Syria, country located on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea in southwestern Asia. Its area includes territory in the Golan Heights that has been occupied by Israel since 1967. The present area does not coincide with ancient Syria, which was the strip of fertile land lying between the eastern Mediterranean coast and the desert of northern Arabia. The capital is Damascus (Dimashq), on the Baradā River, situated in an oasis at the foot of Mount Qāsiyūn.
Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including the majority Syrian Arabs, Kurds, Turkemens, Assyrians, Armenians, Circassians, Mandeans, and Greeks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Isma'ilis, Mandeans, Shiites, Salafis, and Yazidis. Arabs are the largest ethnic group, and Sunnis are the largest religious group.
Syria is a unitary republic consisting of 14 governorates and is the only country that politically espouses Ba'athism.