Syria (الجمهوريّة العربيّة السّوريّة Al-Jumhuriya al-`Arabiya as-Suriya, the Syrian Arab Republic) is one of the larger states of the Middle East. Its capital, and second largest city after Aleppo, is Damascus, the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. Syria is bordered to the north by Turkey, to the east by Iraq, by Jordan and Israel to the south, and by Lebanon to the south-west. In addition, the western part of the country has a short coastline on the Mediterranean Sea.

WARNING: Western governments advise against all travel to Syria. The savage civil war between government and rebel forces continues. It is estimated that up to 500,000 people have died between 2012 and March 2018. Millions of Syrians have been internally displaced, or have fled the country. Sexual violence against women is widespread. Chemical weapons and air strikes have killed many people. Western journalists and humanitarians have been kidnapped and beheaded. Areas captured from Daesh (ISIS) still contain unexploded improvised explosive devices. Since the fall of ISIS in 2019, kidnapping risk has decreased, but any travel to Syria still carries a risk of serious injury or death. See the Wikipedia page about the war in Syria and your country’s travel warnings for more specific information. If you must travel to Syria, see War zone safety.
(Information last updated Apr 2019)

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Syria has 14 governorates, but the following conceptual division used to make more sense for travellers:

Regions of Syria

  Northwestern Syria
Aleppo, one of the oldest cities in the world, as well as the Dead Cities, 700 abandoned settlements in the northwest of the country
A volcanic plateau in the southwest of Syria, also includes the capital Damascus and its sphere of influence
  Orontes Valley
The Orontes Valley, home to the towns of Hama and Homs
  Syrian Coast and Mountains
Green and fertile, relatively Christian, somewhat liberal, and dominated by Phoenician and Crusader history
  Southeastern Desert
A vast empty desert with the oasis of Palmyra, as well the basin of the Euphrates, which is historically associated with the Assyrian and Babylonian history
  Golan Heights (Syria)
Occupied by Israel in 1967 and annexed in 1981, the portion of the Golan Heights that is controlled by Israel is covered in Golan Heights. A small area of land centered on Quneitra was transferred back to Syria in 1974 and is covered here.

Our coverage of the Golan Heights represents de facto control and should not be taken as an endorsement of either side in the dispute.

We cover Rojava in a separate article. While its autonomy is not recognized by any government, from a traveler’s point of view, it has its own government, so we cover it separately. Nothing in this article should be taken as an endorsement of the positions of any side in either dispute.

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