Countries: Asia

Syria: General Information

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General Information (2000)
 
 

Syria played an incomparable role in the history of mankind. It is often described as the cradle of civilization, since many of the greatest human achievements that later spread to encompass the world had their beginnings in ancient Syria (which extended from the Taurus Mountains to Sinai and from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates). In this land, Man discovered the secrets of Agriculture and Metallurgy, and invented the very first alphabet. Religions, Philosophies, Language of trade, Systems of urban development, of diplomatic and cultural exchange; all these germinated in geographical Syria. It has been rightly said, therefore, that every cultured man belongs to two nations: his own, and Syria.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Location: Modern Syria is situated in Asia along the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It has a 180 Km. (112 miles) coastline and is borders by Turkey, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Mediterranean.
Full Country Name: Syria Arab Republic
Capital City: Damascus
Area: 185000 Km2 (71.500 sq. Miles)
Population: 12 million (1986)
Geography: A variety of landscape: seacoast, mountains, forests, rolling hills, fertile valleys, Plains and steppes.
Weather: A pleasant and varied Mediterranean climate with four distinct seasons. Average temperature 32º C (90ºF) in summer, 10º C (50º F) in winter and 22º C (72º F) in spring and autumn.
Time zone: November through February: GMT +2 hours (Winter); March through October: GMT +3 hours (Summer)
Government: Syria is a republic whose President is elected by popular plebiscite for a 7- year term. He appoints the Prime Minister and the cabinet. The Legislative People's Assembly consists of 250 representatives elected for a 4-year term by direct, universal vote.

TRAVEL INFORMATION
Entry Formalities: A valid passport with an entry visa. Any amount of foreign currency could be brought into Syria. However, the sum of foreign currency allowed out should not exceed the amount brought in.

HOW TO GET THERE
Damascus, the main gateway to Syria, is connected with all continents by the national carrier (SYRIAN AIR) and major international airlines. By land, Syria is connected, by highways, with Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and turkey. There are seaport facilities at Latakia and Tartous.

ACCOMMODATION

There are international (5 stars) Hotels in Damascus (Sheraton - Meridian - Cham Palace - Ebla), Latakia (Meridian - Cote d'Azore), Palmyra (Cham), Deir ez - zor (Cham), Hama (Afamia Cham), Bosra (Cham) and Aleppo (Shahba Cham). Numerous first and second class hotels are found throughout the country. Chalets and Camps are also available along the coastline during summer.

TRANSPORTATION
All major cities are served by buses, cars and trains. Special tourist buses and cars are available at (KARNAK) and (TRANSTOUR) companies. (SYRIAN AIR) has domestic flights connecting Damascus with the principal cities. City transport includes taxis and buses.

CURRENCY

The Syrian pound (called Lira) is divided into 100 Piastres. The bank notes are 5,10,25,50,100,200, 500 and 1000 Liras. The less are coins in Piastres up to 200.

ELECTRICAL CURRENT:
220 V, 50 Hz

MEDIA
Daily Arabic newspapers as well as foreign periodicals are sold at many news - stands. Local radio and television programs are broadcast daily in Arabic, French and English.

COMMUNICATIONS: Telephone, telegraph and telex systems are available.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: Metric system.

LANGUAGES
The official language is Arabic. Most Syrians also speak another language which, most often, is French or English.

BUSINESS HOURS
Government: 8.00 to 14.00
Shopping: 8.00 to 13.30 and 16.00 to 19.00 (winter),20.00 (summer).
Weekend: Friday is the official weekend.

CUISINE
There is a great diversity in Syrian cuisine,  which is reputed thought the Arab world. The best know dishes are: KIBBLE (pounded lamb meat and crushed wheat) which itself comes in countless variations, MESHWI (skewered grilled meat) , HOUMMOS (pureed chick peas), TABBOULEH (cracked wheat salad), and KOUNAFA Pastry (shredded baked wheat dough filled with cheese, cream or pistachios, covered with syrup). Western cuisine is available in all international hotels and major restaurants.

SHOPPING
Shopping in Syria is an endless delight due to the variety, beauty and fame of Syrian products and handicrafts such as: brocades, hand blown glass, embroideries, engraved copper works, silver works, etc...

CULTURE AND ART
Cultural and artistic life is active all year - round. Art Exhibitions are held almost weekly. Annual international festival for dance and music take place in the midst of a splendid historical site: BOSRA (October). In addition there are: Damascus International fair (September), Damascus international flower Show (May). Cinema Festival and Theater festival alternate in November. The Desert Festival takes place yearly in may in Palmyra.

EMBASSIES
Embassies of all major countries are located in Damascus. There are also some foreign consulates in Aleppo.

MAJOR CITIES and MOST IMPORTANT SITES
DAMASCUS:
The world's oldest continuously inhabited city. Many civilizations have left their mark on Damascus over the centuries: Aramaic, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab.

 

 

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