Population: 22,198,110 (July 2010 estimate)
Bordering Countries: Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey
Area: 71,498 square miles (185,180 sq km)
Coastline: 120 miles (193 km)
Highest Point: Mount Hermon at 9,232 feet (2,814 m)
Syria is a country located in western Asia on the Mediterranean Sea. It shares borders with Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. Syria's capital is Damascus, which is one of the oldest cities in the world, but its largest city is Aleppo. Most recently, Syria has been in the news because in early 2011 a portion of its population called for a "day of rage" to protest the country's government. The protest did not occur however.
History of Syria
Syria has a long history and archaeological evidence shows that it was home to an ancient civilization that dates from 2500 to 2400 B.C.E. Damascus was also settled in about 2500 B.C.E. and as such, it is one of the world's oldest inhabited cities. In 636 C.E. Muslims took control of the city and it later became a part of the Omayyad Empire which eventually stretched from Spain to India.
In 1260 Damascus became the capital of the Mameluke Empire and in 1400 it was destroyed by Mongol conquerors. It was rebuilt shortly after and it remained as the capital of the empire until 1516 when the region became a part of the Ottoman Empire which then controlled the area for about 400 years.
In 1920, the independent Arab Kingdom of Syria was established, but after the battle of Maysalun, French troops entered the region and Syria was put under a French mandate which lasted until 1940 when the Vichy Government took control of France and the country. In 1941, France re-entered Syria and its troops remained there until 1946 when Syrian nationalists forced them out.
On April 17, 1946, Syria declared itself independent and from that time into the late 1960s, Syria was highly unstable and underwent several political coups. In 1970, a final coup took place and Minister of Defense Hafiz al-Asad became Syria's leader and he worked to restructure the government in order to make the country more stable. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Syria faced some social instability and violence and in the 1990s, Syria participated in the conflict against Saddam Hussein led by the United States. Al-Asad died in 2000 and he was followed by his son Bashar al-Asad as Syria's president.
Following the terrorist attacks on of September 11, 2001, tensions between the U.S. and Syria began to grow and in 2003 U.S. President George W. Bush signed the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 which said that the U.S. would impose sanctions on Syria if it did not sever ties with Palestinian terrorist groups, end military relations with Lebanon, end its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and meet obligations under United Nations Security Council regarding reconstruction of Iraq (According to the U.S. Department of State). As a result, tensions between the U.S. and Syria grew even more from 2004 to 2009, but today the two are working more peacefully. Syria is still a highly unstable nation however.
Government of Syria
Syria's government is considered a republic under an authoritarian regime. Its executive branch is made up of a chief of state and a prime minister and its legislative branch consists of a unicameral People's Council. Syria's judicial branch is made up of the Supreme Judicial Council, the Supreme Constitutional Court, the Court of Cassation, the Appeals Court, as well as several local level courts. Syria is divided into 14 provinces for local administration.
Economics and Land Use in Syria
Syria's economy has declined in recent years as the economies of some of its export countries have declined. Damascus is the center of Syria's economy and the main industries in the country include petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seed crushing and auto assembly. Agriculture also plays a role in Syria's economy and the main products are wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets, beef, mutton, eggs, poultry and milk.
Geography and Climate of Syria
Syria is located in the Middle East along the Mediterranean Sea (map) and bordering Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Its topography consists mainly of semiarid and desert plateau but it also has a narrow coastal plain and mountains in west. The highest point in Syria is Mount Hermon at 9,232 feet (2,814 m), while its lowest point is an unnamed location near Lake Tiberias at -656 feet (-200 m).
The climate of Syria is mostly desert and as such it has hot, dry summers inland. Along the coast, the climate is more mild and winters are cool and rainy. Damascus, however, often has cold winters with snowfall. The average August high in that city is 99°F (37°C), while the average January low is 36°F (2°C).
To learn more about Syria, visit the Geography and Maps page on Syria on this website.
Central Intelligence Agency. (20 January 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Syria. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html
Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Syria: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108016.html
United States Department of State. (8 September 2010). Syria. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3580.htm
Wikipedia.com. (28 February 2011). Syria - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syria