Driving Directions Syria

SYRIA is a country in southwest Asia which borders on the Mediterranean Sea in the west. Much of the country consists of arid plateau lands and plains, which grade into the desert in the southeast.

There is a narrow, fer­tile coastal plain alongside the Mediterranean shore, but this soon gives way to a belt of hills running north to south, which rises to form the high­er Anti-Lebanon Mountains extending across the border with Lebanon. The River Euphrates enters the country from Turkey in the northwest and flows southeastwards into Iraq. In contrast, a second major river, the Orontes, flows northwards from the Anti-Lebanon Mountains across western Syria.

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The country experiences hot, dry summers and relatively cold winters with light to moderate rainfall. The coastal region has a more pleasant climate with mild, moist winters, but most of Syria suffers from water shortages. Natural vegetation is relatively sparse, consisting of low bushes and thin grasses but with forests of Aleppo pine, oak, and firs on the slopes of the mountains. There are relatively few mammal species, but their number include porcupine, deer, and wildcat. The desert regions have specialized wildlife, such as reptiles, which have adapted to the harsh conditions.

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Agriculture employs 20 percent of the workforce. Sheep, goats, and cattle raising, and cotton, barley, wheat, tobacco, grapes, olives, and vegetables are grown although some land is unused due to lack of irrigation. Syria’s resources include oil, hydroelectric power, and fertile soil. Reserves of oil are small compared to neighboring Iraq, but there is enough to make the country self-sufficient and provide three-quarters of the nation’s export earnings.

Manufacturing industries such as textiles, leather, chemicals, and cement have developed rapidly in the last 20 years, with the country’s craftsmen producing fine rugs and silk brocades. Foreign revenue is gained from tourism and also from countries that pipe oil through Syria. The country is dependent on the main Arab oil-producing countries for aid.

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