Syria Highlights
Syria is a country in the Middle East, with a coastline at the eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Syria has a population of 24 million people, the capital city is Damascus, spoken languages are Arabic (official), English, French, Kurdish, Armenian and Aramaic. The country is home to a variety of ethnic and religious groups, including Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Christians. Sunni Islam is the main religion in Syria․

History and Government
Syria is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with a rich artistic and cultural heritage. From its ancient roots to its recent political instability and the Syrian Civil War, the country has a complex and, at times, tumultuous history. The oldest human remains found in Syria date back to roughly 700,000 years ago. Throughout ancient times, Syria was occupied and ruled by several empires, including the Egyptians, Mitanni, Babylonians, Phoenicians, Amorites, Persians, Greeks and Romans. The Syrian Republic gained independence in April 1946.
Syria is considered a unitary republic with a semi-presidential style of government. It is formally a unitary republic wherein the Prime Minister is the Head of Government and the President is the Head of State.

Geography and Environment
The country is seventeen times larger than its neighbour Lebanon, eight times the size of Israel and twice that of Jordan. In general terms, Syria is a flat desert plateau, dissected by mountains with a narrow coastal plain that fronts the Mediterranean Sea. The country's waterways are of vital importance to its agricultural development. The longest and most important river is the Euphrates, which represents more than 80 percent of Syria's water resources. Significant bodies of water include Lake al-Assad (a man-made reservoir,) created by a dam on the Euphrates River.

Culture
Syria has a rich culture that reflects its centuries-old history. The Western Asian nation of Syria is home to diverse ethnic groups. The country has a long cultural history where family, religion, respect, and self-discipline are considered to be of great significance. Syria is an eclectic mix of different cultures that have influenced Syrian culture throughout the centuries. Whether Turkish, Mediterranean, Arab or French, various influences can be clearly seen in such cultural markers as cuisine, music and festivals.
Syrian men usually wear a long gown called the “kaftan” while women wear long robes, usually black in color, that covers the entire body. Both men and women wear head wraps. However, most people in Syria wear modern, western-style clothing. Women are expected to dress modestly.

Festivals
Syria holidays include a calendar full of events to be enjoyed by all who are lucky enough to be in the region at the right time. While the current political situation may curtail certain celebrations there are a few like the annual Cotton Festival: the region produces almost all of Syria’s cotton exports and during the annual Cotton Festival, factories open their doors to boast their wares and their skills. Locals from all over the country attend the event. Other famous festivals include an Arabic book fair, which main aim is to promote Arabic literature and showcase local writers, both established and up-and-coming, Independence Day, which is marked with great displays of national unity and pride and other festivals.

Cuisine
Syrian cuisine reflects influences of Greek, Mediterranean, Southwest Asian, Turkish, and French cuisines. Some of the most common dishes of the cuisine are kibbeh (made of bulgur, finely ground meat, minced onions, and spices), hummus, tabbouleh, fattoush (Syrian or Lebanese bread salad), baklava, sujuk (a spicy sausage), etc. Syrian cheese is well-known. Cookies or biscuits called ka'ak are also prepared and eaten with cheese. Arabic coffee, arak (an alcoholic drink), white coffee, and jallab are some popular Syrian beverages.

Best Time to Visit Syria
Syria experiences typical Mediterranean type climate with hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. The best time to visit the country is thus between these two seasons, namely during spring and autumn. The former encompasses the months of March to May whereas the latter occurs between September to November.
Spring and autumn are an ideal time to visit any part of the country, as the weather during these months is mild, cool and pleasant, with relatively low levels of rainfall across different parts of the country.

Tourist Attractions
Syria is a Middle Eastern country with rich cultures and traditions and beautiful Mediterranean weather. Since the beginning of history, Syria has been the center of numerous fascinating cultures and civilizations. Those different civilizations adorned Syria with important magnificent historical sites; some of them were even added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. One of the oldest and largest castles in the world, the Citadel of Aleppo overlooks the city from a hill that helped defend Aleppo and its people from different attacks throughout its history. Other touristic destinations include the temple of Bel which is in the heart of the Syrian Desert and in an oasis surrounded by palm trees, the Dead Cities, also known as the Forgotten Cities, are 40 Byzantine towns scattered between Aleppo and Idlib in the northeast of Syria. The cities were built between the first and the 7th centuries and were abandoned between the 8th and the 10th centuries. They include well-preserved pagan temples, churches, cisterns, bathhouse sand pyramid-roofed tombs.

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