Syria (region)

Syria (Hieroglyphic Luwian: 𔒂𔒠 Sura/i; Greek: Συρία) or Sham (Arabic: أَلشَّام, romanized: ash-Shām) is the name of a historical region located east of the Mediterranean Sea in Western Asia, broadly synonymous with the Levant.[3] Other synonyms are Greater Syria or Syria-Palestine.[2] The region boundaries have changed throughout history. In modern times, the term "Syria" alone is used to refer to the Arab Republic of Syria.

Syria (Sham)
Greater Syria[1]
Map of Ottoman Syria in 1851, by Henry Warren
Countries or territories

The term is originally derived from Assyria, an ancient civilization centered in northern Mesopotamia, modern-day Iraq.[4][5] During the Hellenistic period, the term Syria was applied to the entire Levant as Coele-Syria. Under Roman rule, the term was used to refer to the province of Syria, later divided into Syria Phoenicia and Coele Syria, and to the province of Syria Palaestina. Under the Byzantines, the provinces of Syria Prima and Syria Secunda emerged out of Coele Syria. After the Muslim conquest of the Levant, the term was superseded by the Arabic equivalent Shām, and under the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid, and Fatimid caliphates, Bilad al-Sham was the name of a metropolitan province encompassing most of the region. In the 19th century, the name Syria was revived in its modem Arabic form to denote the whole of Bilad al-Sham, either as Suriyah or the modern form Suriyya, which eventually replaced the Arabic name of Bilad al-Sham.[6]

After World War I, the boundaries of the region were last defined in modern times by the proclamation of and subsequent definition by French and British mandatory agreement. The area was passed to French and British Mandates following World War I and divided into Greater Lebanon, various states under Mandatory French rule, British-controlled Mandatory Palestine and the Emirate of Transjordan. The term Syria itself was applied to several mandate states under French rule and the contemporaneous but short-lived Arab Kingdom of Syria. The Syrian-mandate states were gradually unified as the State of Syria and finally became the independent Syria in 1946. Throughout this period, pan-Syrian nationalists advocated for the creation of a Greater Syria.

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