Syria, officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel, with its west facing the Mediterranean Sea. 90% of the population is Arab, mainly Sunni Muslim.

The name Syria formerly comprised the entire region of the Levant, while the modern state encompasses the site of several ancient kingdoms and empires built by surrounding regional powers, including the Eblan civilization of the third millennium BC. In the Islamic era, its capital city, Damascus, was the seat of the Umayyad Empire and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Empire. Damascus is widely regarded as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Syria was absorbed into the Ottoman Empire from the 16th through 20th centuries. After the Ottoman Empire was dissolved at the end of WWI, Modern Syria was created as a French mandate in 1920 and attained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic.

On 1 February 1958, Syrian and Egypt were merged into one country, the United Arab Republic. The union was not a success, however. Following a military coup on 28 September 1961, Syria seceded, reestablishing itself as the Syrian Arab Republic.

Syria has played a major regional role, particularly through its central role in the Arab conflict with Israel, which since 1967 has occupied the Golan Heights, and by active involvement in Lebanese and Palestinian affairs.