Syria (Arabic: سوريا or سورية, Sūriyā or Sūrīyah), officially the Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية السورية al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Assyria to the northeast, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, Israel and Palestine to the southwest. Its capital Damascus is among the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world.
The modern Syrian state was established after World War I as a component of Frenchmandate, and represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the formerly Ottoman-ruled Arab Levant. It gained independence in April 17, 1946, as a parliamentary republic. In 1958, Syria entered a brief union with Egypt called the United Arab Republic, which was terminated by the 1961 Syrian coup d'état.
The republic was renamed into the Syrian Arab Republic in late 1961 after December 1 constitutional referendum, and was increasingly unstable until the Ba'athist coup d'état, since which the Ba'ath Party has maintained its power. Syria was under Emergency Law from 1963 to 2011, effectively suspending most constitutional protections for citizens. Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000 and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, who was in office from 1971 to 2000.