Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion
The Syrian Arab Republic is bordered by Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and the Mediterranean Sea. Syria passed from Christian to Muslim rule in 636 ce and shortly thereafter reached the peak of its national prestige when Damascus became the capital, in 661, of the Umayyad empire, which extended from Spain to India. In 750 a new dynasty, the Abbasids, moved the capital of the Muslim world to Baghdad in what is today Iraq. After that time, Damascus served largely as a provincial capital for various imperial rulers, the last of whom were the Ottomans, who conquered the city in 1517 and remained for the next four hundred years. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, an Arab government emerged in Damascus, but in 1920 France invaded and established a mandate over what became present-day Syria in the name of the League of Nations. Syria won its independence from France in 1946.