Natural Syria
From Cradle of Civilization to this...














The artificial States
Arab Republic of Syria
Modern Syria gained its independence from France in 1946 but has lived through periods of political instability driven by the conflicting interests of its diverse groups.

FACTS
Population: 18.6 million (UN, 2005)
Capital: Damascus
Area: 185,180 sq km (71,498 sq miles)
Major language: Arabic
Major religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 75 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Syrian pound = 100 piastres
Main exports: Oil, gas
GNI per capita: US $1,190 (World Bank, 2005)
Internet domain: .sy
International dialling code: +963

Lebanon

One of the most complex and divided countries in the region, Lebanon was under French mandate until independence in 1943. With a high literacy rate and traditional mercantile culture, Lebanon remains an important commercial hub for the Middle East.

FACTS
Population: 3.8 million (UN, 2005)
Capital: Beirut
Area: 10,452 sq km (4,036 sq miles)
Major language: Arabic
Major religions: Islam, Christianity
Life expectancy: 70 years (men), 74 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Lebanese pound (or lira) = 100 piastres
Main exports: Foodstuffs and tobacco
GNI per capita: US $4,980 (World Bank, 2005)
Internet domain: .lb
International dialling code: +961


Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is a small country with limited natural resources, but for years it has played a pivotal role in the struggle for power in the Middle East.

FACTS
Population: 5.7 million (UN, 2005)
Capital: Amman
Area: 89,342 sq km (34,492 sq miles)
Major language: Arabic
Major religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 70 years (men), 73 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Jordan dinar = 1,000 fils
Main exports: Phosphates, fertilisers, agricultural products
GNI per capita: US $2,140 (World Bank, 2005)
Internet domain: .jo
International dialling code: +962


Iraq

Straddling the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and stretching from the Gulf to the Anti-Taurus Mountains, modern Iraq occupies roughly what was once ancient Mesopotamia, one of the cradles of human civilisation.

FACTS
Population: 26.5 million (UN, 2005)
Area: 438,317 sq km (169,235 sq miles)
Capital: Baghdad
Major languages: Arabic, Kurdish
Major religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 57 years (men), 60 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Iraqi dinar = 1,000 fils
Main exports: Crude oil
GNI per capita: n/a
Internet domain: .iq
International dialling code: 964



Kuwait

Kuwait is a small, oil-rich country nestling at the top of the Gulf, flanked by large or powerful neighbours - Saudi Arabia to the south, Iraq to the north and Iran to the east.

FACTS
Population: 2.7 million (UN, 2005)
Capital: Kuwait
Area: 17,818 sq km (6,880 sq miles)
Major language: Arabic
Major religion: Islam
Life expectancy: 75 years (men), 79 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Dinar = 1000 fils
Main exports: Oil
GNI per capita: US $17,970 (World Bank, 2005)
Internet domain: .kw
International dialling code: +965


Cyprus

Traditionally the birthplace of the ancient goddess of love Aphrodite, Cyprus's modern history has, in contrast, been dominated by enmity between its Greek and Turkish inhabitants.

FACTS
Population: 807,000 (combined) (UN, 2004)
Capital: Nicosia (Lefkosia to Greek Cypriots, Lefkosa to Turkish Cypriots
Area (combined): 9,251 sq km (3,572 sq miles)
Major languages: Greek, Turkish
Major religions: Christianity, Islam
Life expectancy: 76 years (men), 81 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Cyprus pound = 100 cents; Turkish lira used in north
Main exports: Clothing, potatoes, cigarettes, pharmaceuticals
GNI per capita: US $17,580 (World Bank, 2005)
Internet domain: .cy
International dialling code: +357


Palestine

The division of the former British mandate of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel in the years after the end of World War II have been at the heart of Middle Eastern conflicts for the past half century.

FACTS
Population: 3.8 million (UN, 2005)
Intended seat of government: East Jerusalem

Area: Palestinian Ministry of Information cites 5,970 sq km (2,305 sq miles) for West Bank territories and 365 sq km (141 sq miles) for Gaza

Major language: Arabic
Major religion: Islam/Christianity
Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 74 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Jordan dinar = 1,000 fils, 1 new Israeli shekel (NIS) = 100 new agorot
Main exports: Citrus
GNI per capita: US $1,120 (World Bank, 2005)
Internet domain: .ps
International dialling code: +970


NATURAL SYRIA also includes the regions of:

Al-Ahwaz

This region is situated SE Iraq, on the Karun River. Its principal city, Ahwaz, (1991 pop. 724,653), is an oil center, a transportation hub, and an industrial city that has petrochemical, textile, and food-processing industries. An ancient city, Ahwaz was rebuilt (3d cent. A.D.) by Ardashir I, who named it Hormuzd-Ardashir. In the 4th cent. Ahwaz became the seat of a bishopric, and a large church was built there. It was an important Arab trading center in the 12th and 13th cent. but later declined. The discovery of oil nearby in the early 20th cent. restored the city to its former importance. The new part of Ahwaz, the administrative and industrial center, is on the right bank of the Karun, but the population still is concentrated in the old section on the left bank. Ahwaz is linked by road, rail, and oil pipeline to ports on the Persian Gulf.

Sinai Peninsula

The Sinai Peninsula (in Arabic, Shibh Jazirat Sina) is a triangle-shaped peninsula lying between the Mediterranean Sea (to the north) and Red Sea (to the south), located in Egypt and has an area of about 60,000 square kilometers. Its land borders are the Suez Canal to the west and Palestine to the north-east. The Sinai Peninsula is in Southwest Asia (also called West Asia - the more geographically accurate term for the Western term [esp. American usage] of Middle East). The eastern boundary of the peninsula is a geological fault zone known as the Great Rift Valley, which can be seen from the upper Jordan River valley, extending southward through the Red Sea into Africa.

Alexandretta

Alexandretta is a province of southern Turkey, situated between the Mediterranean Sea to the west and Syria to the south and east. Until 1938 it was a province of Syria and was known as Iskandarun Province; its annexation to Turkey in that year remained a cause of tension in relations between the two countries until recently, when the issue was let go of by the Syrian government. Some Syrian maps still show it as Syrian territory. Its capital is Antakya, formerly Antioch. Alexandretta is also located within the province, but is now known by its Turkish name, Iskenderun. The province has an area of 5,545 km² (2,141 mi²) and a population of 1,253,726 in the 2000 census.

Cilicia

Cilicia extended along the Aegean coast east from Pamphylia, to Mount Amanus (Giaour Dagh), which separated it from Turkey. North of Cilicia lie the rugged Taurus Mountains that separate it from the high central plateau of Anatolia, which are pierced by a narrow gorge, called since Antiquity the Cilician Gates. Ancient Cilicia was naturally divided into Cilicia Trachea and Cilicia Pedias divided by the Lamas Su. Salamis, the city on the east coast of Cyprus, was included in its administrative jurisdiction. Cilicia was given an eponymous founder in the mythic Cilix, but the historic founder of the dynasty that ruled Cilicia Pedias was Mopsus, identifiable in Phoenician sources as Mpš, the founder of Mopsuestia and protector of an oracle nearby.