Syria

Syria
Damascus
Arabic
Syrian pound (SYP)
+963

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Syria is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest.

The name Syria formerly comprised the entire region of the Levant, while the modern state encompasses the site of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the third millennium BC. In the Islamic era, its capital city, Damascus, 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.

The population of Syria is 74% Sunni Muslim, with a 12% Shia and Alawite Muslim population, 10% Christian and 3% Druze. Combined, some 86% of the Syrian population is Muslim, which largely includes Arabs and significant minoroties of Kurds and Circassians, while some 10% are Christians, which mainly includes ethnic Assyrians, but also Arab Christians and Armenians. The ethnic minorities include Kurdish (9%), Assyrian/Syriac, Armenian, Turkmen and Circassian populations, while the majority is Arab (90%).

The modern Syrian state was established as a French mandate and attained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 19491970. Syria was under Emergency Law from 19622011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens, and its system of government is considered non-democratic. Bashar al-Assad is the current president, and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, who was in office since 1971. Syria is currently facing massive protests as part of the Arab Spring.