Cruising to Syria


Following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, France administered Syria until its independence in 1946. The country lacked political stability, however, and experienced a series of military coups during its first decades. Syria united with Egypt in February 1958 to form the United Arab Republic, but in September 1961 the two entities separated and the Syrian Arab Republic was reestablished.

In November 1970, Hafiz al-ASAD, a member of the Socialist Ba'th Party and the minority Alawite sect, seized power in a bloodless coup and brought political stability to the country. In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Syria lost the Golan Heights to Israel, and over the past decade Syria and Israel have held occasional peace talks over its return. Following the death of President al-ASAD in July 2000, his son, Bashar al-ASAD, was approved as president by popular referendum. Syrian troops - stationed in Lebanon since 1976 in an ostensible peacekeeping role - were withdrawn in April of 2005.


Location: Middle East, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Lebanon and Turkey
Geographic coordinates: 35 00 N, 38 00 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 185,180 sq km


193 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 41 nm


Mostly desert; hot, dry, sunny summers (June to August) and mild, rainy winters (December to February) along coast; cold weather with snow or sleet periodically in Damascus


Primarily semiarid and desert plateau; narrow coastal plain; mountains in west

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: unnamed location near Lake Tiberias -200 m
Highest point: Mount Hermon 2,814 m


The Syrian Government estimates the economy grew by 4.5 percent in real terms in 2005, led by the petroleum and agricultural sectors, which together account for about half of GDP. Economic performance and the exchange rate on the informal market were hit by international political developments following the assassination in February of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-HARIRI and the specter of international sanctions.

Higher crude oil prices countered declining oil production and exports and helped to narrow the budget deficit and widen the current account surplus. The Government of Syria has implemented modest economic reforms in the last few years, including cutting interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating some of the multiple exchange rates, and raising prices on some subsidized foodstuffs. Nevertheless, the economy remains highly controlled by the government. Long-run economic constraints include declining oil production and exports, increasing pressure on water supplies caused by rapid population growth, industrial expansion, and water pollution.


Airports: 92 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 26
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 66
Pipelines: gas 2,300 km; oil 2,183 km (2004)
Railways: total: 2,711 km
Roadways: total: 91,795 km


900 km (not economically significant) (2005)

Merchant marine

Total: 114 ships (1000 GRT or over) 397,014 GRT/578,136 DWT
By type: bulk carrier 7, cargo 100, container 1, livestock carrier 4, petroleum tanker 1, roll on/roll off 1
Foreign-owned: 12 (Egypt 1, Greece 1, Lebanon 7, Romania 3)
Registered in other countries: 104 (Cambodia 11, Comoros 3, Cyprus 2, Dominica 2, Georgia 37, Kiribati 1, North Korea 21, Malta 6, Mongolia 2, Panama 9, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 5, Slovakia 2, unknown 2) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Baniyas, Latakia

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Albania - Algeria - Bulgaria - Croatia - Cyprus - Egypt - France - Georgia - Gibraltar - Greece - Israel - Italy - Lebanon - Libya - Malta - Monaco - Morocco - Romania - Serbia and Montenegro - Slovenia - Spain - Syria - Tunisia - Turkey - Ukraine

Further Reading

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