The Syrian Arab Republic lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south and Israel and Lebanon to the west. Syria has had a chequered history with numerous military coup attempts between 1949 and 1970. The country has been governed by the Baath party since 1963, although military and political strongmen effectively hold the reigns. Syria is a country of diverse landscapes ranging from cultivated cotton fields, olive groves, vineyards, palm-tree oases and magnificent mountains to Mediterranean shores and golden desert sands. Visitors to the country will find a wealth of historic and religious sites, a wide variety of touristic options and Syrian cuisine that is rich and varied. The Syrians are a hospitable people, open-minded towards foreigners following a centuries-old tradition of offering a warm-hearted welcome to guests. Ahlanwa Sahlan (You’re welcome) and Ma assalamah (May you go in peace) are phrases often heard and coffee or tea, a symbol of Arab hospitality, is frequently served; even by shopkeepers as you barter with them. These assets have attracted numerous regional and international bodies to hold their conferences in Syria. The many interesting places visited, photos of which are shown below, include Aleppo, Apameia, Bosra, Damascus, Maarrat, Masyaf and Palmyra.