005. During the July-August 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizballah, Syria placed its military forces on alert but did not intervene directly on behalf of its ally Hizballah. In May 2007 Bashar al-ASAD was elected to his second term as president.

About

Syria (الجمهوريّة العربيّة السّوريّة Al-Jumhuriya al-`Arabiya as-Suriya, the Syrian Arab Republic ) is one of the larger states of the Middle East and has its capital in Damascus. Syria is bordered to the north by Turkey, to the east by Iraq, by Jordan and Israel to the south, and by Lebanon to the south-west. In addition, the country has a short coastline on the east Mediterranean Sea.

Read more about Syria in our Syria travel guide »

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Syria

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Featured hotels in

Syria

SyriaFOUR SEASONS DAMASCUS 

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Syria

Price (US$): $390 - $928 / night

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Four Seasons Hotel Damascus. Rising in pillar of timeless architecture beside a lovely public garden and an ancient mosque in a prime area of downtown Damascus. Within easy reach of embassies, business, retail and cultural sites, Four Seasons is designed to be the city pre eminent address for visitors and social events. more »

SyriaSEMIRAMIS PALMYRA 

DESERT ROAD
Palmyra
Syria

Price (US$): $150 - $370 / night

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the Palmyra Palace Hotel And Village Resort Is Situated In The Historical City Of Palmyra The Capital Of The Silk Road Offering Incomparable Views Of The Old Roman Temples. more »

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Syria

Full name
Syrian Arab Republic
Capital
Damascus
Location

Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey

Geographic coordinates

35 00 N, 38 00 E

Area comparative

slightly larger than North Dakota

Border countries

Iraq 605 km, Israel 76 km, Jordan 375 km, Lebanon 375 km, Turkey 822 km

Coastline

193 km

Climate

mostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast; cold weather with snow or sleet periodically in Damascus

Terrain

primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains in west

Lowest point

unnamed location near Lake Tiberias -200 m

Highest point

Mount Hermon 2,814 m

Natural resources

petroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower

Population

22,198,110 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

Arab 90.3%, Kurds, Armenians, and other 9.7%

Religions

Sunni Muslim 74%, other Muslim (includes Alawite, Druze) 16%, Christian (various denominations) 10%, Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo)

Languages

Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood; French, English somewhat understood

Government type

republic under an authoritarian regime

Independence

17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)

National holiday

Independence Day, 17 April (1946)

Chief of state

President Bashar al-ASAD (since 17 July 2000); Vice President Farouk al-SHARA (since 11 February 2006) oversees foreign policy; Vice President Najah al-ATTAR (since 23 March 2006) oversees cultural policy

Head of government

Prime Minister Muhammad Naji al-UTRI (since 10 September 2003); Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdallah al-DARDARI (since 14 June 2005)

Internet country code

.sy

Internet users

4.469 million (2009)

Airports

104 (2010)

Ports and terminals

Baniyas, Latakia, Tartus

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