Ministry of Tourism
Victoria Street
Tel: 2215916- 2210122- 22199 07
Cable: Ministour


Physical geography

Syria covers an area of 185,500 sq. km. The length of its border is 2,274km, whereas the length of its coastline is 173km. It is bounded on the north by Turkey, on the east by Iraq, on the south by Palestine and Jordan and on the west by Lebanon and the Mediterranean sea.

The country can be divided into four regions:

  • the coastal area;
  • the mountain area;
  • the internal area;
  • the area of the desert plains which is situated to the south-east of Syria near to the Iraqi-Jordanian border.


The Syrian Arab Republic is situated in the Mediterranean region. It has four distinct seasons and a moderate climate.

Temperatures in summer range between 30°-35°C (80°-95°F). In winter, however, temperatures range between 5°-10°C in the morning; between 10°-15°C during the rest of the day. Generally speaking, the period between January and March is rainy.</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Economic geography</H3> Syria has been, from time immemorial, an agricultural nation. The main crops are wheat, barley, mixed grains and cotton. The raising of livestock is also important. <P>Forests and woodland are limited to 2.5 per cent of the land. In recent years, Syria has steadily advanced in the field of industry and the most important industries are: spinning and textile industry, cotton-ginning, cement, sugar, conserved fruits and vegetables, soap, oil, cables, leather tanning and glass. There are many varied local handicrafts in Syria and they enjoy an international and historical reputation for quality. Among the most famous products: brocades-textile of fine quality embroidered with silver and gold threads - coloured wood and brass engraving, mosaic inlaid works, silver, glass and leather goods. Most of these products bear fine decorations and inscriptions which demonstrate the skill of the Syrian worker and his capacity for innovation.</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> According to the statistics of 1994 the total population is approximately 14 million. The average growth rate is three per cent annually. <P>Damascus city: 1,600,000 - Damascus countryside: 1,500,000 - Governorate of Aleppo: 2,900,000 - Governorate of Homs: 1,300,000 - Governorate of Hama: 1,200,000 - Governorate of Lattakia: 150,000 - Governorate of Tartous: 690,000.</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> The history indicates that the first human wave flowed to Syria from the Arab Peninsula about 5,000 years ago. This movement as known as the Amorite movement 3,000 years ago. Damascus was the capital of the Aramean Empire. Since then, thanks to its crucial geographical location, it has witnessed the rise and fall of a number of successive empires and civilisations, from the most ancient to the more modern. One can, therefore, describe the history of Syria as a summary of the history of the world. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religions</H3> Predominantly Moslem, with Christianity as well. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by nationals</H3> Arabic, and many of them speak French and English. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> Two hours ahead of G.M.T. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency</H3> The Syrian Pound which consists of 100 Piasters. The approximate rates of exchange are: 1 US$ = 43 S.P. <P>1 Fr. =8.00 S.P. - 1 DM =27.95 S.P. - 1 SW.F. =33.05 S.P. - £1 =67.60 S.P.</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)</H3> lst January: New Year - 20, 21, 22 February: Al Fitr Feast (three days) - 8th March: Revolution Day - 21st March: Mother's Day - 31 March: Easter (Catholic rites) - 14th April: Easter (Orthodox Rites) - 17th April: Evacuation Day - 28, 29, 30th, April 1st May: Al Adha Feast (four days) - 1st May: Labour Day - 6th May: Martyr's Day - 18 May: Islamic New Year - 28th July: Prophet Mohammed's Birthday - 6th October: Anniversary of October Liberation War - 25th December: Christmas.</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> <H3>Museums</H3> Since Syria is among the richest countries in the world for monuments and archaeological sites, its museums, particularly those of Damascus and Aleppo, are considered among the foremost in the world. Damascus National Museum contains the Department of Syro-Oriental Antiquities - the Department of Syrian Antiquities in the Greco-Roman and Byzantine periods - the Department of Arab and Muslim Arts - the Department of Modern and Contemporary Arts. Aleppo Museum stores valuable remnants of the civilisations which existed in the north of Syria and which includes the Assyrians, Hittites, Sumerians and Phoenicians. The museums of Palmyra, Hama (Azm Palace), Tartous and National Folklore are of equal importance. <H3>In Damascus</H3> Azm Palace, the National Museum, the Ommayad Mosque, Saladin's tomb, St. Haninia's Church, St. Paul window, Kawkab (a site near Damascus where St. Paul had his vision), the Street called Straight (Via Recta), the Takieh Sulemanieh, the Souks of Damaskus, some shops of the oriental handicrafts, Sednaya and Maalula in the suburbs of Damascus. The Old Wall of the city, the Seven Gates of Damascus. <H3>In Aleppo</H3> The Citadel, the Museum, the Souks, St. Simeon Styliste's convent, The Grand Mosque, Old Khans. <H3>In Lattakia</H3> Saladin's Citadel, Ugarit, 12km to the north of Lattakia. <H3>In Tartous</H3> Marquab Citadel, tower of Safita, the Museum, Arward Island, 20 minutes by boat, west of Tartous. <H3>In Homs</H3> Church of the Sash of Our Lady, the Church of St. Ilian, Khaled Ibn Al-Walid Mosque, the 'Krack des Chevaliers' (65km west of Homs), Palmyra (163km east of Homs). <H3>In Hama</H3> Abi El-Feda's Mosque, Misiaf Castle, Shaizer Castle, El Madeek Castle, Apamea, Azm Palace, the waterwheels. <H3>Other important places</H3> A number of Crusades fortresses in the districts of Lattakia and Tartous. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring</H3> All seasons and months of the year are generally favourable for sojourns and touring because of the prevailing moderate temperature. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> <B>Ladies</B>: Temperatures during the day are warm, but much cooler during the night. So summer clothing will do for the day, but take a wrap for the evening. In April, take warmer clothes too. Between January and March, you need a raincoat. <P><B>Gentlemen</B>: A light suit will do for the evening in summer, but a middle-weight one is advisable for spring or autumn. Otherwise summer clothing will suffice. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday resorts</H3> Zabadany, Bloudan, Arneh, Yabroud in the Damascus region; Jabal El Arbaeen near Idlib, Slunfeh, Kassab near Lattakia, Dreikeesh near Tartous. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> Football, basketball, volleyball, handball, tennis, swimming, horsemanship. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to eat and drink</H3> Syrian food is delicious. Here are some typical dishes: Hommos (crushed chickpeas with olive oil), Tabouleh (parsley, tomato, lemon, spices and grinned-wheat), Labaneh (condensed yogurt with oil), Kebab, Mechwi (roasted meat, with small pieces of onions and tomatoes), Koubeh (meat and wheat balls stuffed with nuts), Chawermah, Kharouf Mechwi (roast stuffed lambs), Koussa Mehshi, Yabrak. Many hotels and restaurants also serve European food. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to buy</H3> Beautiful hand-worked copper and brass trays with silver inlay (from eight inches to four feet in diameter); hand-loomed brocades, wood and mother-of-pearl inlay work, items from glass-blowing factories, mosaics and embroideries, leather goods and Aghabani table cloth sets. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> <H3>Passports and visas</H3> <OL TYPE="1" START="1"> <LI>valid passport with visa valid for at least three months; <LI>every foreigner who wishes to visit or travel across the Syrian Arab Republic should obtain an entrance visa from a S.A.R. diplomatic mission abroad; <LI>the fees charged for an entrance or a transit visa are decided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the basis of reciprocity with the tourist's government; <LI>a transit visa is valid for 72 hours during which time the tourist does not have to report to the Immigration Department; <LI>tourists who get an entrance visa and spend less than 15 days in Syria, do not have to report to the Immigration Department; <LI>tourists who wish to spend more than 15 days in Syria have to report to the Immigration Department to obtain approval to stay in Syria, provided that this period does not exceed six months. Fees for this procedure are about 24 S.P.; <LI>a S.P. 24 fee is charged for every return visa; <LI>an annual 24 S.P. is charged for a resident permit; <LI>tourist groups and groups of more than ten persons who are travelling on a collective passport are exempt from the entrance fee; <LI>citizens of all the Arab countries, Arab Gulf, Emirates and other Arab States are exempt from all passport, visa and residence permit requirements. They are only registered in records of departure and arrival: their passports are stamped only on entrance and departure with the appropriate stamps; <LI>passports carried by visitors to the S.A.R. should not contain any Israeli visa. </OL> <H3>Issuance of visas</H3> Visa applications must be made to a diplomatic representative of the Syrian Arab Republic. However, the following categories of foreign visitors may be issued a visa at border crossing ports or airports: nationals of countries in which there is no S.A.R. diplomatic representative - foreign nationals being residents of Lebanon, provided they hold a Lebanese residence card - Mechanics and intercontinental drivers holding a transit visa. The issuance of a transit visa at border crossing is subject to the granting of reciprocity. <H3>Health regulations</H3> <B>Cholera:</B> vaccination documents are required of visitors, except children of less than one year old coming from contaminated areas. <P><B>Smallpox:</B> vaccination documents are required of visitors coming from contaminated areas, Ghana and Pakistan. Syria follows the restrictions of the World Health Organization.</P> <H3>Customs</H3> <B>Entrance facilities:</B> the following items are exempted from customs tax (except for travellers who make regular and frequent trips to and from Syria): <P><B>Consumption materials:</B> 1 litre perfume, 1 litre liquor, sets of playing cards, 250gr. tobacco or 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars or a collection of these items not exceeding 250gr. per person. Personal clothes and requisites. </P> <P><B>Personal belongings:</B> a small-size movie camera with two films. One camera and two films. One pair of binoculars. One portable musical instrument. One receiving wireless. One small-size record-player with no more than 20 ordinary records or five microsonic records. One recorder (one raw tape besides two used tapes). One perambulator. One portable typewriter. One camping tent with necessary camping equipment. Individual sports equipment (one fishing rod, one bicycle, a boat no longer than five and a half metres, skiing equipment, one tennis rack, etc. One hunting rifle authorised. Medical instruments carried by doctors usually (stethoscope, sphygmomanometre, thermometre, etc). One make-up set. Blankets, quilts, sheets, etc, used during the trip. A small flat iron.</P> <H3>Currency regulations</H3> <B>On entry:</B> tourists and visitors are allowed to import: <UL TYPE="1" START="1"> <LI>any amount of foreign currency; <LI>personal jewellery (precious stones not processed are not considered personal jewellery); <LI>no more than 100 Syrian pounds. </UL> <B>On exit:</B> tourists and visitors are allowed to export: any amount declared by them at the entrance check-point. Otherwise, permission should be obtained from the authorities concerned. <P><B>Airport tax: </B>200 S.P. upon leaving the country by air.</P> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes</H3> Damascu- Homs - Hama - Aleppo - Deir-Ez-Zor. <BR>Damascus - Homs - Hama - Aleppo - Lattakia. <BR>Damascus - Homs - Hama - Tartus - Jableh - Lattaki. <BR>Damascus - Homs - Palmyra. <BR>Damascus - Palmyra - Deir-Ez-Zor. <BR>Damascus - Deraa-El-Sweida. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Miscellaneous</H3> Important information for the tourist: <UL TYPE=DISC> <LI>all kinds of drugs are available in the drug stores; <LI>the prices are cheap and the rates of hotels are subject to <LI>Government supervision; <LI>the water is drinkable - clean and purified; <LI>the country is clean from infections and local diseases; <LI>the most famous fair in Syria is the annual Damascus International Fair - end of August, beginning of September; <LI>International Flowers Fair from May 25 to 31; <LI>the best example of the Syrian and oriental souks is Souk Al Hamedieh; <LI>voltage: 220 in cities and villages; <LI>camping is allowed in the summer resorts and in the suburbs away from military areas; <LI>the Ministry of Tourism has a special body under the title 'Tourist Police' whose duty is to offer information and services to the tourists and to investigate their complaints. For any assistance or any kind of help one may contact them on the phone N° 222 68 10; <LI>taxi fares in Damascus are submitted to the taximeter which indicates the appropriate fare according to the distance inside or outside the City; <LI>office hours in government departments: 8.30-14.00; <LI>Government departments and most companies and stores are closed on Fridays and holidays; <LI>in addition to government hospitals, there are numerous private hospitals and clinics in cities as well as in villages; <LI>photographing is allowed in all parts of Syria except in military areas; <LI>films of all kinds are available and they can be developed in local photography shops; <LI>travel fares by buses and taxi service between cities are set by the department in charge. </UL> <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>List of representatives abroad</H3> Please apply to the nearest diplomatic mission. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><I><P>We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Syria thanks to the co-operation of the Ministry of Tourism in Damascus.</P></I> <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>