Syria Facts: 44 Interesting Facts About Syria

Last updated on November 13th, 2017

Facts about the history and culture of Syria

#20. Syria was invaded by Pompey the Great, a Roman general under Julius Ceaser, who thought himself to be the king.

#21. Syria has been drinking beer to chill out since times immemorial. A historical reference to beer is found in the Ebla tablets, which date back to 2500 BC.

#22. In Syria, it’s the government’s job to get you drunk! There are two varieties of beer, Al-Shark Beer and Barada Beer, both produced by the state.

#23. The Aleppo Codex, an ancient Jewish manuscript, remained in Syria for five hundred years. It was lost during a riot in 1947, but was later smuggled into Israel by a Syrian national. The sad news: only half the pages remained.

#24. The city of Aleppo in Syria was named the Islamic Capital of Culture in 2006.

#25. The Al-Madina Souq, a link in the ancient silk route, is the perfect example of a tinsel town. Oblivious to the modern era, it maintains the rare charm of a medieval marketplace, filled with exotic goods and stunning architecture.

#26. Qudud Halabiya and Muwashshah are the two forms of Arab music and poetry uniquely developed in Syria.

#27. The internet hacktivist group Anonymous has declared war on The Syrian Electronic Army because of its censorship laws.

#28. Syria has close ties with the country of Iran. The latter is believed to have spent $15 billion annually in Syria during the Syrian Civil War.

#29. Palmyra, a city dripping with history and culture, was deliberately destroyed by the Islamic State of Levant due to its polytheistic statues. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a rare gem of the ancient world.

#30. The fourth holiest place in Islam is the Umayyad Mosque, located in Damascus. It also is home to the mausoleum containing the tomb of King Saladin, as well as the Shrine of John the Baptist.

#31. Contrary to the barbaric present, the very idea of civilization started in ancient Syria as the Mesopotamian civilization. For this reason, it is also known as the cradle of civilization.

#32. The Aleppo Citadel in Syria is the mother of all citadels. Built in the year 3, BCE, it is one of the oldest and largest castles in the world, standing strong even today.

#33. The Middle East’s version of absinthe, the arak, is an important part of the Levant culture, originating in the city of Aleppo.

#34. The city of Bosra was the Capital of Roman Arabia. The Theater of Bosra was built just a century after the birth of Christ, and it is still used for the Bosra music festival.

#35. Syria was once a tourist hotspot for its religious and historical wonders, but the war caused a 75% decline in the tourism industry.

#36. Russian company Megapolis Ltd. has organized war tourism trips to the frontlines of the Syrian conflict. The other popular choice is Ukraine.

A blade made from Damascus steel
Interesting facts about Syria: A blade made from Damascus steel. Image credit – Wikimedia.org

#37. The capital of Syria is known for its steel. The Damascus Steel swords were feared and revered by the crusaders for their extremely sharp edges.

#38. Legends have it that the first murder took place in Syria. Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother, Abel, on Mount Qasioun, near Damascus.

#39. The Norias, or the waterwheels of Hama, were built in 1361 CE and are still used.

#40. The ancient Euphrates River passes through Syria. It is considered the birthplace of the first civilization in the world, the Mesopotamian Civilization.

#41. Ironically, even with such a strong fort, the city of Aleppo was invaded by Romans, Byzantines, Seljuqs, Mitannians, Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Mamluks and Ottomans.

#42. The city of Damascus is forever attached to Christian beliefs because the New Testament preaches that the conversion of Paul the Apostle happened on his way to Damascus.

Map of Syria

#43. The great Ottoman Empire, a legacy of 624 years, was broken up by a single agreement, the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916. It broke the great empire off into several colonies, and was a watershed moment in the evolution of the Middle East.

#44. The Kurdish People form a distinctive community, which is believed to have originated from the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh.

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Syria – country at a glance

Independence17 April 1946 (from League of Nations mandate under French administration)
Capital CityDamascus
(33°30′N 36°18′E)
Largest CityAleppo
Total area185,180 sq km
Population17,185,170 (July 2016 est.)
Official LanguageArabic
DemonymSyrian
Literacy rate86.4%
Government typepresidential republic; highly authoritarian regime
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
PresidentBashar al-Assad
Prime MinisterImad Khamis
National anthem"Humat ad-Diyar" (Guardians of the Homeland)
National symbolshawk
National colorsred, white, black, green
BordersIraq, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.
CurrencySyrian pound (SYP)
ReligionIslam (Sunni muslims), Syrian Arabs, with the remainder being Kurds, Turkomans, Circassians, and Palestinians.
Terrainprimarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains in west
Climatemostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast; cold weather with snow or sleet periodically in Damascus
Natural resourcespetroleum, phosphates, chrome and manganese ores, asphalt, iron ore, rock salt, marble, gypsum, hydropower
Agricultural land75.8%
Birth rate21.7 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate4 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratio1.01 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Life expectancy75.8 years (2016)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,900 (2015 est.)
Industriespetroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, automobile assembly
Exports$2.304 billion (2016 est.)
crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
Imports$5.965 billion (2016 est.)
machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, paper
Internet country code.sy
Calling Code+963
Time ZoneEET (UTC+2)
Summer (DST)
EEST (UTC+3)
Drives on theRight
Data sourcesCIA, Wikipedia
Table last updatedAugust 31, 2017