Syria the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon to the southwest, the Mediterranean Sea to the west, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, Israel to the southwest. A country of fertile plains, high mountains, deserts, Syria is home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Syrian Arabs, Armenians, Kurds, Circassians and Turks. Religious groups include Sunnis, Alawites, Isma'ilis, Shiites, Salafis and Jews. Sunni make up the largest religious group in Syria. Syria is a unitary republic consisting of 14 governorates and is the only country that politically espouses Ba'athism, it is a member of one international organization other than the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement. In English, the name "Syria" was synonymous with the Levant, while the modern state encompasses the sites of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the 3rd millennium BC. Aleppo and the capital city Damascus are among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.
In the Islamic era, Damascus was the seat of the Umayyad Caliphate and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Sultanate in Egypt. The modern Syrian state was established in mid-20th century after centuries of Ottoman and a brief period French mandate, represented the largest Arab state to emerge from the Ottoman-ruled Syrian provinces, it gained de-jure independence as a parliamentary republic on 24 October 1945, when Republic of Syria became a founding member of the United Nations, an act which ended the former French Mandate – although French troops did not leave the country until April 1946. The post-independence period was tumultuous, a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949–71. In 1958, Syria entered a brief union with Egypt called the United Arab Republic, terminated by the 1961 Syrian coup d'état; the republic was renamed into the Arab Republic of Syria in late 1961 after December 1 constitutional referendum, was unstable until the 1963 Ba'athist coup d'état, since which the Ba'ath Party has maintained its power.
Syria was under Emergency Law from 1963 to 2011 suspending most constitutional protections for citizens. Bashar al-Assad has been president since 2000 and was preceded by his father Hafez al-Assad, in office from 1971 to 2000. Since March 2011, Syria has been embroiled in an armed conflict, with a number of countries in the region and beyond involved militarily or otherwise; as a result, a number of self-proclaimed political entities have emerged on Syrian territory, including the Syrian opposition, Tahrir al-Sham and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Syria is ranked last on the Global Peace Index, making it the most violent country in the world due to the war, although life continues for most of its citizens as of December 2017; the war caused more than 470,000 deaths, 7.6 million internally displaced people and over 5 million refugees, making population assessment difficult in recent years. Several sources indicate that the name Syria is derived from the 8th century BC Luwian term "Sura/i", the derivative ancient Greek name: Σύριοι, Sýrioi, or Σύροι, Sýroi, both of which derived from Aššūrāyu in northern Mesopotamia.
However, from the Seleucid Empire, this term was applied to The Levant, from this point the Greeks applied the term without distinction between the Assyrians of Mesopotamia and Arameans of the Levant. Mainstream modern academic opinion favours the argument that the Greek word is related to the cognate Ἀσσυρία, Assyria derived from the Akkadian Aššur; the Greek name appears to correspond to Phoenician ʾšr "Assur", ʾšrym "Assyrians", recorded in the 8th century BC Çineköy inscription. The area designated by the word has changed over time. Classically, Syria lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, between Arabia to the south and Asia Minor to the north, stretching inland to include parts of Iraq, having an uncertain border to the northeast that Pliny the Elder describes as including, from west to east, Commagene and Adiabene. By Pliny's time, this larger Syria had been divided into a number of provinces under the Roman Empire: Judaea renamed Palaestina in AD 135 in the extreme southwest.
Since 10,000 BC, Syria was one of the centers of Neolithic culture where agriculture and cattle breeding appeared for the first time in the world. The following Neolithic period is represented by rectangular houses of Mureybet culture. At the time of the pre-pottery Neolithic, people used vessels made of stone and burnt lime. Finds of obsidian tools from Anatolia are evidences of early trade relations. Cities of Hamoukar and Emar played an important role during Bronze Age. Archaeologists have demonstrated that civilization in Syria was one of the most ancient on earth preceded by only those of Mesopotamia; the earliest recorded in
The Södertälje Canal is a canal connecting the lake Mälaren with the Baltic Sea, at the city of Södertälje. It is 5.2 km long, it has one lock. The size of this lock is the largest in Scandinavia by allowed ship size; the lock is 17 m wide. The water level difference between Mälaren and the Baltic Sea is not large, on average 0.6 m. This is the main shipping route into the lake Mälaren. In the Viking age the passage was navigable by boats. In the year 1819 a lock was finished, so boats could use the canal. In 1924 a much larger lock was built and the canal was widened and deepened. On the approach from the Baltic Sea to the canal itself there is the Bridge of Södertälje 4 bridges. On 13 February 2016 all 4 members of the British band Viola Beach, along with their manager, were killed when their van struck the middle section of the bridge as it was being raised for a large ship passing through the canal. On 24 June 2016 an accident involving two trucks damaged the bridge so much that it had to be closed in one direction for a long time, creating traffic problems because it is the only connection directly southwards from Stockholm apart from 2 smaller bridges in the city of Södertälje itself.
Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres, about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Asia is notable for not only its overall large size and population, but dense and large settlements, as well as vast populated regions, its 4.5 billion people constitute 60% of the world's population. In general terms, Asia is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean, on the north by the Arctic Ocean; the border of Asia with Europe is a historical and cultural construct, as there is no clear physical and geographical separation between them. It has moved since its first conception in classical antiquity.
The division of Eurasia into two continents reflects East–West cultural and ethnic differences, some of which vary on a spectrum rather than with a sharp dividing line. The most accepted boundaries place Asia to the east of the Suez Canal separating it from Africa. China and India alternated in being the largest economies in the world from 1 to 1800 CE. China was a major economic power and attracted many to the east, for many the legendary wealth and prosperity of the ancient culture of India personified Asia, attracting European commerce and colonialism; the accidental discovery of a trans-Atlantic route from Europe to America by Columbus while in search for a route to India demonstrates this deep fascination. The Silk Road became the main east–west trading route in the Asian hinterlands while the Straits of Malacca stood as a major sea route. Asia has exhibited economic dynamism as well as robust population growth during the 20th century, but overall population growth has since fallen. Asia was the birthplace of most of the world's mainstream religions including Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Sikhism, as well as many other religions.
Given its size and diversity, the concept of Asia—a name dating back to classical antiquity—may have more to do with human geography than physical geography. Asia varies across and within its regions with regard to ethnic groups, environments, historical ties and government systems, it has a mix of many different climates ranging from the equatorial south via the hot desert in the Middle East, temperate areas in the east and the continental centre to vast subarctic and polar areas in Siberia. The boundary between Asia and Africa is the Red Sea, the Gulf of Suez, the Suez Canal; this makes Egypt a transcontinental country, with the Sinai peninsula in Asia and the remainder of the country in Africa. The border between Asia and Europe was defined by European academics; the Don River became unsatisfactory to northern Europeans when Peter the Great, king of the Tsardom of Russia, defeating rival claims of Sweden and the Ottoman Empire to the eastern lands, armed resistance by the tribes of Siberia, synthesized a new Russian Empire extending to the Ural Mountains and beyond, founded in 1721.
The major geographical theorist of the empire was a former Swedish prisoner-of-war, taken at the Battle of Poltava in 1709 and assigned to Tobolsk, where he associated with Peter's Siberian official, Vasily Tatishchev, was allowed freedom to conduct geographical and anthropological studies in preparation for a future book. In Sweden, five years after Peter's death, in 1730 Philip Johan von Strahlenberg published a new atlas proposing the Urals as the border of Asia. Tatishchev announced; the latter had suggested the Emba River as the lower boundary. Over the next century various proposals were made until the Ural River prevailed in the mid-19th century; the border had been moved perforce from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea into which the Ural River projects. The border between the Black Sea and the Caspian is placed along the crest of the Caucasus Mountains, although it is sometimes placed further north; the border between Asia and the region of Oceania is placed somewhere in the Malay Archipelago.
The Maluku Islands in Indonesia are considered to lie on the border of southeast Asia, with New Guinea, to the east of the islands, being wholly part of Oceania. The terms Southeast Asia and Oceania, devised in the 19th century, have had several vastly different geographic meanings since their inception; the chief factor in determining which islands of the Malay Archipelago are Asian has been the location of the colonial possessions of the various empires there. Lewis and Wigen assert, "The narrowing of'Southeast Asia' to its present boundaries was thus a gradual process." Geographical Asia is a cultural artifact of European conceptions of the world, beginning with the Ancient Greeks, being imposed onto other cultures, an imprecise concept causing endemic contention about what it means. Asia does not correspond to the cultural borders of its various types of constituents. From the time of Herodotus a minority of geographers have rejected the three-continent system on the grounds that there is no substantial physical separation between
Iraq the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Assyrians, Shabakis, Armenians, Mandeans and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan and Mandeanism present; the official languages of Iraq are Kurdish. Iraq has a coastline measuring 58 km on the northern Persian Gulf and encompasses the Mesopotamian Alluvial Plain, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range and the eastern part of the Syrian Desert. Two major rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, run south through Iraq and into the Shatt al-Arab near the Persian Gulf; these rivers provide Iraq with significant amounts of fertile land. The region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers known as Mesopotamia, is referred to as the cradle of civilisation.
It was here that mankind first began to read, create laws and live in cities under an organised government—notably Uruk, from which "Iraq" is derived. The area has been home to successive civilisations since the 6th millennium BC. Iraq was the centre of the Akkadian, Sumerian and Babylonian empires, it was part of the Median, Hellenistic, Sassanid, Rashidun, Abbasid, Mongol, Safavid and Ottoman empires. The country today known as Iraq was a region of the Ottoman Empire until the partition of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th century, it was made up of three provinces, called vilayets in the Ottoman language: Mosul Vilayet, Baghdad Vilayet, Basra Vilayet. In April 1920 the British Mandate of Mesopotamia was created under the authority of the League of Nations. A British-backed monarchy joining these vilayets into one Kingdom was established in 1921 under Faisal I of Iraq; the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq gained independence from the UK in 1932. In 1958, the monarchy was overthrown and the Iraqi Republic created.
Iraq was controlled by the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party from 1968 until 2003. After an invasion by the United States and its allies in 2003, Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party was removed from power, multi-party parliamentary elections were held in 2005; the US presence in Iraq ended in 2011, but the Iraqi insurgency continued and intensified as fighters from the Syrian Civil War spilled into the country. Out of the insurgency came a destructive group calling itself ISIL, which took large parts of the north and west, it has since been defeated. Disputes over the sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan continue. A referendum about the full sovereignty of Iraqi Kurdistan was held on 25 September 2017. On 9 December 2017, then-Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over ISIL after the group lost its territory in Iraq. Iraq is a federal parliamentary republic consisting of one autonomous region; the country's official religion is Islam. Culturally, Iraq has a rich heritage and celebrates the achievements of its past in both pre-Islamic as well as post-Islamic times and is known for its poets.
Its painters and sculptors are among the best in the Arab world, some of them being world-class as well as producing fine handicrafts, including rugs and carpets. Iraq is a founding member of the UN as well as of the Arab League, OIC, Non-Aligned Movement and the IMF; the Arabic name العراق al-ʿIrāq has been in use since before the 6th century. There are several suggested origins for the name. One dates to the Sumerian city of Uruk and is thus of Sumerian origin, as Uruk was the Akkadian name for the Sumerian city of Urug, containing the Sumerian word for "city", UR. An Arabic folk etymology for the name is "well-watered. During the medieval period, there was a region called ʿIrāq ʿArabī for Lower Mesopotamia and ʿIrāq ʿAjamī, for the region now situated in Central and Western Iran; the term included the plain south of the Hamrin Mountains and did not include the northernmost and westernmost parts of the modern territory of Iraq. Prior to the middle of the 19th century, the term Eyraca Arabic was used to describe Iraq.
The term Sawad was used in early Islamic times for the region of the alluvial plain of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, contrasting it with the arid Arabian desert. As an Arabic word, عراق means "hem", "shore", "bank", or "edge", so that the name by folk etymology came to be interpreted as "the escarpment", viz. at the south and east of the Jazira Plateau, which forms the northern and western edge of the "al-Iraq arabi" area. The Arabic pronunciation is. In English, it is either or, the American Heritage Dictionary, the Random House Dictionary; the pronunciation is heard in US media. In accordance with the 2005 Constitution, the official name of the state is the "Republic of Iraq". Between 65,000 BC and 35,000 BC northern Iraq was home to a Neanderthal culture, archaeological remains of which have been discovered at Shanidar Cave This same region is the location of a number of pre-Neolithic cemeteries, dating from 11,000 BC. Since 10,000 BC, Iraq was one of centres of a Caucasoid Neolithic culture (k
Serbia and Montenegro
Serbia and Montenegro the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1992 - 2003, was a country in Southeast Europe, created from the two remaining federal republics of Yugoslavia after its breakup in 1992. The republics of Serbia and Montenegro together established a federation in 1992 as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. For the first several years of its existence, the state aspired to be recognized as the sole legal successor to Yugoslavia, but those claims were opposed by other former constituent republics; the United Nations denied its request to take up Yugoslavia's membership. After the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević from power as president of the federation in 2000, the country rescinded those aspirations and accepted the opinion of the Badinter Arbitration Committee about shared succession, it re-applied for UN membership on 27 October and was admitted on 1 November 2000. The FRY was dominated by Slobodan Milošević as President of Serbia and President of Yugoslavia.
Milošević forced the removal of several federal presidents and prime ministers. However, the Montenegrin government enthusiastic supporters of Milošević, started distancing themselves from his policies; that culminated in regime change in 1996, when his former ally Milo Đukanović reversed his policies, became leader of Montenegro's ruling party and subsequently dismissed former Montenegrin leader Momir Bulatović, who remained loyal to the Milošević government. As Bulatović was given central positions in Belgrade from that time, Đukanović continued to govern Montenegro and further isolated it from Serbia, thus from 1996 to 2006 Montenegro and Serbia were only nominally one country—governance at every feasible level was conducted locally, in Belgrade for Serbia and in Podgorica for Montenegro. As a loose union or confederacy and Montenegro were united only in certain realms, such as defence; the two constituent republics functioned separately throughout the period of the Federal Republic, continued to operate under separate economic policies, as well as using separate currencies.
On 21 May 2006, the Montenegrin independence referendum was held, 55.5% of voters voted in favour of independence. The last remnants of the former Yugoslavia, after 88 years since its creation, came to an end upon Montenegro's formal declaration of independence on 3 June 2006, Serbia's formal declaration of independence on 5 June. After the dissolution, Serbia became the legal successor of the union, while the newly independent Montenegro re-applied for membership in international organizations; the country was known as the "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" from 1992 to 2003. The name Yugoslavia, an Anglicised transcription of Jugoslavija, is a composite word made up of jug and slavija; the Slavic word jug means'south', while slavija denotes a'land of the Slavs'. Thus, a translation of "Jugoslavija" would be'South-Slavia' or'Land of the South Slavs'; when Serbia and Montenegro was known as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia or Yugoslavia for short, some nations, such as the United States, had referred to it as Serbia and Montenegro as their governments viewed its claim to Yugoslavia's successorship as illegitimate.
With the collapse of Yugoslavia during the 1990s, only the republics of Serbia and Montenegro agreed to maintain the Yugoslav state, established a new constitution for a new Yugoslavia in 1992. With the collapse of communism across Eastern Europe, the new state followed the wave of free market change, it abandoned communist symbolism: the red star was removed from the national flag, the communist coat of arms was replaced by a white double-headed eagle with the arms of both Serbia and Montenegro within it. The new state established the office of the president, held by a single person appointed with the consent of the republics of Serbia and Montenegro until 1997 after which the president was democratically elected. With the collapse of Yugoslavia and its institutions from 1991 to 1992, the issue of unity of the two republics remaining in the collapsing federation, Montenegro, as well as Serb-majority territories in Croatia and Bosnia that wished to remain united, became an issue. In 1991 diplomatic talks chaired by Lord Carrington with the leaders of the six republics of the collapsing federation, resulted in all the republics except for Serbia agreeing that Yugoslavia had collapsed and that each republic should become an independent state.
The Serbian government was surprised and outraged by Montenegro's decision in favour of terminating Yugoslavia, as the Bulatovic government had been allied with Milosevic's government in Serbia. Yugoslavia's collapse began in 1991 when Slovenia and the Republic of Macedonia declared independence. On 26 December 1991, Serbia and the Serb rebel-held territories in Croatia agreed that they would form a new "third Yugoslavia". Efforts were made in 1991 to include SR Bosnia and Herzegovina within the federation, with negotiations between Miloševic, Bosnia's Serbian Democratic Party, the Bosniak proponent of union – Bosnia's Vice-President Adil Zulfikarpašić taking place on this matter. Zulfikarpašić believed that Bosnia could benefit from a union
Poland the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres, has a temperate seasonal climate. With a population of 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, Szczecin. Poland is bordered by the Baltic Sea, Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast and Lithuania to the north and Ukraine to the east and Czech Republic, to the south, Germany to the west; the establishment of the Polish state can be traced back to AD 966, when Mieszko I, ruler of the realm coextensive with the territory of present-day Poland, converted to Christianity. The Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1025, in 1569 it cemented its longstanding political association with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania by signing the Union of Lublin; this union formed the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th and 17th century Europe, with a uniquely liberal political system which adopted Europe's first written national constitution, the Constitution of 3 May 1791.
More than a century after the Partitions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, Poland regained its independence in 1918 with the Treaty of Versailles. In September 1939, World War II started with the invasion of Poland by Germany, followed by the Soviet Union invading Poland in accordance with the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. More than six million Polish citizens, including 90% of the country's Jews, perished in the war. In 1947, the Polish People's Republic was established as a satellite state under Soviet influence. In the aftermath of the Revolutions of 1989, most notably through the emergence of the Solidarity movement, Poland reestablished itself as a presidential democratic republic. Poland is regional power, it has the fifth largest economy by GDP in the European Union and one of the most dynamic economies in the world achieving a high rank on the Human Development Index. Additionally, the Polish Stock Exchange in Warsaw is the largest and most important in Central Europe. Poland is a developed country, which maintains a high-income economy along with high standards of living, life quality, safety and economic freedom.
Having a developed school educational system, the country provides free university education, state-funded social security, a universal health care system for all citizens. Poland has 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Poland is a member state of the European Union, the Schengen Area, the United Nations, NATO, the OECD, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrád Group; the origin of the name "Poland" derives from the West Slavic tribe of Polans that inhabited the Warta river basin of the historic Greater Poland region starting in the 6th century. The origin of the name "Polanie" itself derives from the early Slavic word "pole". In some languages, such as Hungarian, Lithuanian and Turkish, the exonym for Poland is Lechites, which derives from the name of a semi-legendary ruler of Polans, Lech I. Early Bronze Age in Poland begun around 2400 BC, while the Iron Age commenced in 750 BC. During this time, the Lusatian culture, spanning both the Bronze and Iron Ages, became prominent; the most famous archaeological find from the prehistory and protohistory of Poland is the Biskupin fortified settlement, dating from the Lusatian culture of the early Iron Age, around 700 BC.
Throughout the Antiquity period, many distinct ancient ethnic groups populated the regions of what is now Poland in an era that dates from about 400 BC to 500 AD. These groups are identified as Celtic, Slavic and Germanic tribes. Recent archeological findings in the Kujawy region, confirmed the presence of the Roman Legions on the territory of Poland; these were most expeditionary missions sent out to protect the amber trade. The exact time and routes of the original migration and settlement of Slavic peoples lacks written records and can only be defined as fragmented; the Slavic tribes who would form Poland migrated to these areas in the second half of the 5th century AD. Up until the creation of Mieszko's state and his subsequent conversion to Christianity in 966 AD, the main religion of Slavic tribes that inhabited the geographical area of present-day Poland was Slavic paganism. With the Baptism of Poland the Polish rulers accepted Christianity and the religious authority of the Roman Church.
However, the transition from paganism was not a smooth and instantaneous process for the rest of the population as evident from the pagan reaction of the 1030s. Poland began to form into a recognizable unitary and territorial entity around the middle of the 10th century under the Piast dynasty. Poland's first documented ruler, Mieszko I, accepted Christianity with the Baptism of Poland in 966, as the new official religion of his subjects; the bulk of the population converted in the course of the next few centuries. In 1000, Boleslaw the Brave, continuing the policy of his father Mieszko, held a Congress of Gniezno and created the metropolis of Gniezno and the dioceses of Kraków, Kołobrzeg, Wrocław. However, the pagan unrest led to the transfer of the capital to Kraków in 1038 by Casimir I the Restorer. In 1109, Prince Bolesław III Wrymouth defeated the King of Germany Henry V at the Battle of Hundsfeld, stopping the Ge