Terrain shapes and bedrock
A narrow coastal zone between Lebanon and Turkey, about 140 km long, has alternating sandy beaches and rocky coasts, the latter most in the north. The mountain massif begins immediately within the coastal zone with Jabal an-Nusayriya with an average height of about 800 m above sea level. and a maximum height of 1,526 m above sea level. Just east of this mountain ridge runs the narrow, north-south Ghab sink, which is flooded by the Nahr al-Asi river.
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Anti-Lebanon’s high horst mountains farther south form a border with Lebanon with Syria’s highest peak Hermon (2,814 m above sea level) on the border. Further south, towards Israel, follows the Golan Mountains. Inland, a number of mountain ridges rise, including the volcanic Jabal ad-Duruz furthest south and Jabal al-Khunayzir and Jabal Abu Rujmayn further north.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the rest of Syria consists mainly of plains and plateaus, largely rock, gravel and sand deserts. The largest river is the Euphrates, which flows into Turkey, flows through eastern Syria and continues into Iraq. A dam has been built, the Tabaqa Dam, which formed the country’s largest water collection, Lake Asad.
The bedrock in Syria is mostly made up of porous sandstone and limestone as well as basalt and gives rise to underground springs and streams, which drain half of the water in the country. Among the soils are marked black soil as well as muddy, sandy and in the Euphrates valley plaster-containing deposits.
The coastal area and the western mountains have Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summer and winter with rain. The annual rainfall amounts to 750-1 250 mm. The average temperature in January is 13 ° C, in August 27 ° C. The hinterland has a dry climate with an annual rainfall of 250-500 mm, in the southeast 125 mm, and an average temperature of over 30 ° C in summer and 5 ° C in winter. However, frost can occur and snow is common. In the summer, most winds blow, but on average twice a year the hot and dusty desert wind chamsin inland.
The flora is quite rich in its parts, especially in the mountainous regions. The Euphrates river valley contains tamarisk, Saʹlix peʹrsica, Poʹpulus euphraʹtica and a number of species and genus from the Mediterranean flora, which in Syria transitions into the Saharan-Sindian flora typical of the arid region from North Africa to the Indian Peninsula.
Most of Syria has more or less treeless vegetation with species such as the wormwood Artemiʹsia heʹrba-aʹlba, Anaʹbasis hausskneʹchtii and the amaranth plant Haloʹxylon salicoʹrnicum.
In the east, at the border with Iraq, species such as Euphorbia deʹnsa and Psammogeʹton criniʹtum occur. In the south you will find, among other things, the glacial plant Mesembryaʹnthemum forskaʹhlii, the carnation plant Polycaʹrpon prostraʹtum and species from the genus Fagoʹnia and Farseʹtia.
The fauna is adapted to deserts and semi-deserts. There are only a few large mammal species left (a total of 63 mammal species). Predators include caracal, sand cat and sand fox (Vuʹlpes rueppeʹllii). Leopard, cheetah and striped hyena have disappeared.
Among ungulates only Arab gazelle (Gazeʹlla gazeʹlla) and possibly gazelle (Gazeʹlla subgutturoʹsa) remain. There are several species of desert rodents, including gold hamster, blind rat Nannoʹspalax ehrenbeʹrgi and three species of desert rats.
About 200 species of birds breed in Syria, most of them desert, including desert runner, white-bellied flying hen, ten species of larch and five species of stone wasps. In spring and autumn, large numbers of migrating birds of prey and storks pass, especially along the mountain range near the Mediterranean coast.
Syria has no legislation for nature conservation areas and therefore no reserves and has not signed the most important international nature protection conventions. However, there are some so-called protected state forest areas.
Damascus, (Arab. Dimashq or al-Sham), the capital and second largest city in Syria (after Aleppo) and one of the major cities of the Arab world; approximately 1.7 million input (2011); Damascus has had a very strong population growth in recent times, but hard fighting since 2011 has influenced both population and urban image. Damascus continues to have significant minority groups, including Christians and the Shia Muslim Alawis. The former thriving Jewish minority has predominantly emigrated to Israel.
In order to keep pace with the migration, a number of high-rise neighborhoods have been constructed, just as Damascus has gained extensive industrial areas and the other characteristics of the modern metropolis in the form of thoroughfares, extensive park areas, modern shopping areas, public offices, etc.
The old town, the medina, lies south of the river Barada and is surrounded by a huge fortification. Within the city walls are narrow, crooked streets with numerous small workshops and shops. In the northwest is the famous Umayyad Mosque and Suq el-Hamidiye, which, with its mark of the original Levant, were the tourists’ favorite trading district. A number of remediation projects were implemented in the 1990’s around the mosque.
Damascus lies at 700 m in height on the fertile al-Ghuta plateau in the southwestern part of the country. To the west lies the mountains of Antilibanon, and here springs Barada, which supplies the city and the surrounding area with water. Precipitation falls almost exclusively in winter, and there is often water shortage in summer.
The business structure of the city is characterized by trade and industry (including textile, furniture, food and cement industry), but also by the large state administration; the country’s political and administrative power is centered in Damascus. Previous competition with Aleppo in North Syria has clearly fallen to Damascus’ favor. At the same time, the city is a national and international traffic hub, as well as being the headquarters of several religious communities. In November 2000, the Danish Institute of Damascus was inaugurated in a renovated building in the central part of the Old Town.