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A country in the Middle East, Syria was occupied successively by Canaanites, Phoenicians, Hebrews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines, before finally coming under the control of the Ottoman Turks.

Following World War I, France acquired a mandate over Syria, and the French administered the area until granting it independence in 1946. Since independence, however, the country has lived through periods of political instability driven by the conflicting interests of various ethnic and religious groups.

Syria united with Egypt in 1958 to form the United Arab Republic, but the two entities separated in 1961 and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished.

In 1963 the Baath (Renaissance) party took control of the country, which rules to this day. Baath government has seen authoritarian rule at home and a strong anti-Israeli policy abroad, particularly under former President Hafez al-Assad.

In 1967 Syria lost the Golan Heights to the Israelis, while civil war in neighboring Lebanon allowed it to extend its political and military influence in the region. Syrian troops stationed in Lebanon since 1976 withdrew in April 2005.

Following the death of Hafez al-Assad in 2000, Syria underwent a degree of relaxation, and hundreds of political prisoners were released. But real political freedoms have not been granted, and the economy remains dominated by the state.  

In 2011, Syria -- along with many of other countries -- was plagued with anti-government unrest in the "Arab Spring" sweeping the region.  A harsh crackdown by the Assad regime  led to global condemnation and saw Syria subject to unprecedented sanctions by the Arab League.

Like many of its neighbors in the Middle East, Syria’s economy depends heavily on oil production and export.

Country Forecast
Major Cities
City Population
Aleppo 1,602,264
Damascus 1,569,394
Hums 775,404
Key Data
Region : Middle East
Population : 22,597,532
Area Total : 185,180 km2
Area Land : 184,050 km2
Coast Line : 193 km
Capital : Damascus
Climate : Mostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers
(June to August) and mild, rainy winters
(December to February) along coast; cold
weather with snow or sleet periodically
hitting Damascus.
Languages : Arabic (official)
Currency : 1 Syrian pound (£S$) = 100 piastres
Holiday : National Day is 17 April (1946), Unity Day is 22 February, Revolution Day is 8 March
Average Daily TemperatureBoundaries
January : 6.60°C / 43.90°F
July : 26.70°C / 80.10°F
Annual Rainfall : 187.1mm / 7.4"
Turkey 822km
Iraq 605km
Jordan 375km
Lebanon 375km
Israel 76km
Ethnic DivisionsReligions
Arab 90%
Kurds, Armenians, & other 10%
Sunni Muslim 74%
Alawite Muslim 12%
Christian 10%
Druze 3%
Jewish 1%

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