Damascus (dəˈmæskəs , UKalsodəˈmɑːskəs ; Dimašq, diˈmaʃq) is the capital of Syria, the oldest capital in the world according to some. Known colloquially in Syria as ALA (الشَّام) and dubbed, poetically, the "City of Jasmine" (مَدِيْنَةُ الْيَاسْمِينِ ALA), Damascus is a major cultural center of the Levant and the Arab world.
Situated in southwestern Syria, Damascus is the center of a large metropolitan area. Nestled among the eastern foothills of the Anti-Lebanon mountain range inland from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean on a plateau above sea level, Damascus experiences an arid climate because of the rain shadow effect. The Barada River flows through Damascus.
Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. First settled in the 3rd millennium BC, it was chosen as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate from 661 to 750. After the victory of the Abbasid dynasty, the seat of Islamic power was moved to Baghdad. Damascus saw its importance decline through