Syria, officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic, offers a flourishing culture shaped by a number of foreign occupations throughout history. The rich landscape of mountains, plains and vast deserts served as witness to invasions by the Romans, the Turks, the Crusaders and the French, to name a few. Such colorful past enabled Syria to grow and become one of the major countries in the Middle East.
Religious fervor burns among Syrians, who are predominantly Muslim. Christianity is also observed by some of the people. Further enriching the country’s cultural climate are groups such as the Armenians, the Kurds, the Assyrians and the Arab Sunnis.
Arabic is the country’s official language, but Kurdish is widely used particularly in the Kurdish regions. English and French are spoken by educated Syrians.
Much of Syria’s tourist attractions reflect the many cultures that have left imprints on its cities and towns. The capital, Damascus, is an unrivalled treasure trove of monuments and historical sites – something that is to be expected from the world’s oldest inhabited city.
Aside from marveling at the famous attractions in Syria, travelers can enjoy the country’s exceptional cuisine. If you’re in search of the quintessential Middle Eastern fare, Syrians will proudly let you sample their best bets for culinary enlightenment.
While tourists can expect a warm welcome from the friendly Syrians, there is still a need to consult travel advisories from embassies. Mounting unrest brought by the wave of uprisings in the Middle East in 2011 has not spared Syria’s streets. Before thinking of visiting Syria, check with your local foreign affairs bureau for the current political situation.