|DAMASCUS -- |
BUILT BY THE ROMANS
IN 3RD CENTURY
But not at the moment, of course. However, the country has its beauty and great number ancient monuments which would attract tourist and be very interesting to see. It has such a wealth of ancient history. There is an whole city Palmyra full of ancient monuments , The city was once the most important trading city. On the hill above the city stands 17th century Arab castle.
|PALMYRA AND THE TEMPLE BEL|
|PALMYRA AND THE ROMAN THEATRE 1ST CENTURY|
On the |Mediterranean coastline Syria is border Lebanon and next to it is Israel. Both countries were once part of a bigger Syria. On the northern border is Turkey and on the east Iraq. On the southern border is the kingdom of Jordan.
PLEASE BE SO KIND AND CLICK ON ADVERTS.
PLEASE BE SO KIND AND CLICK ON ADVERTS.
Behind the fertile coastal strip is the Jabal al-Nusaayriyah mountain range. Their height reaches about 1000n. Next to the eastern side of the mountains is a fertile arc of steppe. This area is watered by the Orontes and Euphrates rivers. There are also the cities of Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo. On the south-eastern part of the country is the desert.
The coastal climate is hot dry in the summers and mild in the winters. Further inland it gets hotter and drier. In the desert there is hardly any rainfall. The country was once thickly forested. When the Caliph Haroun al-Rashid of the famous one Thousand and One Night travelled from Baghdad which is now Iraq to Raqqa it described us travelling under shady trees. Today is little vegetation left except desert scrub and hardly any wildlife.
Syria has no great oil wells except near Deir ez-Zur are some being developed. The country’s wealth is in agriculture.
In 1946 Syria became completely independent and great results have achieved in the fertile crescent area called al-Jezirah. Railways connect al-Jezirah and Aleppo and the Mediterranean coast.
1978 a dam was build at Tabqa on the river Euphrates. It created a huge lake Assad (647 sq km). It provides hydro power and irrigates great stretches of land which before were unusable.
Cotton is grown round the Euphrates Valley. Wheat is mostly grown in the south-western area near the Jordanian border. Both crops are mainly for the home and export. Tobacco, dates, citrus fruits and olives are other crops grown. The country is self sufficient in basic foods.
Most of the people are Sunni Muslims. There is also a minority of Shi’a, Druze and Alavite Muslims. President Assad and his people are Alawites. There are also quite a few groups of Christians. In two or three villages Aramic, the language of Jesus, is still spoken.
Syria previously was much larger. It included Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. This area was always of strategic importance. It lied on the trade routes from Europe and the Mediterranean to the east. The country was invaded by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Turks. After WW2 it came under French rule and then it became independent.
The country became know for its rapidly changing of regimes. It stopped and started to settle down when the Baath party came into power in 1960. Baath means rebirth and it is to rebirth into a single Arab nation. The Baathist military leader, Hafiz al-Assad seized power in 1970 and had been in the president since 1971. He rules ruthlessly. In the city of Hama when there was an uprising in 1982 by the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982 and it was estimated that 25,000 people died when the government suppressed it.
Syria fought several wars in the Middle East. One war was with Israel and it lost the Golan Heights. The government encourages the fedayeen, the Arab guerrilla forces. They attack Israel regularly to restore the country back to Palestine. However, in 1991, Syria joined the peace process.
During the Lebanon civil war Syria intervened and has also political influence in the country’s affairs. Syria was all the time under protection of Russia. It started to reach out for the European and US support by being against Iraq in the Gulf War. This was quite a significant move by Assad’s regime after years of terrorism.
The government keep two-third of the budget for military expenditure.
It is so sad that Syria is involved in civil war and destruction since the country is not only beautiful but has many monuments for tourist to visit. The contrasting country side would be interesting. But there is the famous cruder castle, Krak des Chevaliers, and some of the oldest Christian monuments in the world. Let's hope none of these wonderful ruins will be destroyed.