Syria is a country in southwest Asia in the heart of the Middle East.
The official name of the country is the Syrian Arab Republic.
The official language is Arabic.
As of 1 January 2017, the population of Syria was estimated to be 17,803,825 people.
It is the 87th largest country in the world by area with 185,180 square kilometers (71,500 square miles).
Damascus is the capital city of Syria. It is commonly known in Syria as ash-Sham and nicknamed as the City of Jasmine. Founded in the 3rd millennium B.C., Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world. The city has some 125 monuments from different periods of its history. The Ancient City of Damascus was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1979.
The Mediterranean coastal plain is backed by a low range of hills, followed by a vast interior desert plateau.
The highest point in Syria is Mount Hermon at 2,814 meters (9,232 feet) above sea level.
Syria has 193 kilometers (120 miles) of coastline.
Along the coast are sandy beaches alternating with rocky headlands and cliffs.
Syria has declared 24 protected areas accounting for 1.3% of its total land area.
Syria has 6 UNESCO world heritage sites.
Palmyra is an ancient Semitic city in present-day Homs Governorate, Syria. Archaeological finds date back to the Neolithic period, and the city was first documented in the early second millennium BC. Palmyra changed hands on a number of occasions between different empires before becoming a subject of the Roman Empire in the first century AD. In 1980, the historic site including the necropolis outside the walls was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.
The Umayyad Mosque, also known as the Great Mosque of Damascus located in the old city of Damascus, is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world. It is considered by some Muslims to be the fourth-holiest place in Islam.
Krak des Chevaliers is a Crusader castle in Syria and one of the most important preserved medieval castles in the world. The castle was built by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem from 1142 to 1271. With further construction by the Mamluks in the late 13th century. Since 2006, the castles of Krak des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The Qal’at Salah El-Din (Fortress of Saladin), even though partly in ruins, represents an outstanding example of this type of fortification, both in terms of the quality of construction and the survival of historical stratigraphy. It retains features from its Byzantine beginnings in the 10th century, the Frankish transformations in the late 12th century and fortifications added by the Ayyubid dynasty (late 12th to mid-13th century).
The Citadel of Aleppo is a large medieval fortified palace in the centre of the old city of Aleppo, northern Syria. It is considered to be one of the oldest and largest castles in the world. Usage of the Citadel hill dates back at least to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Subsequently occupied by many civilizations including the Greeks, Byzantines, Ayyubids and Mamluks, the majority of the construction as it stands today is thought to originate from the Ayyubid period. Dominating the city, the Citadel is part of the Ancient City of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.
Part of the Ottoman Empire for four centuries, Syria came under French mandate in 1920 and gained independence in 1946.
Syria was under emergency laws for a staggering period of 48 years from 1963 to 2011. It was lifted in 2011 when civil war broke out.
The Syrian conflict has created the largest wave of refugees to hit Europe since World War II.
Prior to the civil war in 2011, the government hoped to attract new investment in the tourism, natural gas, and service sectors to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil and agriculture.
The national dish of Syria is kibbeh, a deep-fried, torpedo-shaped croquette usually filled with minced lamb or beef.
The two stars in the Syrian flag symbolize the previous union between Egypt and Syria.
The “Shouting Valley” is a place where Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel meet. Its name came from the habit of people shouting at their relatives through megaphones across the valley. However, with the advent of mobile phones, people don’t do this as often, except on special occasions like weddings or when they want to see each other and they use binoculars.
Damascus is famous for its steel worldwide. The unique patterns in the Damascus Steel, make it quite alluring. Damascus Steel is mostly used for making knives, swords and other such weapons.
In the Middle Ages, Damascus was a major point on the silk road from Asia and gave the name to the woven fibres known as damask.
According to the Bible, it was on the road to Damascus, that St Paul was converted to Christianity when he was dazzled by a heavenly light.
According to some scholars, Mount Qasioun near Damascus was the place were Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother Abel with a rock.
The King James Bible refers to Damascus 45 times in the Old Testament and 15 in the New.
In May 2001, Pope John Paul II visited the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus city of Syria and became the first Pope ever to visit a mosque.
The Ebla tablets, discovered in 1974 in Ebla show that beer was produced in Syria at least 2500 BC.