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Syria
INTRODUCTION
1. Geography
2. Political situation
3. Economy
a. Figures
4. Health
5. Education
a. Universities
6. Demographics
7. Religions
a. Freedom
8. Peoples
9. Languages
10. History
11. Cities and Towns



























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Open map of SyriaFlag of SyriaSyria /
History



Historical periods
1. Pre-History
2. Mesopotamians and Hittites
3. Persians and Hellenism
4. Romans and Byzantines
5. The Umayyads
6. As a province
7. The Crusades
8. Mamluks
9. Ottomans and prosperity
10. Towards the modern Syria
11. Independence
12. Assad Dynasty

Pre-history
Archaeological finds proves that Syria was inhabited deep into the Stone Age.
Ca. 10,000 BCE: Permanent settlements along Euphrates river, the earliest of man.
Ca. 6500 BCE: Ugarit is first settled.
4th millennium BCE: Earliest traces of urban settlement near Damascus.
Ca. 2900: A mercantile centre in eastern Syria emerges, at Mari.
Ca. 2600: A mercantile centre in north-central Syria emerges, at Ebla, becoming a rival of Mari.

Mesopotamians and Hittites
Around 2240: Ebla destroyed by the Akkadian dynasty of Sumer.
19th century: Qatna in central Syria emerges as a new regional power, ruled by Amorites.
Around 1830: In Northern Syria, the Amorite kingdom, Yamkhad, is established with Aleppo as its capital.
Around 1800: Assyrian capital of Shubat Enlil is established by King Shamsi-Adad 1 in the northeastern corner of Syria.
1759: Mari destroyed by the Babylonians, under the command of Hammurabi.
Around 1700: Assyria is conquered by Hammurabi of Babylonia.
Around 1600: Yamkhad and other lands of northern Syria are conquered by the Hittites.
Around 1500: The kingdom of Mitanni is established in the south of today's Syria.
First half 15th century: Qatna is subjected to Mitanni.
1375 BCE: Qatna is destroyed by Hittite king, Suppiluliumas.
About 1350: Mitanni is conquered by the Hittites.
1276-1275: The famous battle at Kadesh (near modern Homs) between Ramses 2 and the Hittites.
Around 1200: Immigration of Arameans. They establish petty kingdoms in central and northern Syria. Their principal city, Aram, is located to an area near modern Damascus.
Around 1180: The Sea People sacks the city of Ugarit and other coastal strongholds. The destruction was so complete that Ugarit would be abandoned forever.
Around 1000: Assyrians take control over northern Syria.
732: Assyria conquers Damascus.
612: Assyria collapses, Syria comes under the rule of Nebuchadnezzar 2 of Babylonia.

Persians and Hellenism
539: With the decline of Babylonia, Syria falls under the control of the Persian Achaemenid king, Cyrus 2 the Great.
333-332: Alexander the Great includes Syria into his empire.
301: Northern Syria becomes part of the Seleucid Empire, ruled from Antioch (modern Antakya, Turkey).
About 200: While governed by the major Seleucid kings, Antiochus 3 and Antiochus 4, the name of Syria is being used for the first time.
198: Southern Syria is conquered by the Seleucids.
1st century: Bosra and Damascus in southern Syria is conquered by the Nabateans from the south; Bosra is extensively developed.

Romans and Byzantines
64: Selucid Syria is made into a Roman province by Pompey the Great, and a period of great prosperity begins.
2nd century: Christianity grows into a strong religion in Syria.
106 CE: As a Roman province, Syria absorbs the Nabatean kingdom. At this time Antioch (now in Turkey), is one of the greatest cities, while Bosra of southern Syria becomes capital of Roman province of Arabia.
267: Zenobia, widow of the prince of Palmyra, launches attack on Roman stronghold Antioch, even launching a campaign on Egypt.
272: Zenobia's army is defeated outside Homs by the army sent by Roman emperor, Aurelian.
273: Palmyra is destroyed by the Romans.
313: Christianity is officially recognized by the Roman Empire, and grand building projects for churches are carried out in Syria.
395: With the division of the Roman empire, Syria falls to Byzantine (the eastern part of the Roman empire). Syria remained a region of prosperity.
616: Occupied by Persian Sassanid ruler Khosrau 2.
622: Taken back by the Byzantines.

The Umayyads
636: After years of war, Syria is easily conquered by the Arabs, and included in the Caliphate of Islam.
661: Damascus becomes the new capital of the Caliphate, under the Umayyads.
750: End to Damascus' position as the capital of the Caliphate, with the takeover by the Abbasids. The move of the Caliphate made Syria an insignificant region in the Middle East.

As a province
877: Syria is annexed by Egypt.
929: Northern Syria becomes the central part of the Hamdanid domain.
1023: Establishment of the Mirdasid Dynasty ruling form Aleppo.
1060's: Northern Syria is conquered by the Turkish Seljuqs.
1075: Damascus is taken by the Seljuqs.
1095: Seljuq territory divides into two lands, one with Damascus as capital, the other with Aleppo.

The Crusades
1097 October: Christian Crusader siege of Antioch.
1098 June: Antioch surrenders.
1099: Western parts of Syria is incorporated in the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem.
1174-87: Saladin takes control over Syria. His heirs, the Ayyubids, bring stability back to the region, with positive influence on the economy.

Mamluks
About 1250: Egyptian Mamlukes take control over most of Syria.
About 1300: The last crusaders are driven out of Syria. A well organized state is established, and run by local officials. Strong persecution of local sects.
1401: Tamerlane devastates Syria.

Ottomans and prosperity
1516: Syria is incorporated into the Ottoman Empire. The following 4 centuries become a period of economic growth. Many parts of Syria had governors exercising great independence from the Ottoman sultan.
1831: Syria and Jordan is conquered by Egypt.
1840: With pressure from Britain and Austria, Egypt withdraws from Syria as well as Jordan.
1860: A massacre of Christians in Damascus.
1869: The opening of the Suez Canal leads to a decline in Syria's economic importance.

Towards the modern Syria
1916 May: The Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France, violating British guarantees on Arab independence that had been given to Hussayn Ibn Ali, the grand sharif of Mecca, in January. Today's Syria and Lebanon became a French area of influence, while today's Israel, Palestine, and Jordan became British area.
1920: Local armed rebellion is suppressed by the French.
1925-1927: Uprising, this time better organized than in 1920.
1938: Agreement between Syrian leaders and the French on substantial Syrian independence. The French refused to ratify this agreement.
1939: The area of Alexandretta, with the ancient Syrian capital of Antioch, is ceded to the Turkey.

Independence
1941: Syria, since 1940 under the administration of Vichy France, is occupied by British and Free French forces. Later the same year, both of these parties recognized Syrian independence.
1943: Elections. A government is organized under the presidency of Shukri al-Kuwatli.
1945: With the end of World War 2, the French tries to uphold their influence over Syria. Syria becomes a charter member of United Nations.
1946: British intervenes, and takes control over anti-French demonstrations.
1948: Syria participates in the joint Arab warfare against the establishment of the state of Israel, and shared the defeat (see First Palestinian War).
1949 March 30: The Kurdish leader, General Husn az-Zaim, and his junta take power.
August 14: Zaim is overthrown by Syrian officers. Shortly after he is executed.
1950 September: A new constitution. Hashim al-Attasi is elected president.
1951: Border clashes with Israel, provoked by a Israeli drainage project in the zone between the two countries.
November 29: A new military coup, where Shishakli takes control. President Atasi resigned soon after.
1953: A new constitution puts heavy limitations on civil liberties.
1954 March: A military group forces Shishakli out of office, and reinstates Attasi, and restores the constitution of 1950. Syrian politics orientates itself towards the Soviet dominated bloc, and with the Western attacks on Egypt in 1956, it becomes even more anti-Western.
1957: Tensed relations with Turkey, as Syria asserts that Turkey is preparing for an US-backed attack. UN attention helps solve the crisis.
— Syria receives increased economic help from the Soviet Union.
1958 February 21: Establishment of the United Arab Republic, a union with Egypt. Gamal Abu l-Nasser becomes president of the union.
March: Nasser dissolves all political parties of Syria. He also introduces regulations on the size of land property.
October 7: The union introduces joint ministers, and all becomes stationed in Cairo.
1960 March 18: Several Syrians are appointed to the cabinet in Cairo.
1961 August 16: Introduction of a single UAR cabinet. But the opposition has increased in Syria, much coming irritation over the modernization efforts taken by Nasser.
September 28: Army takes control over Damascus, and declares new independence for Syria. Nasser did not take any measures.
December: A provisional constitution is approved through a referendum, and a national government is set up. This new government made a few concessions to the important Ba'th party as well as to pan-Arabists.
1963 March 8: A military coup, which puts central Ba'th leaders in power without bloodshed. A national council is set up, and headed by Major General Amin el-Hafez. There were attempts to unite Iraq and Egypt with Syria, but soon the discussions came down to only Iraq and Syria.
November: With the overthrow of the Iraqi branch of the Ba'th party, the discussions on unity between Iraq and Syria comes to an end.
1964 May: A presidency council is put up, replacing the national council. The national council is made up of 5 members, 3 civilian and 2 military.
1966 February: A new coup ends the influence of foreign Ba'th intellectuals over Syrian politics. From this time on, Syria is governed through the Syrian Ba'th. Nuur ad-Din al-Attasi becomes the deputy prime minister of Syria.

Assad Dynasty
1967 June: Syria participates in the Six-Day War against Israel, and comes out defeated with the loss of territory: Golan Heights in the southwestern corner of the country, near the border to Israel.
— The military defeat is followed by a quarrel inside the government on who is to be blamed for the Syrian inadequacy. The so-called nationalist wing is headed by Defence Minister Hafez al-Assad, while the socialist wing is headed by Salah Jadid.
1970 November: Assad comes out as the victor of the political struggle, and forms government.
1971 March 14 Assad becomes president of Syria after a referendum.
1973 October: Syria participates with success in the beginning in the Yom Kippur War against Israel. Syria loses its gains towards the end of this war.
1976: As a reaction to Syria's participation on Christian side in the Lebanese Civil War, the Muslim Brotherhood gains more support all over Syria.
1980 March: Rebellion staged by the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama and Aleppo.
June: Attempt on Assad's life.
1981: Membership in the Muslim Brotherhood is made into a capital offence, and a period with hard and violent actions against the members start.
1982 February: Governmental attacks on members of the Muslim Brotherhood, leaving thousands of dead. Estimates vary between 5,000 and 25,000 killed in Hama.
1985: Assad is elected president in mock elections, with a majority of 99,9% of the votes.
1986: Britain accuses Syria for supporting international terrorism, and the United States joins in. Both countries recall their ambassadors.
1987 September: US ambassador returns to Syria, after that Syria closes the training camps of Abu Nidal.
1990: Syrian control over Lebanon is assured after that Syrian-friendly forces get control over Lebanon.
1991: Syria participates with troops on the international side in the Gulf War against Iraq.
2000 June 10: President Assad dies, and his son Bashar al-Assad is quickly put into the position has heir to the presidency. The formal recognition takes place one month later, on July 10.
2003 October 5: Israel bombs a site near Damascus, claiming that it was a training ground for Islamic Jihad. Syrian authorities claimed that the area was used entirely for civilian purposes.
2004 September 21: Syria begins dismantling troops in Lebanon, following international pressure. This is the beginning of the end of the strong Syrian influence over Lebanese politics and economy.
2007 January 20: Following a meeting between Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani and Assad, Syria issues a its condemnation of attacks on both Iraqi and US security forces and military.




By Tore Kjeilen