can be divided geographically into four main areas: the fertile
plain in the northeast; the plateau, coastal and mountain areas in
the west; the central plains; and the desert and steppe region in
the central and southeastern areas.
Euphrates flows from Turkey in the north, through Syria, down to
Iraq in the southeast.
The capital of Syria is the world's oldest inhabited city. A
central feature of this cluttered and clamorous city is the Ummayyad
Mosque. The 18th-century Al-Azem palace is now a national museum,
featuring beautifully illuminated copies of the Koran.
is a large city known for its industry. Of historical interest
is the mausoleum of Khalid Ibn al-Walid. Located 65km (40 miles)
outside Homs, Crac des Chevaliers is the most famous crusader castle
in the world. Rising from an altitude of 670m (2200ft), its
watch-towers once afforded protection.
Syria's principal Mediterranean coastal port is a major holiday
resort. National dishes include kubbeh (minced semolina and meat
formed in balls and stuffed with minced meat, onion and nuts) and
yabrak (vine leaves stuffed with rice and minced meat).