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Homs or Hims (Arabic: حمص‎, Homs or Ḥims; previously Greek: Ἔμεσα, Emesa[1]) is a city in western Syria and the capital of the Homs Governorate. It is 501 metres (1,644 ft) above sea level and is located 162 kilometres (101 mi) north of Damascus.[2] Located on the Orontes River, Homs is also the central link between the interior cities and the Mediterranean coast.

Homs did not emerge into the light of history until the 1st century BC at the time of Seleucids. It later became the capital of a kingdom ruled by the Emesani dynasty who gave the city its name. Originally a pagan center of worship for the Sun god El-Gabal, it later gained importance in Christianity under the Byzantines. It was conquered by the Muslims in the 7th century and made capital of a district that bore its current name. Throughout the Islamic era, Muslim dynasties contending for control of Syria sought after Homs due to the city's strategic position in the area. It began to decline under the Ottomans and only in the 19th century did the city regain its economic importance when its cotton industry boomed.

Today, Homs is a major industrial center in Syria, and with a population of 1,500,000, it is the third largest city in the country. Its population reflects Syria's general religious diversity, composed mostly of Arabic-speaking Sunni Muslims, with a Christian minority. The city boasts a number of historic mosques and churches and is near the Krak des Chevaliers, a world heritage site.


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