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November 2013



Syria borders the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey. It is slightly larger than North Dakota. Its climate is mostly desert: hot, dry, and sunny summers (June to August), with mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast. Periodically, Damascus (the capital city) experiences cold weather with snow or sleet. Damascus is located at an oasis by the Barada River. It is thought to be one of the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities.

Syria's terrain is primarily semiarid and desert plateau, with a narrow coastal plain, and mountains in the west. The highest point is Mount Hermon (2814 m). Nearly 25% of the 185,180 sq km of land in Syria is arable. The natural hazards facing Syria are dust storms and sandstorms. The current environmental concerns are: deforestation, overgrazing, soil erosion, desertification, and water pollution.

Syria has fourteen provinces and celebrates its independence on the 17th of April (from the League of Nations mandate in 1946). It operates under a mixed legal system of civil and Islamic law. Universal suffrage is 18 years of age. The chief of state is President Bashar al-Asad. The president is approved by popular referendum for a seven-year term (no term limits). The last referendum was held on 27 May 2007 (next to be held in May 2014). The president appoints the vice presidents, prime minister, and deputy prime ministers.

Syria's economy is highly regulated by the government. Agriculturally, it produces: wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets, beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, and milk. Industries in Syria include: petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, and car assembly.

CIA World Factbook, 9/2013

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