Map of Syria

Geography and population

Syria, with a total area of 185 180 km, is bordered in the north by Turkey, in the east and southeast by Iraq, in the south by Jordan, in the south-west by Israel and in the west by Lebanon and the Mediterranean sea. Administratively, the country is divided into 14 governorates, one of which being the capital Damascus.

The country can be divided into 4 physiographic regions:

  • the coastal region between the mountains and the sea;
  • the mountains and the highlands extending from north to south parallel to the Mediterranean coast;
  • the plains, or interior, located east of the highlands and including the plains of Damascus, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Al-Hassakeh and Dara'a;
  • the Badiah and the desert plains in the south-eastern part of the country, bordering Jordan and Iraq.

In 1993, the cultivable land was estimated at 5.94 million ha, or 32 % of the total area of the country. The cultivated land was estimated at 4.94 million ha, which is 83% of the cultivable area. Of this area, 4.27 million ha consisted of annual crops and 0.67 million ha consisted of permanent crops. About 62 % of the cultivated area is located in the three northern governorates Aleppo, AlReqqa and Al-Hassakeh, representing only 33% of the total area of the country.

The total population is 14.6 million (1995), of which 48% is rural. Actual population growth is 3.3%. In 1993, agriculture employed around 22.5% of the total labour force, accounted for nearly 28% of GDP and 60% of non-oil exports.

Climate and water resources


Syria's climate is Mediterranean with continental influence: cool rainy winters and warm dry summers, with relatively short spring and autumn seasons. Large parts of Syria are exposed to high variability in daily temperature. The maximum difference in daily temperature can be as high as 32C in the interior and about 13C in the coastal region. Total annual precipitation ranges from 100 to 150 mm in the north-west, 150 to 200 mm from the south towards the central and east-central areas, 300 to 600 mm in the plains and along the foothills in the west, and 800 to 1 000 mm along the coast, increasing to 1 400 mm in the mountains. The Average annual rainfall in the country is 252 mm giving 46.6 km.

Water resources

There are 16 main rivers and tributaries in the country, of which 6 main international rivers:

  • the Euphrates (Al Furat), which is Syria's the largest river. It comes from Turkey and flows to Iraq. Its total length is 2 330 km, of which 680 km are in Syria;
  • the Afrin in the north-western part of the country, which comes from Turkey, crosses Syria and flows back to Turkey;
  • the Orontes (El-Ass)) in the western part of the country, which comes from Lebanon and flows into Turkey;
  • the Yarmouk in the south-western part of the country with sources in Syria and Jordan and which forms the border between these two countries before flowing into the Jordan river;
  • the El-Kebir with sources in Syria and Lebanon and which forms the border between them before flowing to the sea.
  • the Tigris, which forms the border between Syria and Turkey in the extreme north-eastern part.

The natural average surface runoff to Syria from international rivers is estimated at 28.73 km/year. If we include 15.75 km of water entering with the Euphrates, as proposed by Turkey, and 0.43 km of water entering with the Orontes, as agreed with Lebanon, this total becomes 18.11 km/year. The Tigris, which is the second most important river in the counay, borders the country to the east and has a mean annual flow of 18 km. Total natural average outflow from Syria is 31.975 km/year, of which an agreement exists for 9.2 km, resulting in a total of actual external surface water resources for Syria of 17.91 km/year (27.11 km/year - 9.2 km/year).

Dams and lakes

There are 141 dams in Syria with a total storage capacity of 15.8 km. The largest dam is located at Al-Tabka on the Euphrates. It forms the Al-Assad lake with a storage capacity of 11.2 km. Medium-sized dams include the Al-Rastan (225 million m), the Mouhardeh (50 million m) and the Taldo (15.5 million m). There are some 20 dams classified as small, the largest of which is the Dara'a, with a storage capacity of 15 million m. The majority of these dams are located near Homs and Hama.

Apart from the Al-Assad lake, there are five lakes in Syria, the largest being lake Jabboul near Aleppo with a surface area of about 239 km. Lake Qattineh near Homs is the main perennial lake in Syria.

Ecological zones

The map below shows the ecological zones, as shown on the FAO global map of ecological zones produced as part of the FRA 2000. Please refer to FRA Working Paper 20 for further information on the Global Ecological Zone map.

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