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Syrian Arab Republic
الجمهورية العربية السورية
Al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʿArabīyah as-Sūrīyah
Location of Syria
Map of Syria
Location of Syria
Location of Syria
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Homat el Diyar
Guardians of the Land
Patron Saint(s): Saint Paul
Largest city Aleppo
Official language(s) Arabic[a]
Demonym Syrian
Government Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic
 -  President Bashar al-Assad
 -  Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi
Legislature People's Council
 -  from France 17 April 1946 
 -  from the United Arab Republic 28 September 1961 
 -  Total 185,180 km2 (89th)
71,479 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 1.1
 -  July 2012 estimate 22,530,746 (53rd)
 -  Density 118.3/km2 (101st)
306.5/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $107.831 billion 
 -  Per capita $5,040 
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $59.957 billion 
 -  Per capita $2,802 
HDI (2011) Template:Decrease 0.632 (medium) (119th)
Currency Syrian lira (£S) (SYP)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on the Right
Internet TLD .sy, سوريا.
Calling code 963[b]
a. ^ Arabic is the official language; spoken languages and varieties are: Syrian Arabic, North Mesopotamian Arabic, Kurmanji Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian, and Turkish
b. ^ 02 from Lebanon.

Syria (Arabic: سورية, Sūrīya or سوريا, Sūryā) or the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية السورية, Al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʿArabīyah as-Sūrīyah) is a country in the Middle East along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, bordering Lebanon to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. It is the site of some of the most ancient of post-Diluvian civilizations and figures prominently—and balefully—in eschatology.


There once existed in the Middle East, centered around the territory called Syria today, a nation of people called the Aramaeans, who are often mistaken with Amorites by historians. The "Cuthite" Samaritans are said to be of Aramaean descent. The toponym A-ra-mu appears in an inscription at Ebla listing geographical names, and the term Armi, which is the Eblaite term for nearby Aleppo, occurs frequently in the Ebla tablets (ca. 2300 BC). One of the annals of Naram-Sin of Akkad (c. 2250 BC) mentions that he captured "Dubul, the ensi of A-ra-me" (Arame is seemingly a genitive form), in the course of a campaign against Simurrum in the northern mountains.[1] Other early references to a place or people of "Aram" have appeared at the archives of Mari (c. 1900 BC) and at Ugarit (c. 1300 BC). Another early mention of the Aramaeans as a people is in the inscriptions of Tiglath Pileser I (c. 1100 BC).[2]

Their racial type ranged from Mediterranid to Alpinid or Nordid (similar to the sub-racial varieties found amongst the Hebrews compare with Deuteronomy 26:5 ). In other words, Aram gave rise to a white, Caucasian people, occasionally with blonde hair.[3] However, the Mediterranean type was much more common than the northern European type among the Aramaeans, as is evidenced by physical remains. The New Bible Dictionary concurs, warning that the Aramaeans are called "Syrians" in the English Old Testament where the Hebrew is "Aram."

The name Syria comes from the ancient Greek name for the lands 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."[4] By Pliny's time, however, this larger Syria had been divided into a number of smaller regions: Palestine in the extreme southwest, then Judaea, Phoenicia along the coast, with Damascena to the inland side of Phoenicia, Coele-Syria north of the Eleutheris river, and Mesopotamia.

Syria is significant in the history of Christianity; Paul was converted on the road to Damascus and established the first organized Christian Church at Antioch in ancient Syria, from which he left on many of his missionary journeys. The Ghassanids (ca. 250 AD), who were of the Al-Azd tribe of the Kahlan branch of Qahtani Arab tribes, were the last major non-Islamic Arab migration northward out of Yemen. They initially settled in the Hauran region, eventually spreading to modern Lebanon, Palestine, and Jordan, briefly securing governorship of Syria away from the Nabataeans.

Syria came under Muslim rule in 636 AD. Immediately thereafter, the city of Damascus became the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate, which extended from Spain to the borders of China from 661 AD to 750 AD, when the Abbasid Caliphate was established at Baghdad, Iraq. At the time of the Arab conquest of Byzantine Syria by the Muslim Rashidun army led by Khalid ibn al-Walid in 649 AD, resulting in the area's becoming part of the Islamic empire, the region had been inhabited mainly by local Aramaean Christians (like Mardaites and Melkites), Ghassanid, Nabataean, Ituraean Arabs, as well as minorities of Jews and Samaritans. The population of the region did not become predominantly Muslim and Arab in identity until several centuries after the conquest. These Arabic-type peoples, who are descendants of Joktan and Ishmael, migrated into Syria and Mesopotamia from south of the northern Arabian Desert and through the Iranian mountains. The Greeks called them "Syrians" because they were, at one point, part of the Assyrian Empire. Some Aramaeans joined with the Neo-Hittites in northern Syria while others settled in Babylonia mixing with the Arabic peoples there. Those that mingled with the Arabs in Syria are known as Syrians. The Syrians today are still quite distinct from the Joktanite and Ishmaelite Arabs of Arabia Petraea, Arabia Deserta, Arabia Felix, and Mesopotamia. They are, ethnically, a blend of the Arabized Aramaeans, who are indigenous to the region, and the various Greek and Arab conquerors.

Damascus became a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate around 1260. It was largely destroyed in 1400 by Tamerlane, the Mongol conqueror, who removed many of its craftsmen to Samarkand. Rebuilt, it continued to serve as a capital until 1516. In 1517, it fell under Ottoman rule. The Ottomans remained for the next 400 years, except for a brief occupation by Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt from 1832 to 1840. Ottoman Syria was turned into the short-lived Arab Kingdom of Syria in 1920, which was however soon committed under French Mandate.

From 1938 known as a Republic, Syria gained independence in 1946, entering the Arab-Israeli War in 1948, and remaining in a state of political instability during the 1950s and 1960s. The Ba'ath Arab nationalist party eventually ascended to power in the coup d'état of 1963. In a coup of 1970, Hafez al-Assad took power within the Ba'ath Party. Syria was ruled by Assad during 1970–2000, and after Hafez al-Assad's death in 2000, he was succeeded by his son, Bashar al-Assad. In the context of the "Arab Spring" of 2011, Bashar al-Assad's government faces an ongoing Civil War.

See Also


  1. Year-Names for Naram-Sin
  2. Lipinski, 2000, p. 25-27.
  3. The Syro-Mesopotamian Ethnology as Revealed in Genesis X by Dr. Robert Gayre (1973)
  4. Pliny, Natural History 5.66

External Links