Syria, (officially Syrian Arab Republic) is located in Western Asia, bordering by the Mediterranean Sea and Lebanon to the west, Israel to the southwest, Jordan to the south, Iraq to the east, and Turkey to the north.
Syria gained independence from French rule in 1946; however, the country itself has around 6.000 years of history. The capital city is Damascus, which has been a very important city in former Islamic empires. Major part of the territory is upland. In southwest, a part of Syrian Desert is located, which is one of the biggest deserts in the world. Along the Mediterranean Sea, a valley stretches for 20-30 kilometers. The official language is Arabic.
Before the war in 2011, the population of Syria was 22.024.000. Syrian Arabs make up 90% of the population. Kurds are numerous ethnic minority, making up 9% of the population. The third large ethnicity is Syrian Turkmens.
According to the official figures, 86% of the population of Syria is Muslim, and 10% is Christian.
Damascus was one of the first cities, where Paul the Apostle started to preach Christianity. At that period, there were more Christians in Damascus, than in other cities.
In the period of Umayyad rule, when Islam was spread in the nation, it became the main religion and many converted into Islam.
Before the war in 2011, there were many Christian Churches in Damascus. Services were held on each Sunday. The days off in Christian schools were Saturday and Sunday, while the official ‘weekend’ in Syria was Friday and Saturday. Syrian Christians had their own civil law courts, which were hearing civil cases, such as marriage, divorce, etc. Their regulations were based on biblical teachings. Christians have a huge input in Syria’s development.
Damascus is one of the most ancient capital cities; even the Bible mentions it. It is written in the book of Isaiah the Prophet, “Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap” (Isaiah 17.1). According to theologians, this prophecy was written in VIII century BC, and was fulfilled in 732 BC, when Tiglath Pileser III (Tukultī-apil-Ešarra) conquered the city. Later the ruined city was rebuilt. In 100 years later, Damascus is mentioned in another prophecy (Jeremiah 49.23-27).
Christians live in Syria for approximately 1.000 years, and they had good neighborly relationships with Muslims. During the war the bombs fall both on Christians and on Muslims; and Syrian priests state that during the war both Christians and Muslims suffer together.