Syria, officially Arabic Al-Djumhurijja al-Arabijja as-Surijja [-d ʒ ʊ m-], German Arab Republic of Syria, state in Western Asia with (2018) 16.9 million residents; The capital is Damascus.
People lived in the Syrian cultural area as early as the Stone Age. In ancient times the country was under the influence of high cultures from Anatolia , Mesopotamia and Egypt. Numerous cities such as Hama, Damascus and Aleppo emerged on the Mediterranean Sea and on the caravan routes. The ruins of palaces, temples, houses, storehouses, citadels as well as wall decorations, sculptures and clay tablets with inscriptions bear witness to the prosperity of that time. The oasis city of Palmyra was a rich trading center until the 3rd century AD. The remains of the 1 km long colonnaded street and the Baal temple were partly destroyed in the Syrian civil war Destroyed by the terrorist organization “Islamic State” (IS). In Bosra, formerly the capital of the Roman province of Arabia, there is, among other things, an amphitheater for 15,000 visitors.
Early Christianity spread in western Syria, especially in the metropolises of Damascus , Antioch on the Orontes (today Antakya / Turkey) and Edessa (today Şanlıurfa / Turkey). In the north there are still churches and monasteries from Byzantine times (Byzantine culture) in what are now the “Dead Cities”. The Syrian language used at that time is still used today in the services of the Christian-Oriental churches.
The Umayyad Islamic caliphs resided in Damascus in the 7th and 8th centuries AD. In Syria, an independent Islamic art developed at that time. It then spread to all regions dominated by Islam. This included structures such as mosques , palaces, public bathhouses (hammam), caravanserais and fortresses. Special features of Islamic architecture are decorative elements: ornaments , wall paintings and mosaics. They often depict plants and artfully written (calligraphy) verses from the Koran.
Rulers and their deeds were glorified in book illuminations. Arabic literature also developed in the courts and cities of the Caliphate Empire. Poems, historical and scientific works were created. In the 19th century, Arabic literature, especially in Syria and Egypt, also took up European narrative forms, including the short story.
Wars, oppression and censorship drove many Syrian artists and writers abroad in the 20th century. This includes B. Rafik Schami (* 1946), who today writes imaginative stories in German. An internationally known representative of Arabic pop music is the singer George Wassouf (* 1961) from Tartus. Only a few Syrian coffeehouses still have the tradition of the oriental »storyteller«.
Syria borders Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east and southeast , Jordan to the south, Israel to the southwest, and Lebanon and the Mediterranean to the west. The country belongs to the western part of the Fertile Crescent, which stretches in a wide arc from the volcanic landscape of the Hauran in the southwest, across Damascus , the plains of Homs and Hama and Aleppo to the east. In the extreme northeast, the Syrian territory meets the Tigris.
A 30 km wide and 180 km long coastal plain runs along the Mediterranean in the northwest, the most fertile and densely populated region of Syria. Behind it rises the Bruchfaltengebirge of Djebel Ansarije (also Djebel Nusairije or Alawitengebirge, up to 1 562 m), the northern continuation of the Lebanon Mountains. To the east of this is a series of tectonically young depressions, the Syrian Rift, a northern extension of the Jordan Rift , with the Orontes. On the eastern edge of the Syrian trench again follow a series of break fold mountains and karst mountain countries: in the north, the northern Syrian limestone massif (in Djebel Saouije 939 m), south of the Anti-Lebanon (2629 m), the Hermon, the highest mountain in the country at 2,814 m, and the Golan Heights.
To the east of the regions near the Mediterranean Sea, the fertile Syrian Tableland extends. It is traversed by rivers and goes east into the loess-covered plateau of the Djesire, through which the Euphrates and Khabur flow, with the isolated mountain ridge Djebel Abd el-Asis (920 m) and the western foothills of the Djebel Sindjar (1,480 m). At Damascus, further mountain ranges branch off to the northeast, including the Palmyraketten (1,390 m).
Southern Syria consists largely of young volcanic basalt coverings that reach 1,800 m east of Dara in the shield-shaped rising Djebel ad-Drus. The entire south-east is traversed by a flat desert and steppe landscape, crossed by salt lakes (Sebcha), which is part of the Syrian Desert.
The natural vegetation has been greatly changed and partly destroyed by human intervention. The vast forests, especially in the western mountainous countries, have been cleared since ancient times. The steppe vegetation of the wet and dry plains (Djesire) has been permanently changed by agriculture and cattle breeding.
Long-lasting settlement and land use have led to a strong decline in the large animal population. In the steppes and desert steppes you can still find jackals, desert foxes, lizards and chameleons. On the banks of the Assad reservoir and on the coasts there are flamingos , pelicans and migratory birds.
Schooling is compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 15. According to topschoolsintheusa, the school system is divided into a six-year elementary school and a six-year secondary school (two levels of three years each). The language of instruction is Arabic, and English and French are also taught. In the tertiary sector there are five public and 15 private universities, including one in Damascus (founded 1923), Aleppo (founded 1960), Latakia (founded 1971) and Homs (founded 1979).