horizontally striped red-white-black national flag with two green stars on the white stripe. The flag's width-to-length ratio is 2 to 3. In 1917 Husayn ibn 'Ali, king of the Hejaz (now in Saudi Arabia), adopted the Arab Revolt Flag, intended to represent all Arab lands. It consisted of three horizontal stripes of black, green, and white with a red triangle at the hoist. The four colours recalled the major dynasties of Arab historythe 'Abbasids, Fatimids, Umayyads, and Hashimites. In March 1918 the Arab Revolt Flag was raised in Damascus as independence was proclaimed for natural Syria (modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan). The single white star on the triangle marked it as the first independent Arab state after the Hejaz. Within four months, however, France had taken control of Syria, and the Arab Revolt Flag was subsequently used only in guerrilla warfare against French authorities. Small Syrian states were established in the 1920s and '30s by the French as part of a divide and conquer policy. Eventually a unified Syrian state was proclaimed under a flag of horizontal green-white-black stripes bearing three red stars in the centre. Following complete independence in the 1940s, Syria continued to struggle for Arab unity, and in 1958 it joined Egypt in the United Arab Republic. Its flag, based on the Arab Liberation Flag of the Egyptian 1952 revolution, had horizontal stripes of red-white-black with two green stars for the constituent states. In 1961 Syria broke from the union. In subsequent years it had two different flags expressing the political policies of the era. Finally, on March 29, 1980, Syria readopted the flag of the United Arab Republic as its own national banner. This is still the national flag, although the ruling Ba'th Party also displays a version of the Arab Revolt Flag. Whitney Smith Government and social conditions Government Constitutional framework The constitution of 1973 declares that Syria constitutes an integral part of the Arab homeland, that all legislative power lies with the people, and that freedom of expression and equality before the law are guaranteed. However, the enforcement of these principles has not been thorough; especially from the late 1970s, constitutionally guaranteed rights were increasingly suppressed under President Assad's rule. The regional (Syrian) leadership of the Arab Socialist Ba'th (Renaissance) Party (see below The political process) elects the head of state, who must be a Muslim, and appoints the cabinet, which exercises legislative as well as executive powers. Suffrage is universal. Local government Syria is divided into muhafazat (governorates), two province-level cities (Damascus and Aleppo), manatiq (districts), and nawahi (subdistricts). The governors, or muhafizin, enjoy some power within their administrative divisions, but local government is centralized and is dependent upon the minister of the interior in the national government. History The earliest prehistoric remains of human habitation found in Syria and Palestine (stone implements, with bones of elephant and horse) are of the Middle Paleolithic Period. In the next stage are remains of rhinoceros and of men who are classified as intermediate between Neanderthal and modern types. The Mesolithic Period is best represented by the Natufian culture, which is spread along, and some distance behind, the coast of the Levant. The Natufians supported life by fishing, hunting, and gathering the grains that, in their wild state, were indigenous to the country. This condition was gradually superseded by the domestication of animals, the cultivation of crops, and the production of pottery. Excavations at Mureybet in Syria have revealed a settlement where the inhabitants made pottery and cultivated einkorn, a single-grained wheat, as early as the 9th millennium BC. Metallurgy, particularly the production of bronze (an alloy of copper and tin), appeared after the mid-4th millennium BC. The first cities emerged shortly thereafter. Early history History begins with the invention of writing, which took place in southern Babylonia perhaps c. 3000 BC, the script being an original picture character that developed later into cuneiform. Modern research, however, suggests that clay tokens found at numerous ancient Middle Eastern sites from as early as 8000 BC may have been used as an archaic recording system and ultimately led to the invention of writing. By the mid-3rd millennium BC, various Semitic peoples had migrated into Syria-Palestine and Babylonia. Knowledge of this period has been enormously enhanced by the excavations at Tall Mardikh, ancient Ebla, south of Aleppo. The palace has yielded more than 17,000 inscribed clay tablets, dated to about 26002500 BC, which detail the social, religious, economic, and political life of this thriving and powerful Syrian kingdom. The language of Ebla has been identified as Northwest Semitic. In about 2320 BC Lugalzaggisi, the Sumerian ruler of Erech (Uruk), boasted of an empire that stretched to the Mediterranean. It was short-lived; he was defeated by the Semite Sargon I of Akkad, who became the greatest conqueror and most famous name in Babylonian history. Sargon led his armies up the Euphrates to the cedar mountain (the Amanus) and beyond. Ebla was destroyed either by Sargon at this time or perhaps by his grandson, Naram-sin (c. 2275 BC), and the region of Syria became part of the Akkadian Empire. But the dynasty of Akkad was soon overthrown as its centre and superseded by the dynasties first of Guti and then of Ur. Nothing certain is known about the authority (if any) that the kings of Ur exercised in Syria, so far away from their capital. The end of their dynasty, however, was brought about chiefly by the pressure of a new Semitic migration from Syria, this time of the Amorites (i.e., the westerners), as they were called in Babylonia. Between about 2000 and 1800 BC they covered both Syria and Mesopotamia with a multitude of small principalities and cities, mostly governed by rulers bearing some name characteristic of the Semitic dialect that the Amorites spoke. The period of Amorite ascendancy is vividly mirrored in the Mari Letters, a great archive of royal correspondence found at the site of Mari, near the modern frontier with Iraq. Among the principal figures mentioned are the celebrated lawgiver Hammurabi of Babylon (himself an Amorite) and a king of Aleppo, part of whose kingdom was the city of Alalakh, on the Orontes near what was later Antioch. Around 1600 BC northern Syria, including the cities of Alalakh, Aleppo, and Ebla in its Amorite phase, suffered destruction at the hands of the aggressive Hittite kings, Hattusilis I or Mursilis I, from central Anatolia. Earlier, in the 18th century BC, had begun from Syria a movement of people in the opposite direction. This resulted in the Hyksos infiltration and eventual seizure (c. 1674 BC) of regal authority in northern Egypt, which was subject to this foreign domination for 108 years. The mixed multitude of the Hyksos certainly included Hurrians, who, not being Aryans themselves, were under the rule and influence of Aryans and learned from them the use of light chariots and horses in warfare, which they introduced into Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia. The Hurrians established the kingdom of Mitanni, with its centre east of the Euphrates, and this was for long the dominant power in Syria, reaching its height in the 15th century BC. Documentary evidence for the Mitanni period comes from excavations made in the 1970s at Tall Hadidi (ancient Azu), at the edge of Lake Assad. But other nations were growing at the same time, and in the 14th century Syria was the arena in which at least four great competitors contended. The Hurrians were first in possession, and they maintained friendly relations with Egypt, which, after expelling the Hyksos, had established a vast sphere of influence in Palestine and Syria under the kings of the 18th dynasty. Third of the powers disputing Syria in the 14th century were the Hittites, who finally, under their greatest warrior, Suppiluliumas (c. 1350 BC), not only defeated the kingdom of Mitanni but established a firm dominion of their own in northern Syria with its principal centres at Aleppo and Carchemish. Fourth was the rising kingdom of Assyria, which became a serious contender in the reign of Ashur-uballit I. This was the period of the Amarna Letters, which vividly illustrate the decline of Egyptian influence in Syria (especially under Akhenaton), the distress or duplicity of local governors, and the rivalry of the aforesaid powers. Egyptians and Hittites continued their struggle into the 13th century; the Battle of Kadesh (c. 1290 BC) led to a treaty maintaining the equal balance. Assyria had already swept away the remains of Mitanni but itself soon fell into decline, and the Hittites were not long afterward driven from their centre in Asia Minor by the migration of peoples of the sea, western invaders from the isles of the Aegean and from Europe. The dislocation of peoples at this time apparently also led to the migration into northern Syria of a related Indo-European group from Anatolia, the so-called Neo-Hittites. They established a number of principalities, and the area became known as Hatti-land. As early as the 14th century various documents mention the Akhlame, who were forerunners of another vast movement of Semitic tribes called, generically, Aramaeans. By the end of the 13th century these had covered with their small and loose principalities the whole of central and northern Syria. The Assyrians, however, were able to guard their homeland from this penetration, and henceforth much of the warfare of Assyrian kings was aimed at the Aramaean states of Syria. At about the same time as the Aramaean invasion, the exodus of Israelite tribes from Egypt was proceeding. As the Israelites toward the end of the 11th century established a kingdom centred upon Jerusalem, the Aramaeans set up their principal kingdom at Damascus, and the wars between kings of Judah or of Israel and kings of Aram make up much of Old Testament history. But the most formidable enemies of the Aramaeans and often of the Hebrews were the great military kings of the Assyrians. In the 9th and 8th centuries BC the Assyrian Empire was established over the west. At the Battle of Karkar in 853 BC, Shalmaneser III of Assyria was opposed by Bar-Hadad I (Hebrew Ben-hadad; throne name Hadadezer; Akkadian Adad-idri) of Damascus, Ahab of Israel, and 12 vassal monarchs. In 732 Damascus, the Syrian capital, was at length captured by Tiglath-pileser III. But campaigns against the Aramaeans and Neo-Hittites of northern Syria had to be undertaken by the Assyrians until almost the end of the Assyrian Empire. Culturally, the most important achievement of the Aramaeans was the bringing of the alphabet into general use for public and private business. Before the close of the 8th century BC began a massive southward movement of people, partly of Aryan stock, from the north and west. Pressure of these upon the Assyrian dominions and homeland became ever more severe, and they deeply affected Syria also; and in the 7th century there came the invasion of the Cimmerians, followed by the Scythians. To these, and to the Medes, Assyria finally succumbed with the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC. Nebuchadrezzar, when crown prince of Babylon, finally defeated the attempted rescue of Assyria by Necho II, king of Egypt, and annihilated his army at Carchemish in 605 BC. In 597 he captured Jerusalem and carried its people into exile. Thereafter, Syria was for half a century under the rule of Nebuchadrezzar's successors on the throne of Babylon. But another and greater power, the Persians, then came to the fore. Under the leadership of Cyrus they extended their conquests into Asia Minor and then came to a final collision with Babylon, which Cyrus occupied in 539 BC. He sent back the exiled Jewish community to Jerusalem, encouraging them to rebuild their Temple. In Darius I's great organization of the Persian dominions, Syria, with Palestine and Cyprus, was the fifth satrapy, bearing the name of Across the River (i.e., the Euphrates), with tribute fixed at 350 talents of silver. Damascus and the Phoenician cities were still the chief centres of Syria under the Persians, and in Sidon was the core of the Phoenician revolt against Artaxerxes III, which ended with the destruction of that city in 345 BC. But by this time, the end of the Persian domination was at hand, and the Macedonians under Alexander III the Great were about to bring the whole Middle East under Greek rule and influence. Alexander invaded Asia Minor in 334 BC, and his victory over the Persians at Issus in 333 was followed by the capture and enslavement of Tyre and Gaza. With the Battle of Gaugamela and the destruction of Persepolis, the downfall of Persia was completed. Cyril John Gadd William L. Ochsenwald The economy Administration of the economy Socialism became the official economic policy in 1958. Since then, the trend has been toward socialist transformation and industrialization. In commerce, state control is mainly restricted to foreign-exchange operations. Small private businesses and cooperatives are still in operation, and the retail trade is still part of the private sector, despite competition from consumer cooperatives in the large cities. The government controls the most vital sectors of the country's economy and regulates private business. The state operates the oil refineries, the large electricity plants, the railways, and various manufacturing plants. Taxation Indirect taxes, which produce the most tax revenue, are levied on industrial products, customs, exports, and state domains. Direct taxes are levied on wages, circulating capital, livestock, and the transfer of property. The land Relief The coast Syria has a relatively short coastline, which stretches for about 110 miles (180 kilometres) along the Mediterranean Sea between the nations of Turkey and Lebanon. Sandy bays dent the shore, alternating with rocky headlands and low cliffs. North of Tartus, the narrow coastal strip is interrupted by spurs of the Jabal an-Nusayriyah (Jabal Alawite range) immediately to the east. It then widens into the Sahl 'Akkar (Plain of 'Akkar), which continues south across the Lebanon border. The people The Syrian people evolved from several origins over a long period of time. The Greek and Roman ethnic influence was negligible in comparison with that of the Semitic peoples of Arabia and MesopotamiaAramaeans, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Canaanites. Later the Turks, like the Greeks and Romans before them, influenced political and economic structures but failed to produce any noticeable change in the dominant Arab character of the Syrian people. Population groups Ethnic groups There is a rough correspondence between ethnic and linguistic groupings, although some ethnic groups have been partially assimilated by the Arab majority, which includes the Bedouins. Second in number to the Arabs are the Kurds, who have partially lost their mother tongue. The Armenians may be divided into two groupsthe early settlers, who have been more or less Arabized, and the later immigrants, who arrived after World War I and retained their identity and language. The Turkmens intermingle freely with the Kurds and Arabs, but they have lost none of their ethnic identity in some northern villages. The Assyrians are quickly disappearing as a group because of intermarriage and migration to the cities.
SYRIA, FLAG OF
Meaning of SYRIA, FLAG OF in English
Britannica English vocabulary. Английский словарь Британика. 2012