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Top 10 Facts People from Syria Want You to Know

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Caitlin Johnson
There’s much more to this country than conflict. For this list, we’re looking at some of the most interesting and important facts about Syria, one of the most culturally-rich countries in the world. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Facts People from Syria Want You to Know.
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Script written by Caitlin Johnson


Top 10 Facts People from Syria Want You to Know


There’s much more to this country than conflict. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ve teamed up with our partners at WatchMojo Arabic to count down our picks for the top 10 facts people from Syria want you to know.
For this list, we’re looking at some of the most interesting and important facts about Syria, one of the most culturally-rich countries in the world.

#10: Syria Has a Population of over 18 Million

At its highest, the country’s population even reached as high as 24 million, making up 0.24% of the world’s total population. While a detailed census hasn’t been carried out for some time, it’s been estimated by professors that roughly 87% of Syrians are Muslims while most of the remainder are Christian, with at least 3% being Druze. In addition, Syrians also speak many different languages; the official language is Arabic, but people also speak Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian, Greek, and even Aramaic and four different Neo-Aramaic dialect – as well as English and French.

#9: The Shouting Valley

In the Six Day War in 1967, a strategic plateau called the Golan Heights became a battleground. The land now shares four national borders and has been dividing families stuck on opposite sides for decades. With dangerous razor wire and an even deadlier minefield now occupying it, families are forced to communicate by shouting with megaphones across the gap into the neighboring country. Despite there being a ceasefire in place, it’s still tremendously difficult for families to see each other, and so – despite more people using cell phones to communicate now – the Shouting Valley is still visited.

#8: Damascus Is Known for Its Legendary Steel

True Damascus steel hasn’t been produced since the 18th Century, and while many have sought to recreate it, the technique remains lost in the modern age. The steel is uniquely forged with beautiful, intricate patterns, most commonly used to craft knives, swords, and other bladed weapons. Upon closer examination of the ancient technique, a recent study discovered that Damascus steel actual contains carbon nanotubes, making it incredibly advanced technology for its time and far superior to other, contemporary weapons. Perhaps one day this ancient craft will be truly rediscovered; some claim that Damascus steel is strong enough to cut clean through a rifle barrel.


#7: Syrian Cuisine Comes from a Mix of Cultures

Since so many different cultures have settled in Syria over such an immense period of time, these have all blended together to create some of the tastiest and most exciting food anywhere in the world. With influences including ancient Persia and the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, Syrian food is both distinct and delicious, and is made even more unique by every different city having its own take on traditional dishes – like kibbeh. Other food includes sweets and candies popular throughout the entire Middle East, as well as the variety of street food you can get, like shawarma and Damascus’s famous fatteh.

#6: Syria Became Independent from France Less Than a Hundred Years Ago

Syria has a long history of being under the control of various empires and colonists, most recently the Ottoman Empire – who ruled for over four centuries until 1918 – and then Vichy France afterwards. It was on the 17th of April 1946, that Syria finally became an independent country free of colonial influence, though they had already proclaimed independence in 1941. This by no means marked the end of political strife in the area, but the date is still celebrated every year. It’s called “Evacuation Day,” commemorating the evacuation of the last French soldier from Syrian territory.


#5: Ebla’s Royal Archive Has Clay Tablets Dating Back Thousands of Years

In the 1970s in northern Syria, a group of archaeologists re-discovered the ancient city of Ebla. With the discovery of the ruins also came the discovery of clay tablets, roughly 17,000 of them, 1800 of which are complete and legible. The tablets are written in both Sumerian and “Eblaite”, so named because it was completely unknown before being found on the tablets – a whole lost language. The tablets and ruins date back to circa 2500 BC and shed light on what life was like in ancient Mesopotamia, covering topics from commerce to diplomacy to industry.

#4: It’s Home to 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Syria’s rich culture is further evidenced by it having six UNESCO world heritage sites, most of them large cities with even more landmarks and monuments within their walls. Ancient settlements like Damascus and Aleppo are hugely important, as well as the city of Bosra, which used to be a major stopping point for religious pilgrims travelling to Mecca. The Crac des Chevaliers is another protected site, a significant medieval castle dating back almost a thousand years, to the Crusades.

#3: Syria Has One of the Largest Mosques in the World

The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, also commonly called the Great Mosque of Damascus, is one of the most important religious and historical sites worldwide. It was built on the site of an ancient basilica of John the Baptist, with its construction completed in 715 AD. As well as supposedly containing the head of John the Baptist himself, it is also the location of the tomb of Saladin; the land has been sacred for three millennia and the mosque is considered the fourth holiest place in all of Islam. Finally, even more history was made when here, in 2001, Pope John Paul II became the first pope to ever visit a mosque.

#2: The First Alphabet Was Invented There

Ugarit is an ancient city along the shore of the Mediterranean, which possesses its own, unique alphabet made up of cuneiform characters. While the alphabet was only discovered by the modern world in 1928, it dates back as far as 1500 BC, at least. Today, it’s still incredibly similar to the Arabic alphabet. Also discovered in these tablets is what’s thought to be the world’s earliest example of musical notation. These pieces are now called the Hurrian songs, and the oldest of all of them is Hurrian Hymn no. 6, which can still be performed on modern instruments.

#1: Damascus is One of the Oldest Cities in the World

Thought to be one of the oldest continually-occupied cities in the entire world, having been inhabited constantly for over 3000 years; in fact, the first ever reference to the name “Damascus” was as long ago as the 15th Century BC. The Old City of Damascus, itself a UNESCO world heritage site, even preserves many crafts dating back this far, including making Prokar silk and authentic, Syrian mosaics. The country’s capital city, Aleppo, is also one of the world’s oldest cities, and both of them were once integral locations on the Silk Road – the network of ancient trade routes connecting the East to the West.

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