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The Syria portal

Syria's location on a map of the Middle East and the world.

Syria (Arabic: سوريا‎‎) is a country in the Middle East, bordering Lebanon to the west, Israel to the southwest, Jordan to the south, Iraq to the east, and Turkey to the north. The modern state of Syria attained independence from the French mandate of Syria in 1946, but can trace its roots to the fourth millennium BC; its capital city, Damascus, was the seat of the Umayyad Empire and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Empire.

Historically, Syria has often included the territories of modern Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and parts of Jordan, but excluded the Jazira region in the north-east of the modern Syrian state. In the geographical sense, the area of the Levant is also known as Syrian region or by the Arabic name Bilad al-Sham (بلاد الشام), for the Arab province name during the Middle Ages. Since the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel occupies a large share of the Golan Heights in the southwest of the country; a dispute with Turkey over the Hatay Province has subsided. Since March 2011, Syria has been embroiled in civil war in the wake of uprisings (considered an extension of the Arab Spring, the mass movement of revolutions and protests in the Arab world) against Assad and the Ba'athist government. An alternative government was formed by the opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, in March 2012. Representatives of this government were subsequently invited to take up Syria's seat at the Arab League.[1] Further into the war, Syria was torn among at least four warring factions - the Syrian government, the Opposition, the self-proclaimed Kurdish enclave and the radical Islamist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The name Syria comes from the ancient Greek name for the former colonial territories of Assyria such as Canaan and Aram. At the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea between Egypt and Arabia to the south and Cilicia to the north, stretching inland to include Mesopotamia, and having an uncertain border to the northeast that Pliny the Elder describes as including from west to east Commagene, Sophene, and Adiabene, "formerly known as Assyria" (N.H. 5.66). By Pliny's time, however, this larger Syria had been divided into a number of provinces under the Roman Empire (but politically independent from each other): Judaea (or "Judea" and later renamed Palestina in AD 135—the region corresponding to the modern states of Israel and Jordan and the Palestinian territories) in the extreme southwest, Phoenicia corresponding to Lebanon, with Damascena to the inland side of Phoenicia, Coele-Syria (or "Hollow Syria") south of the Eleutheris river, and Mesopotamia.

Syria had a population of 19 million as of 2010, though it has decreased on the course of Syrian civil war. The majority are Sunni Muslims, some 16% are other Muslim groups, including the Alawi, and Shi'a denominations, the rest are Druze and about 10% Christians of various churches. Since 1963, the country has been governed by the Baath Party; the head of state since 1970 has been a member of the Assad family. Syria's current President is Bashar al-Assad, son of Hafez al-Assad, who held office from 1970 until his death in 2000.

Selected article

Bust of Elagabalus from the Capitoline Museums

Elagabalus was a Roman emperor of the Severan dynasty who reigned from 218 to 222. Born in Syria, in his early youth he served as a priest of the god El-Gabal at his hometown Emesa. In 217, the emperor Caracalla was murdered and replaced by his Praetorian prefect Marcus Opellius Macrinus. Caracalla's maternal aunt Julia Maesa successfully instigated a revolt among the Legio III Gallica to have her eldest grandson Elagabalus declared as emperor in his place. Macrinus was defeated on June 8 218 at the Battle of Antioch, upon which Elagabalus, barely 14 years old, ascended to the imperial power and began a reign that was marred by controversies. During his rule, Elagabalus showed a disregard for Roman religious traditions and sexual taboos. He was married as many as five times and is reported to have prostituted himself in the imperial palace. Elagabalus replaced Jupiter, head of the Roman pantheon, with a new god, Deus Sol Invictus, and forced leading members of Rome's government to participate in religious rites celebrating this deity, which he personally led. Amidst growing opposition, Elagabalus was assassinated and replaced by his cousin Severus Alexander. Elagabalus developed a reputation among his contemporaries for eccentricity, decadence, and zealotry which was likely exaggerated by his successors. This propaganda was passed on and, as such, he was one of the most reviled Roman emperors to early historians. (more...)

Did you know...

The mural painting of the investiture of Zimrilim

  • ... that the 18th-century BC fresco the Investiture of Zimrilim (pictured) depicts the king of ancient Mari receiving the symbols of rule from the goddess Ishtar?
  • ... that Syrian political activist Faeq al-Mir was arrested and potentially faced life in prison for a phone call?

Selected building

The fortified entrance

The Citadel of Aleppo is an immense fortification in the centre of the old city of 'Aleppo, northern Syria. It is considered to be one of the oldest and largest castles in the world. Usage of the Citadel hill dates back at least to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Subsequently occupied by many civilizations including the Greeks, Byzantines, Ayyubids and Mamluks, the majority of the construction as it stands today is thought to originate from the Ayyubid period. A great deal of conservation work has taken place over the last seven years by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in collaboration with the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities.

The inner gate

The recently discovered Temple of the Ancient Storm God, Hadda, dates use of the hill to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC, and it is referred to in Cuniform texts from Ebla and Mari refer to the temple. The prophet Abraham is said to have milked his sheep on the citadel hill. After the decline of the Neo-Hittite state centred in Aleppo, the Assyrians dominated the area (4-8th century BC), followed by the Neo-Babylonians and the Persians (539-333).

see also : Crac des Chevaliers


  • August 14: Mozilla, Creative Commons, Wikimedia Foundation announce Bassel Khartabil Free Culture fellowship following execution of open culture activist
  • February 26: Syrian peace talks begin in Geneva
  • January 28: German teenager sentenced to six years for stabbing police officer
  • January 26: Czech diplomats secure release of Polish 'terrorist' in Syria
  • December 26: Plane carrying 92 crashes into Black Sea near Sochi
  • December 15: Evacuation corridor allows rebels and civilians to leave Aleppo
  • November 6: On the campaign trail in the USA, October 2016
  • October 21: On the campaign trail in the USA, September 2016

Selected biography

Shukri al-Quwatli (1891, Damascus, Syria — June 30, 1967, Beirut, Lebanon) (Arabic: شكري القوتلي) was the president of Syria from 1943-1949 and 1955-1958. Quwatli entered Syrian politics in the 1930s as a member of the National Bloc, a coalition of Arab parties that led the opposition to French rule. As a young man, he had been involved in al-Fatat, an underground opposition group in Ottoman Syria, and been arrested for his activities in 1916. In jail, because of harsh torture, he feared that he would tell the names of his comrades in al-Fatat. To avoid this he slit open his wrist in a suicide attempt but was saved at the last minute by his friend and colleague Dr Ahmad Qadri. He was released when World War I ended to become a civil servant in post-Ottoman era of King Faisal I. After Atassi resigned the presidency in 1939 over objections to continued French intervention in Syria, several years of (WWII-related) instability and direct French and British military ruled followed. The National Bloc remained the dominant expression of Syrian nationalism, and, when elections were again held in 1943, the bloc helped elect Quwatli president. His major preoccupation was to conclude a treaty with France, which had exercised control over Syria for more than two decades. This was accomplished with British help, and by 1946 all foreign troops had evacuated. In 1947 Quwatli enacted an amendment that removed a one-term limit from the constitution, and he was reelected in 1948.

see also : Nizar Qabbani, Hafez al-Assad

Related portals

Selected picture

Palmyra Tétrapylon 02.jpg
The Tetrapylon of Palmyra, Syria



Philip Hitti : "the scholars consider Syria as the teacher for the human characteristics,"

Andrea Parrout : "each civilized person in the world should admit that he has two home countries: the one he was born in, and Syria."


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  1. ^ Black, Ian (26 March 2013). "Syrian opposition takes Arab League seat". The Guardian. 
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