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History & Politics of Syria
Syria officially the Syrian Arab Republic is a country in the Middle East. It borders Lebanon to the west, Israel to the southwest, Jordan to the south, Iraq to the east, and Turkey to the north. Israel occupies the Golan Heights in the southwest of the country; a dispute with Turkey over the Hatay Province now seems to have subsided. Historically, Syria, or The Levant as the region has sometimes been called in English, has often been taken to include the territories of Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and parts of Jordan, but excluding the Jazira region in the north-east of the modern Syrian state. In this historic sense, the region is also known as Greater Syria or by the Arabic name Bilad al-Sham
Ostensibly, Syria is a parliamentary republic. Critics allege, however, it is an authoritarian regime that exhibits only the forms of a democratic system. Although citizens ostensibly vote for the President and members of Parliament, they do not have the right to change their government. The late President Hafez al-Assad was confirmed by unopposed referenda five times. His son, Bashar al-Assad, also was confirmed by an unopposed referendum in July 2000.
Historical & Tourist Attractions in Syria
The capital of the Syrian Arab Republic is the world’s oldest inhabited city. A central feature of this cluttered and clamorous city is the Ummayyad Mosque, entered by passing through the Al-Hamidiyah Bazaar.
Bosra was the first city in the Syrian Arab Republic to become Muslim and has some of the oldest minarets in the whole of Islam. As a stopover on the pilgrimage route to Mecca, Bosra was a prosperous city until the 17th century. By then the region was becoming unsafe and the pilgrims began to take a less dangerous route further west.
The third-largest city in the Syrian Arab Republic, Homs is known for its industry, and is the site of the Syrian Arab Republic’s first oil refinery. Of historical interest is the mausoleum of Khalid Ibn al-Walid.
65km (40 miles) outside Homs, Crac des Chevaliers is the most famous crusader castle in the world. A stronghold of the Hospitallers during the days of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem (1100-1290), it maintained a garrison of several thousand soldiers in peacetime. The castle, rising from an altitude of 670m (2200ft), was protected by watchtowers and supplied with food from the surrounding fertile countryside. The crusader castles of Salaheddin, near Latakia, and Markab, near Banyas, also merit a visit.