Officially the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south and Israel to the southwest.
In English, the name Syria was formerly synonymous with the Levant, known in Arabic as al-Sham, while the modern state encompasses the sites of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the third millennium BC. In the Islamic era, its capital city, Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate, and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt.
The modern Syrian state was established after the First World War as a French mandate, and represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman-ruled Arab Levant. It gained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic. The post-independence period was tumultuous, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–1971. Between 1958 and 1961, Syria entered a brief union with Egypt, which was terminated by a military coup. Syria was under Emergency Law from 1963 to 2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens, and its system of government is considered to be non-democratic. Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000 and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, who was in office from 1971.
Syria is a member of one International organization other than the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement; it is currently suspended from the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and self suspended from the Union for the Mediterranean.
Since March 2011, Syria has been embroiled in civil war in the wake of uprisings (considered an extension of the Arab Spring, the mass movement of revolutions and protests in the Arab world) against Assad and the neo-Ba’athist government. This conflict has resulted in sanctions against Syria by the international community aimed at trade and government officials by the countries of the Arab League, Australia, Canada, the European Union, (as well as the European countries of Albania, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, and Switzerland) Georgia, Japan, Turkey, and the United States.
In November 2012, Syrian opposition groups formed an umbrella organisation known as the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. This body has been recognised as the “legitimate representative of the Syrian people” by member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council and by France, Turkey and the United Kingdom. It is acknowledged as a “representative of the aspirations of the Syrian people” by the Arab League and the European Union, and as “a legitimate representative of the Syrian people” by the United States.
Source: Wikipedia, December 2012