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Syria Tourist Information

LocationBusiness HoursEntry Requirements
Currency & Exchange FacilitiesClimateHolidays
Tourist Information OfficesEmergency Phone NumbersTipping

See Useful Arabic Words & Phrases
General Information

Despite hopes for independence, a French mandate over Syria was declared by the League of Nations in 1922.

This resulted in much hostile feeling towards France by the Syrian people.

Area 185,180 km2
Population 16,137,899 (1997 est.)
Capital Damascus
Capital population 1,440,000 (1994)

A long struggle ensued and, when the French left Syria in 1946, the country became both a republic and a charter member of the United Nations.

Political instability followed the birth of the republic, with one military coup succeeding another. In March 1963 the Ba'ath party came to power and the country began to stabilize. Another coup in 1970 brought to power the then Defence Minister, Hafez El-Asad, who has remained as President to the present day.

PresidentBashar El-Asad
Principal CitiesDamascus, Aleppo, Homs, Hama, and Lattakia

Southwestern Asia, bordering eastern coast of the Mediterranean sea, bounded on the north by Turkey, on the east by Turkey and Iraq, on the south by Jordan and Isreal, on the west by Lebanon and the Mediterranean sea. See map in Map & Sites page.

Official languageArabicSecond languageFrench & English
ReligionsMuslims 88% - Christians 11%MeasuresMetric
TimeGMT +02:00 - US EST +7Electricity220 Volts, 50 AC
CurrencySyrian Pound (see below)Int'l Dialing Code00963
Business Hours
Government Offices8:00 to 14:00 (Sat to Thu)
Banks8:30 to 14:00
Shops & Malls8:00 to 13:30 and 16:00 to 19:00 (winter) 20:00 (summer)
Private Sector9:00 to 18:00 - with one or two hours lunch break
Note: during the holy month of Ramadan working hours are usually reduced.
Entry Requirements

Individuals and groups of all nationalities (with some exceptions) are issued one-month entry visa upon arrival at any port in Syria upon presentation of passport; which is extensible on a request submitted to the Passports and Immigration Office, or to obtain in advance an entry visa from Syrian diplomatic missions abroad (this is very important for everybody coming from USA, and may apply to other countries, so please be careful).

There are no restrictions on visitors to bring in foreign currencies, but the sum of foreign currency allowed out should not exceed the amount brought in.

Note: No Israeli stamp or any crossing point with Israel stamp should be on your passport this includes Araba border, Sheikh Hussein border, Rafah border, and Taba border.

Currency & Exchange Facilities

The currency of Syria is Syrian Pound (called Lira) - 1 US Dollar equals SL 49.7 (1 May 2001). One Lira is 100 piasters.

Coin denominations are: 25, 50 piastres and 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 liras.
Paper denominations are: 1, 5, 10, 20, 25, 50, 100, 500 liras.

Special tourist exchange rates have been put into operation so that the exchange rates at hotels are the same as those at the other exchange centres.

Credit cards and Traveller Cheques are accepted at most hotels, car rental agencies, shops and restaurants. Major cards accepted are Master Card, Visa, Eurocard, AMEX and Diners Club.


The most hospitable and pleasant climate in Syria is to be found near the coast where Mediterranean conditions give hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters, with average daily temperatures of 29oC (84.2 F) in summer and 10oC (50 F) in winter. Annual rainfall along the coast ranges from 750 to 1000mm (30 to 40 inches).

Moving inland from the coast, Syria's climate becomes increasingly drier and less welcoming. Temperatures in the plateau region average around 35oC (95 F) in summer and 12oC (53.6 F) in winter and annual rainfall varies from 250 to 500mm (10 to 20 inches). Winters in the northern interior can be cold, with temperatures often falling to below freezing.

In the desert area, summer temperatures average 40oC (104 F), with frequent highs of around 46oC (114.8 F). Rainfall is extremely low.

New Year1st JanuaryMarch 8th Revolution8th March
Mother's Day21st MarchIndependence Day17th April
Labor Day1st MayMartyr's Day6th May

Islamic holidays based on Hijri/Lunar calendar
Eid Al-Fiter3 days marking end of Ramadan (fasting month)
Eid Al-Adha4 days at the end of Hajj
Islamic New Year1st of Moharram
Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) Birthday12th Rabe'a El-Awwal
Al-Isra' Wal Mi'raj27th Rajab

Christianity holidays
Christmas Day25th of December
Easter2 Days
Tourist Information Offices
Ministry of Tourism+963 (11) 22 10 122/22 15 916
Syrian Arab Airlines+963 (11) 22 29 000/22 23 434
Emergency Phone Numbers
Police112International Operator143/4
Traffic Police115Inquiring Time151

Tipping is a way of showing your satisfaction with a service rendered. Tips to your driver, guide and the hotel personnel are not included and left to your discretion.

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