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Popular democratic socialist republic
Area: 185,180 square kilometers
Syria neighbors Lebanon and Israel on its southwest, Jordan to the south, Iraq to the southeast and Turkey to the north.
Temperate continental, very hot in summer (up to 40° C) with some snow in Damascus in the winter. Eastern regions are very dry, while the region near the coast is more temperate and humid. Spring and fall are the best times to visit.
Population - Language
There are about 17 million people in Syria, 90% of whom are Arab, and a few minorities: Kurds, Armenians, Turks.
The official language is Arabic. English is spoken by some younger people.
Syria, like its neighbor Jordan, is an inexhaustible source of archeological digs. While the Roman and Islamic periods are now well known, many sites remain unexplored, particularly in the north-eastern part of the country. The department of antiquities oversees digs and restoration work. For four years, Syrian authorities have adopted a policy aimed at expanding their range of partners: besides French, British and Germans, you'll now find Australians and Japanese. The music of contemporary Arab, Egyptian and Lebanese stars is popular. Arab-Andalusian music gave rise to many musical genres including muwachchah, born in Alep.
86% of the population is Muslim, mostly Sunni. There are a few Muslim minorities, while Christians, representing about 5% of the population, comprise about 10 communities: Greek Orthodox, Melchite, Maronite, etc. In Damascus there is also a small Jewish community.
In souks, haggling is traditional. Take your time and know how to assess prices. Never feel obligated to buy something if you think the price is still too high. Simply leave the shop. That's the rule of the game.
The hammam is a way of life. Both men and women go, but at different times, or in different sections.
Syrians are friendly and welcoming. Hospitality is the golden rule in the country and visitors are often invited to have a coffee.
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