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Syria Geography


Situated in southwest Asia, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, Syria has an area of 185,180 sq km (71,498 sq mi).

Comparatively, the area occupied by Syria is slightly larger than the state of North Dakota. Included in this total is the Golan Heights region (1,176 sq km/454 sq mi), which Israel captured in 1967 and annexed on 14 December 1981; the annexation was denounced by Syria and unanimously condemned by the UN Security Council.

Syria extends 793 km (493 mi) east-northeast to west-southwest, and 431 km (268 mi) south-southeast to north-northwest. It is bounded on the north by Turkey, on the east and southeast by Iraq, on the south by Jordan, on the southwest by Israel, and on the west by Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea, with a land boundary length of 2,253 km (1,400 mi) and a coastline of 193 km (120 mi).

There are five main geographic zones:

(1) the narrow coastal plain along the Mediterranean shore;
(2) the hill and mountain regions, including the Ansariyah ('Alawite) Mountains in the northwest paralleling the coast, the eastern slopes of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, and the Jabal Ad-Duruz in the southeast;
(3) the cultivated area east of the Ansariyah and Anti-Lebanon ranges, which is widest in the north, discontinuous between Homs and Damascus;
(4) the steppe and desert region, traversed by the Euphrates (Al-Furat) River; and
(5) the Jazirah in the northeast, steppe country with low rolling hills.

The Anti-Lebanon Mountains, extending southward along the Lebanese border, serve as a catchment for the rainfall of central Syria. To the north of this range, the Ansariyah Mountains, which reach heights of over 1,500 m (5,000 ft), slope westward to the Mediterranean. The Orontes (Asi) River irrigates areas on the eastern side of the Ansariyah Mountains.

The climate varies from the Mediterranean type in the west to extremely arid desert conditions in the east. The coastal regions have hot summers and mild winters; in the mountains, summer heat is moderated according to elevation and the winters are much more severe.

The steppe and desert areas have extremely hot, arid summers and greatly varying winter temperatures ranging from 21°C (70°F) to below freezing. Average temperatures for Damascus range from about 21° to 43°C (70-109°F) in August and from about -4° to 16°C (25-61°F) in January. Rainfall averages about 75 cm (30 in) on the coast, around 125 cm (50 in) in some mountain areas, and less than 25 cm (10 in) in the eastern three-fifths of the country. In dry years, rainfall may be reduced by half.


Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey

Geographic coordinates
35 00 N, 38 00 E

Map references
Middle East

total: 185,180 sq km
land: 184,050 sq km
water: 1,130 sq km
note: includes 1,295 sq km of Israeli-occupied territory

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