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Syria

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Welcome to Syria

Syria

Syria (Syrian Arab Republic)

  • Area: 185,180 sq km (71,498 sq miles).
  • Capital: Damascus
  • Currency: Syrian Pound (SYP)
  • Dialing Code: 963
  • Driving Side: Right
  • Language: Arabic, Kurmanji
  • Population: 18.6 million people
  • Religion: Islam (Sunni, Alawite, Druze), Christianity
  • Time Zone: EET (UTC +2)/EEST (UTC +3)

Syria, officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in South Western Asia, North of the Arabian Peninsula in the Middle East, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Turkey to the North, Lebanon to the South-West, Jordan and Iraq to the east, Isreal to the South.

Syria is officially divided into 14 governorates (including disputed territories). Though the country has been declared secular, Islam is still the major religion. More than 90% of the population is Muslim, with the majority being Sunni. Christians and Jews, mostly in Damascus, make up the rest of the population.

The country is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, Turks, Armenians, Assyrians, Circassians, and Mandeans. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, and Yazidis. Sunni Arabs make up the largest population of these groups.

The country’s major cities includes Damascus (the Capital), Aleppo, Deir-az-Zur, Hama, Homs, Latakia, and Tartous.

Information & Facts

Attraction Overview

  • Bosra: Mosque of Umar; The Mameluke Hammam; The Roman Theatre Top
  • Dead Cities: Bauda, Jerada, Ruweiha
  • Deir ez-Zor: Holy Martyrs’ Armenian Church
  • Deir Mar Musa: St. Moses the Abyssinian
  • Dumeir: Lone Roman Temple
  • Hosn Suleiman: The Lost Temple of Zeus Baotocecian
  • Ma'arat al-Numan: A Place of Many Inhabitants
  • Ma’loula: Aramaic Spoken Here
  • Ma’loula: Saints Sergius and Bacchus
  • Ma’loula: Saint Thecla
  • Palmyra: Bride of the Desert, Into the Oasis
  • Qasr ibn Wardan: Outpost of Empire
  • Seidnaya: A Pilgrimage to Syria's Holiest Image
  • Wadi al Nadara: The Valley of the Christian

Business

Syria is a middle-income, developing country with an economy based on agriculture, oil, industry, and tourism. The two main pillars of the Syrian economy have been agriculture and oil.

Climate

The Syrian coast has a Mediterranean climate, and the wind from the sea has a cooling effect. Rainfall is occasional. To the east of the mountains, the weather is much drier. The region between Aleppo and Damascus resembles the Asian steppes. This means warm, dry weather in the summer and cool winters. The desert is extremely warm and dry, and temperatures here can rise to 35-40 degrees Celsius in the summer.

Communications

  • Phone: Syria’s ISD code is +963.
  • Internet: Syrians were only allowed access to the internet only after the year 2000, and that too with some restrictions. Internet is widely available in major cities such as Damascus, Aleppo and Hama. Most adult sites and all Israeli sites have been blocked in keeping with government restrictions.

Duty Free

The following items may be imported into Syria without incurring any customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco; 30g perfume; 570ml of spirits and gifts worth up to SYP250. Firearms and ammunition; live, frozen or stuffed birds, or any bird-derived products are strictly forbidden.
 

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs.

Getting Around

By Taxi: Taxis, yellow in colour, are the easiest way to get around Damascus, Aleppo, and other cities. Slight knowledge of Arabic would be helpful as most drivers are not too fluent in English. Private cab rentals charge more, so do enquire and get some prior information before hiring a taxi.

By Microbus: Locally called ‘servees' or ‘meecros', these vans seat around 10 – 12 pssengers and ply predetermined routes. Route details are usually written in Arabic on the front of the microbus, so you may need the help of a local to decipher it. Within the city, it is a convenient mode of transport to get around, however, longer routes can get quite uncomfortable.

By Bus or Coach: If making a trip from, say, Damascus to Palmyra, an air-conditioned coach is a comfortable, cheap and fast option. But since the schedules are changed very often, exercise caution while booking trips.

By Train: The railway system in Syria is quite contemporary and up-to-date. It's relatively inexpensive and runs on fixed timings. However, one minus point of choosing to travel by train is that most railway stations are at quite a considerable distance outside of cities and towns. The main line connects the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Qamishle, Hassake and Deir ez-Zor. Another line runs along the Mediterranean coast. If you're brave enough to undertake a journey to Syria in summer, keep a lookout for the little steam train that runs from Hejaz Railway Station along Damascus onto the Anti-Lebanon Mountains.

By Bicycle: Renting a bicycle and exploring Syrian cities at a leisurely pace can be fun. This is a convenient and easy way to get to places like the dead cities of Bauda, Jerada and Ruweiha, as other vehicles might not be able to traverse through their narrow lanes. And chances of being invited for coffee or a meal by locals are much more if you're pedalling along on a bicycle. Try it - you might like it.

Source: Tours Syria

Language

Arabic is the official and most widely spoken language in Syria. The moden standard is the language of education. At home, most Syrians speak dialects of Levantine Arabic, specifically South Syrian Arabic, spoken in the cities of Damascus, Homs and Hama, and Tartous, and North Syrian Arabic, spoken in the region of Aleppo.

Money

The Syrian Pound (SYP) is the official currency of Syria. It is issued by the Central Bank of Syria. The currency of Syria is the Syrian pound (SYP). One Syrian pound is equivalent to 100 piastres. Notes come in denominations of SYP1, 000, 500, 200, 100, 50, 25, 10, 5 and 1. Coins can be found in denominations of SYP25, 10, 5, 2 and 1. ATM machines are available in small number across the town.

Passport Visa

Passports for all visitors must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. Visas are required by everyone apart from transit passengers who are connecting to another aircraft within 24 hours and not leaving the airport.

Syria refuses entry and transit to any passenger who holds a passport containing a visa (valid or expired) for Israel as well as those who hold a stamp showing an Israel-Jordan border crossing. Females aged between 14 and 35 years, unless accompanied by a father, husband or brother, are also refused entry along with any persons with passports which show entry to Sharm El Sheikh, Rafha, Gaza or Nablus.

Safety

Due to the ongoing war in the country between rebels and country’s forces, traveling to Syria is not advisable at the moment. Certain situations can quickly escalate to unrest and riots. If you do manage to travel to Syria, you should be extremely vigilant in public places and avoid demonstrations, most often turn hostile. Entering Iraq via the Syrian border as there are resstrictions on both sides.

Time

Syria is in the Eastern European Time Zone (UTC +2), the EET is 2 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time. The zone uses daylight savings time during summer – the Easter European Summer Time (EEST) – UTC +03:00.

Tipping

In Syria, Service Charge is already included in the total bill. If this is not the case, then a tip of around 10% is customary. This also applies to Taxi drivers. Service providers such as porters, door-openers and room service/cleaners also expect to be tipped. A good guideline is around 50-70 cents per day (per traveller). 

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