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Syria Information - Page 1
Geography
The Syrian Arab Republic is in the Middle East, bordered by Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and the Mediterranean Sea.

Damascus is Syria's capital city. Other important cities are Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Lattakia. Ports are Baniyas, Jablah, Latakia and Tartous.

Syria's terrain is mainly plateau with mountains in the west. The Syrian Desert is in the east. There is a narrow Mediterranean coastal plain. Syria's main rivers are the Euphrates and the Orontes.

The summers are hot and dry. Winters range from mild to cold with rain and some snow.

Environment
Syria is a small country with a diverse landscape consisting of desert, mountains, river valleys, forests and woodlands and beaches.

The Sabkhat al-Jabbul Nature Reserve is on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. A large saline lake within the reserve is an important site for birds including the Greater Flamingo.

Architecture
The Ancient City of Damascus, a World Heritage site, is one of the oldest cities in the Middle East. Damascus is famous for its association with the conversion of St Paul to Christianity. The Great Mosque is a focal point in the city.

Other World Heritage sites in Syria are the ruins of the City of Palmyra in the Syrian desert, the Ancient City of Bosra with an impressive Roman theatre and the Ancient City of Aleppo, famous for the citadel. Crac des Chevaliers and Qal'at Salah El-Din were added to the World Heritage List in 2006.

Today, many buildings in Damascus and Aleppo are reminders of the country's past. There are Islamic buildings dating back to the Umayyad rule and remnants of French Colonial architecture from the inter-War period.

Population
The population of Syria was estimated at 22,517,750 in 2011.

Languages
Arabic is the official language in Syria.

Religion
The majority of the people are Muslim. Ten percent are Christian.

Food
Syrian cuisine is well known for mezze which consists of a number of small dishes, sometimes up to thirty or even forty. Examples are salad and herbs (especially mint and parsley), nuts, vegetables, and dips.

Main meals include chicken, lamb and fish. Lamb is sometimes minced or served as kebabs. Flat bread, rice and bulgar are staple foods. Bulgar wheat is an important ingredient used in a variety of recipes. Vegetables eaten are aubergines, beans, carrots, chickpeas, courgettes, cucumbers, mushrooms, onions, peas, peppers and tomatoes. Nuts and pine kernels are sometimes used in cooking.

Cakes, ice cream, and fresh fruit are eaten. Fruits available are citrus fruits, pears, cherries, apricots, watermelons and figs.

Tea is preferred strong and Turkish coffee is popular. Water, yoghurt drink and fruit juices are served cold. Non-alcoholic beer, wine and arak, an aniseed-flavoured spirit, are produced.

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