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Syria guide

Happy Syrian kids, Saraqeb, Syria
Above: Happy Syrian kids, Saraqeb, Syria

Overview

From its earliest times as a Phoenician trading port, Syria has played an central part in the shaping of The Middle East. Originally encompassing Modern Syria, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon, Syria's vital strategic position has played an important role in the many Empires from Egyptian and Roman through to Persian and Ottoman. Today Syria is a strongly Muslim country and although it is not as widely visited as many other countries its people are as friendly as any you will find anywhere in the world.

Highlights

  • Crac des Chevaliers - well preserved Crusader Castle
  • Palmyra - historically important Roman remains
  • Damascus - Omayyad Mosque, Saladin's Mausoleum, al-Hamadiyyeh Souq

Geography

Syria consists of a number of distinct geographical areas. To the southeast lies the Syrian Desert, a barren, stony plain that stretches to the Iraq border and beyond. The Jebel an-Nusariyah mountain range forms a barrier between Lebanon and Syria. A fertile coastal strip lies between Lebanon and Turkey, and a cultivated steppe between the mountains and the desert stretches from the north down through the major cities of Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Damascus.

Weather & Climate

The climate varies in Syria from the coast to the arid eastern deserts. Generally summer can be said to run from May to September (Damascus average temp. 20-27C(69-82°F) while winters last from November to March (Damascus average temp. 6-13C (42-56°F). The coastal regions experience a Mediterranean climate of hot, humid summers and mild, rainy winters. As you move inland the climate becomes drier and hotter until you reach the desert where summers are searingly hot and winters are cold, frosty and even snowy at times. Snow in the Syrian deserts is quite a sight if you are lucky enough to see it.
Bring light clothes for summer and warmer clothes in winter if travelling up into the mountains or into the desert. Expect rain on the coast during winter.

Security

We advise you check your local consular advice for up to date security information before you travel. Syria is a friendly and generally trouble free country with little crime affecting tourists. Tensions can rise suddenly though following changes in the whole Middle Eastern situation.

Flights (from the UK)

With some shopping around you should be able to find a return flight to Damascus for around UK£350 - UK£400.

Religions

Sunni Muslim 74%, Alawite, Druze, and other Muslim sects 16%, Christian (various sects) 10%, Jewish (tiny communities in Damascus, Al Qamishli, and Aleppo).

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Factfile

Time: GMT+2
Dial code: 00 963
Area: 185,180 sq km
Elevation: Lowest: Sea of Galilee - 200m Highest: Mt Hermon 2,814m
Population: 19,748,000 (2008)
Capital: Damascus
Government: Republic
Language: Arabic (official), Kurdish, Armenian, English, French

News & features

Boat diving

Short guide about the pros and cons of boat diving.

PADI diving courses

Detailed look at the various courses offered by PADI.

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Customer feedback

"I just wanted to let you know how thrilled I was with the holiday and that was down to the country itself, the fantastic itinerary, and the wonderful people involved with Egypt Uncovered."

Dan Matthews (Grand Egyptian Adventure)

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