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This article is about the modern nation of Syria. For other uses, see Syria (disambiguation).
الجمهورية العربية السورية
Al-Jumhūriyyah al-ʿArabiyyah as-Sūriyyah
Syrian Arab Republic
Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Homat el Diyar
Guardians of the Land
(and largest city) Damascus
33?30′N 36?18′E / 33.5, 36.3
Official languages Arabic
Government Presidential republic under Emergency Law since 1963
- President Bashar al-Assad
- Prime Minister Muhammad Naji al-Otari
Independence from France
- First declaration September 19361
- Second declaration 1 January 1944
- Recognized 17 April 1946
- Total 185,180 km? (88th)
71,479 sq mi
- Water (%) 0.06
- 2007 estimate 19,405,000 (55th)
- Density 103/km? (110th)
GDP (PPP) 2007 estimate
- Total $87.09 billion (63rd)
- Per capita $4,488 (111th)
GDP (nominal) 2007 estimate
- Total $37.76 billion (73rd)
- Per capita $1,946 (114th)
HDI (2007) ▲ 0.724 (medium) (109th)
Currency Syrian pound (SYP)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
- Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Internet TLD .sy
Calling code +963
1 The Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence (1936), not ratified by France.
Map of SyriaSyria (Arabic: سوريّة Sūrriya or Sūrya), officially the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية السورية ), is an Arab country in Southwest Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Israel to the southwest, Jordan to the south, Iraq to the east, and Turkey to the north. The modern state of Syria was formerly a French mandate and attained independence in 1946, but can trace its roots to the Eblan civilization in the third millennium BC. Its capital city, Damascus, was the seat of the Umayyad Empire and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Empire.
Syria gained independence in April 1946. Officially a Republic, Syria has been under Emergency Law since 1963 and governed by the Baath Party; the head of state since 1970 has been a member of the Assad family. Syria's current president is Bashar al-Assad, son of Hafez al-Assad, who held office from 1970 until his death in 2000. With the appointment of Bashar al-Assad in 2000 interest in political reform surged, leading to the so called "Damascus Spring" (July 2000-February 2001). Assad appointed pro-reform candidates to formal and less formal positions, but the 2001 arrest and long-term detention of the two reformist parliamentarians signals slow political reform.
2.1 Constitution and Government
2.2 Emergency Law
3.1 Eblan civilization
3.2 Syria in antiquity
3.3 Early Christian and Islamic history
3.4 French Mandate
3.5 Instability and foreign relations: independence to 1967
3.6 Six Day War and Aftermath
3.7 Baath Party rule under Hafez al-Assad, 1970?2000
3.8 21st century
3.8.1 2008 Israeli Peace Talks
4 Governorates and districts
4.1 Major cities
4.2 Minor cities
4.4 Major villages
6.1 Ethnic groups
6.4 Education in Syria
7.1 Foreign Trade
8 Syrian territorial problems
8.1 Turkish-Syrian dispute over Iskandaron (Hatay) Province
8.2 Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights
9.1 Fairs and festivals
10 Miscellaneous topics
13 External links
Main article: Syria (etymology)
The name Syria derives from the ancient Greek name for Syrians, Σύριοι Syrioi, which the Greeks applied without distinction to various Assyrian people. Modern scholarship confirms the Greek word traces back to the cognate Ἀσσυρία, Assyria, ultimately derived from the Akkadian A??ur, 
The area designated by the word has changed over time. Classically, Syria lies 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". By Pliny's time, however, this larger Syria had been divided into a number of provinces under the Roman Empire (but politically independent from each other): Judaea, later renamed Palaestina in AD 135 (the region corresponding to modern day Palestine and Israel, and Jordan) in the extreme southwest, Phoenicia corresponding to Lebanon, with Damascena to the inland side of Phoenicia, Coele-Syria (or "Hollow Syria") south of the Eleutheris river, and Mesopotamia.
Main article: Politics of Syria
Syria has the following executive branches of government: the president, two vice presidents, prime minister, Council of Ministers (cabinet). Syria's legislative branch is the unicameral People's Council.
Syria's judicial branches include the Supreme Constitutional Court, the High Judicial Council, the Court of Cassation, and the State Security Courts. Islamic jurisprudence is a main source of legislation and Syria's judicial system has elements of Ottoman, French, and Islamic laws. Syria has three levels of courts: courts of first instance, courts of appeals, and the constitutional court, the highest tribunal. Religious courts handle questions of personal and family law.
Political parties: the Arab Socialist Resurrection (Baath) Party (Baath Party) it's the main party which controls the other parties, Syrian Arab Socialist Party, Arab Socialist Union, Syrian Communist Party, Arab Socialist Unionist Movement, Democratic Socialist Union Party, and around 15 very small tolerated political parties and there are 14 kurdish political parties which are not allowed by the law but they exist and are active.
Suffrage: Universal at the age of 18.
 Constitution and Government
Syria's constitution was adopted 13 March 1971. It vests the Baath Party with leadership functions in the state and society. The president is approved by referendum for a 7-year term. The president also serves as Secretary General of the Baath Party and leader of the National Progressive Front. The National Progressive Front is a coalition of 10 political parties authorized by the government.
The constitution requires the president to be a Muslim, but does not make Islam the state religion. The constitution gives the president the right to appoint ministers, to declare war and state of emergency, to issue laws (which, except in the case of emergency, require ratification by the People's Council), to declare amnesty, to amend the constitution, and to appoint civil servants and military personnel.
 Emergency Law
Since 1963 the Emergency Law has been in effect, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for Syrians. Syrian governments have justified the state of emergency in the light of the continuing war with Israel and the threats posed by terrorists. Syrian citizens approve the President in a referendum. Syria does not hold multi-party elections for the legislature.
Main article: History of Syria
 Eblan civilization
Main articles: Ebla and Eblaite language
Around the excavated city of Ebla in northern Syria, discovered in 1975, a great Semitic empire spread from the Red Sea north to Turkey and east to Mesopotamia from 2500 to 2400 B.C. Ebla appears to have been founded around 3000 BC, and gradually built its empire through trade with the cities of Sumer and Akkad, as well as with peoples to the northwest. Gifts from Pharaohs, found during excavations, confirm Ebla's contact with Egypt. Scholars believe the language of Ebla to be among the oldest known written Semitic languages, designated as Paleo-Canaanite. However, more recent classifications of the Eblaite language has shown that it was an East Semitic language, closely related to the Akkadian language. The Eblan civilization was likely conquered by Sargon of Akkad around 2260 BC; the city was restored, as the nation of the Amorites, a few centuries later, and flourished through the early second millennium BC until conquered by the Hittites.
 Syria in antiquity
Roman theatre in Bosra.
Philippus Araps, Roman Emperor -detail of Syrian 100 pound note.During the second millennium BC, Syria was occupied successively by Canaanites, Phoenicians, and Arameans as part of the general disruptions and exchanges associated with the Sea Peoples. The Phoenicians settled along the coast of Palestine, as well as in the west (Lebanon), which was already known for its towering cedars. Egyptians, Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Hittites variously occupied the strategic ground of Syria during this period; the land between their various empires being marsh. Eventually, the Persians took Syria as part of their hegemony of Southwest Asia; this dominion was transferred to the Ancient Macedonians after Alexander the Great's conquests and, thence, to the Romans and the Byzantines.
In the Roman Empire period, the city of Antioch was capital of Syria and was the third largest city in the empire after Rome and Alexandria. With estimated population of 500,000 at its peak, Antioch was one of the major centres of trade and industry in the ancient world. The population of Syria during the heyday of the empire was probably not exceeded again until the 19th century. Syria's large and prosperous population made Syria one of the most important of the Roman provinces, particularly during the 2nd and 3rd centuries (A.D.). The Roman Emperor Alexander Severus, who was emperor from 222 to 235, was Syrian. His cousin Elagabalus, who was emperor from 218 to 222, was also Syrian and his family held hereditary rights to the high priesthood of the sun god El-Gabal at Emesa (modern Homs) in Syria. Another Roman emperor who was a Syrian was Marcus Julius Philippus, emperor from 244 to 249.
The famous desert city of Palmyra, whose ruins are now a United Nations World Heritage site, grew large in the Syrian desert in the 1st and 2nd centuries (A.D.).
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