Syria Country Facts

سوريا‎ – Sūriyā
Capital city Damascus
Surface 185,180 km²
Population 17,500,000
Road network length 26,299 km
Length of highway network 877 km
First highway ?
Motorway name ?
Traffic drives Right
License plate code Syria

Syria (Arabic: سوري ‎ Sūriyā), formally the Syrian Arab Republic (الجمهورية العربية السورية ‎ al -Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah) is a country in western Asia, located on the Mediterranean Sea. The country is approximately 4.5 times the size of the Netherlands and has 17 million inhabitants. The capital is Damascus.


Syria is located in the west of the Middle East and is bordered to the north by Turkey, to the east by Iraq, to the south by Jordan and to the west by Israel and Lebanon. The country has a fairly short coastline on the Mediterranean Sea. The capital is Damascus (Dimashq) and is located in the southwest of the country. The largest city is Aleppo, which is located in the northwest. Other major cities are Hims, Hamah and Tartus. Most of Syria is desert, especially the central and border regions with Iraq. The Euphrates flows right through the desert. The easternmost part of the Turkish border is formed by the Tigris. Most of Syria is fairly flat, with the exception of the coastal strip along the Mediterranean Sea. Mount Hermon is the highest point at 2,814 meters.

Syria has a highly variable climate, the southeast consists of desert but the west is wetter, especially along the Mediterranean Sea. In this region 700 – 1000 mm falls per year, which decreases towards the east. The average maximum temperature in Damascus ranges from 13°C in January to 37°C in July. During the summer there is almost no precipitation.


Between 1950 and 2000, the population of Syria grew from approximately 4 to 17 million. The population grew until the Syrian civil war, after which the population shrank by approximately 2.5 million due to mass migration to neighboring countries and Europe. Syria has two major cities, Aleppo is the largest city with 2.1 million inhabitants before the war, Damascus has approximately 1.7 million inhabitants. In addition, Homs, Lataka and Hama are larger regional cities. The population is relatively urbanized, although the northwest and northeast have more rural populations.

The country has a diverse population. Arabs make up about three quarters of the population. The Kurds make up about 10% and live mainly in the northeast. There are also many small ethnic groups, such as Turkmen, Assyrians, Circassians and Armenians. Arabic is the official language of Syria. The other languages ​​are strongly related to the ethnic groups.


Before the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the country had a moderately developed economy, the country was not as prosperous as many other Arab countries in the Middle East. The economy was heavily dependent on oil and agriculture. Oil accounted for about 65% of the country’s exports, the remainder being exported. The Syrian civil war has caused immense damage to the economy and infrastructure.


The area was historically known as the Levant, with various civilizations dating back to ancient times. Aleppo and Damascus are considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world. From 1516 the area was under Ottoman rule. The Ottoman period was a relatively quiet period in which ethnic, religious and linguistic differences were respected. During the First World War, the Ottomans committed genocides against Christians, partly on Syrian territory. At the end of the war, the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist and the northern Middle East was divided into British and French parts, with the Levant coming under French rule. Under French rule, the region was restless, with conflict in the 1920s. In 1941 the area was occupied by Free France and the British.

Syria gained independence in 1946. Shortly afterwards in 1948, Syria attacked the new state of Israel, which ended in loss. In the 1950s, the Syrian army modernized after the country strengthened ties with the Soviet Union. The United Arab Republic, a political union of Egypt and Syria, briefly existed between 1958 and 1961. The period up to the 1970s was marked by a series of coups. In the first half of 1967, Syria was at war with Israel, but the conflict was originally of low intensity. This changed during the Six Day War, when Syria invaded Israel. At the end of the war, Israel struck back and captured two-thirds of the Golan Heights in 48 hours.

Hafez al-Assad came to power in a coup in 1970. This was the beginning of a long-lasting dictatorship under the Assad family. In 1973 the Yom Kippur War with Israel followed, in which Israel conquered even more Syrian territory. In 1976, Syria began a 30-year occupation of neighboring Lebanon. Syria fought for power during the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1990. The Syrian army did not leave Lebanon until 2005. In the late 1970s, an uprising against the government culminated in the Hama Massacre of 1982, which killed approximately 40,000 people.

Hafez al-Assad died in 2000 and was succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad. In 2011, the Syrian Civil War broke out and gradually increased in intensity, eventually destroying large parts of the country. This grew into an international proxy war involving many regional and superpowers. More than half a million people were killed and 4 million Syrians fled the country. From 2017, the government army gradually regained the upper hand in the country. Many cities were completely destroyed during the war.

Road Network

The 3 motorways of Syria.

Syria’s road network was relatively developed before the civil war given the economic situation, with 877 kilometers of motorways. However, these highways are not as modern as seen elsewhere in the region. The longest highway runs from Aleppo in the north via Homs and Damascus to the border with Jordan and is numbered M1. The capital Damascus has a highway bypass that has 2×4 lanes. There is also a highway from Damascus to the Lebanese border. There is a semi-ring highway around the town of Hims, and from Hims a highway leads to Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea. There is an eastern ring road around Hamah. A new highway runs from Aleppo to Latakia on the coast. Around the northern city of Aleppo is a highway ring that runs three quarters around. A highway runs along the Mediterranean coast from Tarsus to Latakia. A highway is under construction from Tripoli in Lebanon to Hamah. There are no highways in eastern Syria. The road infrastructure has suffered major damage in the civil war since 2011. Several highways have been broken up to make transportation more difficult.

Maximum speed

On motorways a speed limit of 100 km/h applies for passenger cars and 80 km/h for trucks.

Road markings

In Syria, road markings are a mix of yellow and white markings. The edge marking, also in the central reservation, is yellow, and the lane division is white. Dotted yellow edge marking occurs at exit ramps.

Road signs

The road signs commonly used in Europe are also used in Syria.

Motorways in Syria
M1 • M4 • M5

Road numbering

Motorways have the prefix M, although there are some M roads that are not motorways. The main road network is in a grid, with route 1 along the coast, and 2, 3 and 4 being east-west routes, increasing in number towards south. Routes 5, 6 and 7 are north-south routes and ascend eastwards. Route 5 runs parallel to the M1, and sometimes overlaps it. In addition, there is an indistinctly formed network of N roads, which appear to be zoned.


Signage in Syria is not as modern as in some neighboring countries. On highways, simple blue portal signs are used, which are in both Arabic and English, in capital letters. Small fork carriages are sometimes used on the verge at connections. A distinction is made between blue and green signage. Sometimes only the targets are shown in green. The exit signs can only be called simple. The exits do not appear to be numbered. Road numbers are rarely indicated, but Mashreq numbers have been entered more recently. Distances are used on both exit signs and portal signs, and usually crammed somewhere in between.


About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *