The Syria of today offers tourists as much a cultural experience as a sightseeing one, where ancient history provides a fascinating backdrop to everyday life on the streets                          


Country profile: Syria


Once the centre of the Islamic Empire, Syria covers an area that has seen invasions and occupations over the ages, from Romans and Mongols to Crusaders and Turks.

A country of fertile plains, mountains and deserts, it is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Alawite Shias and Druze, as well as the Arab Sunnis who make up a majority of the Muslim population.

Modern Syria gained its independence from France in 1946 but has lived through periods of political instability driven by the conflicting interests of these various groups.


  • Full name: The Syrian Arab Republic

  • Population: 18 million (via UN, 2006)

  • Capital: Damascus

  • Area: 185,180 sq km (71,498 sq miles)

  • Major language: Arabic

  • Major religion: Islam

  • Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 

  • 75 years (women) (UN)

  • Monetary unit: 1 Syrian pound = 100 piastres

  • Main exports: Oil, gas

  • GNI per capita: US $1,380 (World Bank, 2006)

  • Internet domain: .sy

  • International dialing code: +963

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