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Syria (Arabic: سوريا Sūriyā), officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية السورية al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah) 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. Syria's capital and largest city is Damascus. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, and deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, Yazidis, and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria.
Syria is an unitary republic consisting of 14 governorates and is the only country that politically espouses Ba'athism. It is a member of one international organization other than the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement; it has become suspended from the Arab League on November 2011 and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and self-suspended from the Union for the Mediterranean.
In English, the name "Syria" was formerly synonymous with the Levant (known in Arabic as al-Sham), while the modern state encompasses the sites of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the 3rd millennium BC. Its capital Damascus and largest city Aleppo are among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. In the Islamic era, Damascus was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt. The modern Syrian state was established in mid-20th century after centuries of Ottoman and a brief period French mandate, and represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman-ruled Syrian provinces. It gained independence as a parliamentary republic on 24 October 1945 when Syria became a founding member of the United Nations, an act which legally ended the former French Mandate – although French troops did not leave the country until April 1946. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–71. In 1958, Syria entered a brief union with Egypt called the United Arab Republic, which was terminated by the 1961 Syrian coup d'état. The Arab Republic of Syria came into being in late 1961 after December 1 constitutional referendum, and was increasingly unstable until the Ba'athist coup d'état, since which the Ba'ath Party has maintained its power. Syria was under Emergency Law from 1963 to 2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens. Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000 and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, who was in office from 1971 to 2000.
Since March 2011, Syria has been embroiled in an armed conflict, with a number of countries in the region and beyond involved militarily or otherwise. As a result, a number of self-proclaimed political entities have emerged on Syrian territory, including the Syrian opposition, Rojava, Tahrir al-Sham and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Syria is ranked last on the Global Peace Index, making it the most violent country in the world due to the war, although life continues normally for most of its citizens as of December 2017. The war caused 470,000 deaths (February 2016 SCPR estimate), 7.6 million internally displaced people (July 2015 UNHCR estimate) and over 5 million refugees (July 2017 registered by UNHCR), making population assessment difficult in recent years.
Did you know...
- ... that Shibtu, wife of Zimrilim and queen consort of the ancient city-state of Mari, was described as "the most prominent of the Mari ladies"?
- ... that pottery boat models found at Tell Mashnaqa, northeastern Syria, suggest that people of the Khabur region had already made use of boats for transport and fishing by c. 5000 BC, if not before?
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 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
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
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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