Welcome to Syria

Since dawn of time, Syria has been a crossroads of civilization, though often described as the cradle of civilizations. It has been the bridge connecting the cultures of Eastern Mediterraneans and Fertile Crescent, and the beginning of Silk Road joining West with East.

It was here that cultures of Mari and Ugarit rose and fell, where Assyrian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman empires and cultures met and influenced each other.

In this land, Man discovered the secrets of Agriculture, Metallurgy, and invented the very first alphabet.

General Information Despite hopes for independence, a French mandate over Syria was declared by the League of Nations in 1922.

This resulted in much hostile feeling towards France by the Syrian people.

A long struggle ensued and, when the French left Syria in 1946, the country became both a republic and a charter member of the United Nations. Political instability followed the birth of the republic, with one military coup succeeding another. In March 1963 the Ba'ath party came to power and the country began to stabilize. Another coup in 1970 brought to power the then Defence Minister, Hafez El-Asad, who has remained as President to the present day.

 

Area 

185,180 km2

Population 

22,530,746

Capital 

Damascus

Capital population 

1,711,000

Location Southwestern Asia, bordering eastern coast of the Mediterranean sea, bounded on the north by Turkey, on the east by Turkey and Iraq, on the south by Jordan and Isreal, on the west by Lebanon and the Mediterranean sea. See map in Map & Sites page.

 

Official language

Arabic

Second language

French & English

Religions

Muslims 88% - Christians 11%

Measures

Metric

Time

GMT +02:00 - US EST +7

Electricity

220 Volts, 50 AC

Currency

Syrian Pound (see below)

Int'l Dialing Code

00963

Business Hours

Government Offices

8:00 to 14:00 (Sat to Thu)

Banks

8:30 to 14:00

Shops & Malls

8:00 to 13:30 and 16:00 to 19:00 (winter) 20:00 (summer)

Private Sector

9:00 to 18:00 - with one or two hours lunch break

Note: during the holy month of Ramadan working hours are usually reduced.

Entry Requirements Individuals and groups of all nationalities (with some exceptions) are issued one-month entry visa upon arrival at any port in Syria upon presentation of passport; which is extensible on a request submitted to the Passports and Immigration Office, or to obtain in advance an entry visa from Syrian diplomatic missions abroad (this is very important for everybody coming from USA, and may apply to other countries, so please be careful).

There are no restrictions on visitors to bring in foreign currencies, but the sum of foreign currency allowed out should not exceed the amount brought in.

Note: No Israeli stamp or any crossing point with Israel stamp should be on your passport this includes Araba border, Sheikh Hussein border, Rafah border, and Taba border.

Currency & Exchange Facilities The currency of Syria is Syrian Pound (called Lira) - 1 US Dollar equals SL 49.7 (1 May 2001). One Lira is 100 piasters. Coin denominations are: 25, 50 piastres and 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 liras.
Paper denominations are: 1, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500 liras.
Special tourist exchange rates have been put into operation so that the exchange rates at hotels are the same as those at the other exchange centres.
Credit cards and Traveller Cheques are accepted at most hotels, car rental agencies, shops and restaurants. Major cards accepted are Master Card, Visa, Eurocard, AMEX and Diners Club.

Climate The most hospitable and pleasant climate in Syria is to be found near the coast where Mediterranean conditions give hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, with average daily temperatures of 29 C (84.2 F) in summer and 10 C (50 F) in winter. Annual rainfall along the coast ranges from 750 to 1000 mm (30 to 40 inches).

Moving inland from the coast, Syria's climate becomes increasingly drier and less welcoming. Temperatures in the plateau region average around 35 C (95 F) in summer and 12 C (53.6 F) in winter and annual rainfall varies from 250 to 500 mm (10 to 20 inches). Winters in the northern interior can be cold, with temperatures often falling to below freezing.

In the desert area, summer temperatures average 40 C (104 F), with frequent highs of around 46oC (114.8 F). Rainfall is extremely low.

Tipping Tipping is a way of showing your satisfaction with a service rendered. Tips to your driver, guide and the hotel personnel are not included and left to your discretion.

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