Damascus

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Damascus Skyline
Damascus University • Damascus Opera House
Four Seasons Hotel and Barada River • National Museum • Umayyad Mosque
Azm Palace • Maktab Anbar

Damascus (Arabic: دِمَشقDimashq, commonly known as الشام al-Shām also known as the "City of Jasmine" Arabic: مدينة الياسمينMadīnatul Yāsmīn) is the capital and the second largest city of Syria as well as one of the country's 14 governorates. The Damascus Governorate is ruled by a governor appointed by the Minister of Interior. In addition to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, Damascus is a major cultural and religious center of the Levant. Currently, the city has an estimated population of about 1,711,000 (2009 est.).[1] Located in southwestern Syria, it is the center of a large metropolitan area of 2,4 million people (2004).[3] Geographically embedded on the eastern foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range 80 km (50 mi) inland from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea on a plateau 680 metres (2,200 ft) above sea-level, Damascus experiences a semi-arid climate due to the rain shadow effect. The Barada River flows through Damascus.

First settled in the 2nd millennium BC, it was chosen as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate from 661 to 750. After the victory of the Abbasid dynasty, the seat of Islamic power was moved to Baghdad. Damascus saw a political decline throughout the Abbasid era, only to regain significant importance in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. During Ottoman rule, the city decayed completely while maintaining a certain cultural prestige. Today, it is the seat of the central government and all of the government ministries. Damascus was chosen as the 2008 Arab Capital of Culture.[4]

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