Syria is in southwest Asia in the heart of the Middle East. The Mediterranean coastal plain is backed by a low range of hills, followed by a vast interior desert plateau. Most people live near the coast or near the Euphrates River—which brings life to the desert plateau. Damascus, capital of this desert country, was built on an oasis and is said to be the world's oldest continuously inhabited settlement.
Syrians are mostly Arab, although about 9 percent are Kurds—living mostly in the northeast corner of Syria. Syria's population is about 90 percent Muslim, mostly Sunni