Syria

Syria

Overview
Syria (ˈsɪriə ; or ; ; ), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ), is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 to the West, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 to the north, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 to the east, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 to the south, and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 to the southwest.

In English, the name Syria was formerly synonymous with the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, known in Arabic as Sham, while the modern state encompasses the sites of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Ebla
Ebla
Ebla Idlib Governorate, Syria) was an ancient city about southwest of Aleppo. It was an important city-state in two periods, first in the late third millennium BC, then again between 1800 and 1650 BC....

n civilization of the third millennium BC.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Syria'
Start a new discussion about 'Syria'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
Syria (ˈsɪriə ; or ; ; ), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ), is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and the Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 to the West, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 to the north, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 to the east, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 to the south, and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 to the southwest.

In English, the name Syria was formerly synonymous with the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

, known in Arabic as Sham, while the modern state encompasses the sites of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Ebla
Ebla
Ebla Idlib Governorate, Syria) was an ancient city about southwest of Aleppo. It was an important city-state in two periods, first in the late third millennium BC, then again between 1800 and 1650 BC....

n civilization of the third millennium BC. In the Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic era, its capital city, Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate, and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)
The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt was the final independent Egyptian state prior to the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in 1805. It lasted from the overthrow of the Ayyubid Dynasty until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. The sultanate's ruling caste was composed of Mamluks, Arabised...

.

The population of Syria is 75% Sunni Muslim
Islam in Syria
Islam in Syria comprises 87% of the total population. Sunnis make up 74% of the total, mostly of Arab, Kurdish and Turkish ethnicities. Shia's make up the remaining 13%: Alawites, Ismailis, and Twelvers. Alawites are the pre-dominant Shia group, followed by Twelvers and Ismailis. Sunnis are mainly...

, with a 13% Shia Muslim population, 9% Christian
Christianity in Syria
Christians in Syria make up about 10% of the population, the largest Christian denomination is the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, closely followed by the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and then the Syriac Orthodox Church; there are also a minority of Protestants...

 and 3% Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

. Combined, some 91% of the Syrian population is Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

, which largely includes Arabs and significant minorities of Kurds, and Circassians. Some 9% are Christians, which mainly includes ethnic Assyrians, but also Arab Christians
Arab Christians
Arab Christians are ethnic Arabs of Christian faith, sometimes also including those, who are identified with Arab panethnicity. They are the remnants of ancient Arab Christian clans or Arabized Christians. Many of the modern Arab Christians are descendants of pre-Islamic Christian Arabian tribes,...

, and Armenians
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

. Major ethnic minorities include Kurdish (10%), Assyrian/Syriac, Armenian, Turkmen and Circassian populations, while the majority is Arab (90%).

The modern Syrian state was established after the First World War as a French mandate
French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon
Officially the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon was a League of Nations mandate founded after the First World War and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire...

, and represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

-ruled Arab Levant. It gained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic
Parliamentary republic
A parliamentary republic or parliamentary constitutional republic is a type of republic which operates under a parliamentary system of government - meaning a system with no clear-cut separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches. There are a number of variations of...

. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–1971. Between 1958-1961, Syria entered a brief union with Egypt
United Arab Republic
The United Arab Republic , often abbreviated as the U.A.R., was a sovereign union between Egypt and Syria. The union began in 1958 and existed until 1961, when Syria seceded from the union. Egypt continued to be known officially as the "United Arab Republic" until 1971. The President was Gamal...

, which was terminated by a military coup in Syria. Syria was under Emergency Law from 1963–2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens, and its system of government is considered to be non-democratic. Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. Al-Assad was elected in 2000, re-elected in 2007, unopposed each time.- Early Life :...

 has been president since 2000 and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad
Hafez ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Assad or more commonly Hafez al-Assad was the President of Syria for three decades. Assad's rule consolidated the power of the central government after decades of coups and counter-coups, such as Operation Wappen in 1957 conducted by the Eisenhower administration and...

, who was in office from 1971. The Syrian government as of 2011 is facing massive protests
2011 Syrian uprising
The 2011 Syrian uprising is an ongoing internal conflict occurring in Syria. Protests started on 26 January 2011, and escalated into an uprising by 15 March 2011...

 as part of the Arab Spring
Arab Spring
The Arab Spring , otherwise known as the Arab Awakening, is a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010...

, and is suspended from the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

. Furthermore, the governments of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, and Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 have recognised the opposition Syrian National Council
Syrian National Council
The Syrian National Council or SNC is a Syrian opposition coalition created during the 2011 Syrian uprising against the government of Bashar al-Assad.-Background:...

 as the sole legitimate authority of the State.

Etymology


The name Syria is derived from the ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 name for Syrians: , , or , , which the Greeks applied without distinction to the Assyrians. A number of modern scholars argued that the Greek word related to the cognate , , ultimately derived from the Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 . Others believed that it was derived from Siryon, the name that the Sidonians gave to Mount Hermon
Mount Hermon
Mount Hermon is a mountain cluster in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. Its summit straddles the border between Syria and Lebanon and, at 2,814 m above sea level, is the highest point in Syria. On the top there is “Hermon Hotel”, in the buffer zone between Syria and Israeli-occupied...

. However, the discovery of the Çineköy inscription
Çineköy inscription
The Çineköy inscription is a Hieroglyphic Luwian-Phoenician bilingual, uncovered from Çineköy, Adana Province, Turkey , dating to the 8th century BC...

 in 2000 seems to support the theory that the term Syria does indeed derive from Assyria.

The area designated by the word has changed over time. Classically, Syria lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, between Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Arabia to the south and Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 to the north, stretching inland to include parts of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, and having an uncertain border to the northeast that Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 describes as including, from west to east, Commagene, Sophene
Sophene
Sophene , or ) was a province of the Armenian Kingdom and of the Roman Empire, located in the south-west of the kingdom. It currently lies in modern-day southeastern Turkey....

, and Adiabene
Adiabene
Adiabene was an ancient Assyrian independent kingdom in Mesopotamia, with its capital at Arbela...

.

By Pliny's time, however, this larger Syria had been divided into a number of provinces under the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 (but politically independent from each other): Judaea
Iudaea Province
Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

, later renamed Palaestina in AD 135 (the region corresponding to modern day Palestine, and Jordan) in the extreme southwest, Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

 corresponding to Lebanon, with Damascena to the inland side of Phoenicia, Coele-Syria
Coele-Syria
Coele-Syria , or Cœle-Syria or Celesyria, traditionally given the meaning 'hollow' Syria, was the region of southern Syria disputed between the Seleucid dynasty and the Ptolemaic dynasty. Rather than limiting the Greek term to the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, it is often used to cover the entire area...

 (or "Hollow Syria") south of the Eleutheris river, and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

.

Geography




Syria lies between latitudes 32°
32nd parallel north
The 32nd parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 32 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 38° N
38th parallel north
The 38th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 38 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean...

, and longitudes 35°
35th meridian east
The meridian 35° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 43° E
43rd meridian east
The meridian 43° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. It consists mostly of arid plateau, although the northwest part of the country bordering the Mediterranean is fairly green. The Northeast of the country "Al Jazira" and the South "Hawran" are important agricultural areas. The Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

, Syria's most important river, crosses the country in the east. It is considered to be one of the fifteen states that comprise the so-called "Cradle of civilization
Cradle of Civilization
The cradle of civilization is a term referring to any of the possible locations for the emergence of civilization.It is usually applied to the Ancient Near Eastern Chalcolithic , especially in the Fertile Crescent , but also extended to sites in Armenia, and the Persian Plateau, besides other Asian...

".

The climate in Syria is dry and hot, and winters are mild. Because of the country's elevation, snowfall does occasionally occur during winter.
Petroleum in commercial quantities was first discovered in the northeast in 1956. The most important oil fields are those of Suwaydiyah, Qaratshui, Rumayian, and Tayyem, near Dayr az–Zawr. The fields are a natural extension of the Iraqi fields of Mosul and Kirkuk. Petroleum became Syria's leading natural resource and chief export after 1974. Natural gas was discovered at the field of Jbessa in 1940.

History




Since approximately 10,000 BCE Syria was one of centers of Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 culture (PPNA) where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. The following Neolithic period (PPNB) is represented by rectangular houses of Mureybet
Mureybet
Mureybet is a tell, or ancient settlement mound, located on the west bank of the Euphrates in Ar-Raqqah Governorate, northern Syria. The site was excavated between 1964 and 1974 and has since disappeared under the rising waters of Lake Assad...

 culture. At the time of the pre-pottery Neolithic people used vessels made of stone, gyps and burnt lime (Vaiselles blanches). Finds of obsidian
Obsidian
Obsidian is a naturally occurring volcanic glass formed as an extrusive igneous rock.It is produced when felsic lava extruded from a volcano cools rapidly with minimum crystal growth...

 tools from Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 are evidences of early trade relations.
Cities of Hamoukar
Hamoukar
Hamoukar is a large archaeological site located in the Jazira region of northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border and Turkey.-History:...

 and Emar
Emar
Emar was an ancient Amorite city on the great bend in the mid-Euphrates in northeastern Syria, now on the shoreline of the man-made Lake Assad. It has been the source of many cuneiform tablets, making it rank with Ugarit, Mari and Ebla among the most important archeological sites of Syria...

 played an important role during the late Neolithic and Bronze Age.

Archaeologists have demonstrated that civilization in Syria was one of the most ancient on earth. Around the excavated city of Ebla
Ebla
Ebla Idlib Governorate, Syria) was an ancient city about southwest of Aleppo. It was an important city-state in two periods, first in the late third millennium BC, then again between 1800 and 1650 BC....

 in northern Syria, an Italian mission led by Prof. Paolo Matthiae
Paolo Matthiae
Paolo Matthiae is an Italian archaeologist.He was Professor of Archaeology and History of Art of the Ancient Near East in the University of Rome La Sapienza; he has been Director of the Ebla Expedition since 1963—in fact, its discoverer—and has published many articles and books about...

 discovered in 1975, a great Semitic empire spread from the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 north to Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and east to Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 from 2500 to 2400 BC Ebla appears to have been founded around 3000 BCE and gradually built its empire through trade with the cities of Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

 and Akkad
Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

, as well as with peoples to the northwest. Gifts from Pharaoh found during excavations confirm Ebla's contact with Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. Scholars believe the language of Ebla to be among the oldest known written Semitic languages
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

. The Eblan civilization was likely conquered by Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great "the Great King" , was an Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 23rd and 22nd centuries BC. The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon reigned in the last quarter of the third millennium BC...

 around 2260 BC; the city was restored as the nation of the Amorites a few centuries later and flourished through the early second millennium BC until conquered by the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

.

During the second millennium BCE, Syria was occupied successively by Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ites(Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

ns) and Arameans as part of the general disruptions associated with the Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
The Sea Peoples were a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty and especially during year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty...

; the Phoenicians settled along the coastline of these areas as well as in the west (Now Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and the current Syrian coast), in the area already known for its cedars. Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

, Babylonians, and Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 variously occupied the strategic ground of Syria during this period, as it was a marchland between their various empires. Eventually the Persians took control of Syria as part of their general control of Southwest Asia; this control transferred to the Greeks
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 after Alexander the Great's conquests and thence to the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and the Byzantines
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

.

In 83 BC Syria fell under the rule of Tigranes the Great
Tigranes the Great
Tigranes the Great was emperor of Armenia under whom the country became, for a short time, the strongest state east of the Roman Republic. He was a member of the Artaxiad Royal House...

; the King of Armenia. The Armenians maintained a rule of 13 years over Syria, which was finally turned into a Roman Province in 64 BC.

Ebla civilization


Around the excavated city of Ebla
Ebla
Ebla Idlib Governorate, Syria) was an ancient city about southwest of Aleppo. It was an important city-state in two periods, first in the late third millennium BC, then again between 1800 and 1650 BC....

 near Idlib city in northern Syria, discovered in 1975, a great Semitic empire spread from the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

 north to Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and east to Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 from 2500 to 2400 BCE. Ebla appears to have been founded around 3000 BC, and gradually built its empire through trade with the cities of Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

 and Akkad
Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

, as well as with peoples to the northwest. Gifts from Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

s, found during excavations, confirm Ebla's contact with Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. Scholars believe the language of Ebla
Eblaite language
Eblaite is an extinct Semitic language, which was spoken in the 3rd millennium BC in the ancient city of Ebla, at Tell Mardikh , between Aleppo and Hama, in western modern Syria....

 to be among the oldest known written Semitic languages
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

, designated as Paleo-Canaanite.

However, more recent classifications of the Eblaite language
Eblaite language
Eblaite is an extinct Semitic language, which was spoken in the 3rd millennium BC in the ancient city of Ebla, at Tell Mardikh , between Aleppo and Hama, in western modern Syria....

 has shown that it was an East Semitic language, closely related to the Akkadian language
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

. The Eblan civilization was likely conquered by Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great "the Great King" , was an Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 23rd and 22nd centuries BC. The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon reigned in the last quarter of the third millennium BC...

 around 2260 BC; the city was restored, as the nation of the Amorites, a few centuries later, and flourished through the early second millennium BC until conquered by the Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

.

Antiquity and early Christian era




During the second millennium BC, Syria was occupied successively by Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

ites, Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

ns, and Arameans as part of the general disruptions and exchanges associated with the Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
The Sea Peoples were a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BC who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean, caused political unrest, and attempted to enter or control Egyptian territory during the late 19th dynasty and especially during year 8 of Ramesses III of the 20th Dynasty...

. The Phoenicians settled along the coast of Northern Canaan (Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

), which was already known for its towering cedars. Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

, Babylonians and Hittites
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

 variously occupied the strategic ground of Syria during this period; the land between their various empires being marsh.

Eventually, the Persians took Syria as part of their hegemony of Southwest Asia; this dominion was transferred to the Ancient Macedonians
Ancient Macedonians
The Macedonians originated from inhabitants of the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, in the alluvial plain around the rivers Haliacmon and lower Axios...

 and Greeks after Alexander the Great's conquests and the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

. The capital of this Empire (founded in 312 BC) was situated at Antioch, part of historical Syria, but just inside the Turkish border today. But the Seleucid Empire was essentially just one long slow period of decline, and Pompey the Great captured Antioch in 64 BC, turning Syria into a Roman province. Thus control of this region passed to the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and then the Byzantines
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

.

In the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 period, the city of Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 was the third largest city in the empire after Rome and Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

. With an estimated population of 500,000 at its peak, Antioch was one of the major centers of trade and industry in the ancient world. The population of Syria during the heyday of the empire was probably not exceeded again until the 19th century. Syria's large and prosperous population made Syria one of the most important of the Roman provinces, particularly during the 2nd and 3rd centuries (AD).

The Roman Emperor Alexander Severus
Alexander Severus
Severus Alexander was Roman Emperor from 222 to 235. Alexander was the last emperor of the Severan dynasty. He succeeded his cousin Elagabalus upon the latter's assassination in 222, and was ultimately assassinated himself, marking the epoch event for the Crisis of the Third Century — nearly fifty...

, who was emperor from 222 to 235, was Syrian. His cousin Elagabalus
Elagabalus
Elagabalus , also known as Heliogabalus, was Roman Emperor from 218 to 222. A member of the Severan Dynasty, he was Syrian on his mother's side, the son of Julia Soaemias and Sextus Varius Marcellus. Early in his youth he served as a priest of the god El-Gabal at his hometown, Emesa...

, who was emperor from 218 to 222, was also Syrian and his family held hereditary rights to the high priesthood of the sun god El-Gabal at Emesa (modern Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

) in Syria. Another Roman emperor who was a Syrian was Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab
Philip the Arab , also known as Philip or Philippus Arabs, was Roman Emperor from 244 to 249. He came from Syria, and rose to become a major figure in the Roman Empire. He achieved power after the death of Gordian III, quickly negotiating peace with the Sassanid Empire...

 (Marcus Julius Philippus), emperor from 244 to 249.

Syria is significant in the history of Christianity
History of Christianity
The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, its followers and the Church with its various denominations, from the first century to the present. Christianity was founded in the 1st century by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth who they believed to be the Christ or chosen one of God...

; Saul of Tarsus was converted on the Road to Damascus, thereafter being known as the Apostle Paul, and emerged as a significant figure in the first organized Christian Church at Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 in ancient Syria, from which he left on many of his missionary journeys.


Islamic era



By AD 640, Syria was conquered by the Rashidun army
Rashidun army
The Rashidun Caliphate Army or Rashidun army was the primary military body of the Rashidun Caliphate's armed forces during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century, serving alongside the Rashidun Navy...

 led by Khalid ibn al-Walid
Khalid ibn al-Walid
Khālid ibn al-Walīd also known as Sayf Allāh al-Maslūl , was a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. He is noted for his military tactics and prowess, commanding the forces of Medina and those of his immediate successors of the Rashidun Caliphate; Abu Bakr and Umar...

, resulting in the area's becoming part of the Islamic empire
Rashidun Caliphate
The Rashidun Caliphate , comprising the first four caliphs in Islam's history, was founded after Muhammad's death in 632, Year 10 A.H.. At its height, the Caliphate extended from the Arabian Peninsula, to the Levant, Caucasus and North Africa in the west, to the Iranian highlands and Central Asia...

. In the mid-7th century, the Umayyad dynasty, then rulers of the empire, placed the capital of the empire in Damascus. Syria was divided into four districts: Damascus, Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

, Palestine
Jund Filastin
Jund Filastin was one of several sub-provinces of the Ummayad and Abbasid Caliphate province of Syria, organized soon after the Muslim conquest of Syria in the seventh century. According to al-Biladhuri, the main towns in the district at its capture by the Rashidun Caliphate, were Gaza, Sebastiya,...

 and Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

. The Islamic empire stretched from Spain and Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

 to India and parts of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

; thus Syria prospered economically, being the capital of the empire. Early Ummayad rulers such as Abd al-Malik and Al-Walid I constructed several splendid palaces and mosques throughout Syria, particularly in Damascus, Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 and Homs.

There was great toleration of Christians in this era and several held governmental posts. The country's power dramatically declined during later Ummayad rule; mainly due to the totalitarianism and corruption spread among the empire's leaderships, conflict between its general staff, and the successive revolutions by the oppressed and miserable groups. As one Ummayad chieftain responded to a question about the reasons of the decline of their empire: "Rather visiting what needed to be visited, we were more interested in the pleasure and enjoyment of life; we oppressed our people until they gave up and sought relief from us, [...] we trusted our ministers who favoured their own interests and kept secrets from us, and we unhurriedly rewarded our soldiers that we lost their obedience to our enemies."

Ummayad dynasty was then overthrown by the Abbasid dynasty in 750, who moved the capital of empire to Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 — made official under Ummayad rule — became the dominant language, replacing Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 and Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 in the Abbasid era. In 887, the Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

-based Tulunids
Tulunids
The Tulunids were the first independent dynasty in Islamic Egypt , when they broke away from the central authority of the Abbasid dynasty that ruled the Islamic Caliphate during that time...

 annexed Syria from the Abbasids, and were later replaced by once the Egypt-based Ikhshidid
Ikhshidid dynasty
The Ikhshidid dynasty of Egypt ruled from 935 to 969. The dynasty carried the Arabic title "Wali" reflecting their position as governors on behalf of the Abbasids, the first governor was Muhammad bin Tughj Al-Ikhshid, a Turkic slave soldier, who was installed by the Abbasid Caliph and gave him and...

s and later by the Hamdanids originating in Aleppo founded by Sayf al-Dawla.

Sections of the coastline of Syria were briefly held by Frankish overlords during the Crusades
Crusades
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

 of the 12th century, and were known as the Crusader state of the Principality of Antioch
Principality of Antioch
The Principality of Antioch, including parts of modern-day Turkey and Syria, was one of the crusader states created during the First Crusade.-Foundation:...

. The area was also threatened by Shi'a extremists known as Assassins (Hassassin). In 1260, the Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 arrived, led by Hulegu with an army 100,000 strong, destroying cities and irrigation works. Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 fell in January 1260, and Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 in March, but then Hulegu needed to break off his attack to return to China to deal with a succession dispute.

The command of the remaining Mongol troops was placed under Kitbuqa
Kitbuqa
Kitbuqa Noyan was a Nestorian Christian and a member of the Naiman Turks, a group that was subservient to the Mongol Empire. He was a lieutenant and confidant of the Mongol Ilkhan Hulagu, assisting him in his conquests in the Middle East...

, a Christian Mongol. A few months later, the Mamluks arrived with an army from Egypt, and defeated the Mongols in the Battle of Ain Jalut
Battle of Ain Jalut
The Battle of Ain Jalut took place on 3 September 1260 between Mamluks and the Mongols in eastern Galilee, in the Jezreel Valley, not far from Ein Harod....

, in Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

. In addition to the sultanate's capital in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

, the Mamluk leader, Baibars
Baibars
Baibars or Baybars , nicknamed Abu l-Futuh , was a Mamluk Sultan of Egypt. He was one of the commanders of the forces which inflicted a devastating defeat on the Seventh Crusade of King Louis IX of France and he led the vanguard of the Egyptian army at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260, which marked...

, made Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 a provincial capital, with the cities linked by a mail service that traveled by both horses and carrier pigeons. When Baibars died, his successor was overthrown, and power was taken by Qalawun
Qalawun
Saif ad-Dīn Qalawun aṣ-Ṣāliḥī was the seventh Mamluk sultan of Egypt...

. In the meantime, an emir named Sunqur al-Ashqar had tried to declare himself ruler of Damascus, but he was defeated by Qalawun on 21 June 1280, and fled to northern Syria.
Al-Ashqar, who had married a Mongol woman, appealed for help from the Mongols, and in 1281, they arrived with an army of 50,000 Mongols, and 30,000 Armenian, Georgian, and Turkish auxiliaries, along with Al-Ashqar's rebel force. The Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

 of the Ilkhanate
Ilkhanate
The Ilkhanate, also spelled Il-khanate , was a Mongol khanate established in Azerbaijan and Persia in the 13th century, considered a part of the Mongol Empire...

 took the city, but Qalawun arrived with a Mamluk force, persuaded Al-Ashqar to switch sides and join him, and they fought against the Mongols on 29 October 1281, in the Second Battle of Homs
Second Battle of Homs
The Second Battle of Homs was fought in western Syria on October 29, 1281, between the armies of the Mamluk dynasty of Egypt and Ilkhanate, division of the Mongol Empire centered on Iran...

, a close battle that resulted in the death of the majority of the combatants but was finally won by the Mamluks.

In 1400, Timur Lenk, or Tamerlane, invaded Syria, sacked Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 and captured Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 after defeating the Mamluk army. The city's inhabitants were massacred, except for the artisans, who were deported to Samarkand
Samarkand
Although a Persian-speaking region, it was not united politically with Iran most of the times between the disintegration of the Seleucid Empire and the Arab conquest . In the 6th century it was within the domain of the Turkic kingdom of the Göktürks.At the start of the 8th century Samarkand came...

. It was during the conquests of Timur that the indigenous Christian population of Syria began to suffer under greater persecutions.

By the end of the 15th century, the discovery of a sea route from Europe to the Far East ended the need for an overland trade route
Silk Road
The Silk Road or Silk Route refers to a historical network of interlinking trade routes across the Afro-Eurasian landmass that connected East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean and European world, as well as parts of North and East Africa...

 through Syria. In 1516, the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 invaded the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt, conquering Syria, and incorporating it into its empire, before conquering Egypt itself the following year. From that time until the 20th century, Syria found itself largely apart from, and ignored by, world affairs.

Ottoman era




The Syrian economy did not flourish under the Ottomans. At times attempts were made to rebuild the country that had been shattered by the Mongols, but on the whole Syria remained poor. The population decreased by nearly 30%, and hundreds of villages virtually disappeared into the desert. At the end of the 18th century only one-eighth of the villages formerly on the register of the Aleppo pashalik (domain of a pasha
Pasha
Pasha or pascha, formerly bashaw, was a high rank in the Ottoman Empire political system, typically granted to governors, generals and dignitaries. As an honorary title, Pasha, in one of its various ranks, is equivalent to the British title of Lord, and was also one of the highest titles in...

) were still inhabited.

Two allied diplomats (Frenchman François Georges-Picot
François Georges-Picot
François Marie Denis Georges-Picot , son of historian Georges Picot and grand-uncle of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, was a French diplomat who signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement during World War I, with the Englishman, Sir Mark Sykes, dividing up the Ottoman Empire into British, French and, later,...

 and Briton Mark Sykes) secretly agreed, long before the end of the war, how to split the Ottoman Empire into several zones of influence. With the end of World War I and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 as an ally of Germany, plans by the Entente powers to dissolve this Ottoman territory could then begin.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement
Sykes-Picot Agreement
The Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1916 was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Imperial Russia, defining their respective spheres of influence and control in Western Asia after the expected downfall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I...

 of 1916 set the fate of modern Southwest Asia
Southwest Asia
Western Asia, West Asia, Southwest Asia or Southwestern Asia are terms that describe the westernmost portion of Asia. The terms are partly coterminous with the Middle East, which describes a geographical position in relation to Western Europe rather than its location within Asia...

 for the coming century; providing France with the northern zone (Syria, including what would become the state of Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

), and the United Kingdom with the southern one (Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 and later, after renegotiations in 1917, Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 (including what would become the state of Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

) – 'to secure daily transportation of troops from Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

 to Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

' – agreement n° 7).

The two territories were separated by only a straight border line from Jordan to Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. But early discoveries of oil
Oil
An oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes vegetable oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils....

 in the region of Mosul
Mosul
Mosul , is a city in northern Iraq and the capital of the Ninawa Governorate, some northwest of Baghdad. The original city stands on the west bank of the Tigris River, opposite the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh on the east bank, but the metropolitan area has now grown to encompass substantial...

 just before the end of the war led to yet another negotiation with France in 1918 to cede this region to 'Zone B', or the British zone of influence. The borders between the 'Zone A' and 'Zone B' have not changed from 1918 to this date. Since 1920, the two sides have been recognized internationally under mandate of the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 by the two dominant countries: France and the United Kingdom.

French Mandate




In 1920, a short-lived independent Kingdom of Syria was established under Faisal I of the Hashemite
Hashemite
Hashemite is the Latinate version of the , transliteration: Hāšimī, and traditionally refers to those belonging to the Banu Hashim, or "clan of Hashim", a clan within the larger Quraish tribe...

 family, who later became the King of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. However, his rule over Syria ended after only a few months, following the clash between his Syrian Arab forces and regular French forces at the Battle of Maysalun
Battle of Maysalun
The Battle of Maysalun , also called The Battle of Maysalun Pass, took place between Syrian and French forces about 12 miles west of Damascus near the town of Maysalun on July 23, 1920.-Background:...

. French troops occupied Syria later that year after the San Remo conference
San Remo conference
The San Remo Conference was an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council, held in Sanremo, Italy, from 19 to 26 April 1920. It was attended by the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I who were represented by the prime ministers of Britain , France and Italy and...

 proposed that the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 put Syria under a French mandate.

In 1925, Sultan al-Atrash
Sultan al-Atrash
Sultan al-Atrash, Commonly known as Sultan Pasha al-Atrash was a prominent Arab Druze leader, Syrian nationalist and Commander General of the Syrian Revolution . He fought against the Ottomans, French, and even against the Syrian government in its days of dictatorship...

 led a revolt that broke out in the Druze Mountain and spread to engulf the whole of Syria and parts of Lebanon. This is considered one of the most important revolutions against the French mandate, as it encompassed the whole of Syria and witnessed fierce battles between rebel and French forces.

On August 23, 1925, Sultan Pasha al-Atrash officially declared revolution against France, and soon fighting erupted in Damascus, Homs and Hama. Al-Atrash won several battles against the French at the beginning of revolution, notably the Battle of Al-Kabir on July 21, 1925, the Battle of Al-Mazra'a on August 2, 1925, and the battles of Salkhad, Almsifarh and Suwayda.
After resistance victories against the French, France sent thousands of troops to Syria and Lebanon from Morocco and Senegal, equipped with modern weapons; the rebels were lightly armed. This dramatically altered the results and allowed the French to regain many cities, although resistance lasted until the spring of 1927. The French sentenced Sultan al-Atrash to death, but he had escaped with the rebels to Transjordan and was eventually pardoned. He returned to Syria in 1937 after the signing of the Syrian-French Treaty. He was met with a huge public reception.

Syria and France negotiated a treaty of independence
Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence (1936)
The Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence was a treaty negotiated between France and Syria to provide for Syrian independence from French authority, which had been imposed under a League of Nations Mandate.- Explanation :...

 in September 1936, and Hashim al-Atassi
Hashim al-Atassi
Hashim Bay Khalid al-Atassi was a Syrian nationalist, statesman and its President from 1936 to 1939, 1949 to 1951, and 1954 to 1955.- Background and early career :...

, who was Prime Minister under King Faisal's brief reign, was the first president to be elected under a new constitution, effectively the first incarnation of the modern republic of Syria. However, the treaty never came into force because the French Legislature refused to ratify it. With the fall of France in 1940 during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Syria came under the control of Vichy France
Vichy France
Vichy France, Vichy Regime, or Vichy Government, are common terms used to describe the government of France that collaborated with the Axis powers from July 1940 to August 1944. This government succeeded the Third Republic and preceded the Provisional Government of the French Republic...

 until the British and Free French occupied the country in the Syria-Lebanon campaign
Syria-Lebanon campaign
The Syria–Lebanon campaign, also known as Operation Exporter, was the Allied invasion of Vichy French-controlled Syria and Lebanon, in June–July 1941, during World War II. Time Magazine referred to the fighting as a "mixed show" while it was taking place and the campaign remains little known, even...

 in July 1941. Syria proclaimed its independence again in 1941, but it was not until 1 January 1944 that it was recognised as an independent republic. Continuing pressure from Syrian nationalist groups and British pressure forced the French to evacuate their troops in April 1946, leaving the country in the hands of a republican government that had been formed during the mandate.

Independence, instability and economic growth


Although rapid economic development followed the declaration of independence, Syrian politics from independence through the late 1960s were marked by upheaval. Between 1946 and 1956, Syria had 20 different cabinets and drafted four separate constitutions. In 1948, Syria was involved in the Arab-Israeli War
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

, aligning with the other local Arab states who were attempting to prevent the incorporation of Palestine into the State of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. The Syrian army was pressed out of most of Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, but fortified their strongholds on the Golan Heights and managed to keep their old borders and some additional territory (this was converted into "supposed" demilitarized zones under UN supervision ; the status of these territories have proved a stumbling-block for Syrian-Israeli negotiations). It was during this period that many Syrian Jews, who faced growing discrimination, emigrated from the country, as part of Jewish exodus from Arab countries.
The humiliating defeat suffered by the army was one of several trigger factors for the March 1949 Syrian coup d'état
March 1949 Syrian coup d'état
The Syrian coup d'état of March 1949 was a bloodless coup d'état that took place on March 29 and was the first military coup in the history of Syria. It was led by the Army chief of staff at the time, Husni al-Zaim. Syria's President, Shukri al-Kuwatli, was briefly imprisoned, but then released...

 by Col. Husni al-Za'im
Husni al-Za'im
Husni al-Za'im was a Syrian military man and politician. Husni al-Za'im, whose family is of Kurdish ancestry, had been an officer in the Ottoman Army. After France instituted its colonial mandate over Syria after the First World War, he became an officer in the French Army...

, in what has been described as the first military overthrow of the Arab World
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

 since the start of the Second World War. This was soon followed by another overthrow, by Col. Sami al-Hinnawi
Sami al-Hinnawi
Colonel Sami Hilmy al-Hinnawi was a Syrian politician and military man. He was born in Aleppo and had sereved in the Ottoman army before serving in the French-Syrian army during the French Mandate of Syria....

, who was himself quickly deposed by Col. Adib Shishakli
Adib Shishakli
Adib ibn Hasan Shishakli was a Syrian military leader and President of Syria .Born into a notable Syrian-Kurdish family of Hama, Shishakli served with the French Army during the mandate era...

, all within the same year.

After exercising influence behind the scenes for some time, dominating the ravaged parliamentary scene, Shishakli launched a second overthrow in 1951, entrenching his rule and eventually abolishing multipartyism altogether. Only when President Shishakli was himself overthrown in a 1954 overthrow
1954 Syrian coup d'état
-Background:With December 1951 coup, Colonel Adib Shishakli took power, forming a military authocracy. As the leader of Syria, Adib Shishakli recognized the desires of Syria's Arab majority, and accordingly adopted a policy of pan-Arabism...

 was the parliamentary system restored, but it was fundamentally undermined by continued political maneuvering supported by competing factions in the military.

By this time, civilian politics had been largely gutted of meaning, and power was increasingly concentrated in the military and security establishment, which had now proved itself to be the only force capable of seizing and, perhaps, keeping power. Parliamentary institutions remained weak and ineffectual, dominated by competing parties representing the landowning elites and various Sunni urban notables, while economy and politics were mismanaged, and little done to better the role of Syria's peasant majority. That, as well as the influence of Nasserism
Nasserism
Nasserism is an Arab nationalist political ideology based on the thinking of the former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. It was a major influence on pan-Arab politics in the 1950s and 1960s, and continues to have significant resonance throughout the Arab World to this day. It also...

 and other nationalist and anti-imperial ideologies, created fertile ground for various Arab nationalist, Syrian nationalist
Syrian nationalism
Syrian nationalism refers to the nationalism of Syria, or the Fertile Crescent as a cultural or political entity. It should not be confused with the Arab nationalism that is the official state doctrine of the Syrian Arab Republic's ruling Baath Party, nor should it be assumed that Syrian...

, and socialist movements, who represented disaffected elements of society, notably including the religious minorities, and demanded radical reform.

During the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

 of 1956, after the invasion of Egypt by Israel, Britain, and France, martial law
Martial law
Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis— only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively , when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law...

 was declared in Syria. The November 1956 attacks on Iraqi pipelines were in retaliation for Iraq's joining of the Baghdad Pact. In early 1957 Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 advised Egypt and Syria against a conceivable takeover of Jordan.

In November 1956, Syria signed a pact with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, providing a foothold for Communist influence within the government in exchange for planes, tanks, and other military equipment being sent to Syria. With this increase in the strength of Syrian military technology worried Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, as it seemed feasible that Syria might attempt to retake İskenderun
Iskenderun
İskenderun is a city and urban district in the province of Hatay on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. The current mayor is Yusuf Hamit Civelek .-Names:...

, a matter of dispute between Syria and Turkey. On the other hand, Syria and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 accused Turkey of massing its troops at the Syrian border. During this standoff, Communists gained more control over the Syrian government and military. Only heated debates in the United Nations (of which Syria was an original member) lessened the threat of war.

Syria's political instability during the years after the 1954 overthow, the parallelism of Syrian and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian policies, and the appeal of Egyptian President Gamal Abdal Nasser's leadership in the wake of the Suez Crisis created support in Syria for union with Egypt. On 1 February 1958, Syrian President Shukri al-Quwatli and Nasser announced the merging of the two states, creating the United Arab Republic
United Arab Republic
The United Arab Republic , often abbreviated as the U.A.R., was a sovereign union between Egypt and Syria. The union began in 1958 and existed until 1961, when Syria seceded from the union. Egypt continued to be known officially as the "United Arab Republic" until 1971. The President was Gamal...

, and all Syrian political parties, as well as the communists therein, ceased overt activities.

The union was not a success, however. Following a military overthrow led by Abd al-Karim al-Nahlawi
Abd al-Karim al-Nahlawi
Abd al-Karim al-Nahlawi is a former Syrian military officer and head of the coup which ended the union of Syria and Egypt as the United Arab Republic on Sept. 28, 1961. Al-Nahlawi seized personal power in a second coup the following year, briefly ruling Syria before falling victim to another coup...

 on 28 September 1961, Syria seceded, re-establishing itself as the Syrian Arab Republic. Instability characterized the next 18 months, with various overthrows culminating with 8 March 1963 coup, resulting in installation by leftist Syrian Army officers of the National Council of the Revolutionary Command (NCRC), a group of military and civilian officials who assumed control of all executive and legislative authority. The takeover was engineered by members of the Arab Socialist Resurrection Party (Ba'ath Party), which had been active in Syria and other Arab countries since the late 1940s. The new cabinet was dominated by Ba'ath members.

The Baath takeover in Syria followed a Baath overthrow in Iraq the previous month. The new Syrian Government explored the possibility of federation with Egypt and with Baath-controlled Iraq. An agreement was concluded in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 on 17 April 1963, for a referendum on unity to be held in September 1963. However, serious disagreements among the parties soon developed, and the tripartite federation failed to materialize. Thereafter, the Baath government in Syria and Iraq began to work for bilateral unity. These plans foundered in November 1963, when the Baath government in Iraq was overthrown.

In May 1964, President Amin Hafiz
Amin Hafiz
Amin al-Hafiz was a Syrian politician, general and member of the Ba'th Party.-Early life:Al-Hafiz was born in the city of Aleppo....

 of the NCRC promulgated a provisional constitution providing for a National Council of the Revolution (NCR), an appointed legislature composed of representatives of mass organizations—labour, peasant, and professional unions—a presidential council, in which executive power was vested, and a cabinet. On 23 February 1966, a group of army officers carried out a successful, intra-party overthrow, imprisoned President Hafiz, dissolved the cabinet and the NCR, abrogated the provisional constitution, and designated a regionalist, civilian Baath government on 1 March. The leaders of the overthrow described it as a "rectification" of Baath Party principles.
When Nasser closed the Gulf of Aqaba
Gulf of Aqaba
The Gulf of Aqaba is a large gulf located at the northern tip of the Red Sea. In pre twentieth-century and modern sources it is often named the Gulf of Eilat, as Eilat is its predominant Israeli city ....

 to Eilat-bound ships, the Baath government supported the Egyptian leader and amassed troops in the strategic Golan Heights. Syria sponsored Palestinian raids into Israel and Syrian artillery repeatedly bombed Israeli civilian communities from positions on the Golan Heights Concerning the raids on Israel's territory, Syria claimed that it could not be held responsible for the activities of El-Fatah and El-Asefa, nor for the rise of Palestinian organizations.

Conflicts also arose over different interpretations of the legal status of the Demilitarized Zone
Demilitarized zone
In military terms, a demilitarized zone is an area, usually the frontier or boundary between two or more military powers , where military activity is not permitted, usually by peace treaty, armistice, or other bilateral or multilateral agreement...

. Israel maintained that it had sovereign rights over the zone, allowing the civilian use of farmland. Syria and the UN maintained that no party had sovereign rights over the zone. Israel was accused by Syria of cultivating lands in the Demilitarized Zone, using armored tractors backed by Israel forces. Syria claimed that the situation was the result of an Israeli aim to increase tension so as to justify large-scale aggression, and to expand its occupation of the Demilitarized Zone by liquidating the rights of Arab cultivators.

Conflict over the cultivation of disputed lands sparked into April 7 prewar aerial clashes between Israel and Syria.

The Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan said in a 1976 interview that Israel provoked more than 80% of the clashes with Syria.

After Israel launched a preemptive strike
Preemptive war
A preemptive war is a war that is commenced in an attempt to repel or defeat a perceived inevitable offensive or invasion, or to gain a strategic advantage in an impending war before that threat materializes. It is a war which preemptively 'breaks the peace'. The term: 'preemptive war' is...

 on Egypt to begin the June 1967 war
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

, Syria joined the battle against Israel as well. In the final days of the war, after having captured the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 from Egypt, as well as the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and eastern Jerusalem from Jordan, Israel turned its attention to Syria, capturing the entire Golan Heights in under 48 hours.

Conflict developed between an extremist military wing and a more moderate civilian wing of the Baath Party. The 1970 retreat of Syrian forces sent to aid the PLO during the "Black September
Black September in Jordan
September 1970 is known as the Black September in Arab history and sometimes is referred to as the "era of regrettable events." It was a month when Hashemite King Hussein of Jordan moved to quash the militancy of Palestinian organizations and restore his monarchy's rule over the country. The...

" hostilities with Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 reflected this political disagreement within the ruling Baath leadership. By 13 November 1970, Minister of Defense Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad
Hafez ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Assad or more commonly Hafez al-Assad was the President of Syria for three decades. Assad's rule consolidated the power of the central government after decades of coups and counter-coups, such as Operation Wappen in 1957 conducted by the Eisenhower administration and...

 was solidly established as the strongman of the government, when he effected a bloodless military overthrow ("The Corrective Movement
1970 Syrian Corrective Revolution
The 1970 Syrian Corrective Revolution, better known as the Syrian Corrective Movement, was a military-pragmatist faction's takeover within the Ba'ath party regime of Syria on November 13, 1970, bringing Hafez al-Assad to power.-Background:...

").

Baath Party rule under Hafez al-Assad, 1970–2000




Upon assuming power
1970 Syrian Corrective Revolution
The 1970 Syrian Corrective Revolution, better known as the Syrian Corrective Movement, was a military-pragmatist faction's takeover within the Ba'ath party regime of Syria on November 13, 1970, bringing Hafez al-Assad to power.-Background:...

, Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad
Hafez ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Assad or more commonly Hafez al-Assad was the President of Syria for three decades. Assad's rule consolidated the power of the central government after decades of coups and counter-coups, such as Operation Wappen in 1957 conducted by the Eisenhower administration and...

 moved quickly to create an organizational infrastructure for his government and to consolidate control. The Provisional Regional Command of Assad's Arab Baath Socialist Party nominated a 173-member legislature, the People's Council, in which the Baath Party took 87 seats. The remaining seats were divided among "popular organizations" and other minor parties. In March 1971, the party held its regional congress and elected a new 21-member Regional Command headed by Assad.

In the same month, a national referendum was held to confirm Assad as President for a 7-year term. In March 1972, to broaden the base of his government, Assad formed the National Progressive Front, a coalition of parties led by the Baath Party, and elections were held to establish local councils in each of Syria's 14 governorates. In March 1973, a new Syrian constitution went into effect followed shortly thereafter by parliamentary elections for the People's Council, the first such elections since 1962. The 1973 Constitution defines Syria officially as a secular socialist state
Socialist state
A socialist state generally refers to any state constitutionally dedicated to the construction of a socialist society. It is closely related to the political strategy of "state socialism", a set of ideologies and policies that believe a socialist economy can be established through government...

 with Islam recognised as the majority religion.

On 6 October 1973, Syria and Egypt began the Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

 by staging a surprise attack against Israeli forces returning the Syrian Golan Heights and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula
Sinai Peninsula
The Sinai Peninsula or Sinai is a triangular peninsula in Egypt about in area. It is situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the Red Sea to the south, and is the only part of Egyptian territory located in Asia as opposed to Africa, effectively serving as a land bridge between two...

. After early successes, the Israeli military reversed the initial Syrian gains, pushing the Syrian army out of the Golan and invaded into Syrian territory beyond the 1967 border. As a result, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 continues to occupy the Golan Heights as part of the Israeli-occupied territories
Israeli-occupied territories
The Israeli-occupied territories are the territories which have been designated as occupied territory by the United Nations and other international organizations, governments and others to refer to the territory seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria...

.

In early 1976, the Lebanese civil war
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 150,000 to 230,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people were wounded, and today approximately 350,000 people remain displaced. There was also a mass exodus of...

 was going poorly for the Maronite Christians. Following a request from the Maronite dominated Lebanese government with the approval of the Arab league, Syria sent 40,000 troops into the country ostensibly to prevent them from being overrun, but abruptly switched sides soon thereafter and became embroiled in the Lebanese Civil War
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 150,000 to 230,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people were wounded, and today approximately 350,000 people remain displaced. There was also a mass exodus of...

, beginning the 30 year Syrian military presence. Many crimes in Lebanon, including the assassinations of Rafik Hariri
Rafik Hariri
Rafic Baha El Deen Al-Hariri , was a business tycoon and the Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998 and again from 2000 until his resignation, 20 October 2004.He headed five cabinets during his tenure...

, Kamal Jumblat and Bachir Gemayel
Bachir Gemayel
Bachir Gemayel was a Lebanese politician, militia commander, and president-elect...

 were attributed to the Syrian forces and intelligence services but these were never proven. Over the following 15 years of civil war, Syria fought for control over Lebanon, and attempted to undermine Israel in southern Lebanon, through extensive use of proxy militias. Many saw the Syrian Army's
Military of Syria
The Syrian Armed Forces are the military forces of Syria. They consist of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Air Defense Force.-Manpower:The President of Syria is the commander in chief of the Syrian armed forces, comprising some 646,500 troops upon mobilization. The military is a conscripted force;...

 presence in Lebanon as an occupation
Military occupation
Military occupation occurs when the control and authority over a territory passes to a hostile army. The territory then becomes occupied territory.-Military occupation and the laws of war:...

, especially following the end of the civil war in 1990, after the Syrian-sponsored Taif Agreement
Taif Agreement
The Taif Agreement was an agreement reached to provide "the basis for the ending of the civil war and the return to political normalcy in Lebanon." Negotiated in Taif, Saudi Arabia, it was designed to end the decades-long Lebanese civil war, politically accommodate the demographic...

. Syria then remained in Lebanon until 2005, exerting a heavy-handed influence over Lebanese politics that was deeply resented by many. Following the assassination of the popular former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, blamed on Syria, pressure was put to bear on Syria to withdraw their forces from Lebanon. On April 26, 2005 the bulk of the Syrian forces withdrew from Lebanon but some of its intelligence operatives remained, drawing further international rebuke.

About one million Syrian workers came into Lebanon after the war ended to find jobs in the reconstruction of the country. Syrian workers were preferred over Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 and Lebanese workers because they could be paid lower wages. In 1994, under pressure from Damascus, the Lebanese government controversially granted citizenship to over 200,000 Syrian residents in the country. (For more on these issues, see Demographics of Lebanon
Demographics of Lebanon
This article is about the demographic features of the population of Lebanon, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population....

)

The authoritarian government was not without its critics, though open dissent was repressed. A serious challenge arose in the late 1970s, however, from fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, who reject the basic values of the secular Baath program and object to rule by the Alawis, whom they consider heretical. From 1976 until its suppression in 1982, the arch-conservative Muslim Brotherhood
Muslim Brotherhood
The Society of the Muslim Brothers is the world's oldest and one of the largest Islamist parties, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna and by the late 1940s had an...

 led an armed insurgency against the government. In response to an attempted uprising by the brotherhood in February 1982, the government crushed the fundamentalist opposition centered in the city of Hama, leveling parts of the city with artillery fire and leaving between 10,000 and 25,000 people either dead or wounded, mostly civilians (see Hama massacre
Hama massacre
The Hama massacre occurred in February 1982, when the Syrian army, under the orders of the president of Syria Hafez al-Assad, conducted a scorched earth policy against the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Sunni Muslim community against the regime of al-Assad...

). The Syrian government's actions at Hama have been described as possibly being "the single deadliest act by any Arab government against its own people in the modern Middle East". Since then, public manifestations of anti-government activity have been limited.

Syria's 1990 participation in the U.S.-led multinational coalition aligned against Saddam Hussein marked a dramatic watershed in Syria's relations both with other Arab states and with the Western world
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

. Syria participated in the multilateral Southwest Asia Peace Conference
Madrid Conference of 1991
The Madrid Conference was hosted by the government of Spain and co-sponsored by the USA and the USSR. It convened on October 30, 1991 and lasted for three days. It was an early attempt by the international community to start a peace process through negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinians...

 in Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 in October 1991, and during the 1990s engaged in direct, face-to-face negotiations with Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. These negotiations failed, and there have been no further direct Syrian-Israeli talks since President Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad
Hafez ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Assad or more commonly Hafez al-Assad was the President of Syria for three decades. Assad's rule consolidated the power of the central government after decades of coups and counter-coups, such as Operation Wappen in 1957 conducted by the Eisenhower administration and...

's meeting with then President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 in March 2000.

Under Bashar al-Assad


Hafez al-Assad died on 10 June 2000, after 30 years in power. Immediately following al-Assad's death, the Parliament amended the constitution, reducing the mandatory minimum age of the President from 40 to 34. This allowed his son, Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. Al-Assad was elected in 2000, re-elected in 2007, unopposed each time.- Early Life :...

, to become legally eligible for nomination by the ruling Baath party. On 10 July 2000, Bashar al-Assad was elected President by referendum in which he ran unopposed, garnering 97.29% of the vote, according to Syrian Government statistics.

Basher's election in the summer of 2000 saw the birth of the Damascus Spring
Damascus Spring
The Damascus Spring was a period of intense political and social debate in Syria which started after the death of President Hafiz al-Asad in June 2000 and continued to some degree until autumn 2001, when most of the activities associated with it were suppressed by the government.- Background...

 and hopes of reform. The period was characterized by the emergence of numerous political forums or salons
Salon (gathering)
A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine taste and increase their knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to...

 where groups of like minded people met in private houses to debate political and social issues. The phenomenon of salons spread rapidly in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and to a lesser extent in other cities. Political activists, such as, Riad Seif
Riad Seif
Riad Seif is Syrian political dissident, formerly a member of the Parliament of Syria and prominent businessman, who founded and lead the Forum for National Dialogue. Seif was elected to parliament in 1994 as an independent and again in 1998...

, Haitham al-Maleh
Haitham al-Maleh
Haitham al-Maleh is a leading Syrian human rights activist and former judge. He is an outspoken critic of the current Syrian regime under Bashar al-Assad and has been imprisoned by the Syrian government as a political prisoner on several occasions since the 1960s...

, Kamal al-Labwani
Kamal al-Labwani
Dr. Kamal al-Labwani is a Syrian doctor and artist, considered one of the most prominent members of the Syrian opposition movement. He was imprisoned in Adra Prison, near Damascus until November 15, 2011, according to state media. Amnesty International considers him a prisoner of conscience.- Life...

, Riyad al-Turk
Riyad al-Turk
Riyad al-Turk is a prominent Syrian opposition leader, former political prisoner for about 20 years in Syria, and supporter of democracy, who has been called "the Old Man of Syrian opposition." He was secretary general of the Syrian Communist Party since its foundation in 1973 until 2005...

, and Aref Dalila
Aref Dalila
Professor Aref Dalila is a Syrian economics professor and former Dean of the Faculty of Economics in Damascus University. He was arrested for his political activity during the Damascus Spring period.-Life:...

 were important in mobilizing the movement. The most famous of the forums were the Riad Seif Forum
Riad Seif Forum
The Riad Seif Forum is or was a political forum, or muntadat, founded by "businessman-turned-dissident" Riad Seif, promoting political debate and freedom in Syria...

 and the Jamal al-Atassi Forum
Jamal al-Atassi
Jamal Al-Atassi was a Syrian nationalist, politician and author. He was one of the earliest ideologues of the nascent Syrian Baath Party, which he joined soon after it was founded...

. Pro-democracy activists mobilized around a number of political demands, expressed in the "Manifesto of the 99". However, by autumn 2001, the authorities had suppressed the movement, imprisoning some of the leading intellectuals who had called for democratic elections and a campaign of civil disobedience. Renewed opposition activity occurred in October 2005 when activist Michel Kilo
Michel Kilo
Michel Kilo is a Syrian Christian writer and human rights activist, who has been called "one of Syria's leading opposition thinkers."-Career:He was born in the Syrian Mediterranean coastal city and province of Latakia in 1940....

 launched with leading opposition figures the Damascus Declaration
Damascus Declaration
The Damascus Declaration was a statement of unity by Syrian opposition figures issued in October 2005. It criticized the Syrian government regime as `authoritarian, totalitarian and cliquish,` and called for `peaceful, gradual,` reform `founded on accord, and based on dialogue and recognition of...

, which criticized the Syrian government as "authoritarian, totalitarian and cliquish" and called for democratic reform. Although the Damascus Spring lasted for a short period, its effects still echo during the political, cultural and intellectual debates in Syria today.

Although Bashar al-Assad said he would reform, the reforms have been limited to some market reforms.

Over the years the authorities have tightened Internet censorship
Internet censorship
Internet censorship is the control or suppression of the publishing of, or access to information on the Internet. It may be carried out by governments or by private organizations either at the behest of government or on their own initiative...

 with laws such as forcing Internet cafes to record all the comments users post on chat forums.
While the authorities have relaxed rules so that radio channels can now play Western pop music, websites such as Wikipedia
Wikipedia
Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 20 million articles have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site,...

, Youtube
YouTube
YouTube is a video-sharing website, created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos....

, Facebook
Facebook
Facebook is a social networking service and website launched in February 2004, operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc. , Facebook has more than 800 million active users. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as...

 and Amazon
Amazon.com
Amazon.com, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...

 have been blocked.

On 5 October 2003, Israel bombed a site near Damascus, charging it was a terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 training facility for members of Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad , is a small Palestinian militant organization. The group has been labelled as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel...

. The raid was in retaliation for the bombing of a restaurant in the Israeli town of Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

 that killed 19. Islamic Jihad said the camp was not in use; Syria said the attack was on a civilian area.

The United States moved closer to imposing sanctions on Syria, following the adoption of the Syria Accountability Act by the House of Representatives International Relations committee. Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, all included in what the EU and the U.S view as terrorist groups, all take refuge and enjoy strong relationships with the Syrian government.

Following 2004 Al-Qamishli riots
2004 Al-Qamishli riots
The 2004 Al-Qamishli riots refer to riots by Syrian Kurds in the northeastern city of al-Qamishli in March 2004. The riots started during a chaotic football match, when some people started raising Kurdish national flags, turning the match to political conflict...

, the Syrian Kurds protested in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

, Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, in Germany, at the US and UK embassies, and in Turkey. The protesters pledged against violence in north-east Syria starting Friday, 12 March 2004, and reportedly extending over the weekend resulting in several deaths, according to reports. The Kurds allege the Syrian government encouraged and armed the attackers. Signs of rioting were seen in the towns of Qameshli and Hassakeh.

In 2005, under heavy international pressure, Syria withdrew 14,000 troops and intelligence agents out of Lebanon.

The authorities maintain close ties to Iran. On September 6, 2007, Israeli jet fighters carried out Operation Orchard
Operation Orchard
Operation Orchard was an Israeli airstrike on a nuclear reactor in the Deir ez-Zor region of Syria carried out just after midnight on September 6, 2007. The White House and Central Intelligence Agency later confirmed that American intelligence had also indicated the site was a nuclear facility...

 against a suspected nuclear reactor
Nuclear reactor
A nuclear reactor is a device to initiate and control a sustained nuclear chain reaction. Most commonly they are used for generating electricity and for the propulsion of ships. Usually heat from nuclear fission is passed to a working fluid , which runs through turbines that power either ship's...

 under construction by North Korean technicians.

In April, 2008, President Assad told a Qatari newspaper that Syria and Israel had been discussing a peace treaty for a year, with Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 acting as a mediator. This was confirmed in May, 2008, by a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert
Ehud Olmert is an Israeli politician and lawyer. He served as Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009, as a Cabinet Minister from 1988 to 1992 and from 2003 to 2006, and as Mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003....

. The status of the Golan Heights, a major obstacle to a peace treaty, is being discussed. President Assad was quoted in The Guardian
The Guardian
The Guardian, formerly known as The Manchester Guardian , is a British national daily newspaper in the Berliner format...

as blaming the United States.

2011 Syrian uprising‎




Protests in Syria started on 26 January and were influenced by other protests in the region; on the same day, one case of self-immolation was reported. Protesters have been calling for political reforms and the reinstatement of civil rights, as well as an end to the state of emergency which has been in place since 1963. One attempt at a "day of rage" was set for 4 – 5 February, though it ended up uneventful.

On March 15, demonstrations took place in many cities across Syria. Thousands of protestors gathered in al-Hasakah
Al-Hasakah
Al-Hasakah...

, Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

, Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, Daraa, Deir ez-Zor, and Hama
Hama
Hama is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria north of Damascus. It is the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate. Hama is the fourth-largest city in Syria—behind Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs—with a population of 696,863...

. Recently released politician Suhair Atassi became an unofficial spokesperson for the "Syrian revolution" Atassi paid tribute to "the Syrian people who took the initiative ahead of the opposition," recalling the popular uprisings that shook Tunisia
Tunisian revolution
The Tunisian Revolution is an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia. The events began in December 2010 and led to the ousting of longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011...

 and Egypt
2011 Egyptian revolution
The 2011 Egyptian revolution took place following a popular uprising that began on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 and is still continuing as of November 2011. The uprising was mainly a campaign of non-violent civil resistance, which featured a series of demonstrations, marches, acts of civil...

. After the first day of the protests there were reports of approximately 3000 arrests and a few "martyrs", but there are no official figures on the number of deaths.

On 16 March, Syrian authorities forcibly dispersed a demonstration in front of the Syrian Interior Ministry. al-Arabiya reported that protesters were a mix of activists and jurists, writers, journalists, young academics and family members to people detained in Syrian prisons. The security forces arrested a number of protestors, Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera is an independent broadcaster owned by the state of Qatar through the Qatar Media Corporation and headquartered in Doha, Qatar...

 reported 25, while Al Arabiya
Al Arabiya
Al Arabiya is a Pan-Arabist Saudi-owned Arabic-language television news channel. Launched on March 3, 2003, the channel is based in Dubai Media City, United Arab Emirates, and is majority-owned by the Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center ....

 said 32 including activist and lawyer Suhair Atassi and Kamal Cheikho, an activist who had been released two days earlier. Mohamed al-Ali, a spokesman for the Syrian Interior authority denied that any demonstrations have happened in Syria and that the Facebook campaign has been proved unsuccessful. According to the spokesperson, the "claimed protests" consisted of a few people who were "hiding" among the already packed souq (i.e. market) and tried to make it look like a demonstration. In another statement, he went further by saying that the demonstration that took place outside the Interior authority was actually in support of President Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. Al-Assad was elected in 2000, re-elected in 2007, unopposed each time.- Early Life :...

.

On 18 March, thousands of protesters in several Syrian cities took to the streets after the Friday prayers and chanted "God, Syria, Freedom, that is enough", challenging the classical pro-regime slogan "God, Syria, Bashar, that is enough". In Damascus, security forces broke into the Omayyad Mosque and violently attacked protesters. Several people were injured, and several others were arrested. In the southern city of Daraa, people chanted against Rami Makhlouf
Rami Makhlouf
Rami Makhlouf is a wealthy Syrian businessman and the maternal cousin of President Bashar Assad. He is the main owner of Syriatel and according to the Financial Times he is thought to control as much as 60% of the Syrian economy through his web of business interests that include...

, the cousin of the Syrian president. The regime replied by sending helicopters and water cannons to confront the protesters. At least three people were killed by security forces.

On 22 March, as a result of the protests, the Governor of Daraa was fired, but this did not satisfy the protesters. Demonstrations increased, and on 24 March, it was reported that more than a hundred had been killed in marches at Daraa that exceeded 20,000 participants.

On 29 March, the entire Syrian cabinet was asked to resign by the president. Adel Safar
Adel Safar
Adel Safar is a Syrian politician and academic, serving as Prime Minister of Syria since 3 April 2011. He previously served as Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform from 2003 to 2011.-Early life and education:...

 was named the new prime minister and his new cabinet was sworn into office on 14 April 2011. The Emergency Law was rescinded on 21 April 2011.

Since 25 April city of Deraa is under a siege by Syrian army, communication and electricity is down in the city, essential food supply is not allowed to be brought inside Deraa. It is believed that hundreds have been killed by government forces, specifically by the brigade led by Maher Al-Assad.

The cities of Baniyas and Homs have also fallen under siege by government forces. Army tanks have begun heavy shelling of residential areas. Deaths and mass imprisonment of local youths have been reported.

On May 18, 2011, United States president Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

 imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad
Bashar al-Assad is the President of Syria and Regional Secretary of the Ba'ath Party. His father Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years until his death in 2000. Al-Assad was elected in 2000, re-elected in 2007, unopposed each time.- Early Life :...

 and six other senior Syrian officials as a response to Syria's bloody crackdown on political protests. Additional sanctions were imposed by the Treasury Department
United States Department of the Treasury
The Department of the Treasury is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue...

 against Syrian and Iranian intelligence services and commanders.

As a result of the violent crack down and the forced detainment of thousands of protesters, an increasing number of refugees are trying to escape to Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, which is planning to build a second refugee camp in the border town of Yayladagi
Yayladagi
Yayladağı is a town and district of Hatay Province in southern Turkey, on the border between Turkey and Syria, south of the city of Antakya. It was formerly known as Ordu-Muradiye.-History:...

. At the same time, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called on Syrian authorities to stop the “assault on its own people”.

On 17 June 2011 Syrian troops and Gunmen loyal to President Bashar al Assad arrested 70 people and set houses on fire after tanks entered a town near the Turkish border. 19 people were shot dead in the assault.

Evidence has emerged on US backing for regime change in Syria , as well as the presence of armed anti-government groups in Syria. Russia, in particular, denounced the use of violence by the opposition and the presence of "terrorists" within its ranks.

As of November 2011, Syria was sliding close to civil war as the Free Syrian Army
Free Syrian Army
The Free Syrian Army is the main opposition army group in Syria. It is composed of defected Syrian Armed Forces personnel, who have been active during the 2011 Syrian uprising...

, composed of defected military personnel, began to go on the offensive against Syrian Army
Syrian Army
The Syrian Army, officially called the Syrian Arab Army, is the land force branch of the Syrian Armed Forces. It is the dominant military service of the four uniformed services, controlling the senior most posts in the armed forces, and has the greatest manpower, approximately 80 percent of the...

 forces loyal to Assad, leading to deadly battles across Syria.

Politics and government


Syria is formally a republic
Republic
A republic is a form of government in which the people, or some significant portion of them, have supreme control over the government and where offices of state are elected or chosen by elected people. In modern times, a common simplified definition of a republic is a government where the head of...

. The Constitution of Syria
Constitution of Syria
The Constitution of Syria delineates the basic function of that state's government. Among other things, it determines Syria's character to be Arab, Socialist and republican...

 was adopted 13 March 1971. It defines Syria as a secular socialist state with Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 recognised as the majority religion.

Branches of government


The executive branch consists of the president, two vice presidents, the prime minister, and the Council of Ministers (cabinet
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

). The constitution requires the president to be a Muslim but does not make Islam the state religion.

The constitution gives the president the right to appoint ministers, to declare war and state of emergency
State of emergency
A state of emergency is a governmental declaration that may suspend some normal functions of the executive, legislative and judicial powers, alert citizens to change their normal behaviours, or order government agencies to implement emergency preparedness plans. It can also be used as a rationale...

, to issue laws (which, except in the case of emergency, require ratification by the People's Council), to declare amnesty
Amnesty
Amnesty is a legislative or executive act by which a state restores those who may have been guilty of an offense against it to the positions of innocent people, without changing the laws defining the offense. It includes more than pardon, in as much as it obliterates all legal remembrance of the...

, to amend the constitution, and to appoint civil servants and military personnel. The president
President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

 is approved by Syrian citizens in a referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

 for a 7-year term.

Syria's legislative branch is the unicameral People's Council. Syria does not hold multi-party elections for the legislature. Two thirds of the seats are automatically allocated to the ruling coalition.

Syria's judicial branches include the Supreme Constitutional Court, the High Judicial Council
High Judicial Council
The High Judicial Council is the highest judicial authority in Syria. The council is charged with the appointment, transfer and dismissal of judges. It is composed of senior civil judges and chaired by the president. The independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by president in his role as...

, the Court of Cassation, and the State Security
Security agency
A security agency is a governmental organization which conducts intelligence activities for the internal security of a nation. They are the domestic cousins of foreign intelligence agencies...

 Courts. Islamic jurisprudence is a main source of legislation and Syria's judicial system has elements of Ottoman
Mecelle
The Mecelle code was the civil code of the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries...

, French, and Islamic
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

 laws. Syria has three levels of courts: courts of first instance, courts of appeals, and the constitution
Constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

al court, the highest tribunal
Tribunal
A tribunal in the general sense is any person or institution with the authority to judge, adjudicate on, or determine claims or disputes—whether or not it is called a tribunal in its title....

. Religious courts handle questions of personal and family law. The Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) was abolished by President Bashar al-Assad by legislative decree No. 53 on 21 April 2011.

Political parties


Article 8 of the Syrian constitution states that "the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party leads the state and society." The President is the Secretary-General of the party, and the leader of the National Progressive Front
National Progressive Front
The National Progressive Front , established in 1972, is a coalition of political parties in Syria that support the socialist and Arab nationalist orientation of the government and accept the "leading role in society" of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, .The Front was established by Syrian...

 governing coalition. The minor parties in the coalition are the Arab Socialist Movement
Arab Socialist Movement
The Arab Socialist Movement is a political party in Syria.It is an Arab socialist party, with roots in the peasant movement. It traces its roots back to the 1930s radical anti-feudal group led by Akram al-Hawrani, which merged with the Ba'th Party in 1953, only to withdraw again in 1963. It is...

, Arab Socialist Union
Arab Socialist Union (Syria)
The Arab Socialist Union Party of Syria is a Nasserist political party in Syria. ASU is led by Safwan al-Qudsi. The party was formed in 1973, following a split from the original ASU....

, Communist Party of Syria (Unified), Communist Party of Syria (Bakdash), Social Democratic Unionists
Social Democratic Unionists
The Social Democratic Unionists is a political party in Syria. It is part of the National Progressive Front of legally licenced parties which support the socialist and Arab nationalist orientation of the government and accept the leadership of the Ba'th Party. In the 22 April 2007 People's Council...

, Socialist Unionists
Socialist Unionists
The Socialist Unionists is a Nasserist political party in Syria. The party was founded in 1961, through a split in the Baath Party. It is part of the National Progressive Front of legally permitted parties which support the socialist and Arab nationalist orientation of the government and accept...

, Syrian Social Nationalist Party
Syrian Social Nationalist Party
The Syrian Social Nationalist Party , is a secular nationalist political party in Lebanon and Syria. It advocates the establishment of a Syrian nation state spanning the Fertile Crescent, including present day Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Cyprus, Kuwait,...

, Democratic Socialist Unionist Party
Democratic Socialist Unionist Party
The Democratic Socialist Unionist Party is a political party in Syria. It is part of the National Progressive Front of legally licenced parties which support the socialist and Arab nationalist orientation of the government and accept the leadership of the Ba'th Party. In the 22 April 2007 People's...

, Arabic Democratic Unionist Party
Arabic Democratic Unionist Party
The Arabic Democratic Unionist Party ) is a political party in Syria. It is part of the National Progressive Front of legally licenced parties which support the socialist and Arab nationalist orientation of the government and accept the leadership of the Ba'th Party. In the 22 April 2007 People's...

, National Vow Movement
National Vow Movement
The National Vow Movement ) is a nationalist political party in Syria. It is part of the National Progressive Front of legally licenced parties which support the socialist and Arab nationalist orientation of the government and accept the leadership of the Ba'th Party. In the 22 April 2007 People's...

. Outside of the coalition are 14 illegal Kurdish political parties.

State control


Nearly all of Syria’s radio and television outlets are state owned, and the Baath Party controls nearly all newspapers. The authorities operate several intelligence agencies among them Shu'bat al-Mukhabarat al-'Askariyya, employing a large number of operatives.

The Emergency Law, effectively suspending most constitutional protections, was in effect from 1963 until 21 April 2011. It was justified by the government in the light of the continuing war with Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 over the Golan Heights.

Human rights


Syria's human rights situation is among the worst in the world, according to human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

. Freedom House
Freedom House
Freedom House is an international non-governmental organization based in Washington, D.C. that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom and human rights...

 ranked Syria "Not Free" in its annual Freedom in the World survey.

The authorities arrest democracy and human rights activists, censor
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 websites, detain bloggers, and impose travel bans. Arbitrary detention, torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

, and disappearances are widespread. Although Syria's constitution guarantees gender equality, critics say that personal statutes laws and the penal code discriminate against women and girls. Moreover, it also grants leniency for so-called honor crimes
Honor killing
An honor killing or honour killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family or community...

. As of November 9, 2011 during the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, the United Nations reported that of the over 3500 total deaths, over 250 deaths were children as young as 2 years old, and that boys as young as 11 years old have been gang raped by security services officers.

Administrative divisions


Syria is divided into fourteen governorate
Governorate
A governorate is an administrative division of a country. It is headed by a governor. As English-speaking nations tend to call regions administered by governors either states, provinces, or colonies, the term governorate is often used in translation from non-English-speaking administrations.The...

s, or muhafazat (singular: muhafazah
Muhafazah
A ' is a first-level administrative division of many Arab countries, and a second-level administrative division in Saudi Arabia. The term is usually translated to governorate in English, and occasionally to province. It comes from the Arabic root 'h-f-ẓ' which means to 'keep and guard'...

). The governorates are divided into a total of sixty-one districts, or manatiq (singular mintaqah), which are further divided into sub-districts, or nawahi (singular nahiya).

A governor, whose appointment is proposed by the minister of the interior, approved by the cabinet, and announced by executive decree, heads each governorate. The governor is assisted by an elected provincial council. Most of the Quneitra Governorate has been unilaterally annexed by Israel as the Golan Heights territory.

Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 is the capital city of Syria. Latakia
Latakia
Latakia, or Latakiyah , is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. In addition to serving as a port, the city is a manufacturing center for surrounding agricultural towns and villages...

 (population 554,000) along with Tartus are Syria's main ports on the Mediterranean sea. Other major cities include Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 (population 2,560,349) in northern Syria, Hama
Hama
Hama is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria north of Damascus. It is the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate. Hama is the fourth-largest city in Syria—behind Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs—with a population of 696,863...

 (population 696,863) in central Syria, Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

 (population 1,033,000) in the south of Hama and Deir ez-Zor (population 230,000) on the Euphrates river in eastern Syria.

Military



The President of Syria is commander in chief of the Syrian armed forces, comprising some 400,000 troops upon mobilization. The military is a conscripted force; males serve in the military upon reaching the age of 18. The obligatory military service period is being decreased over time, in 2005 from two and a half years to two years, in 2008 to 21 months and in 2011 to year and a half. About 20,000 Syrian soldiers were deployed in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 until April 27, 2005, when the last of Syria's troops left the country after three decades.

The breakup of the Soviet Union — long the principal source of training, material, and credit for the Syrian forces — may have slowed Syria's ability to acquire modern military equipment. It has an arsenal of surface-to-surface missiles. In the early 1990s, Scud-C
Scud
Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...

 missiles with a 500-kilometer range were procured from North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, and Scud-D, with a range of up to 700 kilometers, is allegedly being developed by Syria with the help of North Korea and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, according to Zisser.

Syria received significant financial aid from Persian Gulf Arab states as a result of its participation in the Persian Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

, with a sizable portion of these funds earmarked for military spending.
Syrian-Turkish dispute over İskenderun (Hatay)

There is a deep rooted disagreement between Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and Syria over Hatay
Hatay Province
Hatay Province is a province in southern Turkey, on the Mediterranean coast. It is bordered by Syria to the south and east and the Turkish provinces of Adana and Osmaniye to the north. The province is part of Çukurova, a geographical, economical and cultural region that covers the provinces of...

 Province.

At present Syrians hold the view that this land is historically Syrian and was illegally ceded in the late 1930s to Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 by France – the mandatory occupying power of Syria (between 1920 and 1946). The Turks remember Syria as a former Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 vilayet with embitterment. In 1938, the Turkish Army
Turkish Army
The Turkish Army or Turkish Land Forces is the main branch of the Turkish Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. The modern history of the army began with its formation after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire...

 went into the former Syrian Mediterranean province with French approval and expelled most of its Alawite Arab and Armenian inhabitants. Before this, Alawi Arabs and Armenians were the majority of the provinces population. For the referendum, Turkey crossed tens of thousands of Turks into Alexandretta to vote.

In 1938, the province declared its independence from France and the following 29 June, the parliament of the newly declared Hatay Republic voted to join Turkey. This referendum has been labeled both "phoney" and "rigged", and that it was a way for the French to let Turks take over the area, hoping that they would turn on Hitler. The Syrian government recognized this decision in 2004 and gave up on territorial claims.
Syrians still consider this land as integral Syrian territory. Syrians call this land Liwaaa aliskenderuna rather than the Turkish name of Hatay
Hatay Province
Hatay Province is a province in southern Turkey, on the Mediterranean coast. It is bordered by Syria to the south and east and the Turkish provinces of Adana and Osmaniye to the north. The province is part of Çukurova, a geographical, economical and cultural region that covers the provinces of...

.
Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights

The Golan Heights is a strategic plateau and mountainous region in southwestern Syria and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. Two-thirds of the area is currently occupied by Israel. It comprises 1850 square kilometres (714 sq mi) and includes mountains reaching an altitude of 2880 metres (9,449 ft) above sea level.

The heights dominate the plains below. The Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 River, Lake Tiberias and the Hula Valley border the region on the west. To the east is the Raqqad Valley and the south is Yarmok River and valley. The northern boundary of the region is the mountain Jabal al-Sheikh (Mount Hermon
Mount Hermon
Mount Hermon is a mountain cluster in the Anti-Lebanon mountain range. Its summit straddles the border between Syria and Lebanon and, at 2,814 m above sea level, is the highest point in Syria. On the top there is “Hermon Hotel”, in the buffer zone between Syria and Israeli-occupied...

), one of the highest in Southwest Asia
Southwest Asia
Western Asia, West Asia, Southwest Asia or Southwestern Asia are terms that describe the westernmost portion of Asia. The terms are partly coterminous with the Middle East, which describes a geographical position in relation to Western Europe rather than its location within Asia...

.

An agreement to establish a demilitarized zone between Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and Syria was signed on 20 July 1949, but border clashes continued. Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

. Between 80,000 and 109,000 of the inhabitants fled, mostly Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 and Circassians.

In 1973, Syria tried to regain control of the Golan Heights in a surprise attack on Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur War
The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

, the holiest day of the Jewish year. Despite initial Syrian advances and heavy Israeli losses, the Golan Heights remained in Israeli hands after a successful Israeli counter attack.

Syria and Israel signed an armistice agreement in 1974, and a United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 observer force was stationed there. Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, although the Syrian government continues to demand the return of this territory, possibly in the context of a peace treaty. In 1982, Druze in the Golan Heights started a strike against the annexation of the territory. The strike lasted for six months and as a result the Israeli army sealed off Druze villages, allowing only those who wished to work in Israel to leave. Israel has given the Druze citizens in the Golan Heights an Israeli citizenship after the annexation of the Golan Heights.

After the Six-Day War, a population of 20,000 Syrians remained in the Golan Heights, most of them Druze. Since 2005, Israel has allowed Druze apple farmers in the Golan to sell their produce to Syria. In 2006, the export total reached 8,000 tons of apples. Syrian residents of the Golan are also permitted to study at universities in Syria, where they are entitled to free tuition, books and lodging.

Economy


Syria is a middle-income country, with an economy based on agriculture, oil, industry, and tourism. However, Syria's economy faces serious problems and challenges and impediments to growth, including: a large and poorly performing public sector; declining rates of oil production; widening non-oil deficit; wide scale corruption; weak financial and capital markets; and high rates of unemployment tied to a high population growth rate.

As a result of an inefficient and corrupt centrally planned economy, Syria has low rates of investment, and low levels of industrial and agricultural productivity. Its GDP growth rate was approximately 5% in 2009, according to CIA World Factbook statistics. The two main pillars of the Syrian economy have been agriculture and oil. Agriculture, for instance, accounts for 17.7% of GDP and employs 17% of the total labor force. The government hopes 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 government has begun to institute economic reforms aimed at liberalizing most markets, but reform thus far has been slow and ad hoc. For ideological reasons, privatization of government enterprises is explicitly rejected. Therefore major sectors of the economy including refining, ports operation, air transportation, power generation, and water distribution, remain firmly controlled by the government.

Syria has produced heavy-grade oil from fields located in the northeast since the late 1960s. In the early 1980s, light-grade, low-sulphur oil was discovered near Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria. Syria's rate of oil production has been decreasing steadily, from a peak close to 600000 oilbbl/d (bpd) in 1995 down to approximately 425000 oilbbl/d in 2005. Experts generally agree that Syria will become a net importer of petroleum not later than 2012. Syria exported roughly 200000 oilbbl/d in 2005, and oil still accounts for a majority of the country's export income. Syria also produces 22 million cubic meters of gas per day, with estimated reserves around 8.5 Tcuft. While the government has begun to work with international energy companies in the hopes of eventually becoming a gas exporter, all gas currently produced is consumed domestically.

Some basic commodities, such as diesel, continue to be heavily subsidized, and social services are provided for nominal charges. The subsidies are becoming harder to sustain as the gap between consumption and production continues to increase. Syria has a population of approximately 22.2 million people, and Syrian Government figures place the population growth rate at 2.45%, with 75% of the population under the age of 35 and more than 40% under the age of 15.

Approximately 200,000 people enter the labor market every year. According to Syrian Government statistics. Government and public sector employees constitute over one quarter of the total labor force. Government officials acknowledge that the economy is not growing at a pace sufficient to create enough new jobs annually to match population growth. The UNDP announced in 2005 that 30% of the Syrian population lives in poverty and 11.4% live below the subsistence level.

Foreign trade


Given the policies adopted from the 1960s through the late 1980s, which included nationalization of companies and private assets, Syria failed to join an increasingly interconnected global economy. Syria withdrew from the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade was negotiated during the UN Conference on Trade and Employment and was the outcome of the failure of negotiating governments to create the International Trade Organization . GATT was signed in 1947 and lasted until 1993, when it was replaced by the World...

 (GATT) in 1951 because of Israel's accession. It is not a member of the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

 (WTO), although it submitted a request to begin the accession process in 2001. Syria is developing regional free trade agreements. As of 1 January 2005, the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA) came into effect and customs duties were eliminated between Syria and all other members of GAFTA.

In addition, Syria has signed a free trade agreement with Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, which came into force in January 2007, and initialed an Association Agreement with the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, which has yet to be signed. Although Syria claims a recent boom in non-oil exports, its trade numbers are notoriously inaccurate and out-of-date. Syria's main exports include crude oil, refined products, raw cotton, clothing, fruits, and grains. The bulk of Syrian imports are raw materials essential for industry, vehicles, agricultural equipment, and heavy machinery. Earnings from oil exports as well as remittances from Syrian workers are the government's most important sources of foreign exchange.

Transport


Syria has three international airports (Damascus, Aleppo and Lattakia), which serve as hubs for Syrian Air and are also served by a variety of foreign carriers.

The majority of Syrian cargo is carried by Chemins de Fer Syriens
Chemins de Fer Syriens
Chemins de Fer Syriens is the national railway operator for the state of Syria, headquartered in Aleppo.-History:The first railway in Syria opened when the country was part of the Ottoman Empire, with the gauge line from Damascus to the port city of Beirut in present day Lebanon opened in 1895...

 (the Syrian railway company), which links up with Turkish State Railways
Turkish State Railways
The State Railways of the Turkish Republic or TCDD is the government owned, national railway carrier in the Republic of Turkey, headquartered in Ankara...

 (the Turkish counterpart). For a relatively under developed country Syria's railway infrastructure is of a high quality with many high speed services.

Demographics

Population in Syria
Year Million
1971 6.6
1990 12.7
2009 21.1
Source: OECD/World Bank


Most people live in the Euphrates River valley and along the coastal plain, a fertile strip between the coastal mountains and the desert. Overall population density in Syria is about 99 per km² (258 per square mile). According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Syria hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers number approximately 1,852,300. The vast majority of this population was from Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 (1,300,000), but sizeable populations from the former British Mandate of Palestine (543,400) and Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

 (5,200) also lived in the country.

Education is free and compulsory from ages 6 to 12. Schooling consists of 6 years of primary education
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 followed by a 3-year general or vocational training period and a 3-year academic or vocational program. The second 3-year period of academic training is required for university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 admission. Total enrollment at post-secondary schools is over 150,000. The literacy rate
Literacy
Literacy has traditionally been described as the ability to read for knowledge, write coherently and think critically about printed material.Literacy represents the lifelong, intellectual process of gaining meaning from print...

 of Syrians aged 15 and older is 90.7% for males and 82.2% for females.

Ethnic groups



Syrians are an overall indigenous Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

ine people, closely related to their immediate neighbours, like Lebanese
Lebanese people
The Lebanese people are a nation and ethnic group of Levantine people originating in what is today the country of Lebanon, including those who had inhabited Mount Lebanon prior to the creation of the modern Lebanese state....

 people, Palestinians, and Jordanians.

Syrian Arabs, together with some 400,000 UNRWA Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 Arabs make up over 90% of the population.

Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 number around 500,000, and concentrate mainly in the southern area of Jabal al-Druze.

Syria also hosts non-Arab ethnic minorities. The largest of these groups, Kurds
Kurds in Syria
Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria making up 10% of the country's population. Most of them are Sunni Muslims; there are also Yazidi and Yarsan Kurds in Syria and small numbers of Christians and Alawis. They face routine discrimination and harassment by the Syrian...

, constitutes about 10% of the population, or approximately 2 million people. Most Kurds reside in the northeastern corner of Syria and most speak the Kurmanji
Kurmanji
Kurmanji or Northern Kurdish is the most commonly spoken dialect of the Kurdish language.- Scripts and books :...

 variant of the Kurdish language
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

.

The majority of Syrian Turkmen
Syrian Turkmen
Syrian Turks are Syrian citizens of Turkish descent, who have been living in the Syrian provinces of the Ottoman Empire before its dissolution and continue to live in the modern country of Syria...

 live in Aleppo, Damascus and Latakia and number around 750,000–1,500,000.

The Assyrians/Syriacs are significant ethnic Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 minorities that mainly live in the north and northeast (al-Qamishli, al-Hasakah) and number around 877,000–1,200,000 in Syria. Assyrian people in particular retain Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

, an Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 dialect, as a spoken language. Although their numbers have been boosted by many Iraqi refugees since the Iraq War.

Armenians number approximately 190,000. Syria holds the 7th largest Armenian population in the world
Armenian diaspora
The Armenian diaspora refers to the Armenian communities outside the Republic of Armenia and self proclaimed de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic...

. In addition, approximately 1,300,000 Iraqi refugees
Refugees of Iraq
Throughout the past 100 years, there have been a growing number of refugees fleeing Iraq and settling throughout the world, peaking recently with the latest Iraq War. Most of Iraqi Jews, some 120,000, fled the country in mass exodus of 1950-1952. Tens of thousands of Kurds turned displaced and fled...

 were estimated to live in Syria in 2007. Roughly 50 percent of these refugees were Sunni Arab Muslims, 24 percent Shi'a Arab Muslim, and 20 percent Assyrian Christian. During the Mandate years, there was a significant French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 population, many of whom left Syria after the end of French rule. As of 1987, approximately 100,000 Circassians lived in Syria.

The Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 have long been a destination for Christian Arab migration, with Syrians arriving in some countries at least as early as the 19th century. The largest concentration of Syrians outside the Arab world
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

 is in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

, which has millions of people of Arab ancestry. The majority of Arab Argentine
Arab Argentine
An Arab Argentine is an Argentine citizen or resident alien whose ancestry traces back to any of various waves of immigrants, largely of Arab cultural and linguistic heritage and/or identity, originating mainly from what is now Lebanon and Syria but also there are some individuals from the...

s are from either Lebanese or Syrian background.

Religion


Muslim 91% (Sunnis account for 75% of the population, while the remaining 13% are Shia – Alawite
Alawite
The Alawis, also known as Alawites, Nusayris and Ansaris are a prominent mystical and syncretic religious group centred in Syria who are a branch of Shia Islam.-Etymology:...

, Twelvers, and Ismailis combined, Druze
Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 3%, Christian 9% (majority Antiochian Orthodox, other Christian include Greek Catholic, Assyrian Church of the East, Armenian Orthodox, Protestants and other various denominations).
President Bashir Al-Assad's family is Alawite
Alawite
The Alawis, also known as Alawites, Nusayris and Ansaris are a prominent mystical and syncretic religious group centred in Syria who are a branch of Shia Islam.-Etymology:...

 and Alawites dominate the government of Syria and hold key military positions.

Christians, a sizable number (2.5 million) of which are also found among Syria's population of Palestinian refugees, are divided into several groups. Chalcedonian
Council of Chalcedon
The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from 8 October to 1 November, 451 AD, at Chalcedon , on the Asian side of the Bosporus. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Eastern Roman Empire in the 5th...

 Antiochian Orthodox
Antiochian Orthodox Church
The Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, also known as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East and the Antiochian Orthodox Church , is an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church within the wider communion of Orthodox Christianity...

 ("Greek Orthodox"; , ) make up 45% of the Christian population; the Catholics (Melkite
Melkite Greek Catholic Church
The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. The Melkites, Byzantine Rite Catholics of mixed Eastern Mediterranean and Greek origin, trace their history to the early Christians of Antioch, Syria, of...

, Armenian Catholic
Armenian Catholic Church
|- |The Armenian Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church sui juris in union with the other Eastern Rite, Oriental Rite and Latin Rite Catholics who accept the Bishop of Rome as spiritual leader of the Church. It is regulated by Eastern canon law...

, Syriac Catholic
Syriac Catholic Church
The Syriac Catholic Church is a Christian church in the Levant having practices and rites in common with the Syriac Orthodox Church. They are one of the Eastern Catholic Churches following the Antiochene rite, the Syriac tradition of Antioch, along with the Maronites and Syro-Malankara Christians...

, Maronite
Maronite Church
The Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See of Rome . It traces its heritage back to the community founded by Maron, a 4th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint. The first Maronite Patriarch, John Maron, was elected in the late 7th...

, Chaldean Catholic
Chaldean Catholic Church
The Chaldean Catholic Church , is an Eastern Syriac particular church of the Catholic Church, maintaining full communion with the Bishop of Rome and the rest of the Catholic Church...

 and Latin) make up 16%; the Syriac Orthodox Church
Syriac Orthodox Church
The Syriac Orthodox Church; is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. The Syriac Orthodox Church claims to derive its origin from one of the first Christian communities, established in Antioch by the Apostle St....

 27%, the Armenian Apostolic Church
Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church...

 8%, Assyrian Church of the East
Assyrian Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ʻIttā Qaddishtā w-Shlikhāitā Qattoliqi d-Madnĕkhā d-Āturāyē), is a Syriac Church historically centered in Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical...

 and several smaller Christian denominations account the remainder. Many Christian monasteries also exist. Many Christian Syrians belong to a high socio-economic class.

Languages


Arabic is the official language
Official language
An official language is a language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a nation's official language will be the one used in that nation's courts, parliament and administration. However, official status can also be used to give a...

 and Syrian Arabic
Syrian Arabic
Syrian Arabic is a variety of Arabic spoken in Syria.-History:Syrian Arabic proper is a form of Levantine Arabic, and may be divided into South Syrian Arabic, spoken in the cities of Damascus, Homs and Hama, and North Syrian Arabic, spoken in the region of Aleppo. Allied dialects are spoken in...

 is most widely spoken
Spoken language
Spoken language is a form of human communication in which words derived from a large vocabulary together with a diverse variety of names are uttered through or with the mouth. All words are made up from a limited set of vowels and consonants. The spoken words they make are stringed into...

. Kurdish
Kurdish language
Kurdish is a dialect continuum spoken by the Kurds in western Asia. It is part of the Iranian branch of the Indo-Iranian group of Indo-European languages....

 (in its Kurmanji
Kurmanji
Kurmanji or Northern Kurdish is the most commonly spoken dialect of the Kurdish language.- Scripts and books :...

 form) is widely spoken in the Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 regions of Syria. Many educated Syrians also speak English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

 and Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 (South Azeri dialect) are spoken among the Armenian
Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

 and Turkmen
Syrian Turkmen
Syrian Turks are Syrian citizens of Turkish descent, who have been living in the Syrian provinces of the Ottoman Empire before its dissolution and continue to live in the modern country of Syria...

 minorities. Before the advent of Arabic
Classical Arabic
Classical Arabic , also known as Qur'anic or Koranic Arabic, is the form of the Arabic language used in literary texts from Umayyad and Abbasid times . It is based on the Medieval dialects of Arab tribes...

, Aramaic
Aramaic language
Aramaic is a group of languages belonging to the Afroasiatic language phylum. The name of the language is based on the name of Aram, an ancient region in central Syria. Within this family, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic family, and more specifically, is a part of the Northwest Semitic subfamily,...

 was the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 of the region and is still spoken among Arameans and Assyrians
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

. Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

 is used as the liturgical language of various Syriac denominations
Syriac Christianity
Syriac or Syrian Christianity , the Syriac-speaking Christians of Mesopotamia, comprises multiple Christian traditions of Eastern Christianity. With a history going back to the 1st Century AD, in modern times it is represented by denominations primarily in the Middle East and in Kerala, India....

. Most remarkably, Western Neo-Aramaic
Western Neo-Aramaic
Western Neo-Aramaic is a modern Aramaic language. Today, it is spoken in three villages in the Anti-Lebanon mountains of western Syria. Western Neo-Aramaic is the only modern living Aramaic language drawn from the branch of Western Aramaic languages...

 is still spoken in the village of Ma`loula
Ma`loula
-Name:Ma'loula or Maaloula is a town in Syria until recently dominated by speakers of Western Neo-Aramaic.-General:The town is located 56 km to the northeast of Damascus, and built into the rugged mountainside, at an altitude of more than 1500 meters.-Population:As of 2005, the town has a...

, and two neighbouring villages, 35 miles (56 km) northeast of Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

.

Education



The strong educational system in Syria is based on the old French system.
Education is free in all public schools and obligatory up to the 9th grade. Schools are divided into three levels:
  • 1st to 4th grade: Basic Education Level I
  • 5th to 9th grade: Basic Education Level II
  • 10th to 12th grade: Secondary Education , the equivalent of high school.


Final exams of the 9th grade are carried out nationally at the same time. The result of these exams determines if the student goes to the "general" secondary schools or the technical secondary schools. Technical secondary schools include industrial and agricultural schools for male students, crafts school for female students, and commercial and computer science schools for both.

At the beginning of the 11th grade, those who go to "general" secondary school have to choose to continue their study in either the "literary branch" or the "scientific branch".

The final exams of the 12th grade (the baccalaureate) are also carried out nationally and at the same time. The result of these exams determines the university, college and specialization that the student attends. To do that the student has to apply through a complicated system called Mufadalah.

Colleges charge modest fees ($10–20 a year) if the student achieves the sufficient marks in his Baccalaureate exams. If not, the student may opt to pay higher fees ($1500–4000) to enroll. There are some private schools and colleges but their fees are much higher.

Most universities in Syria follow the French model of higher education, the university stages and the academic degree
Academic degree
An academic degree is a position and title within a college or university that is usually awarded in recognition of the recipient having either satisfactorily completed a prescribed course of study or having conducted a scholarly endeavour deemed worthy of his or her admission to the degree...

s are:
  • First stage: the Licence
    Licentiate
    Licentiate is the title of a person who holds an academic degree called a licence. The term may derive from the Latin licentia docendi, meaning permission to teach. The term may also derive from the Latin licentia ad practicandum, which signified someone who held a certificate of competence to...

     awarded after 4 years to 6 years depending on the field.
  • Second stage: the DEA or DESS
    DEA (former French degree)
    A Master of Advanced Studies is a non-consecutive postgraduate degree awarded predominantly in European countries. A MAS program offers comprehensive training in a specific field and can either give access to higher qualification in one's profession or lead to a new profession...

     1–2 years postgraduate degree equivalent to the Master's degree
    Master's degree
    A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

     in the American/English systems.
  • Third stage: the doctorat 3–5 years after the DEA
    DEA (former French degree)
    A Master of Advanced Studies is a non-consecutive postgraduate degree awarded predominantly in European countries. A MAS program offers comprehensive training in a specific field and can either give access to higher qualification in one's profession or lead to a new profession...

     or an equivalent degree.


Since 1967, all schools, colleges, and universities have been under close government supervision by the Baath Party
Baath Party
The Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party was a political party mixing Arab nationalist and Arab socialist interests, opposed to Western imperialism, and calling for the renaissance or resurrection and unification of the Arab world into a single state. Ba'ath is also spelled Ba'th or Baath and means...

.

There are 5 state universities in Syria, and 11 private universities. The top two are University of Damascus
University of Damascus
The University of Damascus is the largest and oldest university in Syria, located in the capital Damascus and has campuses in other Syrian cities. It was founded in 1923 through the merger of the School of Medicine and the Institute of Law , also making it the oldest university in modern-day Syria...

 (180,000 students), and University of Aleppo
University of Aleppo
University of Aleppo is a public university located in Aleppo, Syria. It is the second largest university in Syria after the University of Damascus....

. One school is a joint Syrian-European program; the Higher Institute of Business Administration (HIBA) offer undergraduate and gradudate degrees.

Culture



The scribes of the city of Ugarit
Ugarit
Ugarit was an ancient port city in the eastern Mediterranean at the Ras Shamra headland near Latakia, Syria. It is located near Minet el-Beida in northern Syria. It is some seven miles north of Laodicea ad Mare and approximately fifty miles east of Cyprus...

 (modern Ras Shamra) created a cuneiform alphabet in the 14th century BCE. The alphabet was written in the familiar order we use today.

Archaeologists have discovered extensive writings and evidence of a culture rivaling those of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 in and around the ancient city of Ebla
Ebla
Ebla Idlib Governorate, Syria) was an ancient city about southwest of Aleppo. It was an important city-state in two periods, first in the late third millennium BC, then again between 1800 and 1650 BC....

 (modern Tell Mardikh). Later Syrian scholars and artists contributed to Hellenistic
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

 and Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 thought and culture. Cicero
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 was a pupil of Antiochus of Ascalon
Antiochus of Ascalon
Antiochus , of Ascalon, , was an Academic philosopher. He was a pupil of Philo of Larissa at the Academy, but he diverged from the Academic skepticism of Philo and his predecessors...

 at Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

; and the writings of Posidonius of Apamea influenced Livy
Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

 and Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

.

Philip Hitti claimed, "the scholars consider Syria as the teacher for the human characteristics", and Andrea Parrot the French archaeologist and main discoverer and excavator of the Mari State writes, "each civilized person in the world should admit that he has two home countries: the one he was born in, and Syria."

Syria is a traditional society with a long cultural history. Importance is placed on family, religion, education and self discipline and respect. The Syrian's taste for the traditional arts is expressed in dances such as the al-Samah, the Dabkeh in all their variations and the sword dance. Marriage ceremonies and the birth of children are occasions for the lively demonstration of folk customs.

Traditional Houses of the Old Cities in Damascus, Aleppo and the other Syrian cities are preserved and traditionally the living quarters are arranged around one or more courtyards, typically with a fountain in the middle supplied by spring water, and decorated with citrus trees, grape vines, and flowers.

Outside of larger city areas such as Damascus, Aleppo or Homs, residential areas are often clustered in smaller villages. The buildings themselves are often quite old (perhaps a few hundred years old), passed down to family members over several generations. Residential construction of rough concrete and blockwork is usually unpainted, and the palette of a Syrian village is therefore simple tones of grays and browns.


Syrians have contributed to Arabic literature
Arabic literature
Arabic literature is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by writers in the Arabic language. The Arabic word used for literature is adab which is derived from a meaning of etiquette, and implies politeness, culture and enrichment....

 and music and have a proud tradition of oral and written poetry. Syrian writers, many of whom immigrated to Egypt, played a crucial role in the nahda or Arab literary and cultural revival of the 19th century. Prominent contemporary Syrian writers include, among others, Adonis
Ali Ahmad Said
Ali Ahmad Said Asbar born 1 January 1930, also known by the pseudonym Adonis or Adunis , is a Syrian poet and essayist who has made his career largely in Lebanon and France...

, Muhammad Maghout
Muhammad al-Maghut
Muhammed al-Maghut was a Syrian writer and poet. He was born in Salamiya, Syria in an Ismaili family.Muhammad Maghout was credited as the father of the Arabic free verse poetry, liberatng the Arabic poems from the traditional form and revolutionizing the structure of the poem.He wrote for...

, Haidar Haidar
Haidar Haidar
Haidar Haidar is a Syrian writer and novelist.His novel Walimah li A'ashab al-Bahr was banned in several Arab countries, and even resulted in a belated angry reaction from the clerics of Al-Azhar University upon reprinting in Egypt in the year 2000. The clerics issued a Fatwa banning the novel,...

, Ghada al-Samman
Ghada al-Samman
Ghada al-Samman is an Arab Syrian writer, journalist and novelist born in Damascus in 1942 to a prominent and conservative Damascene family, she is remotely related to Nizar Qabbani the famous poet. Her father was Dr. Ahmed al-Samman, PhD, a president of the Syrian University...

, Nizar Qabbani
Nizar Qabbani
Nizar Tawfiq Qabbani was a Syrian diplomat, poet and publisher. His poetic style combines simplicity and elegance in exploring themes of love, eroticism, feminism, religion, and Arab nationalism...

 and Zakariyya Tamer
Zakariyya Tamer
Zakaria Tamer , also transliterated Zakariya Tamir , is an influential master of the Arabic-language short story....

.

There was a private sector presence in the Syrian cinema industry until the end of the 1970s, but private investment has since preferred the more lucrative television serial business. Syrian soap operas, in a variety of styles (all melodramatic, however), have considerable market penetration throughout the eastern Arab world.

Although declining, Syria's handicraft industry still employs thousands.

Syrian cuisine



The Syrian cuisine is rich and varied in its ingredients and is linked to the region of Syria where a specific dish has originated. Syrian food mostly consists of Southern Mediterranean, Greek, and Southwest Asian dishes. Some Syrian dishes also evolved from Turkish and French cooking. Dishes like shish kebab
Kebab
Kebab is a wide variety of meat dishes originating in Middle East and later on adopted by the Middle East, and Asia Minor, and now found worldwide. In English, kebab with no qualification generally refers more specifically to shish kebab served on the skewer...

, stuffed zucchini, yabra' (stuffed grape leaves, the word yapra' derıves from the Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 word 'yaprak' meaning leaf).

The main dishes that form Syrian cuisine are kibbeh
Kibbeh
Kibbeh or kibbe is an Arab dish made of bulgur or rice and chopped meat. The best-known variety is a torpedo-shaped fried croquette stuffed with minced beef or lamb. Other types of kibbeh may be shaped into balls or patties, and baked or cooked in broth.Kibbeh is a popular dish in Levantine...

, hummus
Hummus
Hummus is high in iron and vitamin C and also has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas make it a good source of protein and dietary fiber; the tahini consists mostly of sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid methionine, complementing the proteins in the...

, tabbouleh, fattoush
Fattoush
Fattoush is a Levantine bread salad made from toasted or fried pieces of pita bread combined with mixed greens and other vegetables. Fattoush belongs to the family of dishes known as fattat or fatta, which are made in the Levant by Arab cooks using stale flatbread as a base...

, labneh
Strained yoghurt
Strained yoghurt, yoghurt cheese, labneh, or Greek yoghurt is yoghurt which has been strained in a cloth or paper bag or filter to remove the whey, giving a consistency between that of yoghurt and cheese, while preserving yoghurt's distinctive sour taste...

, shawarma
Shawarma
Shawarma is a Levantine Arab sandwich-like wrap of shaved lamb, goat, chicken, turkey, beef, or mixed meats. The meat is placed on a spit, and may be grilled for as long as a day. It is eaten with pita bread, tabbouleh, fattoush, taboon bread, tomato and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus,...

, mujaddara
Mujaddara
Mujaddara consists of cooked lentils together with groats, generally rice, and garnished with roasted onions that have been sauteed in olive oil or butter.-Name and origin:...

, shanklish
Shanklish
Shanklish , also known as shinklish, shankleesh, sorke, or sürke, is a type of cow's milk or sheep milk cheese in Levantine. It is typically formed into balls of approximately 6 cm diameter, which are often covered in za'atar and Aleppo pepper, and then aged and dried...

, pastırma
Pastirma
Pastirma or bastirma is a highly seasoned, air-dried cured beef in the cuisines of the former Ottoman countries.-Etymology:The name bastirma is from . bastırma is the gerund of the verb bastırmak , which means "to depress, restrain"...

, sujuk and ba'lawa
Baklava
Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia....

. Ba'lawa
Baklava
Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia....

 is made of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and soaked in honey
Honey
Honey is a sweet food made by bees using nectar from flowers. The variety produced by honey bees is the one most commonly referred to and is the type of honey collected by beekeepers and consumed by humans...

. Syrians often serve selections of appetizers, known as meze
Meze
Meze or mezze is a selection of small dishes served in the Mediterranean and Middle East as dinner or lunch, with or without drinks. In Levantine cuisines and in the Caucasus region, meze is served at the beginning of all large-scale meals....

, before the main course. za'atar
Za'atar
Za'atar is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs from the genera Origanum , Calamintha , Thymus vulgaris and Satureja . It is also the name for a condiment made from the dried herb, mixed together with sesame seeds, dried sumac, and often salt, as well as other spices...

, minced beef, and cheese manakish
Manakish
Manakish, also manaqish, manaeesh or manakeesh or in singular form man'ousheh is a popular Levantine food consisting of dough topped with thyme, cheese, or ground meat. Similar to a pizza, it can be sliced or folded, and it can either be served for breakfast or lunch...

 are popular hors d'œuvres. The Arabic flatbread khubz
Khubz
Khubz, khoubz or khobz , an Arabic word for bread, but usually used by non-Arabic speakers to refer to a flatbread that forms a staple of the local diet in Arabic-speaking countries from the Arabian Peninsula to Morocco....

 is always eaten together with meze
Meze
Meze or mezze is a selection of small dishes served in the Mediterranean and Middle East as dinner or lunch, with or without drinks. In Levantine cuisines and in the Caucasus region, meze is served at the beginning of all large-scale meals....

.

Syrians are also well-known for their cheese
Syrian cheese
There are numerous different kinds of Syrian cheese. Some of the most common are:*Baladi , soft-white, smooth, creamy cheese has a mild flavor. The cheese tastes delicious spread on fresh bread or crackers. It is eaten for breakfast or snacks....

. The very popular string cheese jibbneh mashallale is made of curd cheese and is pulled and twisted together. Syrians also make cookies to usually accompany their cheese called ka'ak
Ka'ak
Ka'ak or Kahqa is the Arabic word for "cake", and can refer to several different types of baked goods produced throughout the Arab world and the Near East.-Bread rings:...

. These are made of farina
Farina (food)
Farina is a cereal food, frequently described as mild-tasting, usually served warm, made from cereal grains. In contemporary American English use, the word usually refers to Cream of Wheat made from soft wheat. Wheat farina is a carbohydrate-rich food, often cooked in boiling water and served warm...

 and other ingredients, rolled out, shaped into rings and baked. Another form of a similar cookie is to fill with crushed dates mixed with butter to accompany their jibbneh mashallale.

Drinks in Syria vary depending on the time of the day and the occasion. Arabic coffee
Arabic coffee
Arabic coffee is a general name that refers to the way coffee is prepared in many Arab Gulf countries.There are two main ways of preparing Arabic coffee. Traditional coffee brewing, more common in Najd and Hijaz, is flavor-rich with cardamom, and sometimes other spices like saffron , cloves, and...

, also known as Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee
Turkish coffee is a method of preparing coffee where finely powdered roast coffee beans are boiled in a pot , with sugar according to taste, before being served into a cup where the dregs settle...

 is the most well-known hot drink usually prepared in the morning at breakfast or in the evening. it is usually served for guests or after food. Arak
Arak (distilled beverage)
Arak or Araq , is a highly alcoholic spirit from the anis drinks family. It is a clear, colorless, unsweetened anise-flavoured distilled alcoholic drink...

, an alcoholic drink, is also a well-known beverage served mostly on special occasions. More examples of Syrian beverages include Ayran
Ayran
Ayran or laban is a cold beverage of yogurt mixed with cold water and sometimes salt; it is popular in many Central Asian, Middle Eastern and South-eastern European countries....

, Jallab
Jallab
Jallab is a type of syrup popular in the Middle East made from carob, dates, grape molasses and rose water.In Syria, Palestine and Lebanon Jallab is very popular. It is made mainly of grape molasses and artificial coloring, then smoked with Arabic incense. It is usually sold with crushed ice and...

, White coffee
White coffee
White coffee can refer to any of a number of coffee or herbal tea beverages worldwide.- Coffee with whitener :In many English-speaking countries, "white coffee" is used to refer to regular black coffee that has had milk, cream or some other "whitener" added to it, though the term is almost entirely...

, and a locally manufactured beer called Al Shark.

Sport in Syria



Popular Sports include: Football, Basketball, Swimming, and Tennis. Syria is home to Al- Fayhaa Sports complex
Al-Fayhaa Stadium
Al-Fayhaa Stadium is a multi-use stadium in Damascus, Syria. It has a capacity of 13,000 people, and it is home to the Al-Wahda football team....

 in the capital, Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 , and the 5th and 7th Pan Arab Games
Pan Arab Games
The Arab Games are a regional multi-sport event held between nations from the Arab World. They are organized by the Union of Arab National Olympic Committees. The first Games took place in 1953 in Alexandria, Egypt. Intended to be held every four years since, political turmoil as well as financial...

 were held in the Al- Fayhaa Sports stadium. Syria is also home to many Football clubs, like for example, Al-Jaish, Al-Wahda, and Al Majd in Damascus, and Al-Horriya
Al-Horriya
Hurriya Sporting Club is a Syrian football club based in Aleppo. It was founded in 1952. They play at the Hamadaniah Stadium.-Current squad:...

, Al-Ittihad of Aleppo, Jalaa Club, and Ourubeh Club, in Aleppo ,and Al-Karamah
Al-Karamah
Al-Karamah Sporting Club is a Syrian football club based in the city of Homs. Founded in 1928, it is considered to be one of Asia's oldest sporting clubs. The club has won eight Syrian League titles and eight Syrian Cup titles. It also was the first Syrian club to win both the league and cup...

 in Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

.

The Aleppo International Stadium
Aleppo International Stadium
Aleppo International Stadium is an Olympic-standard, multi-use, all-covered and all-seater stadium in the Syrian city of Aleppo. It is the largest stadium in Syria, and is currently used mostly for football matches. It serves as a home ground of the Syrian football team and hosts some matches of...

 is home to the Syrian national football team
Syria national football team
The Syria national football team represents Syria in association football and is controlled by the Syrian Football Association, the governing body for football in Syria. Syria's home grounds are Abbasiyyin Stadium and Aleppo International Stadium...

. The team has enjoyed some success, having been to 4 Asian Cups. The team's first international was against Turkey
Turkey national football team
The Turkey national football team represents Turkey in association football and is controlled by the Turkish Football Federation, the governing body for football in Turkey. They are affiliated with UEFA...

 on November 20, 1949, losing to Turkey 7–0. The team was ranked 115th in the world by FIFA
FIFA World Rankings
The FIFA World Rankings is a ranking system for men's national teams in association football, currently led by Spain. The teams of the member nations of FIFA , football's world governing body, are ranked based on their game results with the most successful teams being ranked highest...

 as of November 2011.

Syria also has a Professional Football League for Syrian Football clubs. Teams from Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and other cities compete. See Football in Syria
Football in Syria
The sport of football in the country of Syria is run by the Syrian Arab Federation for Football. The association administers the national football team as well as the Syrian Premier League.- See also :*Syria national football team...

.

Music of Syria



Syria's capital, Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

, has long been one of the Arab world's centers for cultural and artistic innovation, especially in the field of classical Arab music. Syria has also produced several pan-Arab stars, including Asmahan
Asmahan
Amal al-Atrash , better known by her stage name Asmahan , was a Syrian Druze singer and actress. Having immigrated to Egypt in childhood, her family knew the composer Dawood Hosni, and she sang the compositions of Mohamed El Qasabgi and Zakariyya Ahmad...

, Farid al-Atrash
Farid al-Atrash
Farid al-Atrash, or in French spelling Farid El-Atrache, was a Syrian-Egyptian composer, singer, virtuoso oud player, and actor. Having immigrated to Egypt in childhood, Farid embarked on a highly successful career spanning more than four decades — recording 500 songs and starring in 31 movies...

 and singer Lena Chamamyan
Lena Chamamyan
Lena Chamamyan is a Syrian singer of Armenian descent. Born in Damascus, she started singing at an early age giving her first concert when she was five years old.Through her elementary and secondary education she held many school concerts...

. The city of Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

 is known for its muwashshah
Muwashshah
Muwashshah or muwaššaḥ can mean:...

, a form of Andalous sung poetry popularized by Sabri Moudallal, as well as popular stars like Sabah Fakhri
Sabah Fakhri
Sabah Fakhri : is an iconic Arabic traditional singer from Aleppo, Syria.Over the past 50 years of fame and popularity as a singer, Mr. Sabah Fakhri modified and popularized the then-fading form of traditional Arabic music, Muwashahat and Koodood Halabiya...

.

Also, Syria was one of the earliest centers of Christian hymn
Hymn
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification...

ody, in a repertory known as Syrian chant
Syrian chant
Syrian chant is the chant used in Syriac Christianity.As Syria was one of the earliest centers of Christianity, its style of chant is among the oldest in the world. However, as no early musical manuscripts exist, it is conjectural to what extent the modern repertoire reflects the early...

, which continues to be the liturgical music of some of the various Syrian Christians
Christianity in Syria
Christians in Syria make up about 10% of the population, the largest Christian denomination is the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, closely followed by the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and then the Syriac Orthodox Church; there are also a minority of Protestants...

.

There was formerly a distinctive tradition of Syrian Jewish
Syrian Jews
Syrian Jews are Jews who inhabit the region of the modern state of Syria, and their descendants born outside Syria. Syrian Jews derive their origin from two groups: from the Jews who inhabited the region of today's Syria from ancient times Syrian Jews are Jews who inhabit the region of the modern...

 religious music, which still flourishes in the Syrian-Jewish community of New York: see The Weekly Maqam
The Weekly Maqam
In Mizrahi and Sephardic Middle Eastern Jewish prayer services, each Shabbat the congregation conducts services using a different maqam. A maqam , which in Arabic literally means 'place', is a standard melody type and set of related tunes. The melodies used in a given maqam aims effectively to...

, Baqashot
Baqashot
The Baqashot are a collection of supplications, songs, and prayers that have been sung by the Sephardic Aleppian Jewish community and other congregations for centuries each week on Shabbat morning from midnight until dawn. Usually they are recited during the weeks of winter, when the nights are...

 and Pizmonim
Pizmonim
Pizmonim are traditional Jewish songs and melodies with the intentions of praising God as well as learning certain aspects of traditional religious teachings. They are sung throughout religious rituals and festivities such as prayers, circumcisions, bar mitzvahs, weddings and other ceremonies...

.

Syrian literature



Syrian literature has been influenced by the literatures of other Arab countries, by French literature, and by the country's political history.

From early times to 1948


Under Ottoman rule
Ottoman Syria
Ottoman Syria is a European reference to the area that during European Renaissance from the late 15th to early 18th century was called the Levant within the early period of the Ottoman Empire, the Orient until the early 19th century, and Greater Syria until 1918...

, literary production was subjected to censorship. In the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th, aspiring Syrian writers often chose emigration, moving primarily to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

--where they contributed to al-Nahda
Al-Nahda
Al-Nahda was a cultural renaissance that began in the late 19th century and early 20th century in Egypt, then later moving to Ottoman-ruled Arabic-speaking regions including Lebanon, Syria and others...

, the renaissance of Arabic literature
Arabic literature
Arabic literature is the writing produced, both prose and poetry, by writers in the Arabic language. The Arabic word used for literature is adab which is derived from a meaning of etiquette, and implies politeness, culture and enrichment....

--and to the United States, developing Syrian literature from abroad.

From 1918 to 1926, while Syria was under French rule
French Mandate of Syria and Lebanon
Officially the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon was a League of Nations mandate founded after the First World War and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire...

, French
French literature
French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France other than French. Literature written in French language, by citizens...

 Romantic influences inspired Syrian authors, many of whom turned away from the traditional models of Arabic poetry
Arabic poetry
Arabic poetry is the earliest form of Arabic literature. Present knowledge of poetry in Arabic dates from the 6th century, but oral poetry is believed to predate that. Arabic poetry is categorized into two main types, rhymed, or measured, and prose, with the former greatly preceding the latter...

.

From 1948 to the present day


In 1948, the partitioning of neighbouring Palestine and the establishment of Israel brought about a new turning point in Syrian writing. Adab al-Iltizam, the "literature of political commitment", deeply marked by social realism
Social realism
Social Realism, also known as Socio-Realism, is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts social and racial injustice, economic hardship, through unvarnished pictures of life's struggles; often depicting working class activities as heroic...

, mostly replaced the romantic trend of the previous decades. Hanna Mina
Hanna Mina
Hanna Mina is a Syrian writer, described as "Syria's most prominent novelist".His early novels belong to the movement of social realism, and focus on class conflict; his later works contain "a more symbolic analysis of class differences"...

, rejecting art for art's sake
Art for art's sake
"Art for art's sake" is the usual English rendering of a French slogan, from the early 19th century, l'art pour l'art, and expresses a philosophy that the intrinsic value of art, and the only "true" art, is divorced from any didactic, moral or utilitarian function...

 and confronting the social and political issues of his time, was arguably the most prominent Syrian novellist of this era. Following the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

 in 1967, Adab al-Naksa, the "literature of defeat", grappled with the causes of the Arab defeat.

Baath Party rule, since the 1966 coup, has brought about renewed censorship. As Hanadi Al-Samman puts it,

In the face of threats of persecution or imprisonment, most of Syria's writers had to make a choice between living a life of artistic freedom in exile-as do Nizar Kabbani, Ghada al-Samman
Ghada al-Samman
Ghada al-Samman is an Arab Syrian writer, journalist and novelist born in Damascus in 1942 to a prominent and conservative Damascene family, she is remotely related to Nizar Qabbani the famous poet. Her father was Dr. Ahmed al-Samman, PhD, a president of the Syrian University...

, Hamida Na'na', Salim Barakat
Salim Barakat
Salim Barakat is a Syrian writer of Kurdish origins. He was brought up in Qamishli in northern Syria and spent most of his youth there. In 1970 he moved to Damascus to study Arabic Literature but after one year he moved to Beirut where he stayed until 1982. While in Beirut he published five...

, and prominent poet, critic, and novelist 'Ali Ahmad Sa'id (Adonis)-or resorting to subversive modes of expression that seemingly comply with the demands of the authoritarian police state while undermining and questioning the legitimacy of its rule through subtle literary techniques and new genres.


In this context, the genre of the historical novel
Historical novel
According to Encyclopædia Britannica, a historical novel is-Development:An early example of historical prose fiction is Luó Guànzhōng's 14th century Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which covers one of the most important periods of Chinese history and left a lasting impact on Chinese culture.The...

, spearheaded by Nabil Sulayman, Fawwaz Haddad
Fawwaz Haddad
Fawwaz Haddad is a Syrian novelist. He was born in Damascus and studied law at Damascus University. He held several jobs before taking up writing full-time. Haddad published his first novel Mosaic, Damascus '39 in 1991...

, Khyri al-Dhahabi and Nihad Siris, is sometimes used as a means of expressing dissent, critiquing the present through a depiction of the past. Syrian folk narrative, as a subgenre of historical fiction, is imbued with magical realism, and is also used as a means of veiled criticism of the present. Salim Barakat
Salim Barakat
Salim Barakat is a Syrian writer of Kurdish origins. He was brought up in Qamishli in northern Syria and spent most of his youth there. In 1970 he moved to Damascus to study Arabic Literature but after one year he moved to Beirut where he stayed until 1982. While in Beirut he published five...

, a Syrian émigré living in Sweden, is one of the leading figures of the genre.

Contemporary Syrian literature also encompasses science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 and futuristic utopia
Utopia
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

e (Nuhad Sharif, Talib Umran), which may also serve as media of dissent.

Mohja Kahf
Mohja Kahf
-Biography:Kahf moved to the United States in 1971. Her family has been involved in Syrian opposition politics, a theme reflected in the life of her character Khadra of The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf.She received her Ph.D...

 has argued that literary dissent is typically expressed through the "poetics of Syrian silence":

The nostalgic, moist-eyed silences of Ulfat Idilbi
Ulfat idilbi
Ulfat Idilbi was a Syrian novel writer. She wrote books that became best sellers in the Arabic-speaking world, such as "Dimashq ya Basimat el Huzn" , which was translated into many languages and filmed as "Basimat al Huzn" .- Biography :Born in 1912, to a traditional Damascene...

's narrative could not be more different from the chilling, cynical silences in Zakaria Tamer's stories. The impassioned lacunae in Nizar Kabbani's proclaim exactly what it is they are not saying explicitly, while the poet Muhammad al-Maghut
Muhammad al-Maghut
Muhammed al-Maghut was a Syrian writer and poet. He was born in Salamiya, Syria in an Ismaili family.Muhammad Maghout was credited as the father of the Arabic free verse poetry, liberatng the Arabic poems from the traditional form and revolutionizing the structure of the poem.He wrote for...

's silence is sardonic, sneering both at the authorities and at himself, at the futility and absurdity of the human situation under authoritarian rule.

Fairs and festivals


Festival/Fair City Month
Spring Festival of Hama
Hama
Hama is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria north of Damascus. It is the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate. Hama is the fourth-largest city in Syria—behind Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs—with a population of 696,863...

Hama
Hama
Hama is a city on the banks of the Orontes River in west-central Syria north of Damascus. It is the provincial capital of the Hama Governorate. Hama is the fourth-largest city in Syria—behind Aleppo, Damascus, and Homs—with a population of 696,863...

April
Flower Festival Latakia
Latakia
Latakia, or Latakiyah , is the principal port city of Syria, as well as the capital of the Latakia Governorate. In addition to serving as a port, the city is a manufacturing center for surrounding agricultural towns and villages...

April
Assyrian
Assyrian people
The Assyrian people are a distinct ethnic group whose origins lie in ancient Mesopotamia...

 New Year Festival
Qamishli
Qamishli
Qamishli is a city in north eastern Syria on the border with Turkey, adjoining the Turkish city of Nusaybin, and close to Iraq. It is part of the Al-Hasakah Governorate, and is the administrative capital of the Al Qamishli District within the governorate....

April
Nowruz
Nowruz
Nowrūz is the name of the Iranian New Year in Iranian calendars and the corresponding traditional celebrations. Nowruz is also widely referred to as the Persian New Year....

 Kurdish New Year Festival
Qamishli
Qamishli
Qamishli is a city in north eastern Syria on the border with Turkey, adjoining the Turkish city of Nusaybin, and close to Iraq. It is part of the Al-Hasakah Governorate, and is the administrative capital of the Al Qamishli District within the governorate....

21 March
Traditional Festival Palmyra
Palmyra
Palmyra was an ancient city in Syria. In the age of antiquity, it was an important city of central Syria, located in an oasis 215 km northeast of Damascus and 180 km southwest of the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor. It had long been a vital caravan city for travellers crossing the Syrian desert...

May
International Flower Fair Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

May
Syrian Song Festival Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

July
Marmarita
Marmarita
Marmarita is a village located in Western Syria close to the governorate of Tartus but administratively belonging to the governorate of Homs since 1953. It was previously part of the Latakia Governorate. Marmarita is probably the largest village in the Wadi Al-Nasarah region of Homs. It is also a...

 Festival
Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

August
Festival of le Crac des Chevaliers and
the Valley
Wadi Al-Nasarah
Wadi Al-Nasarah is a popular tourist site in western Syria close to the Lebanese border and administratively belonging to the governorate of Homs.Most of the people in the area is Christian.- Villages in the valley : Marmarita...

 for Arts&Culture
Homs
Homs
Homs , previously known as Emesa , is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is above sea level and is located north of Damascus...

August
Vine Festival As Suwayda
As Suwayda
As Suwayda , also spelt Sweida, is a mainly Druze city located in southwestern Syria, close to the border with Jordan.It is the capital of Muhafazat as Suwayda, one of Syria's 14 governorates, bordering Jordan in the South and the governorates of Daraa in the West and Rif Dimashq in the North and...

September
Cotton Festival Aleppo
Aleppo
Aleppo is the largest city in Syria and the capital of Aleppo Governorate, the most populous Syrian governorate. With an official population of 2,301,570 , expanding to over 2.5 million in the metropolitan area, it is also one of the largest cities in the Levant...

September
Damascus International Fair Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

September
Festival of Love and Peace Lattakia 2–12 August
Bosra
Bosra
Bosra , also known as Bostra, Busrana, Bozrah, Bozra, Busra Eski Şam, Busra ash-Sham, and Nova Trajana Bostra, is an ancient city administratively belonging to the Daraa Governorate in southern Syria...

 Festival
Bosra
Bosra
Bosra , also known as Bostra, Busrana, Bozrah, Bozra, Busra Eski Şam, Busra ash-Sham, and Nova Trajana Bostra, is an ancient city administratively belonging to the Daraa Governorate in southern Syria...

September
Film and Theatre Festival Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

November
Cultural Festival of Jableh Jableh July
Jasmine Festival Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

April

See also


  • Corruption Perceptions Index
    Corruption Perceptions Index
    Since 1995, Transparency International publishes the Corruption Perceptions Index annually ranking countries "by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys." The CPI generally defines corruption as "the misuse of public power for private...

  • International recognition of the Syrian National Council
    International recognition of the Syrian National Council
    International recognition of the Syrian National Council or SNC, is minimal with the council being recognized by three UN members in the midst of the 2011 Syrian uprising.-International standing and recognition:...



Further reading


External links