Syria (الجمهوريّة العربيّة السّوريّة Al-Jumhuriya al-`Arabiya as-Suriya, the Syrian Arab Republic) is one of the larger states of the Middle East and has its capital in Damascus. Syria is bordered to the north by Turkey, to the east by Iraq, by Jordan and Israel to the south, and by Lebanon to the south-west. In addition, the country has a short coastline on the east Mediterranean Sea.
Major cities and tourist attractions
- Damascus — The capital and the oldest city alive
- Aleppo — a large souk and ancient citadel with great views
- Deir-az-Zur — a desert town on the Euphrates River bank
- Hama — waterwheels
- Homs — an ancient city by the Orontes river, amazing green mountains in Spring
- Latakia — A major port city, Saladin's Castle, Fronloq Forests and Al Samra Beah near Kasab
- Tartous — a historical port city and historical small island called Arwad
Syria has three international airports: Damascus International Airport (DAM), 35km (22miles) SE of the capital, Aleppo International Airport (ALP) just northeast of Aleppo in the north of the country, Lattakia International Airport (LTK), south of Lattakia, main sea port of the country.
Visas are needed for most individual travelers. These are available in 6-month (single/multiple entry), 3-month (single) and 15 day (land borders only) versions. Citizens of Arab countries do not require visa. In addition, citizens of Malaysia do not require visas. Getting visas in advance is expensive and confusing. Americans are required to apply in advance at the Syrian embassy in Washington DC, even if they live elsewhere, and pay US$131. Most other travellers, though, can get them anywhere, a popular choice being Istanbul (Turkey) where they are generally issued within one day for €20 (Canadians) or €30 (EU citizens). A "letter of recommendation" stating that your consulate has "no objection" to your visit to Syria may be required. The visa issued must have two stamps and a signature, otherwise the visa is considered invalid and you will be turned back at the border. It is necessary to keep the blue arrival form as it must be submitted upon departure.
Official policy says that, if your country has a Syrian embassy or consulate, you should apply for your visa in advance. Most nationals must apply for a Syrian visa in the country in which they are a citizen. Alternatively a foreign national may apply for a Syrian visa from a Syrian Consulate in a country other than their own if they hold a residency visa valid for at least 6 months for the country in which they are applying. There are very few exceptions to this rule. In practice it is possible to obtain a visa on the border for most nationals.